Thursday, July 13, 2006

My Worst Job Ever

The other day in Boot Camp I found out that one of the moms is a baker; she works from 5 am to 9 am. "Fun job," and "great hours," I thought. Then I remembered that I too had once worked in a bakery, specifically the Winn-Dixie bakery in Long Beach, MS (no experience needed!).
I was the Doughnut Lady. That was my real title. When people had a question about those pastries in particular, they were directed to the Doughnut Lady. By the end of my 3-month stint, I could recite doughnut taxonomy and calculate the value of any variety-dependent quantity in singles or in multiples of 6 & 12.
Anyway, I also realized that like the Boot Camp Baker mom, I too had great hours. I'd work most days from 5:00 to 11 am, and then go home and "look for a career" (beside the pool with a John Irving book). At this point in my life, I had just exited college 5 months earlier, and was lingering in that "you deserve a break" stage. Still, it wasn't all good. On Saturdays and Sundays I'd arrive at work at 4:00 am. While I sat outside in the dark eating my breakfast waiting for the doughnuts to thaw, I could hear the SeaBees counting off during their am PT at the Base in Gulfport. Besides me and those poor kids, old farts who apparently slept particularly poorly on the weekends, and drunks on their way home from the bars seemed to be the only ones awake and possibly hungry enough to eat a Winn-Dixie doughnut.
The bakery manager Joey was a 21-year old party boy who liked to brag about his recent lease of a brand new big red truck. It's bed seemed to be the big draw for him and his buddies who used it as comfortable seating while getting wasted on Miller Lite in the Winn Dixie parking lot on many-an-evening. Additionally, I noted that Joey must have failed every spelling test he ever took. I remember one weekend he took off work, & left us with a list of tasks. Among them, "make cinemon rolls" and"wipe down the frige?" Come ON!
Additionally, my fellow employees were quintessential contributors to my "Mississippi Immersion" project. As foreign (to me) as they were, they were so nice! Jan was from Minnesota, but besides her misplaced accent, she was a born Southerner. Her boyfriend was a 'classic' trucker dude (not like our modern cowboy - wireless internet - mountain biking friend Don, who also happens to drive a Rig. Hi Don.), who was suspected of seeing somebody on the side. Her updates were rousing and disturbing all at once. Then there was Miss LA. I can't remember her name right now, but Miss LA, who was always genuinely forgetting the dress code and how long to bake certain breads, had a favorite joke. It goes like this.
Hey y'all, we're going to LA this weekend to visit my cousins.
Really, LA?
Yeah, Lo-wa Ala-ba-ma! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!
(For those who may not know Lower Alabama.)
I can't forget about Tameka, the Cake Lady, who would always tout to customers, "yes, our cakes are fresh," (out of the freezer, off a truck from Georgia where they were baked fresh last month
). Tameka was sure good at making the customer happy. When she & Miss LA weren't at the Sicily's Pizza Buffet, she performed some awesome cake decorating, and I have great respect for her skill. Some of my least fun moments were spent trying to squeeze out "Happy Birthday ____________" onto a sheet cake while being observed by some executive assistant on her way to work during the wee early doughnut-making hours. My "Happy Birthdays" looked like I had Parkinson's Disease - I felt sorry for Elizabeth, Richard, and the small host of others who's hopes of seeing their name in sweet swooping cursive atop a "fresh" Winn-Dixie cake were dashed as the lid lifted. Anway, Tameka could sure decorate a cake! Her other talent was keeping us laughing with her color commentary of our conversations, and thinking up the new store greeting: "Welcome to Winn-Dick-me."
As fun as those 3 months were, I was happy to be starting my new career at the Stennis Space Center Wellness Center (39529 - amazed that we had our own zip code!). Despite being tipped off by my bakery manager that if I stuck around a couple more months, I could have his job, I took the SSCWC offer and began my 5-year tenure as a Fitness Technician. Yay!

One last note: working at the Winn-Dixie Bakery wasn't my worst job ever. It was actually quite relaxing and fun. My worst job ever was one I had waiting tables for Pagliai's Pizza in college in Kirksville, MO. There I'd received pennies, a stack of pepperoni, Kool cigarettes, and most often, simply nothing for a tip. Our patronage primarily consisted of 'the salt of the earth,' college students, and a few random, unsuspecting groups. The downtown business cronies (mayor etc.) came in every day at 2:00 for coffee and smokes. The wait staff was referred to as the "girls," and were required to keep their cups full until told otherwise, and were left no tips, less what I'd categorize as dirty old man chuckles and inappropriate comments & jokes. The manager, Tony was a grumpy a-hole who regulated his girlfriend's (an employee) food intake and daily activities. The other employees fit right in; stealing from the register, coming to work drunk and late, and frequently informing the customers that this time they were not right. I'm still yuckified by that unique stink that Pizza Schmizza, Pizzacatto has in common with Paglaia's (though lacking the stale cigarette component). Yuck! I need a shower. Sorry, but that's how this post is ending. Now smile!

Yes, please add your first/worst jobs in your comments!


LillieBug said...

Oooooh! Can I play?

First job: Dog washer at a pet grooming shop. Had this huge Himalayan cat completely freak out on me, and it bit my thumb, through the nail. I only worked there for one summer. I was 14.

Worst job: Certified Nurse's Assistant at a nursing home. Hard work, bad smells, and mean coworkers. Ah, the memories.

chris said...

Your first job in MS sounds kind of like mine. I worked in the shipping and receiving dept. of the Waveland Walmart. We would unload the trucks from 4-11am, put all the freight on pallets as we unloaded, and wheeled it to the different departments on the store floor. We were also delegated to clean the storeroom for all depts. and basically get treated like the shit at the bottom of the totem pole. It didn't help that the store manager had a power complex and treated us like we were ignorant fools that couldn't get better jobs (the crew I worked with were decent guys, although not highly educated, and has done mostly manual labor in their lifetime). It ended when I was hired as an operator at Casino Magic and basically told off the manager at walmart. When I gave them my two weeks notice, they told me that I didn't have to come back in.

That may have been the worst job, but one of my first jobs in high school was working from 11pm-7am one summer in a laundromat in Alaska that had contracted out washing smokejumper (firefighters) uniforms. They were greasy, smokey, sweaty, and dirty beyond belief. I loaded all the washers with the uniforms, let the first load run, put that load into the dryers and loaded up the washers again. The same process all night long. Outside it was light all night, so I was bummed that I couldn't go out and do anything, but I could blast my tapes or the radio as loud as I wanted (since I was alone) and I ordered some really good pizza from a place that delivered until 2am. I was also a youth soccer referee the same summer so I would basically go from the evening games and hang out somewhere for a bit until I went to the laundromat. Not much of a social life.

Matthew Volkmann said...

My first job lasted me about a year, from age 13 to 14. I was a paperboy, the only job someone of my experience, and more importantly, my age could get. I probably had the smallest paper route in town, consisting of about 40 papers. It took me about a half-hour to finish each day, and landed me with $20 every 2 weeks!
I've never had a job that I hated, so deciding which is my worst job is difficult. I worked the paper route for about a year, the coffee corner (off and on) for six years, part-time at the school district, installing software for a summer, waited tables at the captain's table for 10 months, and for five years I have been an assistant manager for family video.
I suppose waiting tables was maybe the most stressful workplace experience, however, it wasn't an awful place to work. The money was decent, and I got to make people laugh and feel good on a regular basis. Then again, my coworkers weren't of the highest mental capacity, which made for some aggravating rush-hours. I remember the head chef freaking out one saturday night about the lack of unbruised potatoes. Every potato she deemed too far gone was thrown, with gusto, against the kitchen wall, the dishwasher(the machine, not the person), the freezer, and the walk-in cooler. I remember having to duck, roll, or dive out of the way of more that one rotten potato that night!
Maybe I'm truly missing out on the "worst job" experience, or maybe I'm too much the optimist, but I feel like I've had a lucky work experience thus far. I am going to be a full-time college student and a full-time assistant manager starting in August, perhaps I will check back and fill you in after that. Until then, may your work experiences be enjoyable, and your coworkers maintain and average level of intelligence.

Anonymous said...

one of the worst jobs i ever had was one that i actually loved, if not for the humoungesly horrible people that also worked there. it was in a in-store bakery and the people that worked there, save for one older lady, were mean, rude and nasty.i was so terrified the entire time i was clocked in that i dared not even look up from my work. i finally walked out one day when i was accused of throwing a pencil, after i had simply tossed it on a desk.

another worst job was an internet sattelite company out of a mans basement. he would sit at his desk and bellow for coffee and no one could walk by his desk without being questioned. he also berated people in front of the small staff, made unreasonable demands, required you to "volunteer" to work weekends, yelled at me when his kid ran out the door(why wasnt i watching her?)accused me of calling his upstairs private number(i couldnt convince him that i never even knew the number)and so terrified the staff with his bellowing that no one dared make a wrong move. i walked out one day when he threatened to have me work in his office right next to him so that i could "get it right"
he is now wanted by the FBI as a fugitive from justice, after hiring people to destroy other competetive websites, which inadvetantly, disrupted homeland security and
he is currently hiding out in his native morroco.