This week we've asked some of our favorite writers to share tales of some of their favorite — and least-favorite — food workplace memories. Let's call the series "Forked." Today we follow Lauren Cusimano along on her first job.
The names in this story have been changed to protect every single person involved.
It was 2004, and I was starting my first job at an ice cream shop, a chain that may be headquartered in Scottsdale.
Fellow crew members included manager Samantha (she was trying to get pregnant with no luck), Mandy (a friend from school), Melissa (a squirrely suck-up, but fine) and the night manager, Carol.
One night I worked with Carol, who spent her shift on the phone with her boyfriend.
A familiar face walked in: co-worker Melissa, who ordered a couple quarts of ice cream. Carol gave her a wave of the hand, holding the phone against her neck to whisper, “Just take them, you’re fine.” Melissa started, seemed unsure, but Carol insisted. Melissa left, each hand weighed down by a tub of strawberry.
I was horrified. She didn’t pay, even though she would have received an employee discount. Could I do that? I watched Carol do this a couple more times with her own friends and cute boys.
Eventually, Samantha started cracking down, due to wonky inventory. The atmosphere grew thick.
And then, one day, friend Angelica came in. I served up the works: large chocolate ice cream, brownie chunks, a chocolate-dipped cone. A pretty pricey order.
One … kid’s … cup. By my authority, the price went down to $2. Angelica smiled big, and left.
I was napping at home when the phone rang.
“Do you know an Angelica?” Samantha asked.
“That’s my friend!” I said merrily, thinking nothing.
“Did you charge her for a small cup yesterday?”
My stomach dropped. "…Yes?”
“We’re going to have to let you go.”
I threw myself on my bed, weeping and unemployed. Then a thought hit me. Sniffles ceased.
Fired, on my day off.
My family loves Friday, the 1995 Chris Tucker/Ice Cube comedy. The line, “You got to be a stupid motherfucker to get fired on your day off,” is repeated to me to this day.
Mandy updated me later. Samantha was told about my severe discount, and made an example of me.
Someone tattled? Yep. Melissa. The hypocrite.
Weeks later, my brother and I visited Mandy, who again had the latest. Carol got busted; Melissa was promoted. In fact, she was the manager on duty. As we left, I noticed that Melissa’s Chyrsler LeBaron was parked next to us. “I’m gonna key this bitch’s car,” I announced.
Except, have you keyed a car? It takes muscle. I dragged my key down the side of her car and looked back. Nothing. I may as well have not been born.
My brother says I yelled, “I didn’t wanna work here anyway!”
I don't recall.
Months later, I heard my name at the mall. Samantha, heavily pregnant, came waddling over with her husband. My distrust was apparent.
She hugged me, saying, “I am so sorry about that whole thing. It was [Carol]. I shouldn’t have let you go.” That was all it took. “Please, it’s fine!” I belted, and being 18 and tactless, added, “Glad to see you’re finally pregnant!”
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Years later, friends and I visit our neighborhood bar: Applebee’s. I recognize the lanky server in another section. Melissa. At once, I relived the embarrassment of losing my first job. And now, finally, it was time to express my hurt. I was going to have justice, and in front of supporting friends and neighbors. I tilted my head back for amplification, and shouted:
“There’s the cunt who got me fired!”
About the artist: A self-annointed "action figure anthropologist," Danny Neumann has assigned himself the task of photographing parvusplasticus populus [little plastic people] in their natural environments. Employing subtle variations in pose and juxtaposition, he tries hard to blur the lines between reality and fiction, hoping to bring action figures to life, recreating the magical way toys are seen through the eyes of a child. Catch up with him at cantinadan.com.
About the toys: Between 1974 and 1977, Playskool produced a charming series of "Familiar Places" playsets. Not to be confused with Fisher Price "Little People", these 2-inch figures were square and nicknamed "Blockheads." The playsets enabled them to visit a McDonald's restaurant, a Holiday Inn, a Texaco gas station, a national park — and now, this Chow Bella series.