She wasn’t a lot older than me, married to a local teacher turned politician wannabe. When you play on the losing side of politics it tends to stuff you into a box. That was too bad because apart from disagreeing with some of his political point-of-views he was a great guy and from all accounts, an amazing teacher. Perhaps it was because he was a nice guy – even too nice, or perhaps it was because he was busy all the time but whatever the reasons, she was making a list and letting him know, all through the privacy of her glassed office, with the door still open, stuffed into the back corner of her father’s restaurant, that I was helping manage.
Like I said, I didn’t mind the work. In fact, I was thankful for the work. After-all, I had a family to support and starting over does not come cheap. We had no vehicle but I relished in the fact that although our home was on the outside edge of this city and the restaurant was just off of the down-town, it was still faster – not to mention nicer – to walk to work here then it was to take the subway to the restaurant back in that golden prairie city.
At first my job was to clean up the personnel messes around the restaurant while learning each station. However, that quickly turned into just manning a cash register over all the busy times in order to make sure the operation ran smoothly. It was probably day three when that aspect of the job wore thin. In my attempts to talk to her about my desire to help her with her business I encountered a young woman who was slowly but surely coming off of the rails. This was definitely not a young married couple working hard at becoming pregnant. In order to do that you would think they would first have to stand being in the same room with one another.
To top it all off, her disgust with her husband didn’t end with his departure but spilled over into the rest of the place, creating a rather toxic work environment. The yelling, the screaming, the swearing, the rants, the off the rails behaviour was becoming intolerable. Being a parent, I found myself wanting to tell her to go to her room, unable to differentiate her behaviour from that of my toddler.
I think it was the practice I had over the last eight months on how to leave a crappy job that compelled me to suddenly leave my post in the middle of my shift after her latest outburst and go into the bathroom, change out of my uniform, and then march into her office, placing the uniform on her desk and telling her that I quit. However, unlike the other two scenarios this one took a different turn. She pleaded with me not to quit. She broke down and began to share with me about her marriage being on the rocks and the stress of it all and that she needed me to help keep things together here.
I was two months into my three-month probation and reluctantly I picked up my uniform once again, agreeing to stay, wondering if I was doing it out of pity for her or out of my desperation for a job. What I did know though was that I picked up that uniform knowing that not much would change and I would continue to be her highest paid cashier.
Over the next month the work environment did not change but rather got worse. She had now separated from her husband, it coming out that her business trips were covers for an affair she had been having for quite sometime, and only recently her husband had found out about it – finding fancy underwear in her office desk drawer and other tell-tail signs of infidelity. It was clear that I was no longer there to support her when she got pregnant and what was not so clear was why I was there at all.
Then, a day before my probation was up she called me into her office and fired me.
Her dad was making arrangements to have her younger brother come and help out with the business while she took sometime to recoup from the loss of her marriage. Apparently that meant an extended vacation with the man she was having an affair with in another city.
I turned in my uniform and collected my last check. The one and only time in my working life that I had been fired. And I was thankful.
Fast food is just way to fast for me I concluded as I walked home with another big grin on my face.