In 1997, I was sixteen and looking for a job after school. My buddy tells me he has a hookup over the mountain. A “guaranteed job,” he says. He was right. I mentioned his name to the lady interviewing, and like that I got hired. My first day of orientation in this newly opening joint was interesting to say the least. Almost everyone there was under eighteen, and had the negative, angst filled attitude that usually associated with teenagers.
Once paying customers began to show up, I knew all was not right. The manager usually sat in his office, only showing up in the kitchen to make himself sandwiches. I can only liken this experience to something of Lord of the Flies, the kids were pretty much running the place. After a few months, older employees began to show up. We had people come and go, and after about six months we had a solid crew.
We had Joe, who lived in his car. We had Billie, she was a sweet lady, but she had a noticeable beard. And what position did they put her in? The hostess position. We had LaVerne, a forty-something, wife, and mother of three, who had a penchant for making out with the teenage cooks in the walk-in freezer. We had Jimmy, who would do anything to get a laugh, and I mean anything. There were drug deals made in the bathrooms, drugs consumed in the bathrooms and kitchens, fights in the parking lot, and even steaks that were intentionally dropped on floors for rude customers, at certain server’s requests.
One day I was sitting in the breakroom smoking a cigarette, and Jimmy comes in. I can see it in his eyes that he is up to something. He grabs a step-ladder, a mop bucket, and tells me to wait five minutes, and tell our manager, Bill, that there is a fight in the parking lot. I nod, and he proceeds out the door. After five minutes, I yell back to Bill, “There’s a fight in the parking lot. Looks like it’s gonna get nasty.” Bill sits down his fourth meal of the afternoon, and adjusts his pants. “I’ll take care of this nonsense,” he says. I walk to the door, and he comes into the breakroom, ready to break up this fight I’d told him about. He walks out, and is standing five feet from the exit, surveying the parking lot for this supposed fight. He turns to me, saying something about no fight happening, and his eyes start to look towards the ominous shadow above him on the roof. Before he can say anything, Jim dumps a mop bucket of water on him. He is now standing in the same position, but he is soaked from head to toe. He says we’re both fired and storms into his office and slams the door. We continued working, clocked out, came back the next day, and never heard about it again.
LaVerne continued affairs with the teen cooks, Billie never shaved, and Joe got fired for stealing soup to take back to his duel-purpose car/apartment for dinner. Jimmy did end up getting fired too. One day they dared him to strip down to his boxers and go into the main restaurant to collect the dirty dishes. He did so but yet, the franchise owner was there, and found it less than amusing. I left there after I graduated high school, and I ate there afterwards, just not breakfast, and that’s a story for another day.