Summer of 2000, I had turned eighteen and was going to get a job – my first. With high school a couple months behind me and no college in sight I truly felt free. The summer treated me well the highlight being a road trip to Alabama with my friend Spanky. That’s no typo that’s his name. We traveled by RV with a man named Bobby, my step dad at the time, and a couple of his friends. Those couple of weeks were very fun but that’s a different story for perhaps another time.
This is about the week of August 26, 2000, at my first job. It started off much like the rest of summer, fun. My friend Spanky used his pull at a restaurant, House of Pizza, to get me hired. He worked there as well – things couldn’t be better. In a way Spanky was like an older brother to me in those days. I never thought of it until now. A good guy that Spanky. Anyway I worked in the back, making the pizzas, a perfect job for an eighteen year old that grew up during the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles era. It was a busy restaurant in those days and early on I was just trying not to mess up. I was one of many youths working in the back so that gave me some comfort. I was quiet in those days more so than now. One night I had to work a shift without Spanky, which helped me to not rely on him for everything at this job. It was busy as usual and hot, very hot – it felt smoldering to me..
I wasn’t used to such temperatures especially in small poorly ventilated areas. This place had a giant six shelf, rotating oven that churned the heat out. At the tail end of the dinner rush I asked my manager if I could go outside and get some air, I was dying. I couldn’t fathom how the others could take it. This was hell. She looked at me with cold eyes, which seems impossible considering heat waves were rippling out from the oven nearby. She asked if I could wait until the orders were caught up but I couldn’t. I wanted to leave and never come back to be honest. I wasn’t comfortable there it wasn’t for me. I had to get away.
She granted me leave although I know she thought little of me at that point but I could care less. I hurried outside to get a welcoming blast of fresh air. I breathed, relaxed and looked beside me. There was another chap squatting near me also complaining of the heat – I wasn’t alone. His name was John Wright he was a bigger fellow. He didn’t last much more than month there. I quickly gathered myself and returned to my station for fear of taking too long. I, as usual, finished my shift quietly and walked home as I did in those days. I thought long and hard (that’s what she said!) about continuing to work at that restaurant.
I arrived home and talked with my mom about how work went. She understood although I had mentioned I wanted to quit numerous times. All she told me was to try it out for a few more days and see how it goes. If worse came to worse I could quit. I accepted that, not easily but I did. Now what I failed to realize at the time was she probably didn’t want me to quit so soon especially due to the fact that earlier in the summer I never showed up to an interview for a local grocery store. She was very upset at me that day – I remember it all too well, it wasn’t one of my finer hours. Ask Spanky he was there – I was terrible in my laziness that moment.
Being young none of that came to my mind though, I never even thought about that no show interview. Instead I pressed on and put my nose to the grindstone and worked extremely hard from then on out. It earned me two pay raises in the next month alone. I quickly became one the best at my job behind Spanky of course. I went on to work there on and off for the next six years. I don’t often think of this moment in my life but it poked my brain the other night and now I feel as if I have no choice but to write it down.