Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Most Dangerous Job

I did not know who Irishman, Neil Lennon, was until this week. He is the coach of Glasgow Celtic Football Club (I believe it is pronounced "soccer") and reportedly has the most dangerous job in all sports. According to the Huffington Post he has held his job for two years and now has round the clock protection, a panic room in his house, safe houses for his family, has received bombs and bullets in the mail, was assaulted on the sidelines, and receives numerous death threats via the Internet. The sentiment is that he will either resign or be removed by the organization for his own safety. In other words, this is one tough nut.

Neil Lennon. Stay strong, my Ginger friend, stay strong.

With all due respect to Lennon, he isn't the only pale skinned, redhead who has had to endure less than ideal and dangerous work conditions. I too, was one tough nut.

It was a perfect Iowa Spring day and I, at 16 years old, had just finished my first job interview. I had never felt more alive and full of optimism with the thought of spending the next 3 months working at my dream job.  The wait was excruciating and almost seemed unfair. Then I received a phone call offering me the role of a lifetime, working at the AW Root Beer! Had a luckier girl ever lived? I thought not.
As soon as I started the job the honeymoon quickly ended and I realized just how dangerous this summer job was going to be.

The Money
At $1.33 per hour (minimum wage in Iowa at the time) plus tips this put me in an entirely new social class and gave me access to a new, exciting and dangerous lifestyle. I now was able to put 1-2 gallons of gas in my car and could go where ever I wanted until 11pm. "Super size it"  became part of my vocabulary, what was $.70.  Movies were no longer the Sunday night Disney variety that were only shown on TV, I could afford the movie theatre and if it weren't for all my freckles I probably could have passed for 17 and actually seen an R rated one. I was the Lindsey Lohan of my time...reckless, fun-loving, and danger prone. I was living too fast for my young age.

The Perks
"You can have all the root beer you want" greater words had I ever heard. Do you have any idea what 132oz of root beer will do to a 16 year old during their shift? It is like working drunk: little concentration, lack of focus, giggling uncontrollably, stumbling and then you crash. But that wasn't the worst, then the addiction came, I couldn't work without it, I thought about it all the time, I craved it, I needed  it to function. It became my dirty little secret.

Imagine this, only bigger.

The Uniform
The uniform was tan pants and a brown and white striped short sleeve button up shirt with a little brown ribbon tied under the collar. They might as well have dressed us in a grease filter. If you take  the amount of smell and grease that soaked into my uniform and hair and combine it with the June - August mosquito population you have death wish. The 15 yard run to my car after my shift became something out of horror running with my mug of root beer and 1.2 million bugs swarming around me.

The Menu
The menu consisted of 3 types of burgers: The Baby Burger, The Mama Burger and the Papa Burger.
It consisted of 10 different shakes and root beer floats. It had the best onion rings around. It had pork tenderloins, corn dogs and hot dogs. You get the picture. And for every shift you worked you received a free meal. One hot afternoon, my friend/co-worker and I decided we were going to combine our meals. We were both products of growing up eating very healthy: fruits, vegetables, homemade sweets, little processed foods, homemade jams, canned food, etc. Until fate smiled on us and gave us access to free fast food. Our meal consisted of Onion Rings, a Blueberry Shake, Mama Burger (split), A Corn Dog, Lemon Pie and the usual drink (60oz of root beer a piece). Now, I have had my appendix burst and let me tell you, my friends, that was a treat compared to cramping and aching we endured that July afternoon.

Why, yes please

And to this day, two things are true. 1) I still love AW Root Beer and 2) It is still my favorite restaurant job!

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