Tuesday, May 5, 2009

“WAG #10: The Professional”

As we go through our days, we’re surrounded by people doing everyday jobs: the guy that reads the gas meter, cashiers, bank tellers, security guards, doctors, circus clowns… This week, your assignment is to observe someone doing a job (their profession should be one you don’t know that much about). Describe him/her and also what they’re doing, why they’re doing it (as best you can tell), and how. Feel free to use your imagination, but don’t forget the concrete observation! Special thanks to Lulu for this week’s topic idea!

Two weeks ago I walked out of here having paid a dollar extra for a soda that I didn't get. However, as luck would have it I didn't realize this until I was already back at work. When I called and asked for the manager, the same girl that waited on me answered the phone. Barely speaking or understanding English I tried to explain to her that I bought one soda and she charged me for two. Eventually she instructed me that the Manager was gone, but if I brought my receipt with me next time they would refund my money. Right. Well, we'll see about that.

Weeks passed, and so did my memory of where the heck I stuffed that lousy receipt. Life seems to be laughing at me again, this time a dollar (plus tax) richer. At this point though, I just want my sub.

I open the door to find a new cast of characters to my familiar setting in life. Two teenage girls wearing polo tops and khaki pants, donning crinkly disposable plastic gloves, ready to take my order. From behind the counter Girl # 1 stares at me. Clearly she's pissed that she's working here in the first place. Maybe she had a bad morning. Perhaps her Mom gave her a hard time about having to babysit her child while she went off to work. My mind wanders down that rabbit trail as reality snaps me back to the present. Back to the face of this irritated young woman who quite obviously wants me to order, yet hasn't even said hello or informed me that she is ready.

Timidly I just go for it, I place my order. With great ease she stacks my toppings on the freshly baked bread that she's retrieved from the oven behind her. In great rhythm she moves. Without thought she turns, reaches, grabs, pivots around within the 3 foot by 10 foot space that contains her for most of her day. She is comfortable with this box that surrounds her, yet as she wraps yet another sandwich, she dreams of breaking out of this small town and all these annoying customers that are holding her back.

Before my sandwich reaches completion, she says some of her first words. I anticipate hearing the voice that resides within this young girl.

"SHIT!" she says. Followed closely by some mumbles to Girl #2 as she storms off behind the scene. In an instant she is gone.

The door opens to more customers, hungry for food and preparing to place their orders. I make my way over to the boy running the cash register. His English is barely discernible as he reads me the amount that I am due to pay. Girl #2 wraps my sandwich and places it in the bag for me.

As I hand the boy my twenty dollar bill, a flash of color breezes past his back as Girl #1 returns to her station. She must have forgotten to answer the voicemail message on her cell phone. Life is all better now, though. Taking her post she stares into the face of the next hungry patron, challenging her to say her order without having to ask this of her. The customer gives in and the routine begins again. I toss my coins into my purse, shove my bills into the right back pocket of my Buckle jeans, I wrap the bag around my arm and swing it around as I chuckle to myself and rush back into the noonday light. There are few things that pass the time when you're met with a mob of customers and your are in a bad mood. But sometimes, just sometimes, you find joy in breaking the simple rules.

No one else noticed....but I did.
Same gloves. She never changed her gloves.


Lily Cate said...

I ALWAYS notice the gloves!
People, there's no point in wearing them if you're going to touch money AND food with the same pair!!
In fact, I would rather you made my sandwich with washed hands (ever seen a cake decorating show? They NEVER wear gloves. Eewww) and use the gloves for touchig customers/money.

chen said...

Nice writing, h.

Iain Martin said...

Nice development, Heidi, and I liked your imaginings. Also, isn't it the truth?

Anonymous said...

EWWW! EWWW! That would freak me out! I'm a nut about that kind of stuff with food.

Oh, by the way, welcome to WAG. :-) This was a great first piece!

J. M. Strother said...

Yes, welcome to the WAG, Heidi. This was a great opening piece. So, she is fighting back the only way she can. Still, not anyplace I'd want to eat.

When I was in high school we used to go to a burger joint on the way home. I girl I knew worked there. She would chat, and reach into the ice machine to grab some little cubes to munch on. With her bare hands. Put me off the girl and the burger joint. :p

SueO said...

Hi, Heidi,

Lovely piece! Enjoyed it a lot.

For those of you who are grossed out by the money/food cross-contamination, a friend of mine who worked for a county health department (doing restaurant inspections) said don't worry about what's on money. Money is treated with antimicrobials and very little grows on it. She said worry about how the cutting knives are stored and the mayo/meat is kept cold. She said the biggest issue is rodent infestation.

I went to one of these sandwich shops (I know which chain you were in, Heidi) and they stored the knives on a magnet completely encrusted with mayo/meat/veggies from countless unwashed days. When they cut my sandwich with one of these knives, I refused the order and never went back.

Anyway, that was rather off topic. Sorry.
Welcome to WAG. I was marked as a brand new member "dasos" but this was my second participation, the first for me being WAG #7 on my site The Snow Leopard. I really love how this group stretches your efforts into areas you may not have tried before. Can't wait to get started on the next exercise!


Nancy J. Parra said...

Welcome to WAG!

Nice piece. I have to admit I was hoping you'd counted your change to find an extra dollar there...

Great job!

Peter Spalton said...

What a lovely piece. You sucked me into your world ever so gently and then let me go nicely.


Just Plain Heidi said...

Thanks everyone!!!!! :)