Monday, March 16, 2009


I wanted to stay in my college town after graduation. I was living in an apartment a block away from the beach with my girlfriends, who were still in college, and my little room was $130 a month. Completely unheard of now.

I applied to every job I could find. I wanted to get settled so I could pay my way through a teaching credential program. I finally got a job a few towns over at a sandwich shop. I felt like the poster child for why a liberal arts education doesn't get you anywhere. The manager advertised the job at $7 an hour then tried to knock it down to $6.50 in the interview.

I did learn a few things about cooking. It was a deli that only served turkey sandwiches. There were about 15 sandwich options but all turkey. I spent a good part of the day cooking turkey and making gravy. This was a big deal because I had always refused to learn how to cook. I learned what a dutch oven was . . . oh, and this is a SPA-TU-LA. I made gravy (that was very exciting: I MADE GRAVY!) Anyway, it was OK while it lasted. There were always leftovers to take home to the housemates.

The turkey deli job led me to a slightly better job at a retail store called Farmers Exchange. It doesn't exist anymore as it was. It was a huge store with a kitchen section, furniture department, coffee bar, etc. They only hired people who cooked and my deli job provided that needed experience. I spent a lot of time talking to people about kitchen gadgets and cookware.

I met a really nice lady named Geri while I was working at Farmers. She was 60 and I was about 22. We were the oldest and youngest employees at the time and were consequently left out of the 30-something clique, which included most of the other employees. We bonded one day while standing in front of the register. A man who looked to be about my age walked up and told us he needed to return something . . . that it wasn't our usual quality. He pulled out a HUGE bag of weed and held it up to us. Geri and I froze then looked at each other . . . WHAT??? Suddenly, the guy realized he had pulled the wrong thing out of his backpack, and his eyes widened with fear. He started to back out of the store, still holding the bag up then finally snapped out of it, turned around and ran.

Geri and I laughed for days after that. We constantly told each other, "Excuse me . . . this isn't your usual quality." No one else really got how funny it was. We became friends and started hanging out after work. I lost track of Geri when I left Farmers. She's one of those people I always look for around town. She'd really be getting up there by now, but I'm still hopeful.

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