Thursday, November 29, 2007

On Being A Subway Artist

Tessie mentioned unfortunate jobs people had when they were young the other day. I commented that my worst job came when I was into my 20s (22?). I did not really "work" per say until college. I had some odd jobs here and there as a kid but nothing that I hated enough to discuss in detail - really being a kid in my family was a shitty job but that is another story for another time ALTOGETHER.

I started thinking about other jobs I have held and I can definitely say by far the worst job I ever had was the job I had when I worked for a craptastic (it is a word - in my mind, it is a word) Midwestern university that is basically the extension of two HUGE universities and has major identity issues with a Chancellor who should be fired for being both a sexist pig (he told me to wear more skirts and also he told my boss upon seeing me when I interviewed to hire me because "I was cute") and an asshole.

But that is not what I am hear to tell you about. My favorite job was being a 'Sandwich Artist' at Subway for the better part of three years in college. I LOVED this job. First, it was close to the house I lived in so I could walk to and from work (and did not have to drive the unfortunate Tempo purchase. )

At first, I hated it mostly because of the uniform. I had to wear a stupid visor and that ugly Subway green shirt. Also, an apron which was just weird because why? I never put anything INTO the apron with its three pockets. It was constricting and got in the way and I never wiped anything on it, just the ugly green shirt... What was I supposed to store in the apron? My favorite bread cutting knife so I could whip that out every time I heard a costumer arrive?! I felt okay about the fact that I worked at Subway in that it did not seem fast food-ish like the Hardees right next store.

There were several things I loved about Subway: I loved that I got to see a lot of people there. Being sort of a shy gal when NOT drinking it was a good place for me to keep my hands and eyes occupied (these two things being the bane to all shy people's existence...) and yet still carry on conversations with people (okay, truth be known: guys) that I normally would need to be slightly if not totally inebriated to speak with! Wow, did I just admit that? Yeah, so that is the reason this blog thing works for me too - I can carry on friendships and conversations without have to talk eye to eye (or hand to hand???) with people...

The repetitiveness of Subway was something I actually enjoyed. Which may seem weird but being the above mentioned child of my particular family unit, I have come to love routine. I never had much of that and so for me knowing that you cut the bread just so, that you put two tomatoes on a six inch and four a foot long, and wrapped the sub in just this way with one napkin for the six inch and 2 for the foot long - well fit me just fine.

I had the best co-workers. They were all students of varying age and socio-economic backgrounds. They were artsy and nerdy and, in my case, a jock. I loved the mix of people I normally would not hang with and in turn we had a happy little Subway family. My favorite by far was Marvin (the Martin - we called him.) He was stick thin, in a fraternity and engaged to be married. He was a little older than the average student and very religious but he and his finance were the kindest people I knew.

I had two bosses at Subway. One was Mike, the other Janelle. Mike was a sexist as well but thankfully for Mike I had the job. He told me hired me because I was cute (enough with that crap... I mean seriously! I have a female boss who is happily married or else I would be worried about how I got ALL of my jobs in this life!?) Mike was not around long which is probably a good thing. He would regularly leave us to do piles of work & go off to sit and ogle girls at the beach (though he would always take work with him, wink wink... ugh.) He was a major dork and was mishandling money and his time (and apparently some of the female employees as well which ICK!) so he was fired. I learned that you cannot be a good boss if you are not present and that employers do not appreciate stupid shenanigans no matter how cool you think you are!

Janelle came over from Hardees to manage the Subway. We HATED her at first. Everyone wanted to quit until we realized how valuable she was. She taught us how to keep a restaurant clean (to this day I cannot go into a Subway without checking how clean the base boards are and seriously have you ever looked at the baseboards in most restaurants?!) She fed into my need for normalcy and repetition. She ran a tight ship; yet she was smart & funny at the same time. I respected her and in turn she trusted me to do A LOT. Janelle was totally Type A and made sure that we kept that place looking like one would keep a very clean home. She made sure everyone was well trained and got along. I would almost go so far as to say that she taught me most everything I needed to know about to run a business very well.

There were things I hated: I smelled when I got home - nothing like mayo and vinegar to make a girl feel pretty at the end of the day. I was tired from being on my feet for 8 hours a day & honestly customers really mucked up the beauty of this job. People took their subs WAY to seriously and when I say that I mean there was some psycho who came in every week (why?), would WATCH us make his sub, take it to his chair and come back and raise a stink (usually in the middle of the lunch or dinner time crunch) about the fact that he only wanted THREE olives and somehow 'THAT girl over that put 3.5 olives on my sub. GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK....' I also worked at a local ice cream shop/dairy so I was usually working TWO shifts back to back which sucked me rear.

I can hardly eat Subway these days. The taste of the food is what gets me. I was poor as I suggested in the Tempo e-mail so I virtually subsisted off the free sub we received for working a given shift. I ate Subway every day for three years - you try it - sorry Jared but ummm, gross. I also get frustrated about the people who work at Subways these days. They seem less fresh and excited about their jobs - I generally want to jump behind the counter and just make my own because even though it has been the better part of 10 years since I last cut a piece of bread or asked which toppings would you like, I know I could do it just as fast as I did back then. Finally, the one Subway we usually go to seems less clean and fresh smelling and why oh why did they change how to cut the bread!?

SO that is my favorite job that I had as a young person - SO LAME!


Tessie said...

This is awesome. We had three fast food restaurants in my hometown: Hardees (where I worked), Subway, and Dairy Queen. I always thought Subway must be the best place to work. It was hard to get a job there though, they didn't have many employees.

Welcome to our World said...

Tessie: I always felt lucky to get that job in that small town because there were so few employees and they hardly turned over (also they paid pretty well as far as fast food goes...)

Pickles & Dimes said...

What the heck, Tessie? Are you from my small town in MN? We had Hardees, a Subway right next door, and a Dairy Queen. Seriously.

Christina, I am totally with you on the Ford Tempo. They are total pieces of crap.