Maybe I Need a Stronger Scent

A while back, I saw a Jack Nicholson film, “Wolf”. It’s about a guy who hits a wolf with his car. He feels badly about it and gets out to check on the wolf. Unfortunately, it bites him. More unfortunately, it’s a werewolf. Of course, the guy starts turning into a werewolf himself.

One of my favorite scenes takes place in the corporate mens’ room. The company has been taken over, and his job was given to a favorite of the new company. He manages to get his job back. Then he sees his rival at the urinal. He goes over and urinates on the man’s very expensive shoes, marking his territory.

I was reminded of that scene last week. I have not been working weekends for a while, which was really nice. But then I discovered that no one from our department was helping unload the truck on Saturday mornings. Our biggest load day. No wonder everyone hates the deli. (Fortunately, no one ever remembers I’m part of the deli.)

I asked the Team Leader (TL) about it. “I don’t have anyone coming in that early.” Ummmm. Maybe you should schedule someone that early?

Short version – I said I’d work 1a – 9:30a. There was another woman who worked cheese during the day on Saturdays and Sundays. We’ll call her “J”. TL had thought it would be a great idea to have our schedules overlap by several hours. Just what the customers want on a busy Saturday morning – empty shelves and two people in their way trying to fill them.

Luckily she settled for a half hour overlap the first day. I had heard J was not the most pleasant person to work with. Oh, goody.

First thing she does after she comes in is moves one of my carts. “This is the way I work every weekend.” Okaaay. And I volunteered for this.

I’m hanging cheese, and she comes over. “I thought you were supposed to leave at 9.” “No, 9:30.” “TL told me 9.” I realized that it would irritate her more to be cheerful, so I said, “Well, the schedule says 9:30,” very sweetly. She stomped off.

This past weekend, J had something to do so we overlapped three hours. I taught her how to unload pallets, then left to do other things in the deli. I think I ceded my territory to her.

Not that this is the first time. I volunteered to do markdowns in the deli a couple of times. It’s now my job. Same with inventory checks.

They lost another stocker yesterday. After only 10 days. So I’m back to unloading meat and salads. And chickens. I hate chickens. “I don’t have anyone else to do it.”

Why can’t TL do it? In the past she’s told me, “Men should do this. It’s not a woman’s job.” Mmmm-hmmmm. Insulting to me and women in general. Not really that easy to do.

And TL wants me to help the guy on Friday with the deli load – “He’s so slow.” After I do the cheese load. And her markdowns. And her inventory checks. And set her stock.

Kicked out of another watering hole.

It’s not like it should surprise anyone. I’ve told you in the past about the animals around our yard not being afraid of me. I even had a woodchuck stare rather than run.

Apparently it’s gotten around the neighborhood. It’s still (very) dark when I go to work. The animals are wandering around, getting things ready for winter. In the past week, I’ve had two possums sit in the middle of the road (one was even on the line) and watch me go by. They must have gotten off the road shortly afterwards, since there were no bodies later.

Same with a little raccoon. He wandered onto the road and sat to watch me drive by. I think I know how the animals in the zoo feel. Three deer meandered past me on the road.

I would really, really hate to hit anything. But sitting and watching me drive by is embarrassing. I never thought of myself as an alpha- animal, but I think they might be pushing me somewhere south of gamma.

I guess it really doesn’t matter. With my luck, if I marked something it would just attract an amorous bear.


Chicken-Induced Flashback

Every once in awhile, I get something for the deli mixed in with my boxes. I put it in their refrigerator, which is usually full of chickens. If I’m lucky, it’s pieces that have been fried and will be put out for sale cold. They always smell wonderful (but not as good as the stuff over in the bakery). On my less lucky days, it’s the chickens that have been spitted for the rotisserie. These chickens are generally covered by a plastic sheet, but still smell like raw chicken (go figure).

Today it was different. It smelled like greasy fried chicken. It smelled just like my first job. I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood just outside Detroit. Nobody had parents who could get them a job, so most of us ended up in fast food. McDonald’s was at the top of the heap. I had a friend who worked for McDonald’s her first summer. It was so bad, she took a kitchen job at a nursing home as a step up.

I ended up at a Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was kind of a weird building for fast food; rectangular with the short end facing the road. Lots of parking for the employees. Too bad most of us didn’t have cars. The front end had the counter and cash register. And a cooler with salads in it. The customers had to pick out their own side dishes – we were the epitome of customer service.

The back end was where the friers were. I guess the Health Department must have come around once in awhile, but it was really disgusting back there. Around the time I worked at KFC, there were rumors that one of the stores had mistakenly fried a rat and sent it home with a customer. It didn’t help that a little while later, someone shot a video of a KFC with rats running around behind the closed glass doors. If we served rats, no one complained.

Back then, the uniforms were orange stretch polyester. Ugly, hot and ill-fitting. And they retained the smell of chicken fat. It didn’t matter that I worked in the front of the store, I smelled like old frying fat. It was really a nauseating odor. As soon as I got off, I took a shower. My mother was really good about washing my uniform every day I worked. I think it was better than letting the smell have a chance of spreading through the house.

I had planned on working there during my senior year at high school. Unfortunately, teen tragedy struck. A bunch of my friends were going to a football game, and I had to work. I couldn’t get my mother to understand the trauma of missing a night out with boys. The boss was the same way.

One of the cooks was in a band. The band played at one of our school dances. Seeing him there was kinda cool. Except for the brown paper bag with whatever he was drinking. And the fact that he was so stoned that he could barely put two words together. Luckily he was playing drums, so he was at the back of the group. What a disappointment. And before I really had a chance to decide whether or not I thought he was cute.

The end was quick and painful. One night I was closing, and a drunk guy kept giving me trouble. This was before sexual harassment was an issue (for men). I went in the back, asking the manager to handle the guy. He kept sending me back out. I was too shy to really say anything to the manager, but, boy, if I saw him today…. (assuming I could remember what he looked like).

The next night I worked, the manager had some friends in while we closed. They all sat around talking and laughing while I worked. Finally I got fed up and told him I was leaving. He said I couldn’t do that. Guess what?

Afterwards I was so embarrassed I asked my dad to return my uniform and get my check.

A couple of years later, they moved to a much bigger building with an open cooking area. Much cleaner and the customers couldn’t get their hands on the food until they paid. Didn’t smell at all. The girls working there were much larger than I was/am. I’m guessing that’s how they dealt with the drunks.

I’m going to avoid the deli for a few days. The memory of those orange uniforms is giving me nightmares, and I haven’t been to bed yet.