I had spent my youth seeing this man yell at his employees for no reason, as I’d wait with my father for our lunch meat to be sliced. In fact, I once recall asking my Dad why we bought our lunch meat off such a mean man.
He told me it was the only deli with reasonable prices we could afford within a six-block radius and the man had a business to run — suggesting perhaps he wasn’t mean, just diligent. I looked up the word diligent the next day and he was wrong, the man was mean.
So why I’d choose this to be the first place I ever applied to for work a decade or so later, I don’t know. I was walking by the deli/restaurant one morning, saw a friend’s sister waitressing, envisioned myself pretending to do dishes while I creepily stared at all the waitresses in tight black pants and applied. Much to my surprise, I was hired on the spot. I didn’t even want the job but ended up taking it. The rest is history, as they say.
It was the same man I had seen yell at countless employees growing up who interviewed and hired me. I knew we’d eventually have a problem. Part of me looked forward to it. Like I’d be the ambassador for every deli clerk I had seen him mistreat over the years — the spokesperson for every sandwich maker he spoke down to.
He once described me as “eager to please” to our newly hired kitchen manager and I remember being so offended by it I almost quit, just so I didn’t punch or please him. The only thing I was ever eager to do at that job, was to clock out and go home to try to wash the smell of lunch meat, chicken grease, and misery off of me.
That being said, when I’m at work — I work. I’m not there to make friends or steal time. If I was, I’d simply go home. So I get his point — but still. It left such a bad taste in my mouth. Probably because I was so far from eager to please that dude, the thought of him thinking I gave a fuck about that $6.50 an hour dishwashing job bothered my actual soul.
He’d have us sit bowls of whole Jewish pickles out on each and every table before we opened — and would have us collect any that “appeared untouched” after customers left — so he could put them back in the jar and reuse them.
To this day, I can’t hear the words Jewish pickle without that man coming to mind. Mitch was the epitome of everything you hate in a boss.
He inherited the family business from his Dad who was actually a good person or at least came off as one to customers. Meanwhile, I don’t believe I ever saw Mitch smile.
I’ve told this story before but his catering manager who worked for his father and for him for at least the last two decades, being I saw him as a kid as well — quit, threw his apron at Mitch and staged a walkout in which other employees joined — before he announced he not only quit but had started his own company months ago and was taking some of their best clients with him.
Tom was his name and he became somewhat of a hometown hero around those parts from that day forward. The kind of legend folk songs are written about — if they were written about overweight catering managers who were sick of their bosses shit instead of bootleggers and bank robbers.
That’s how much people hated Mitch. I damn near applauded the guy and had it not been in my first two hours as Mitch’s employee, I would’ve.
Mitch wasn’t just a bad boss, he was a bad person. I ended up making somewhat of a grand exit myself when I quit. He asked me to go out on a catering order even though I was the only dishwasher that day. He promised to personally do the dishes himself if he had to while I was gone. He didn’t and I came back to a literal kitchen filled with bus pans overloaded with dirty dishes and grease soaked filth. I gave him my two minutes notice and rolled out the back door. To this day, it’s still one of my proudest moments at any job.
Mitch ended up losing the business, after being taken to court by several waitresses on sexual harassment allegations. Asian investors bought the place and kept the name the same but it is no longer a restaurant.
Mitch’s father’s namesake, a restaurant and deli — a neighborhood staple even, which was named after his father — became a place where they just sell beer to kids and lottery tickets to the poor people trying to buy a dream in the neighborhood. Karma is a you know what, I guess.
I’ve worked for bird removal companies, mismanaged but lovable roofing companies, solar panel installation, dog grooming, sporting goods, newspaper delivery companies and one where we sold windows door to door. Or they did, at least. I tried and failed miserably most of the time because I hated it and it probably showed.
What does bird removal entail exactly, you ask? Well, what it sounds like. We got paid $12 an hour to travel the entire country trying to remove birds from the inside of your favorite home improvement superstore. We were sent in at night to remove them by any means possible and it wasn’t always pretty. We meant business. Corporations don’t just fly anyone around the country and put them up in hotels — okay well on second thought…
I wish I was making even just a small percent of this up. My life would be better off today for it, probably. But then I wouldn’t have these stories to tell. Sometimes I believe the struggles I’ve dealt with in life were particularly carved out and handcrafted for me. They’ve not only made me what I am but in a way, my experiences have made my writing what it is. They are the very foundation of it and although it’s an oddly shaped and misformed one — it’s true and solid.
Today Brian works as a contractor for MPH design, a company his friend started over five years ago. He likes not only the owner but the company he works for as a whole — and is content as he’ll ever be at a job which involves leaving his house and not writing.
Brian also recently received an increase in hours and salary at this job, he got a promotion. This just may be enough to convince him not quit and start selling weed by the pound as he writes his days away into the sunset. We’ll see.
Brian also recently began writing little outros in bold italic lettering at the bottom of his posts in third person — his apologies. At least he didn’t go all capitals, like a lunatic.