Sunday, May 29th, 2011 02:18 pm
radiumgirl: (be kind)
[personal profile] radiumgirl
 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. 

Date: May 29th, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wishflthinkr.livejournal.com
Aw, how heart-lifting!

Date: May 29th, 2011 08:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mishaphappens.livejournal.com
I love your stories. Thank you so much for sharing.

Date: May 30th, 2011 01:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dragonfly-sg1.livejournal.com
Another great story.

Date: May 30th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raindropfloss.livejournal.com
That's amazing. So so so amazing. I thought you were going to say you saw her on the street or something. But that. Wow, I wouldn't have imagined. That's so great.

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