Friday, August 2, 2013

Hot Dog Stand Hell

   I don't like working in the food service industry. There are several reasons for that; I don't have the personality that is needed to be a server in a restaurant, and I don't give a shit whether or not you want a booth. My brief stint as a waitress has given me a lot of respect for those who are servers; they take a lot of shit and they take it with a smile. But needless to say, when I started working in retail, I thought food serving was behind me.
   Eventually, my career path led me to grocery stores. My first experience in retail had more to do with tanning salons and video rental -- not groceries. I like groceries better. Video rental died with the advent of Netflix and Redbox, and tanning salons are gross. But I did not expect to find myself serving hot food again, especially after switching to grocery and steering clear of the deli. Deli and meat departments are the two departments I have 0% experience in.
    But in the grocery store I worked at while I still lived in Florida, for some reason unknown to me, management decided we were going to have a little side business and open a hot dog stand in the front sidewalk of our store. Beats the hell out of my why anyone thought that this was a good idea, but they ran with it. Before us lowly employees had time to sneeze, management had one of those little mobile food trailers rented -- the kind of little trailers that you see at fairs and sometimes at farmer's markets.
   And I had a manager that volunteered me for everything. Need help in the pharmacy? Marie will do it. Need an assistant in floral? Marie will do that. Need someone to learn to cut up the fresh fruit bar? Well, Marie will do that too. He even put me on the early morning cleaning crew, and waking up at 3 a m to get ready to spend the early morning deep cleaning check stand sucks. But I wasn't surprised when I found out he had scheduled me for a day in the hot dog stand. As the person who had hired me, he knew that I had a food service background. He just didn't know that my food serving skills reeked worse than month-old crusty gym socks.
    But I actually try to be willing and a good sport, so after giving him the glare-of-death, I submitted to a shift in the stupid hot dog stand. Which in the first place, was an oven. Florida, remember? In the summer. Heat. So much heat that you could literally crack open an egg and fry it on a car hood. And I was stuck in a tin food trailer with a fan and a bottle of water. Thanks.
   The second problem? Guess what they gave me to cook the hot dogs with? A grill? A pot of boiling water? Nope. They gave me a effing crock-pot. Have you ever cooked hot dogs in a crock-pot? I had never done it. And when you have a line of people all happy to be getting a hot dog for a buck, cooking hot dogs in a crock-pot is not the way to do things. Crock-pots, as you all know, are slow cookers. And not surprisingly, they cook hot dogs very, very slowly.
    Which means that I kept getting yelled at by people because they wanted these hot dogs fast. And they all had issues with the toppings. We had ketchup and mustard and relish, but we also had frozen onions pulled from the freezer section. And people would scoop up the onions out of this frozen bag, and then complain that they were frozen. Which just got a disdainful "duh" from me. I kinda always thought that if something looked like it was frozen, you would assume that it was frozen. I guess I'm silly like that. Also, apparently I was under-cooking the hot dogs. Having never cooked hot dogs in a crock-pot, and having been given no guidelines, I wasn't sure how long to cook them for. Oops.
    That was bad enough, but the day got worse. Sometime while I was trapped in the metal furnace of hot dog hell, I was bitten by a spider. Spider bites are no fun. They swell to huge sizes, and they get all hot, and they hurt. Those spiders have freaking fangs, and the one that bit me must have been a good size because you could see the mark.
   In case that wasn't enough, someone drove right into the damn trailer while I was in the thing. The trailer was too big to fit onto our front sidewalk, so they put the thing out in the parking lot up front, and some asshole came along and drove right into the side of the trailer. One minute I was grumpily trying to cook hot dogs in a crock-pot, and the next minute the whole trailer was rocking wildly back and forth and hot dog water was sloshing everywhere, and then I was jumping out the side door trying to shout , "Abandon ship!!!" while I laughed my ass off. My manager was not amused, but damn it, I was free!!! I would take that freedom by any means necessary. Even if freedom meant the trailer getting rammed by some elderly person who couldn't see while I was still inside of it. (No one was hurt, not even the elderly guy.) Aaaaaah, sweet freedom. And that was my last stint in food serving service. The hot dog trailer was not damaged, but the next day was manned by some other poor soul. 

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