Monday, March 7, 2011

Working Men are Pissed

I can't believe I wrote a whole story on crappy jobs and neglected my Kash & Karry experience.

My roommate Todd and I were in our late 20s. I had just moved back from Atlanta and was writing press releases for UF in the morning, then delivering campus mail in the afternoon. Neither job would hire me full-time, which is understandable, since my job habits were fairly relaxed at the time. As long as I turned in a story a week for my first job, I was good, and I could usually do that with little or no problem. As for the campus mail job, I had a 3 hour shift, and could usually complete my deliveries in 20 minutes. The rest of the time I generally held court in my friend Pat's record store, or drove around in the minivan running errands or listening to tapes. I helped a lot of people move in that minivan.

Todd and I were always on the lookout for extra money to finance our record buying habit and had somehow heard there were opportunities awaiting us at the Kash & Karry deli. Not only would this job enable us to buy our hold bags currently being held at the record stores throughout Gainesville, but we'd also be able to indulge in our passion for free food.

Visions of Scooby-Doo sandwiches in our head, we applied and heard back within days.

A manager lady took us upstairs and made us watch training videos. I'm almost certain one had a clown who fell down a lot to teach us about safety. I thought it was weird that all her comments were about bagging groceries and not quizzes on delicious deli meats and cheeses, but I assumed someone else would teach us about that later.

We were told to always take customers' "buggies" out to their cars unless they strongly objected. As an example, Manager Lady adopted a gruff tone and said, "I'll take 'em out myself, what do you think I am, some kinda queer." We quoted this for years.

After we passed our training, we were dumped by the registers and told to start bagging groceries.

"But we were promised the deli," I wanted to squeak.

Bagging. That was the first real job I ever had, and over 10 years later I was back to asking people for their paper or plastic preference while my college degree sat at home in a cardboard mailing tube. Taking the buggies out to the parking lot, I was sure I would run into a professor I had interviewed earlier in the week.

"Well, he said he was writing for the press services, but I'm almost positive I saw him at Kash & Karry."

My next shift was Halloween night. I would work from 11 PM til 7 AM. At least I'd be spared the embarassment of running into anyone.

We went to a party where we were dressed, rather awesomely, I'd like to think, as Devo. I had to leave early, change out of my cool-looking Devo suit and start my 11shift.

When I got to the store, I was given a razor blade on a 5 foot pole. My task was to walk up and down every isle and scrape the gum and ground in crap off the floor so they could be mopped later on that week.

I scraped throughout the night, a mixture of self-pity and hatred fueling me. Every few hours costumed college students would come through buying beer to keep their fun times going.

"Oh look. There's a sexy nurse, a slutty Dracula and a hot kitty cat. I wonder if they need a guy with an apron and razor blade pole to complete their gang."

By 1:30 my mood had soured considerably.

"More beer. Yeah, that's just what you need. What sort of half-assed costume is that anyway? Better have all your fun now, because you'll be joining me on the night shift in a few years."

Walking out to my car at 7AM, the birds were singing, the sun was shining, my hands were withered into arthritic stumps after scraping and mopping, and I knew I had to quit.

Todd was fine with quitting, and we returned our aprons to Manager Lady that afternoon, who wouldn't even look at us.

We kept our nametags with the names "Shits McCray" and "Balls" ...something or other on a privileged spot on the refrigerator for the rest of the year. Later we would add our second checks from Kash & Karry Co, two checks for 65 cents and 78 cents.

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