Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I Started in a Chain Restaurant

I was 16 and finishing up my sophmore year in high school when my mother helped me get a summer job at the local ice cream stand in a small town.  Owned by the assistant principal of my high school, I worked many nights with his daughter.  A cute brunette who was in my class, but we didnt exactly run in the same circles-she being more sports oriented and myself spending all my spare time in the theatre.  We got along really well and that summer turned the ice cream shop into our own little clubhouse.

The ice cream shop wasnt keeping me busy enough, so I filled out dozens of applications and ended up with an interview at Applebee's.  I remember wearing a suit to the interview and being rather nervous.  I dont remember much about the interview, but I remember everything about my first day.  Because that was the day I met the person who was going to be my initial introduction to food and my first love.

His name was Jim.  He was a line cook with strawberry-blonde hair and wire rimmed glasses.  He always wore a baseball cap and carpenter jeans with black combat boots.  He was incredibly skinny, had a baby face and was loved by everyone.  The cooks loved him for his jovial nature in the hot and stressful kitchen and the waitresses loved him because he rarely yelled, was a bit of a flirt and tipped well at the bar after work.  He was the second person I met my first day on the job, smoking a cigarette on the back dock he greeted me warmly and not as though I was the annoying 16 year old hostess I was. 

Jim never treated me as an annoyance.  I know he was teased for befriending 'the minor', as we spent some time together outside of work.  I didn't understand the legal implications of hanging out with a 24 year-old man as a 16 year-old girl.  Regardless, we didn't do anything illegal so its irrelivant either way.  Jim and I caught movies, went out for ice cream and just, hung-out.  He was a gentleman and I, his biggest fan.

During the summer, I was determined to learn my way around Bloomington, so if I had time to kill I would drive around until I got lost.  At that point I would call Jim and he would direct me back to somewhere I knew.  By my senior year-I knew Bloomington better than my parents.

I loved working at Applebee's and being around all the college kids who worked there.  Their problems seemed more important than mine, their stories funnier and their night-life more exciting.  It didn't take too long to make a few friends and start running around Bloomington going to plays at Weslyan and college parties. 

I wasnt a bad kid, I just was looking for something outside of the secluded and regimented high school I attended.  In hind-sight, I was probably looking for a bit of attention, but at the time-I thought I was making lasting friendships.

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