Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Back in the Saddle

Sunday, May 29th, 2011 08:26 am
radiumgirl: (spin)
 Yesterday was my first day back at Adventureland. It was pretty standard for an early season outing: long line for season pass pictures, printer jams, pissed-off people.  Alot of rides aren't open yet because they either haven't been safety tested, aren't assembled yet (I laughed my ass off, I mean really?), or failed a fire inspection (and just when I don't think I can laugh any harder, I do).  Apparently the radio frequencies changed between this year and last because I called my supervisor three times on the public safety channel. The general lack of communication is still in place: I called down to the Main Gate looking for a credit card that had been delivered to us an hour earlier. 

Gabe is in Guest Services this year.  He's on vacation because he's a sloth and no one knows when he's coming back because it's his dad's beach house on the Outer Banks and it's not like he really needs the job anyway. When I call him to make fun of him, I stick with "sloth" though, because he gets sad when I call him "cake eater."
There are a few returning ladies of G-Serv other than myself and, I was surprised when I looked at the schedule, a few new male additions. There was a running joke last year that Guest Services was Brad's personal harem because it was staffed entirely by women, except for him. It didn't help that he started dating one of us towards the end of the season. I leaned against the door of Brad's office and held the schedule up, "Way to turn your harem into a sausage fest."
"Are you complaining?"
"Nope. I love the men. Are they pretty?"
"I wouldn't know."
"Yes you would. I know when women are attractive. That doesn't mean I want to bang any of them."
"Well Gabe is here."
"And he is a bronze god."
"Travis will be in later and you can report back, okay?"
"Aye, sir."
"I love when you call me 'sir.'"
"It's more sarcasm than respect."
"From you I would expect nothing less."
It's a little freaky how easy it is to slide back into that rhythm. I've been at my temp job for six months now and I still walk in and panic because I don't know what's going on half the time, don't know which co-workers I can talk to, play with, or trust. Walking back into Adventureland, details like the radio frequency aside, was like slipping into a comfortable pair of old shoes. 
And apparently, Travis and I know each other already.  He used to be a rides extra, a rides person who was trained on everything and belonged to no specific team.  He was loaned out to teams as needed to cover call-offs. I feel bad because I don't really remember him, but he rang on the window next to mine, and at one point, during a lull in the line, said, "Hey, you're the old Jungle manager. I worked with you once."
"Oh god. I'm sorry. Was I mean?"
"Nah. You made this really amazing buffalo chicken dip for your team and let us all take 45 minute breaks."
"Wow, you got me on a good day."
"Yeah. Gabe warned me when we walked down. I was supposed to be on the Ferris Wheel, but you had a call-off and on the way down he asked if I had worked with you before and I said 'no' and he got this weird look on his face."
"Oh noooooo. I bet he told you I was a bitch who regularly made my team members cry."
"Nah. He said you were a little rough around the edges, but a total sweetheart."
"Of course he did."
"No really!"
"Did I make anyone cry that day?"
"Not that I recall."
"I must've been off my game."
So despite the fact that I don't remember him, I love Travis and he's my favorite sausage in our harem. 
It's good to be back, kids. It's good to be back. 


Sunday, May 29th, 2011 02:18 pm
radiumgirl: (be kind)
 The first job I ever had was as a burger bitch at McDonald's and it sucked, but I was sixteen and I needed to work somewhere that I could walk to. I had a manager named Nina whom I adored. Nina was loud and funny.  She was short and had a tattoo of Bowser from the Mario games on her forearm. We went to the same high school, not at the same time, but close enough that we knew alot of the same teachers. 
"Is Mrs. K still there?"
"Yeah. She's on medical leave. Got her tubes tied or something."
"About fucking time. We called her the baby machine when I was in high school.  How many kids she have? Eleven?"
"Jesus fuck."
For the brief time that we worked together, Nina probably did more to sexually liberate me than my boyfriends did. She was the Rizzo to my Sandra Dee. 
"What do you mean you won't let him eat you out? What the fuck is wrong with you?"
So really, it was only a matter of time before Nina got herself fired. 
I was devastated. Nina wasn't all fun and games all the time. After we closed, all the smokers went out behind the dumpster to steal a minute to fuel their habit and even though my habit didn't start until college, I'd go out with them because why not? 
Nina was a recovering meth-head. She had two boys that CFS had taken away.  They lived with their dad, Nina's ex, who was also a meth-head, but he hadn't gotten caught. Nina lived in a shitty apartment above the tobacco shop downtown with her boyfriend who would come in and help us clean-up after close so we'd get out earlier. He had really pretty tattoos of flowers and skulls on both arms. Nina was serious about staying clean. She smoked, but she didn't drink, and she always told Gary-the-Pot-Head that he was going to ruin his life. 
I thought that Nina's determination meant that the rest of the world should be just as determined to help her out. And if that meant that she shouldn't be fired for losing her temper with a customer who was making an excessively big deal about cold fries....then so be it. 
(I'd like to say that I've grown out of this attitude, but I really haven't, and it shows in my work ethic.)
I wrote a letter to our franchise owner explaining that Nina was an admirable employee, she was just having a bad day, and don't we all?

He said that my letter was very well thought-out and eloquent considering my age, but the customer she insulted was a close personal friend of his and he didn't take insults to his friends lightly. 
The last time I saw Nina was the day she was formally asked not to come back. She showed up for work and was turned away. She was sobbing, head down, manager tie dangling from one hand as she started walking back downtown. 
Flash forward eight years. 
Today I had to run to the mall to exchange a pair of shorts.  I came back through town and ended up stopped at the light on Depot Street. It's a warm, sunny day and alot of people were out. I gawked at the joggers coming out of the park, people on the sidewalk by the dry-cleaners, the Sunoco...and there she was. There was Nina. She was with the same boyfriend from our McDonald's time, I recognized the tattoos. He was carrying a pizza box from the Dominoes up the block, his other arm wrapped around Nina's shoulders. He was smiling and she was laughing and behind them, walking close and shoving each other playfully, were two boys, one was tall and dark haired, maybe fifteen or so. The other was smaller, softer, maybe around ten years old. Maybe a little younger. 
I grinned like an idiot. I always thought of Nina whenever I drove past the shitty apartments above the tobacco store, with the dark, narrow windows and the peeling paint on the door. I watched Nina and her family turn up the street and head towards the small cluster of modest houses by the ice cream place. It's a cute neighborhood. I almost rented a house there myself, but the rent in my current apartment was cheaper. It's a tree-lined street, hilly, but close enough to walk to most of the places downtown. The yards are small, but well-kept.  It's a modest neighborhood, working class definitely...but eons away from the cramped quarters above the tobacco shop. 

I'm so happy that things worked out for Nina. I'm happy that I have a new "last time" to replace the one that I've carried for the past eight years. 

June 2011

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