Lunch Lady Doris

May 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm (Cussed Dumbers)

Time drags on. Time flies when you’re having fun. I celebrated a combination of the two at work the other night.

It was my five-year anniversary of working at Master P’s.

Thursday night is not a typical work night for me, but missing work due to a recent illness has me scrambling to catch up in the billable hours category. When Whitney called me in the middle of the night to ask if I knew I was to be working, I told him, “Yes, in fact I asked for it.” He seemed kind of surprised.

It didn’t occur until I was making rounds that it was five years to the day since I’d started this latest endeavor at financial self-sufficiency. It seemed appropriate that my life should be the way it is. Consider:

–I ended up at Master P’s after being fired for calling sick at my previous job. It was the second time in four years I’d missed a day without arranging it well in advance. The illness? An infection in my leg, just like the one I have now. When the infection recurred, instead of losing my job, I was told to take as long as I needed to get better. I was told the same thing when it flared up last month. Their only concern was that I be okay. I can’t begin to verbalize how grateful I am not to have to rely on unemployment while looking for a steady gig in this work environment.

–Five years ago I reconnected with my ex-wife. It was a brief visit, a pleasant one. But… I’d just started seeing a woman who would become a big part of my life, and it didn’t feel right to mess with that. In hindsight it was the right call. I had a glorious run and made a friend for life. We don’t see each other much anymore, but still talk. And the ex-wife is stalking me again; she’s been calling around trying to get my number. This time around I’m single and not the least bit conflicted. The devil horns are poking out…

It’s funny how the circle of life works. So many things happen, yet one seems to end up right back where they started. A perfect metaphor for Thursday’s night of work: I was to be Lunch Lady Doris, named after the school cafeteria worker on The Simpsons.

Master P is one of the few convenience stores that offers a lunch hour to his employees. A worker makes the rounds from store to store, giving the cashier an hour to do with what they will, providing they return sober and on time. It’s not a bad way to pad the paycheck. You work half a day, and about the time things get settled in you’re off to the next store. I liked being able to spend a few minutes appreciating the atmospheres of the three stores.

I started at the Nightclub Store, my home base. Atypically busy during the 7 PM hour, I had to hustle to gobble down lunch between customers. The Tasmanian Pitbull, (“I keel you!”) the little lady who works the nights I don’t, went to the bar around the corner to play video poker. I chatted with a friend, made the boss some money, and was off to my next stop, Sweet Potato Mountain.

Sweet Potato Mountain, aka the Waterfront Store, sits at a MAX stop. Since the train lines were rerouted, business hasn’t been as busy. This is the hardest store for me to work. Yuppies, entitled office workers and folks “way too important” to be dealing with me are the norm. I don’t handle uppity well, and give what I get. Fortunately there are enough nice customers that the bitterness evaporates quickly. This hour lasts the longest of the three stores. Polyphemus, the clerk on duty, returned from lunch one minute early, as opposed to the typical twenty minutes late. I may finish on time after all.

I saved the Mothership for last. Elmo was surprised to see me doing lunch detail, but wasted no time taking me up on the offer. His apron was on the floor and he was out the door in a flash.

The Mothership is the original store. It has a long and colorful history, is the busiest of the three due to location, and is always rocking. There are cameras inside and out, so I can watch myself and the commuter world on TV when I’m not shouting down street kids for panhandling and trying to steal beer. Time flies at the Mothership.

I changed the radio from mariachi music to the metal channel. White Zombie’s More Human Than Human was playing, and it reminded me of the time Whitney, Elmo and I cranked the store’s ghetto blaster to eleven and rocked out ala Wayne’s World, fists raising and necks whiplashing. A nine-minute Tool song played next. The musical gods were blessing me with the perfect soundtrack for the night. The hour went quickly.

And then I was done. Five years of fun, thrills, happiness, heartbreak. Babies were born. Love came and went. Lifetime friendships were made. During the course of a work day I’ve met celebrities, from A-List to D. (Shaq, Laura Dern, Playboy’s Miss August 2007 and Flounder from Animal House come to mind. There are way more.) I’ve met the nicest women, some of whom still speak to me.

The next half-decade begins today. I hope it’s as fun and fulfilling as the last five years have been. A hearty thank you to Master P and the gang. It’s been real. It’s been fun.

And yes, it’s been real fun.



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