Monday, February 13, 2012

My First Job

When you get to a point in life where demographics suggest that you have more road behind you than ahead of you it changes your perspective.  In my case it has caused me to adopt a policy of seriously contemplating my working life every five years.  This is an admittedly dangerous process, but does bring back memories of jobs past.  For instance my recent rolling the odometer over to 55 made me remember my first real job.

I was 16.  I got a job at a fast food joint.  No, not one of the big chains, but at a now extinct one called Red Barn.
To this day I can recall most of the mediocre menu.  The Barn Buster.  The Big Barney.  Whatever that nasty fish sandwich was that nobody ordered.  I also have burned into my cerebral cortex the only successful ad that the chain ever seemed to have.  It featured dancing Muppet-like creatures singing:

"When the Hungries hit, when the Hungries hit, hit the Red Barn..."

This sort of pitch seemed to primarily appeal to pot heads for whom "The Munchies" and "The Hungries" were closely related concepts.  I have a vivid memory of serving up an order for one shaggy haired fellow with drowsy eyes.  I gave him his bucket of fried chicken, then his large soda.  I asked him:

"Would you like a lid with that?"

His answer:

"Man, would I ever."*

It was not a great job, but I had no baseline for comparison.  The chain overall was not well managed, and had been sold off a couple of times in the early 1970s.  Our particular branch was not doing all that well either, thanks to a McDonalds that had opened down the street a ways.  Oh, and the Assistant Manager apparently had gotten one of the counter gals in a family way, so there was an undercurrent of gossip and angst.

But what the heck.  I was earning a princely salary of $1.62 per hour, and if I worked closing I could take home any left over fried chicken and some kind of nasty deep fried apple thing. 

From the lofty pinnacle of my current age I look back and marvel.  I was at the time going to high school across town.  I would work closing at the Red Barn, head over to the house of some friends of my folks and spend the night.  I got up before they did, leaving some now cold-n-greasy chicken as compensation for the available sofa. 

Living on greasy left overs.  Being away from home for days on end.  Did I even bring a change of clothes with me?  Memories are slippery things.  But was I really that much on my own at 16?

Coming soon:  My Worst Job

*In that antediluvian time "a lid" was some kind of amount in which marijuana was sold.  I have not heard the term in decades, but for all I know it is still current.

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