6

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.

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5

What is Your Pet Wearing This Halloween?

Our cats haven’t been invited to any Halloween parties this year. Probably because we took away their Facebook pages. They were using them to lure unsuspecting mice over for “parties”. Now we’ve “ruined their lives forever”.

(Important Note: I am obviously a cat lover. Before we go any further, I should also mention that I would never own a dog under 40 lbs and prefer them larger than that.)

Everyday at work, I walk past the pet supplies (it’s on the way to the breakroom). For the past few weeks I have been noticing the pet costumes. Valuing my blood, I have never considered putting a costume on any cat who’s owned me. It seems that in the cat world, kittens are cute and cats are elegant. And elegant does not want to dress up like a banana. I thought our assortment was rather far-ranging with animals (tigers, sharks, pigs, lions), food (hot dogs, pumpkins, bananas), and other (bees, convicts, college team jerseys). Little did I know.

I went online to see what else was available, just in case. The first thing I learned was that cat costumes are significantly different than dog costumes. Apparently I am not the only one with a fear of pushing feline feet into a clown costume. With one exception, they were all hats or things that go around the cat’s waist (do cats have waists?). I found tutus, wings, a clown ruffle and hat, a devil hood (stop the jokes dog lovers), a princess hat (obvious choice), and a cowboy hat with bandana. I did not find a cat looking amused in any of the pictures.

The same site had over 300 costumes for dogs. I think my favorite was the movie starlet: satiny dress, blonde wig, and fake boobs. It seems that it would give the dog body image issues. A couple of the others I thought were a little unusual were the watermelon fairy, the flower fairy, the woopie cushion, the mermaid, and the putter pup (tam, shirt, and pants). The cave dog was adorable. I’m not really sure how the dog picks out the costume he/she wants to wear. There must be some kind of system though: some of the dogs looked pretty happy and some looked miserable (they could have been channeling the cats, I suppose). Maybe it depends on whether “Mommy” listened to what the dog wanted or picked out something she thought was cute, but in reality the other dogs would laugh at. These costumes were all in the 415 – $45 range, but on sale at 20% off.

Another mistake I made was assuming that costumes were all for small dogs. There is also a site that caters to large dogs (shepherds and retrievers not mastiffs and newfies). I discovered that large dogs prefer to wear uniforms – police, fire, vets. There was also a devil outfit. I really liked the grrrroovy dog (looked like Jimi Hendrix) and the pop king dog (looked like Howard Stern). These dogs all looked pretty content. Guess it’s easier when no one’s trying to get you to wear tulle.

Of course I had to look at clearance. That section was almost entirely NFL-related. The dog could get sweaters, cheerleader uniforms, jerseys, and/or t-shirts. I noticed there wasn’t anything for my team, the Detroit Lions. I would like to think that it’s because there is no market, not because I am going to be seeing lots of dogs in ill-fitting clothes all over the state.

Since things are already on mark-down and clearance, it won’t be long before they start to run out of the favorites. Be sure to pick up something soon, even if it’s just for the picture on your Halloween cards (if you procrastinate like I do, you can use it for Christmas). If you wait too long you will have to use the hair dye gels and go as Nicki Minaj or Lady Gaga or go retro as a ghost in a pillow case