To Be Fair, I Don’t Know How To Do That, Either

, , , , | Working | December 3, 2020

My first job out of high school is as a part-time waitress at the campus diner. We serve mostly things like burgers, dogs, and grilled cheese, along with coffee, sodas, and ice cream.

For whatever reason, after I have been there for about two weeks, two of the senior staff — a woman in her late twenties or thirties and a woman who is at least sixty-five — inexplicably take a strong dislike to me. No matter what I do, no matter how many times I do something over (and over), I am wrong, even when I am right.

Staff are given a thirty-minute lunch. If I take a thirty-minute lunch, I am cheating the system and they hound me until I am back in fifteen minutes. Going to the bathroom is an obstacle course. Our fifteen-minute break? The older woman watches me grab my allotted small soft drink and head to a table, and she’ll follow right behind me and scream at me.

Older Woman: “You are over your break time! Get back to work!”

These two witches have a cult following among the student workers, most of whom were theater and arts majors. All the very pretty young women and the handsome young men get passes for everything they did wrong. Messed up on the inventory? It’s okay. Have your period and are in pain? Go lie down, honey.

I had to take a day off for sickness and you know I got told how lazy I was.

While only one person is supposed to be responsible for the cash register, we all have to handle it at one time or another. Math has never been my strong point, but I really thought I could count out change. Come to find out, when you are knee-deep in patrons and people are demanding your attention left right and center, you can make mistakes.

These two harpies stand over me and scream and yell at me for being too stupid about making change so, yes, I do make a lot more errors out of nervousness.

Meanwhile, another coworker, a very handsome, schmoozy guy — he’d kiss their hands, bow, give them sleazy compliments — is working with me. And every time I have to work with him (and the two women), the register comes up short. Even if I have been nowhere near the register, they tell me it is my fault. If I protest, they shake their heads at me and walk away.

Next thing I know, I come into work at night — when it should be just me, [Younger Woman], and [Handsome Coworker] — and there is one of the two head supervisors.

Head Supervisor: “[Younger Woman] is ill, so I’m here to take her place this evening.”

She puts me on the register all night and I am scared spitless. She keeps an eye on what I do all night, and I do make a couple of errors.

Head Supervisor: “No, don’t worry. It happens. Just keep trying; you’ll only learn by practice.”

She teaches me tricks of counting out change and that starts making it easier. I don’t know how I got to be seventeen and didn’t know how to do backward counting of change, but I didn’t know it and no one but this lady has ever shown me what to do.

Head Supervisor: “You aren’t stupid; you just have never done this before and you will get better at it.”

At the end of the night, she sits down with me.

Head Supervisor: “I was actually here to keep an eye on you because [Younger Woman] and [Older Woman] told me that you have been deliberately screwing up on the cash register and that you’re very lazy. I think I know what’s going on, but I can’t say too much. I can tell the big boss — and them — that you are not lazy and you will catch on.”

Next thing I know, I am switched to a different time. Then, I hear that [Younger Woman] has quit. Then, [Handsome Coworker] disappears, never to be seen again. Only [Older Woman] is still around, and suddenly, she can’t kiss my feet fast enough.

I never found out what happened or what [Handsome Coworker] and the harpies were up to, but after that, I was a happy member of the kitchen crew for about a year. I finally quit when I realized just how badly my studies were suffering, although I got called back a couple of times to help out. The worst thing I got yelled at for after that was when I mistakenly took a larger beverage than was permitted — and you can bet I never did that again.

Over time, I figured that I must have replaced someone that the two women liked and they were mad about it, that one of them had a relative who didn’t get the job, that they knew I had a relative working on the security team at the college and they didn’t like him — they sure couldn’t scream nepotism, since at least one of them had a relative working in the snack shop with us and another one who was working in another part of the campus — or that someone was skimming the tills and they figured it would be me rather than their favorite who could do no wrong.

I still teach everyone how to count out change these days because, yeah, young people are still not taught that skill anywhere.

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