Served

June 21, 2010 § 3 Comments

I didn’t feel like cooking so I stopped off to get a pizza on my way home from work.  As I surveyed my options, I said hello to the red-haired girl behind the counter, who smiled brightly as she waited to take my order.

“Are you having a good day today?” she asked.  I wasn’t sure how to respond to the question, so I answered “I am now that it’s almost over,” which I figured was honest at least.  The red-haired girl took this as an invitation to talk, which hadn’t been my intention but which I understand is part of the social contract one enters into when one orders pizza.

“Oh, I wish my day was almost over,” she said, still smiling, although now perhaps a little too brightly.  Before I could ask she volunteered, “My shift just started.”  I looked at the clock on the wall and then back at her, noticing that her uniform included the indignity of a bow and that she was wringing her small, freckled hands.

“Do you work here full-time?” I asked, thinking that she was too young to be working anywhere full-time, and she nodded vigorously.  Upon closer inspection, her smile was more of a grimace, her straight, white teeth clenched tightly into position.  Fishing in my bag for my cigarettes, I wondered if her jaw hurt.

“Yes, I work here full-time.  With men.”  She jerked her head in the direction of the pizza ovens behind her.  “All men.”   As she said this, she laughed nervously through her gate of teeth and I realized that she was on the verge of a service industry breakdown.  I smiled sympathetically, remembering the shitty jobs I had when I was her age and how incomprehensible the future seemed.  “It’ll get better,” I said, hoping that it would.  “Besides, your shift will be over before you know it.”

She called in my order and then leaned in toward me.  “Do you know what I do to get through the day?”  I shook my head “no”, curious but also wishing that I could put our conversation on pause to duck outside for a smoke.  The yellows and oranges of the pizza place were getting to me, but the red-haired girl was determined to confess.  As a gesture of solidarity, I let her.

“Sometimes, I think about killing them.”  She jerked her head backward again and laughed a brittle laugh, her blue eyes locked on mine.  “All of them.  One by one. With a knife.”  I smiled at her weakly, watching the men she fantasized about stabbing obliviously stretching out pizza dough over her shoulder.  All I could think of to say was “Well, whatever works.”

§ 3 Responses to Served

  • zura says:

    Wow, don’t know what to say to this, but I can understand that kind of coping mechanism when working in an all-male environment.

  • Jonathan says:

    My favorite thing about this post is that WordPress has inserted an ad for pizza into how. How automatically inappropriate!

    Hope it was good!

  • Slice of life and labor-gender struggle all at once. I couldn’t help using the word “slice”, for some odd reason; it has a dark, double-entendre in relation to your experience.

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