Thursday, May 6, 2010

He Works Hard For The Money

While checking out the online job boards today, I started thinking about my past work experience. I have met so many great people in the workplace, many of whom I still call friends. The job that I have gotten the most real-world experience and met the biggest variety of people, however, would be, hands down, be my years working at the Subway of Hyden. I was a fresh-faced, 23-year-old college graduate when I boldly went to the bank and asked for a loan to open my own Subway restaurant. I did have a degree in Hotel, Restaurant, & Tourism Administration, but had very little experience in the food service industry. In fact, the first real work I performed in the restaurant-related world was forced upon me, and by that, I mean that my parents forced me to work the snack bar at the family arcade and laundromat (yes, a strange combination). I was given no choice in the matter, and was not paid anywhere close to minimum wage, minimum wage being something that neither my sister or myself had even heard of until we learned about it in school. Every Saturday of my life, starting at about age 10, my sister and I would have to wake up and WALK to the store, open the business, and dish out change for either the clothes washers and dryers or the Pac-Man and Asteroids machines, depending on the customer's particular needs. We also served microwave-heated Landshire sandwiches, Little Debby Snack Cakes, those huge pickles, and Coca-Cola. To add insult to injury, my parent's didn't even wake up to drive us to work on Saturdays. Those pictures I saw on television of the family all gathered together in the kitchen on Saturday morning while Mom and Dad made pancakes or cinnamon rolls and the kids laughed and licked icing from their fingers while cartoons played in the background? Not at my house. Mom and Dad were tucked away asleep in bed, and my sister and I were walking to work and nuking ourselves a Landshire polish sausage sandwich for our breakfast. My only other foray into the food service industry was my brief summer employment at the local Dairy Queen Brazier. This was where I learned the phrase, "If you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean," a mantra that would carry through to my Subway days. When I say that I worked at Dairy Queen, I very loosely use the word "work," as I was not the best DQ employee in the world. I did a lot of leaning, which is probably why I kept hearing that phrase over and over again, "Keith, if you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean." I always tried to get my DQ schedule to match that of my friend Kendall's so we could be at work at the same time. This was never a good idea, but we seemed to manage to make it happen a lot. Kendall and I usually spent our shifts sitting in the drive-thru window and writing country songs. To this day, I still think "There Is A Tan Line 'Round My Ring Finger Where Your Band of Gold Used To Be" could be a hit if just picked up by Wynonna or Miranda Lambert. The Dairy Queen management tried in vain to put me in a position at the restaurant where I could successfully manage the tasks involved, but when they put me in the Dairy line, I would always forget to put the bananas in the banana splits, the soft-serve always fell into the hot fudge when I made dip-cones, and I could never turn the Blizzards upside down to show the customer how thick they were. Mine would always plop out onto the counter in front of the angry customer. When moved to the fast-food line, I would get orders confused and always giggled and laughed when someone ordered a pork loin fritter. These were not kept pre-made at DQ, and to be specially prepared. So, when someone ordered it, I would have to yell back to the cooks, "Holdin' on a fritter!" I could never do this without laughing, and Kendall would make it worse by usually yelling out "Holdin' on my fritter!!" The cooks would then yell back, "Fritter working!" which would cause me to laugh harder. I was finally placed on the breakfast shift, where the least amount of customers came in and hardly anyone wanted ice cream or fritters. In spite of all this experience, the bank somehow approved the loan for Subway, and suddenly I was a business owner in the food industry. I have had so many great employees over the years, and I have also had some really, let's say, trying one's as well. After the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, one employee told me that she was really afraid something like that would happen in our country some day. Another employee who I had fired after watching her smoke a marijuana joint in her car before coming into the store asked if she could keep her Subway shirt and use me as a reference. Of all the characters that have worked at Subway over the years, there is one lady who just stands out from all others. We had only been open a few months when I hired her to work the closing shift. I was working with her during her first week, and we were in the store alone. The phone rang, and she excitedly said, "Ooh! Let me get it!" She then ran over to the phone, picked up the receiver, and said in her most friendly voice, "Pizza Hut!" I just stared at her. I could tell she was listening to the person who had called, and then she said, "Oh, yes, this is Subway." She then wrote down the take-out order, hung up the phone, and merrily started making the sandwich. I walked over to her and said, "So, did you used to work at Pizza Hut?" Her reply, "No, nope, why?" I said, "Well, you just answered the phone 'Pizza Hut' and I just assumed you had worked there." "Oh yeah, that," she said,"I don't know why I did that. It just came out." And that was it, that was the only reason she ever gave. That was her explanation. The entire time she worked at Subway, she occasionally answered the phone, "Pizza Hut!" never knowing why or how it happened. So, my next job has a lot to live up to. I can't just accept any, regular run-of-the-mill job. I need some co-workers with some pizazz. Some people who will help me write country music songs or at the very least will give me something to work with here on my blog! I can't imagine working with a bunch of every day, boring people! Or, perhaps, whatever job I end up in, I will just answer the phone with "Pizza Hut!" and see happens.

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