Before my senior year of high school, knowing I couldn’t take another summer of babysitting,
I started filling out job applications. I finally got two interviews, both on the same day – McDonald’s and Ponderosa Steakhouse– conveniently located across the street from each other.
McDonald’s rejected me; Ponderosa became my first paycheck.
Ponderosa had recently changed their female employees’ uniforms from a hideous polyester skort, cowboy shirt and hat, to a hideous polyester brown jumper with a printed polyester blouse which shared its fabric with a headband. And the nametag – my Ponderosa Steakhouse nametag, SEMA, embossed in white and stuck there-on. I was official.
I loved having this job. I sucked at this job.
The set-up was like a cafeteria line, with a meat order taken at the front of the line, followed by stations
of various sides, before ending at the cash register. My first station was drinks and rolls,
the most remedial of the stations. Simple tasks – put the rolls onto a tray, place tray in the giant baked
potato oven for 60 seconds, remove from oven, paint with melted butter and dump into warming drawer.
As for customer interaction, also simple – ask them what they want to drink, give them what they want to drink, and hand them a butter-bathed roll on a plate, with a pat of butter on the side.
My biggest problem was keeping track of the rolls once I put them in the oven. Tray after tray of what more resembled hockey pucks than rolls, tray after tray tossed into the trash.
I cannot, to this day, explain how I kept that job for more than a week. But I did – I was there for nine months, and if you’d asked me at the time, I would have told you, I loved that job.
I was born in Oswego, NY,
"I had always wanted to be a writer, but was impeded by the belief that to be a writer one had to be extraordinary, and I knew I wasn't. By the time I was ready to give up my academic career I had realized that while books are extraordinary, writers themselves are no more or less special than anyone else." The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield