Sunday, January 09, 2005

Work and Wage (ongoing) part 1

Note: Anger generally causes me to haphazardly work-in backstory.

Received a message on my answering machine yesterday from my employer, J__. I should explain the nature of my employment: About 18 months ago, I got a phone call early in the morning, waking me up. It was this guy named J__ who said he owned a sandwich shop. I didn't know him and hadn't heard of him or his shop. He asked me to come down to his business and work for him. Apparently, somebody I knew had overheard this guy complaining about his employees and how he wanted someone that would do a good job, so the person I knew told the shop owner about me, and that I did a good job (I've never worked in a sandwich shop before, and wasn't looking for another job). So, the owner calls me up and asks me to come down and work for him. I agreed to meet him, mostly based on the oddity of my being approached in such a way. My experience had always been that you apply for a job, then call and call and call until somebody finally tells you they already hired someone else.

I went to his sandwich shop. It was a little uptight for my taste, but pleasant. He mentioned the idea of opening another business, a pizzeria, and that he was looking for someone interested in running / managing it. I agreed to do it. He and his wife (she's very vacant, a little nuts, and wholly scattered) said they loved the idea, that I seemed bright and energetic, smart, whatever they were looking for... but, in the meantime, I'd just make sandwiches like the other employees. Okay. Sound's fine.

It's been a year and a half, and after the first 6 months, I realized they weren't going to be opening a pizzeria, or any other business for that matter. There was to be no managing. There were only sandwiches. More and more sandwiches. They began a hearty regiment of bitching at me about miscellaneous things that they, themselves were usually the culprits behind. For instance, the wife, R___ would cut about a pound of red bell pepper and then leave. The husband, J__ would show up, notice the cut bell pepper, and then start shouting at someone, sometimes me. It would be explained that it was his wife had done it, not any of the employees. He'd get madder, then blame some miscellaneous employee (again, oftentimes me) for having cut too much some other time (which was almost always a fabrication on his part so he didn't feel guilty about being as illogically pissed off as he was). So, you usually end up on the receiving end of (and I'm not exaggerating) month-long bouts of bad-employee treatment. You know, he won't look at you. Won't talk to you. Only gives you foul looks and dumps numerous extra jobs on you. That's the first of his problems.

The second is as follows: Also, after the first six months, he realized he was wealthy. Apparently, he just hadn't been watching his profit going up. He and his wife discovered they had a ton of money, and so built the biggest luxury house I've ever seen in my town. Once the house started to be constructed, oh man- what an ass he became. He started preaching about how people like the ones that worked for him made bad life decisions, and that's why we made minimum wage. That he was intelligent and knew the power of good investing (the money he used to buy the sandwich shop, which now generates most of his money, was a large inheritance that his wife got when her rich parents bit it, not an investment per se). That he'd earned his dues and now life was paying him back. His wife would strut around the workplace with that freshly baked bad perm and ask questions like "Ray... have you ever lived in a really big house?", to which I'd reply, "No." to which she'd add, "It's really quite wonderful. Everything is so much better in a house like that. How many bedrooms does your apartment have?" to which I'd reply "Less than we need.", and start an agitation-spurned string of curses in my mind that wouldn't stop until I could manage to escape at shift's end.

Anyway- I get this call yesterday on my answering machine. He's decided that, for my last month of working there (I gave him a three month notice, stating that my child was going to be born and that I'd need my nights off once the baby came), he was going to cut me out of half my work week. Now he's stuck me with two-shifts-a-week, a month before my child is born. Thanks a lot, fuckhead. Here, I'll turn around so you can get your knife back. He states that my week is being cut so that a new empoyee can start training to replace me, but I've seen dozens of people come and go at that place and no one ever got any training until the day they started, which was always the day the person they were replacing left. You know the drill: Your last shift is spent training your replacement on their first shift. I know he's cutting my week because he's pouty I'm leaving his business. It's something he'd do. He also brags about having never given a good reference. No shit. As far as he's concerned, if you leave his workplace, you're no good. I'll see if I can get ahold of a smug picture of him, but until then you'll have to visualize the little, beige, freshly-ironed shorts, the usual red complexion from constant inner stress, the hideous Tivas he wears with his calf-high socks on, the sweating legs from having just gotten out of his new Element with the vanity plates, and the really fake laugh he gives whenever he says something snide and classist disguised as a joke.

A little earlier in history and I can picture this guy being one of those arrogant slave-owning nobles you've read about, complete with a manor, nose-high walk, and a constant stream of 'my slaves don't deserve the good treatment I give them' blather.

Sigh. Posting this is probably my most ready means of throwing a tantrum, but then I'm a tantrum kind of guy. It feels good and is a lot safer than auctioning out his organs on ebay.

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