Friday, February 5, 2010

A Dirty Job

Swatting yellow jackets at the dumpsters, scrubbing bread racks in the walk-in fridge, degreasing the drive-thru with a push broom and industrial solvents—I needed a good, dirty summer job. Never mind the crooked glasses and lanky frame, the grad student credentials, and articulate speech. The manager eyed me over my neatly penned application at the four-top table in that Wendy’s dining room knowing exactly why I’d come: to put in work.

I’d started out at the end of a conveyor belt in high school, raking soiled dishes through a muddy trough of food scraps and soapy water before hosing them down. In college, I waited tables and had a summer stint as a busboy and host. And now, at long last, at the age of 26, I’d gotten my shot at flipping burgers.

Just before the school year started, my boy Alexander threw a cook-out. I was happy to be on grill duty; there was, in fact, no one better qualified for the job. Sure, folks laughed when I told them where I'd been employed that summer. The snidest of these folks, though, struck me as naïve, as being unaware that these sorts of life's trials give us grit, make us who we are—that life, itself, is one big, messy job.

The prospect of working menial labor after graduating certainly didn't frighten me, which was great because upon relocating without so much as the promise of an interview, I ended up landing the best (white-collar) position I’ve ever held. Moreover, if it hadn’t been for de-gunking the deep-fryers all those mornings on the Wendy’s serving line, I might never have met the woman of my dreams here in Texas, my new fiancée.

Presenting Cake and Potatoes, Season 4.

New comics next weekend!!

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