This is a work of semi-autobiography and therefore should be considered fiction. Names and events have been altered. "Seven Years Bad Luck" is an ongoing series. This is part fourteen.
Chapter 4 -- "Dad"
The ritual has begun. I peek out carefully from the hallway. Dad is ensconced in his armchair, eyes closed, napping. Reruns of NCIS run on the television. It's soundtrack is the house's soundtrack. It's on all the time.
I back up down the hallway and take the long way around. Sneak through the living room and dining room into the kitchen. Glazed Walmart donuts are sitting on the counter this time. I filch them, and then try to bravado my way out.
“Okay Dad, I’m off to work, see ya later,” I say breezily, going in a perpendicular line from him out the door, box hidden by my body. Dad sits up quick and shoots me a glare. Somehow he spotted the box. Or maybe he could just tell I was holding something and knew what to expect.
“You come back here with that!!!” He roars, lurching up out of his seat. I run outside to my car.
“You put that back! I’m tired of having to buy new ones after you take all my sweets!” I hurriedly get into my car and back out of the driveway. Dad comes out and stands angrily in front of the garage as I finish pulling out and drive away.
When I get to work, I put the donuts in the back. My boss swings in as soon as I get there, looking at the box.
“You’re going to make everyone fat, Stephanie, if you keep bringing those sweets. I know you want to get them away from your dad, but you need to find somewhere else to put them.”
I’ve never heard anyone complain about extra sweets here, and my boss never eats any. But I don’t argue, she’s my boss.
“Yes, ma’am, I’ll take them back out to my car once I take my break.”
“See that you do.”
I put on my apron and get behind the counter. I work at a smoothie joint by the beach.
I’m growing fonder of customer service, I’m discovering. You get sweet people who love to talk to you and appreciate your hard work. And then you get the dregs of society, the snooty, disdaining types that think they could do your job in a heartbeat though they’ve never tried. Those customers you love to hate. But both types help you grow. The sweet ones help you talk more smoothly and confidently. The dregs help you learn how to stand your ground and develop a thick skin. I need a thick skin.
“Stephanie, you need to work faster – okay, switch with Kayla, we need these orders out stat.” I’m just about done, but leave the station anyway for my coworker to finish up.
I’m growing more convinced daily that while I might be good at customer service, I'm really not any good at food service. As far as I can tell, in this industry it doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you do it fast. That philosophy rubs me the wrong way, and I’m having trouble adapting. I worry about getting fired about every time I come in.
My shift finally ends at nine. My boss left earlier that afternoon, leaving things much more relaxed and work was simple. I climb back into my car and make the 45 minute drive back home. I make minimum wage and it’s part-time. While I graduated school without any debt and have no expenses living with my dad, I’m still desperate to find a different job. It’s funny how working is not about providing for me. It’s about not feeling humiliated every time the second question in a conversation comes up after How Are You: “What do you do?”