Wednesday, January 8, 2014

No Habla Espanol

I'm sure everyone remembers what it was like to have your parents nag you the minute the school bell rang for summer break to get a job. Thanks to child labor laws I was spared the nagging until at least middle school, where my parents promptly decided that a 13 year old should be allowed to join the workforce. Although I'm sure that it is still illegal for a child of that age to be employed, my parents disregarded it and were shoving me out the door to apply for any and every job at the shore resort town where we spent our summers. When all the employers scowled at me when I asked for an application, I was extremely thankful for the laws of our country and was spared another year to bask under the summer sun without having to worry about slaving myself for minimum wage. 

Don't fret because the next summer it was the same agenda again and I was out searching high and low for any job that would hire a barely legal worker. Unfortunately the sketchiest Mexican restaurant on the island determined I was acceptable enough for their summer crowds. The owner promised me under the table payments and off the books so I didn't have to worry about getting taxed, but also he didn't have to worry about paying me anything close to minimum wage. My parents were excited to get me out of the house and actually accomplishing something, so of course they were supportive on my new, highly illegal, position. 

My first day I was shown the "ropes" of the restaurant business and basically instructed to do everything. I was to bus tables, clean the tables promptly after the customers were finished, clean the restaurant before and after close, bring all of the outdoor seating in and out before and after closing, answer the phones, and the best of all, take the orders…. in Spanish. Of course they had to be written in Spanish, the only language I had managed to spend absolutely zero of my brain cells on learning in school and failed. They had to be written in Spanish because the illegal immigrants cooking the damn food couldn't understand what the customers were ordering. For those of you who think I might just be a racist asshole, no, really, they were really illegal. Most often people ordered an item on the menu but got some variety of what the actual order was… "Oh okay chicken burrito with no lettuce or cheese?" Okay… fuck. "pollo burrito no lettuce no queso" The workers in the back would come to me and speak some form of Spanglish to try to ask me what lettuce was and I would just have to point. Maybe the customer ordered a beef chimichanga? Honestly, 9 times out of 10 they probably got chicken because I still to this day have no clue what beef is in Spanish. I wish I could feel a slight bit of remorse for the restaurant but the prices were outrageous, the food was mediocre, and I was basically slave laboring myself out for barely $5 an hour.

I proceeded to work there almost every day for two months. Of course I barely made any money, spent all of my time there, fucked up every order, and was exhausted at the end of everyday for busting my ass.  That quickly came to a close after I received one of the sketchiest phone calls in my life, telling me to "not come in for awhile" because "the state is inspecting the restaurant and because you're not officially on the books it would just not be a good idea…" I decided that maybe the best idea would be to just never to go back. Adios motherfuckers. I received a phone call a few weeks later from the owner telling me the "coast was clear" but I ignored that call from my Tommy Bahama beach chair faster than I ignore my self-esteem at a Taco Bell drive-thru. 

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