Monday, July 31, 2017

My Scaramucci

My freshman year of college I did work study in the kitchen of our dining hall. My job was gathering the dishes from the trays students more or less threw into our area (no conveyor belts back then, dear hearts), putting them into thick mental-institution-blue and green plastic racks which were then inserted for ninety seconds into our super fast industrial antisepticizer. Then I was to pull the steaming rack out and stack the dishes so that they could be whisked back into the line for some other hung over freshman to immediately slather with eggs, "fresh fruit" and genuine artificial butter product.

My first shift was a Saturday morning. I stood in back with full-time employees who actually knew what they were doing, doing my best to gather the plates while avoiding having to touch things that really disgusted me (like ketchup). I stacked, shoved, slammed the iron gate of the antisepticizer down, pushed the satisfyingly-big-red-missile-launch button, and watched as steam immediately shot out in a fantastic echo of carbonite freezing.

Ninety seconds later, the plates were ready, and the nightmare began, as my decidedly-non-calloused hands attempted to manipulate now-super-hot plastic dishes. It was like playing hot potato with real potatoes cooked in volcanoes. Meanwhile more dishes covered in ketchup and mustard and other things that make me sick were piling up, many left by smirking guys from my floor who went that extra mile with their refuse.

Everything that looks incredible when it's brought out to you 
is the stuff of nightmares when you're done with it. 

Pretty quickly, one of the full-time employee very quickly started shouting at me. He was speaking Spanish, a language I should have understood, as I'd studied it for years in high school; but we'd never done a unit on "conversational dishware workplace" (or conversational anything, believe it or not), so I didn't know what he was saying.

But hey, at the same time, let's not kid ourselves, I knew exactly what he was saying, and the louder and more frequently he shouted it, while I began to wonder at what temperature the top layers of your skin melt off and whether I had fallen into a cool episode of "Tales from the Crypt", the more I shared his concerns.

Things went on like that for about 50 minutes. Then I saw a bunch of my friends in the dining hall. One of them looked my way, smiling. His plate was clearly going to be a real treasure chest.

I kept at it a few more minutes. Then I went to my boss, quit, got in line and joined my pals for breakfast.