September 17, 2014
The Fast-Food Restaurant
I take my last deep breath of relaxation before I begin the mental preparation that closing on a Friday night will require. The glorious breeze of the cheap metal fan across the room is blowing on me, and I cannot help myself but to lay still - oh so still - for just a few more minutes. Finally, after a few serene moments, the courage is found to sit up and serve society the only way I know how – as a pizza cook.
Walking into the restaurant’s kitchen, surpluses of sensations assault my eyes, nose, and ears, but the most pronounced presents itself in a brutal manner. The oven - which I care so meticulously for - batters my upper chest and face with the force of 475 degree air and the stinging winds of cooking anchovies and onions. At least this sanctuary of greasy byproduct is shielded from the intense humidity that East Texas provides; especially for one who rides his bike to work. My coworkers give me the look of despair as they work autonomously, getting through the day one pepperoni at a time – which is far from the greatest increment of time the world has seen. I join them in the menial task, but not before my hands, wrists, and forearms are covered in a slimy, soapy solution of water and the mystery foam that is dispensed above the foot-operated sink. My place at the make-line is covered in filth and the carelessly-tossed-aside cheeses, meats, and vegetables that we as a group could only call “collateral damage” of the several rushes encountered throughout the day.
For the next three hours we worked our fingers to the bone and our muscles raw with the heavy lifting of the variously-weighed boxes of dense ingredients and tending to the unbroken chain of the 2-inch-wide tickets offhandedly inserted all the way down the 5-foot ticket rack. One of the tickets seems to be an order of hot wings, which were sitting…