Archive for the 'Life' Category


A Lousy Job, Part II

After wrapping up my freshman year at college, the time had come for me to return to Kansas City for the summer, and to find a job. I wound up working at Washington Inventory Service. My job entailed taking stock of everything–and I do mean everything–that the client store had in stock; to perform this task I had a UPC scanner attached to what looked like an adding machine.

Most of the time the client stores were located in small towns in the middle of nowhere. I usually had to drive to these exotic locales, unless they were more than sixty miles from the WIS home office, in which case I could take a company van. Those long trips to such places as Manhattan, Kansas or the aptly-named Peculiar, Missouri on a van full of people who smoked and neglected to wear deodorant sometimes lasted several hours, and in some cases we stayed overnight. I had to do that twice, once when we did inventory for a Super Target in Des Moines, Iowa and again when we did a Lowe’s in Branson, Missouri. At least I was getting paid for those hours I spent on the van.

WIS did inventory for many different stores when I worked there, but the major clients (i.e. the stores where I worked most often) were Orscheln Farm and Home and Dollar General. Orscheln (pronounced Orsh-lin, apparently) was essentially a small-scale Home Depot that also sold such curiosities as horse bridles, thermoses shaped like shotgun shells and rectal suppositories for sheep. An odd place, but still very much in the spirit of the towns that they were in, and the atmosphere wasn’t too depressing, given that the store would be closed on the day we were taking inventory.

The Dollar General, on the other hand, was a horrible place. The stores were dirty, small and packed to the ceiling with cheap goods. Furthermore, the stores would also be open while we were working, which meant that not only would I have to hear Country music oozing out from the overhead PA system, but also that every once in a while I would be interrupted by an obese woman in denim hot pants who wanted to know where she could find the scented Jesus candles. Everything about the place just screamed redneck. It was honestly very depressing.

But on those occasions when I didn’t have to take the van (or even when I did), I sometimes found myself enjoying the drive. I would often go fifteen minutes at a time without seeing another car, especially at night. Beyond that, the plains and gently rolling hills of Kansas and Missouri are not without their own particular brand of prettiness, even if they can’t hold a candle to the majesty of the pacific northwest.

That notwithstanding, the Midwest was and is still a pretty miserable place, especially in the summer. I was quite glad to head back to Tacoma in the fall. Not a statement one hears very often, but true nonetheless.


A Lousy Job, Part I

Everyone has a job they loathe at least once in their lives; some unfortunates are stuck with that job until they retire. The first job I ever had was washing dishes for the New Theater Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas over the summer of 2004. At eight dollars per hour, the pay was pretty good for a first job. The work, though, was brutal. Because the restaurant aspect of the business was a buffet, which meant that the kitchen produced the same food every day, in the same quantities. This meant that I had a massive amount of pans to wash every day.

Worse, though, was that three days out of the week (i.e. Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday) there was a matinée show and a lunch to go along with it. Needless to say, the workload was doubled on those days. My first day at work happened to fall on a Wednesday. What was worse was that the other dishwasher was absent that day. After ten hours of washing food service trays, pots, pans and two obscenely large mixing bowls which had been used to make mashed potatoes, I was beginning to question my career choice.

I stuck with the job, though; it helped that I was able to construct my schedule in such a manner that I never worked on a matinée day. The knowledge that it was a temporary gig and that I would be leaving for college in a month also kept me going.

This isn’t to say that the whole experience was entirely forgettable; over the course of my employment I met a Mexican fellow by the name of Juan. He barely spoke any English–in fact, I don’t think he spoke a word of the language at all–but he was a harder worker than anyone I had ever met, or indeed anyone I have met since. Working with Juan was something that helped to put my situation in perspective; sure, I had a shit job, but it was a job that I would be able to eventually leave. He, on the other hand, was stuck with it.

There was one other lesson that I learned at that job: adding hot water to just about any foodstuff results in a downright awful stench. This holds especially true for salad dressings, Ranch dressing most of all. In addition to the smell, there was the added joy soaking my forearms in filthy water for two hours at a time. This was the second important thing I came away with from the job: a strong stomach (though I must say that grease and fat still do a fine job of making me gag.)

Washing dishes was definitely not a pleasant job, but in retrospect I’m glad I did it; now I can feel good that I can empathize with the plight of the working man. This is hardly a boast that the typical college socialist can make, I think.