First, a teaser:
My next post will be a review (fair and balanced) of Elizabeth Gilbert’s
Eat, Pray, Love.
I think of it as:
Eat a Little Pasta, Do A Little Yoga, Get Down Tonight.
This story is about that hero of our times, Steven Slater. Or, rather, about myself as an earlier incarnation of Mr. Slater.
I dedicate these words to Cheri, who also walked off her first job, though she was much younger than the actual Mr. Slater or his teenage precursor when they went AWOL.
I bet you’ve walked out on a job too. Or, at least, thought about it.
My true story:
I got my first job when I was 15.
OK, fine, my sister (then 18) got me the job.
It was at a submarine shop called The Whole Darn Thing. Think Jimmy John’s or Subway, but imagine the girls behind the counter in white polyester dresses and colorful aprons. Gorgeous.
We closed at nine o’clock on Saturday night, so you could bring a change of clothes to work and still go out with friends. The piquant girls from the sub shop, redolent of onions and hot peppers.
I was not old enough to operate the meat slicer–that was my sister’s job. So, I was put on the cash register.
It’s lunch rush. The place is packed. I’m ringing up subs as fast as I can, but I can’t keep up with the sandwich makers or the impatient customers. And I’m supposed to get fountain drinks, too? I keep ringing up the wrong sandwiches, and on those old cash registers, it’s a hassle to fix those mistakes. (I think that was called an over-ring. ) Anyway, after a few of those, I’m feeling stupid and flustered and overwhelmed.
This having a job thing, it’s totally out of control.
Next, I hear: “You charged me for a Number 21, but I ordered a tuna sub.”
I look up. I close the cash register drawer. That’s it.
I’m outta here.
Had there been a beer within reach, I like to think that I would have grabbed it.
I can still see my sister’s face as I pass her at the meat-slicer, removing my apron, and now looking very swish in my white polyester.
I launch the emergency chute, walk through the front door, slide down onto the tarmac and walk all the way home. No looking back. (All parallels with Mr. Slater’s story end here.)
Do you need a postscript?
You know why we love Steven Slater. Taking this job and shoving it is a timeless fantasy. All the more appealing in the economic mess that has made all of us feel like scared, flustered, overwhelmed 15-year-olds.