Friday, May 27, 2005

 

The Resume (A Random Anecdote)

Job #4: Snack-Bar Boy


The summer I was 15 I actually ended up working two jobs. It sounds very industrious, but let me be the first to assure you that this circumstance came about quite by accident.

I began the summer perfectly content to work one job, the job I had worked the previous summer: hauling trash for my uncle. It was a good gig, especially this year, because my uncle actually paid me cash money for my work (I had promised long ago not to reveal that fact to anyone in town, but I think mentioning it here on an anonymous blog isn't really betraying any trust).

How it happened was this: while fixing a roof in early spring, my uncle fell and broke a few ribs. While he was fine to drive the trash truck, he could barely lift his arms over his head, so I was doing all the heavy lifting. And not just on the rubbish route, but around the house and in the management and maintenance of the various properties he owned. For this extra work, I became a bona fide employee of the Dubba Land Corp. and earned the princely wage of $3 an hour. We worked from 6 AM to 2 PM everyday. And though it was a full day's work and I was exhausted the first month of doing the job, by July I had actually become accustomed to the workload and began to relish having the rest of the day free to explore the woods and trails of the little town where we summered.

I was in pretty goddamn good shape then, which meant I often had the energy to ride my bike the 10 or so miles up some pretty hilly terrain to the posh resort where my brother worked.

My brother. He's a pretty peripheral character here at the Masthead, and not for lack of stories about him, no sir. I just haven't gotten around to them (but I will). For now, let me give you the Reader's Digest version: he's about three years older than I am, and about three times my size. Always has been, probably always will be. Growing up, this had its plusses and minuses. On the minus side his size, coupled with his poor impulse control (did I mention he was diagnosed with ADHD, what they called "hyperactivity" back then?), meant that I was the occasional target for his rage and frustration. Granted, I may have egged him on now and then (it may surprise you, gentle reader, to learn that I am a congenital wise-ass). But the net result was that I was sometimes his punching bag, to the extent that he put me in the ER no less than 5 times when we were kids. I'm sure many younger brothers out there had a similar experience.

On the plus side, my brother generally had a pretty kind heart (well, for a big brother, anyway). And--though it would have killed me to admit it then--we tended to look out for each other. His ADHD issues meant he had a tough time in school, especially in reading and writing, so I helped him, usually by reading his assignments and being a kind of human Cliff Notes for him. In return, he tended to beat the crap out of any older kid who tried to bully me.

During our long summers in New Hampshire, we generally got along well. There weren't many kids in town at all, so we had almost no one to hang out with but each other. Which is why when I'd finish working for my uncle, I'd often end up at the resort, which I forget the name of. Let's call it the Richman Resort, after the kind of people who lived there. Richman was one of these condo vacation places up on a mountain, with a private lake and golf course, private restaurant, shops. It was a bit like an elite country club, but bigger.

My brother was 18 and starting college in the fall, studying culinary arts at Johnson and Wales. If you saw him, you'd understand why he wanted to be a chef. He loved food. And I don't just mean he loved to eat it (although my God he did). I mean that he was (and is) a truly gifted chef. As a kid, he treated the kitchen like a giant chemistry set--only one where you could eat the results. He didn't use recipes; he tended to make up his own on the spot. So at 18, he decided to use those talents--and get a sense of what being a chef would be like--by getting a job at the private restaurant up at Richman. The kitchen staff there were all high-school and college-age kids, usually hired from the families who summered there. It was the only place around for miles where we might see kids our own age, although under any other circumstance, we'd never have hung out with them (we simply weren't in that kind of financial bracket). Most of the kids were my brother's age or older, but I wasn't picky. Mostly, what I was was lonely.

To his credit, my brother would let me hang out and give him shit, as long as I didn't really interfere with his job. The guy who managed the kitchen crew--a college senior from J&W named Michael--seemed to take a liking to me too. My brother had mixed feelings about Michael, for reasons I would soon discover. But when I met him, Michael was fascinating to me. He was from Ireland and had a strong accent, which I enjoyed hearing. He was full of fascinating stories, usually involving him being drunk. Or getting in a fight. Or getting in a fight while being drunk.

After a week or so of my hanging around, Michael started giving me small jobs to do. It was nothing I was paid for, but it occupied me and made me feel useful. Usually, it involved going down to the lake or the golf course to find Jerry, the boss, the guy who ran all of Richman's businesses. But sometimes, in anticipation of a dinner rush, I'd help by hauling boxes of food from the freezer to the kitchen, or running food supplies out to the snack bar.

The snack bar was down the hill from the restaurant, a little shack situated equidistant between the lake and the golf course. It mostly catered to golfers, who could drive up in their carts and get a quick burger or hot dog. But kids liked to come up from the lake and get ice cream, which the snack bar also sold. The snack bar was run by Rachel and Kim, who the golfers simply knew as "the snack-bar girls." In the mornings, they worked as lifeguards down at the lake. In the afternoons, they ran the snack bar. On really hot days, they didn't bother to change out of their bathing suits when they came up from the lake. While I'm sure it was a health department violation to prepare and serve food in such skimpy attire, none of the middle-aged golfer guys who frequented the snack bar ever complained. In fact, business had a way of doubling when the girls worked that way.

The girls were older than I and tended to ignore me when I brought them a new tub of ice cream for the freezer, or a block of frozen patties. But one day, they noticed me in a big way.

It had been a rainy day off and on, so my uncle decided to knock off work early. Thus I rode my bike up to see my brother early. He was busy getting ready for the lunch rush, but Michael noticed me hanging around and gestured for me to come in to the office he occupied, just off the corridor to the kitchen.

"Here," he said, handing me a ring with a single key on it. "Go down to the snack bar and stock it up for the girls. Take a box of hot dogs with you. I'm going out for a smoke." He had kind of a smirk on his face that made me want to ask him what was up. But I was young and stupid and didn't say anything. Instead, I grabbed the key and as Michael walked out for his cigarette break, I swung by the walk-in freezer for a box of hot dogs, then headed out the back to the snack bar. On the way, I passed Michael and few of the other guys on the kitchen crew. They were all sitting at the picnic table near the back door to the snack bar, puffing on their ciggies and shooting the shit. I put the key in the lock of the back door and opened it.

Since it was a semi rainy day, I guess Rachel and Kim had decided to change out of their bathing suits and wear actual clothes. What I didn't know was that instead of changing in the locker rooms down by the lake, they changed in the back of the snack bar.

In fact, they were changing as I opened the door.

Rachel was in the act of buttoning her shorts, but had not yet found time to put her top on. Kim was more or less completely buck naked.

I had never seen a real naked woman live and in person with my own eyes before so I wasn't quite sure what the protocol was when you saw one (never mind two). I was kind of stuck in a moment of indecision there. A long moment.

Then the box fell from my hands, burst open, and 50 frozen weiners skittered across the floor.

This triggered a flurry of activity. Both girls screamed. Well, swore would be a more accurate term.

"CLOSE THE DAMN DOOR!" Kim screamed, holding her t-shirt in front her.

Dumbly I turned and saw all the guys on their cigarette break, clapping and hooting, enjoying the show. I jumped inside and closed the door.

"Not with US you stupid shit!" Rachel shrieked, slapping at me with what I think was the top of her bathing suit. "GET OUT! GET OUT!" she cried.

I fumbled with the door. My feet were slipping on the frozen weiners. Then I flung the door open and practically fell out. The door slammed behind me. All the guys cheered. Michael got up, still smirking, and slapped me on the back. "Brilliant, that was! Well done, you!" My face was beet red. Embarrassed as though it had been my goods on display, I ran for my bike and got the hell out of there. Behind me I could hear the guys still laughing and hooting, and under their din, I could hear the girls, still shrieking and swearing.

When my brother came home that night, he was shrieking and swearing too. I thought maybe he was annoyed because he had missed the show. But no, apparently something else had happened.

"Michael's furious at you," he said.

I was stunned. Were we talking about the same guy who had patted me on the back and told me "well done"?

"What?!? What'd I do?" I asked. I was a young 15, and I wondered if I was somehow in big trouble. "I didn't know they were in there. Michael told me--"

My brother cut me off. "The snack-bar girls quit. Michael's got no one to run the snack bar this weekend."

My mouth dropped open. Rachel and Kim quit? Because of what happened?

Indeed they had. They were angry and embarrassed over the impromptu peep show. And rightfully so because, as I realized later (I told you I was a young 15), Michael had orchestrated the whole thing. He knew they were changing in there, and he had set me up. That was why he and so many other guys on the kitchen crew just happened to be at the picnic table taking a cigarette break. In their righteous indignation--and also to spare themselves having to be ribbed about the event for the rest of the summer--the girls walked out. Michael's little prank had backfired on him, and now he was pissed at me.

"Well, don't worry," I said, kind of annoyed myself. "I'm not going back there."

My brother's eyes widened, the way they did when he was fighting the urge to pound me. "You don't get it, ass-wipe!" he shouted. "Michael wants YOU to work the snack bar this weekend!"

And that's how I became a snack-bar boy...



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Comments:
How I wished I was at the picnic table too.

I laughed the hardest when you impulsively locked yourself in rather than out of the storage room.

Briliant. Well Done.
 
How mortifying for you, and them!
Very funny though, lucky for Michael you were a good sport. Today he'd end up with a sexual harassment lawsuit! I want to hear the story about how you got him back!
 
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