Monday, August 29, 2005


I had a job at a popular fast food joint where several mentally handicapped people worked as lobby persons, dishwashers, and salad makers. I'd always seem to connect with them. This story revolves around a girl who worked as the breakfast dishwasher and salad maker. I'll refer to her as "Judy".

Judy usually went on her break after making salads, before doing breakfast dishes. On one particular day, I was rushing the breakfast dishes back to the dish-room. I didn't see her back there at first. The last thing that I had left to send back there was a prep pan. I didn't think anybody was back there. So, being in a hurry, I threw the pan around the corner into the big stainless steel sink. The crash was really loud. Like I said, I was in a hurry, and I wasn't paying attention. After the big noise I heard "Whooop, Whoooop, Whoooooop!" I didn't know that Judy was back there. I totally scared the snot out of her. I felt bad, but then what she said next cracked me up, "That's funny!" I never really heard her say much before then and neither did anyone else, but after that we couldn't shut her up. Judy had several catch phrases that she used: "yeah right", "yeah, yeah, yeah", "that's funny", and the famous "Whoooop!" She even employed a sarcastic tone to them once in a while.

We all got a kick out of Judy and her quips, gags, and insights, however simple they were. But, the whoop thing was starting to become a problem because it penetrated through the whole restaurant. Customers would wonder what the hell all the noise was about. It became distracting. We had to tell Judy to stop yelling "Whooop" all the time. I mean, she did it when she was genuinely shocked/scared but she also did it because she knew that people thought that it was funny. She eventually cut it out, only reserving it for times when she could get away with it. It got to a point where just passing behind her "scared" her and she'd let out a whooop. She really wanted to get laughs and was quite the comedian. Then, Judy came up with a gag that went too far.

One day while going back to the walk-in freezer for something, I found Judy in the back-room holding a bun tray over her head. I asked her what she was doing, and then without warning she chucked the tray down on the floor then screamed "Whooooop!" It first frightened me, but then I got the joke and thought that it was pretty genius--she created a situation in her mind that justified screaming. I had to show my partner who I worked the grill with. This guy was in his 50's, but was really a young guy at heart and I knew that he'd see the humor in this. So, I told Judy to do her joke for this guy, and she obliged. The guy started laughing even before she did her gag because he couldn't figure out why the hell she was holding this bun tray way over her head for. He was standing right in front of her. What happened next was unexpected. She dropped the bun tray like before, it hit the ground, she whoooped, but then she added a twist: Judy kicked the bun tray square into the old guy's nuts. The poor guy buckled over then fell down to the floor, curling into a ball screaming in agony. Judy countered with a series of loud whoooops. I about burst my spleen laughing.

We never knew if what she did was planned out that way. The guy eventually got up and laughed pretty hard about the whole thing. He was a pretty good sport seeing as how she probably 'sploded his sack. We could tell that Judy got a bang out of the whole incident. Everyone who was there couldn't stop laughing and talking about it. That gag gave me the best belly laugh ever in my entire life.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Grunt's tip of the day.

When you have to endure any job, especially the grunt type, there's these little events that break up the monotony and keep you sane. On the other hand, there's also this soul-sucking element to work. In order to overcome the effects of the workplace succubi, you need little moments/acts of anarchy in order to save your soul from complete assimilation into the body corporate. If you are not sure what I mean by "little acts of anarchy" never fear, I'll explain.
  1. When someone breaks wind or hurts themselves, give in and laugh.
  2. Hide your bosses' stapler, chair, or two-way radio.
  3. Write nonsensical messages on post-it notes and put them under random desks or in bathroom stalls (do this in a different handwriting than usual).
  4. Make a cubicle fort.
  5. See just how fast you can spin around on a floor buffer.
  6. Put awful seafood recipes in the office suggestion box.
  7. Carve self help messages in frozen hamburger patties for waiting customers.
  8. Have a pallet jack race.
  9. Let lizards loose in the building.
  10. After someone else says something that they feel is important add, "That's a fact!"
  11. Hang out with the janitor. If you are the janitor, loiter outside an important board meeting holding something that looks like it could make a lot of noise, but don't plug it in, just look menacing.
  12. And, if none of the above or anything else works, hurt yourself or break wind. Someone will laugh.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Marlboro Man

I worked as a garbage truck driver/collector with one of my best buddies. He lived and died by the nickname. He had several that people had given him, some nice, some not so nice. He was also quite apt at assigning nicknames too. We've lost touch over the years and that's a shame; though, I still have fond memories of our grunt work we did together. Like I said, lots of people gave him some bad nicknames, but for me, at least, I'll remember him as the Marlboro Man.

Why Marlboro Man? Well, it wasn't because he smoked, and it certainly wasn't because he looked like the guy in the ads. To be honest, he looks like a pint-sized version of one of the "other" Baldwin Brothers--you know, one of the not-so-attractive ones. No, the reason why he received this nickname from me was that he was a walking billboard for Marlboro.

How did he get this way? Well, when picking up garbage all over apartments, condos, and trailer parks you tend to have a lot of smoker's trash. Back in the day Marlboro ran a promotion called "Marlboro Miles" and my friend was obsessed with getting free stuff. His scam was to collect all the Marlboro cigarette packets he could from the garbage cans on our route or anywhere really. But, he figured that as much of this crap that passes through the garbage in a day, he would have enough "miles" to get all the free tents, sleeping bags, parkas, and whatever other adventure seeking chain smoker apparel that he needed. The problem was, if you are against big tobacco, that the Marlboro logo was plastered all over the stuff .

He really needed my help to get the maximum miles. Because we took turns "throwing", which means you're the guy hanging on the back getting the cans and putting the trash in the hopper, you might miss out on some miles. So, he enlisted me in this scam and I went along with it cheerfully. At first, the idea of getting all this free stuff was really cool. I mean, we were going to split our miles 50/50. Yeah, I admit, I got a kick out of scoring empty packets of Marlboro's, but then the fun started to slowly die out for me.

We had to collect trash from a real rough trailer park. However, we always looked forward to going there. It was a friggin' miles gold mine! The problem came when the trailer folk got smart to our scam. There's no way that one person could smoke enough cigarettes to get the good prizes. But, to these people, their small time miles suddenly became quite valuable the moment they caught on to what we were doing. This was on a day that we had a big haul of cigarette packets. We were throwing them down on the street counting how many miles we had. A gang of yokels came up to us and asked, "What you want wit our cigarettes, huh?" We just ignored them, collected up the packets and hopped into the truck. As we were leaving, one of the guys in the gang ran behind the truck yelling, "You fu@&s stole our miles!" My friend stopped the truck and yelled back to him, "Well, you dumb shits threw them out so now they're ours" and then we drove away, laughing our asses off. After that little incident, the trailer park cut us off from their miles. However, we still had quite a racket going.

When it came time to cash in we were pretty excited. I thought of what I could get with my cut, I was going for a canoe and a parka. We had to cut out all the miles from the cigarette packets in order to send them in. As I did this, I started to have a moral crisis--would I be supporting big tobacco by accepting these gifts? I decided that taking these gifts wasn't what I wanted to do, so I gave my share of the miles to my friend. He was elated. He got so much stuff from them. I think that if we had started a year sooner he could have had a chance at the king prize, a Jeep.

After he got all of his stuff he needed to show it off. He wore his Marlboro gear anywhere he could. If we went camping, it was in a Marlboro sleeping bag, with a Marlboro backpack in a Marlboro tent. You could spot this guy out of a crowd so easily, just look for the dude dressed in blue denim with red, white, and black logos plastered all over him.

After we quit that job, I grew farther away from him. I no longer know what he's up to at all. I haven't seen him in years. I miss that guy a lot. It's a damn shame that things like this happen to friends. So, if you happen upon a tough looking, non-smoking short guy, decked out in Marlboro gear, let me know. It could be the Marlboro Man.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

New Swear Word

This new swear word was made up by me accidentally. I had worked as a custodian for a school and did a lot of general building maintenance. One day I had to go up on the roof to check out some AC units. There were several ways to get up to the roof via iron ladders bolted into the walls. The access point where I went up was in a poorly lit storage area. I had my underling (even grunts have grunts) hold some tools while I climbed up the access portal. Once you get to the top of these things you have to get out a key and take the padlock off, pull the release lever, and then the hatch springs open. First of all, if you've ever climbed up one of these fixed ladders (I'm sure there's a better word for what these are) you'll know how much harder it is to hang on to than a conventional ladder when you're trying to work with the other hand, due to the vertical nature of the thing. So, onward and upward I went.

When I neared the top of the portal I really couldn't see the steel support beam at the top. My underling called down to me as I was climbing up, "...uh, when do you want these tools?" It was just then that I reached the top, but being distracted, I took one step too high and slammed the crown of my head into the edge of this beam. Now, one thing you need to know about me before we continue with this story is that I'm a reformed gutter mouth. I usually catch myself in a swear before it reaches my lips. I didn't do so well this time.

Upon hitting my head, the first words that formed in my head were "Oh, fu@& that hurt!" As the verbal centers of my brain tried to send that message to my lips, the higher part of my brain sent out a cease and desist letter. What came out was quite funny: "Ahhhfak!" Imagine this said with a high-pitched stereotypical "Asian" accent (I'm not Asian BTW), that's how it sounded. My underling immediately started to go into hysterics, repeating over and over again what came out of my mouth, adding more of that Asian accent, "Ahhfak, AAhfak, AAAhfak!" I tried not to laugh as blood trickled down my head but I couldn't help it any longer. The harder I laughed, the harder it became to hold on to the rungs of the ladder and my hands began to slip. I caught myself before I fell, rose up, then hit myself in the same damn place on my head. I let out another "Ahhhfak!" Then my underling countered with "Ahhhsoysauce!!!"

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Early Years: Payback.

I got talked into picking cherries for some old fart with a fruit stand. The guy came and picked me up along with two of my friends in his Chevy pickup. The guy bragged about his paint job that he'd done all by himself using house paint and a big brush. Honestly, it was the roughest looking thing I'd ever seen, wavy and ridged like a potato chip. My friends and I hopped in the bed, sitting on empty fruit baskets. As we bounced down the old road to the orchards, one of my friends started laughing at this fat lady wearing this big sun hat. We thought that we'd be working with the old man, but it turns out that the funny fat lady would be our real boss.

This fat lady sat under a canopy in front of a big fold out table with a lock box of money and a cooler full of Tab. After the old fart handed us to her, she went on a big rant about if she catches us touching any of her stuff we won't get paid, if we screw around we won't get paid, and then drifted off about where to start picking. We got paid by the pound, so we needed to pick a lot. We got up on these loosey-goosey wood ladders and started picking, then about 20 minutes into it, picking and eating, and then finally an all out cherry fight. The Fat lady heard what was going on but was too lazy to get out of her chair, so she just let out a bovine like groan followed by, "Quit screwing around!"

It was really hot and about three hours in we were past hungry and dying of thirst. We thought that the next guy to take a basket up to the stand should beg her for one of the Tabs and whatever else she had in the cooler. One of my buddies ended up going there first and was turned down. She actually yelled at him for asking then directed him over to a bucket full of the nastiest water imaginable. We were too thirsty to protest, so we drank what we could keep down.

After the fourth hour of picking we noticed that the lady had left her stand. The lock box was gone, but the cooler was still there. We were a little unsure if we could get away with taking anything out of there without being caught. We went over anyway and looked inside the cooler. There was only one Tab left and it was open. This was back in the day of the tall glass bottle. My friend held up the bottle; the dripping ice water ran down the sides of the bottle and caught the Summer sun just like the damn commercials. We were in desperation waiting for our turn; then to our horror, our friend hawked up a huge loogey and spat in her drink. After the rest of us got over our initial disappointment and outrage, we realized the genius of what this kid did. So, we both took our turns spitting into this ladies' drink. Yes, she drank it, and yes, we got paid too. That was one of my first lessons in workplace anarchy and I'll treasure it forever.

Are you a Grunt?

Where do you sit on the Totem pole of life? Do you work your ass off for mere pennies? Do you feel that you've been put on this earth only to make others' lives easier? Are you a Private in Iraq? Do you have to clean the scum off of someone else's shoes? Do you feel like a stepping stone, doormat, currency or any other useful device for exploitation? Do you fit in the trenches better than the country club?
If any of these apply, then welcome. This blog will include some stories of mine and whomever that reflect on living La Vida Broka, life in the fastfood lane, and other humorous or soul crushing life experiences in the workplace. Any names placed in these chronicles will be changed to protect the innocent...blah, blah, blah!