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Service Industry Renagades

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Wholesale abuse and rock bottom wages can turn cherubs into guttersnipes. The remainder of the service industry's renegades are simply low-rent degenerates without a cause. From an ostensibly innocent snowball fight to wanton vandalism — whether for vengeance or sport — the job never fails to inspire free thinkers.

Smoking in the drive-thru booth while taking orders, stealing useless store items out of anger, painting the walls with dipping sauce packets — those were the days. From destruction of property to the proverbial sleeping on the job, I've done my share of screwing around. Truly, it feels great to make a decent living and do the right thing. Unfortunately, corporate makes it hard to care while customers erode our sanity.

I first came to appreciate snow in a Jack in the Box parking lot on Valentine's Day. It was 3 a.m. and Hell had frozen over. The shift leader and I thought it fitting to try to deface and damage corporate property with snowballs. I had been off the clock since midnight, so I put my leisure to good use. Using my shoe, I carved poetic threats and obscenities for the customers' reading pleasure in the snowed over parking lot. I then erected a Siegfried Line of snow at the entrance to the drive-thru lane and reinvented the snow angel.

I flung myself onto the snow in the manner of a bludgeoned corpse, creating the impression of a dead body. Strawberry soda from the fountain finally served a purpose–as a pool of Hollywood blood.

Why stay at work three hours past quitting time? I was waiting on my ride. The buses stopped running at 11 p.m. and I desperately needed to keep the meter running for an additional hour. The shift leaders always gave me a ride when they got off in the morning.

A write-up dated March 6, 2004 reprimanded me for staying on the premises after my shift had ended. I clocked back in that night to cover drive-thru for the night manager, who became ill after working. While being interviewed for this job, I told the general manager I had plans to get a car. As she scheduled me for fewer than 20 hours every week, she was pissed because I hadn't made good on that claim.

In the end, I was happy to afford bus fare. All my ambition centered on getting a decent job and an actual meal. I scammed my way out of paying checks at restaurants and stole provisions such as paper towels and trash bags from my former college. Desperation breeds loathing, just like the assistant manager's constant verbal abuse. Not everyone brings their work home, but we carry our animosity around like a tumor.

Our night manager was a brass-balled desperado with a piquant recipe for revenge. The guy actually killed the lights and closed the store significantly early on a regular basis, leaving the crew free for unencumbered screwing around. He was an ambitious man who once respected the job and smiled at every customer. Once the lowly "team member" was promoted, corporate screwed him out of his raise for the promotion for the remainder of his tenure and did not give him back pay for his time in management. He was paid the same as a cashier and was full of acrimony like the rest of us; I was happy to work for him. He even covered my ass when I cussed out a customer.

"That means take your bitch ass home," I shouted into the headset while working drive-thru. After repeated requests to silence his new age putrescence so I could take his order, some little punk kept the music blaring. I then refused him service and was ignored. Every night, my blood ran cold as I tolerated belittling and abusiveness from all directions from imps with inferior intelligence.

My aloofness imploded and I shouted at Johnny Punk Bastard. Suddenly, I was heard and finally got a response. The driver speedily pulled up alongside a customer at the drive-thru window and fired a barrage of obscene threats at me. He came back looking for me the following night to shout at my boss. The night manager told the clown that he didn't know my name and that for all he knew, I no longer worked there.

Management bombarded an industrious night stocker with empty promises of pay increases and promotions. Continuously shafted, the hopeful stocker remained at $6.40 and without the possibility of advancement. Cartons of cigarettes went missing, property was destroyed and a paint bucket was emptied on a back room floor. In a moment of bad temper, the stocker spontaneously quit during a phone conversation with his department manager.

Whether or not our actions are right, people are products of their environment. Casual observers seldom consider the human side of the service industry. Garbage in, garbage out; it's a matter of cause and effect. From Watts to McDonald's, we all have the need to purge our psyches of indignity and find the peace that only justice can bring. Why steal an avocado from the back room? Perhaps it's the right thing to do.

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