Excuses

As of this month I have been fired from four jobs.
I used to work at this placed called JJ Bonerz. The boss was an alcoholic redhead from Wisconsin who decided to open a Packers Bar in the middle of South Georgia. She’d come in wasted. One day she came in and glared at my tennis shoes, “Where are your red boots?” she slurred.
Red cowgirl boots. I had heard of those. The girls would wear them occasionally.
I got the boots the next day. Sent her a photo of them in the box. When I came in for my next shift it was covered and on the schedule I saw that all my days were blank.
“Well, shit.”

In getting fired it’s hard to know whom to blame. If I elaborated a tad bit more I could make my bosses out to be the bad guys.
When, initially, Julie had told me to get boots when she first hired me. At the time I was broke and when I started making money I noticed that none of the other girls wore boots.
When, really, I should have purchased the boots, allowing those uncomfortable leather eyesores to set me apart from their half-assed tennis shoes.

But still, firing me? Depriving me of a job? of income? I have bills to pay! Rent is due! Student loans are filling up my inbox!

I used to work at this small family owned restaurant. We had 12 staff total. They used to be a fancy French fine dining place then flunked. Joe got some more of his parents’ money and tried again, this time as an upscale grill with lots of wine. Joe and Grace would be drunk by the time I clocked in at 4:30. Loud, boisterous people who told you too much personal information, feeding us drinks. One time a wine rep came in during lunch and we got drunk off samples.
One day I came in late. Everybody came in late. But I had been getting complaints from patrons who didn’t get the memo we weren’t fine dining anymore. I’d remove a plate from the left and this elderly gentleman would wag his finger, “No, honey, from the right.”
I came in late. I walked around back smoking a cigarette and there was Joe unloading boxes, “Lindsey, Lindsey, Lindsey.”
I had heard him say that before once, when I returned to work at their latest attempt at food and beverage, cigarette in hand. “Lindsey, Lindsey, Lindsey, you’re smoking now?”
“Get out of here. You’re done.”

And, tears in my eyes, I turned, left.
Tears I can’t stop, sitting in my car, weeping, dripping, leaking, feeling totally off balance,
walking back to the car, Bay Street’s sidewalk seemed to tilt and I cannot manage into my car so I sat on the grass and cry cry cry
feeling so off balance
why why why
AGAIN

For the third time,
I came in late, but I called! I called and told the bar tender and he whispered, “Hurry up. Greg is here.”
Second strike. But I called!
First strike, smoking a cigarette. What are you doing? I was told by the manager I could smoke. “But don’t let Greg catch ya!” he had warned.
I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time, hiding behind a building smoking when he strolls passed me.
Second, late. Better push it into gear. Greg is ex military; he looks down on you and gets kicks from stuff like this. He served in Vietnam and liked the food there so decided to open a restaurant with his own money and this is his third and he’s opening a fourth and he speaks through his teeth, lips tight, stretched around a smile, and I can just imagine my head squeezed between his giant hands when he says
Better push it into gear.

I crack. There’s something there that I was unaware of, but it cracked.
Snap, this isn’t FAIR!
I called! I was fifteen minutes late
and he
and he
who parades his beautiful blonde girlfriend around and sticks her behind the bar with boobs that pop out her blouse, she says, “Yes, Mr. Darcy.
No, Mr. Darcy.
Mr. Darcy needs his drink.”
and he thinks he can just do this?
I crack! break! I am leaking, dripping, trembling, back turned against the brick wall in the basement crying, face puffy, red.
Cooks comes around the corner, says, damn girl.
Greg, stands ahead, over me, maybe you should just go home.
I leave. Fall on the grass.
I come back. Complete my shift. Afterwards my manager asks if he can address me in the alley and he, lighting up a cigarette, avoiding my eyes, “I’m going to have to let you go.”
He pauses.
“Greg says you’re a negative influence on the floor.”

Third strike, BULLSHIT.

See, I can make them sound so bad because I’m so mad at them. They pushed me, threw me off balance—why? why?
Four times? is that a sign?
Can I do anything right?

I used to work for Greg and stare out the window at this art gallery across the street with longing and when the artist came in to eat I’d envy her, admire her, want to be her.
And then, one day, I got fired from there and hired by her. We never would have met otherwise.
Maybe they’re just stepping stones, platforms that propel me beyond this. Maybe I needed a push.

So I worked at the art gallery. And got fired. I could tell you what happened, but the fourth time around it starts to sound a lot like excuses.

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