A simple girl in a complex world

Saturday, June 14, 2003


Today is an anniversary. On 6/14/1989, I commenced employment with KFC (my first job), then always known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, where I would stay for nearly five years.

And I have been working ever since. There have been three short hiatuses (hiati?) - one of about six weeks while recovering from treatment for a serious illness; one for about 8 weeks to try to adjust to returning to college after said illness; and one for two-and-a-half weeks between the KFC job and a job at American National Property and Casualty (ANPAC), where I would serve as a low-paid, fast-typing transcriptionist.

That's 14 years, folks. Fourteen solid years of working - through the end of high school, through college. Through grad school. I am 30 years old, and already I have amassed enough "quarters" to qualify for a social security payout (should said system continue to exist (ha) when I am 62).

So, this last week and a half that I have not been working (vacation, so relax - I'm not about to refute myself), I have taken some time to reflect on the items that grace my resume and be thankful that I can stake such a claim in a time of tech sector upheaval and uncertainty.

I remember my first night of work very well. I made biscuits for three hours. This duty required that one empty biscuit mix, milk, and a big blue tube of shortening into a big-ass bowl. Then, turn on the mixer (which was against company policy - you had to be 18). Let it mix its allotted time. Flour the board during the mixing time, and ensure that you have a scraper and a good biscuit cutter and white plastic rolling pin on hand. Line four to six trays with baking sheets (paper). After the mixer has completed its task, move the bowl (quite heavy) to the biscuit-assembly table. Flour hands. Grab gob of dough. Place gob on board (which has an upraised rim of about 1/4 inch - so clever). Roll dough. Flour biscuit cutter, and commence cutting. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.

I wasn't so fast on my first night, favoring perfection and cleanliness to efficiency. Not so wise in the restaurant business on a busy Friday night. When you're manning the biscuit station, you also need to bake the biscuits on command. Never forget to set the timer, either. Customers prefer biscuits to hockey pucks. I was blamed my first night of work for failing to set the timer, though, honestly, I believe this was someone else's mistake. Still, difficult to forget the outcome and the scowl of the Shift Manager.

There are so many things to be learned in the restaurant business. I can multitask while cooking with the best of them, sometimes to the point that I have the table set, salads made, a main dish, and one or two side dishes ready at the same time (oh, and I've cleaned up all of the dishes from preparation, too). And I'm a fiend at cookie baking time around the holidays. I made something like 62 dozen this year - took pictures and everything. If anyone wants a cooking time management seminar, I'm your gal.

I eventually moved into management with KFC. Actually, this happened about as early as it could - shortly after I turned 18, my freshman year of college. In my desire to avoid my college roommates (mostly because of their abhorrent housekeeping), I often would work more than one really should on a "school night." Grades were always good, though, because I valued that. In Springfield, MO, there were 6 KFCs. I worked in all of them, usually as a fill-in manager. There were two stores in not-so-good parts of town, and there was one that was borderline. I knew all the crews and the secret to making it all work. And this applies everywhere, I believe (not that I've been management since the KFC days) - jump in and do every bit as much work as the workers beside you, and then do your work.

My thing was always mopping. And this was cool because just about everyone else HATED mopping, but it was a have-to daily chore. The kitchen equivalent was scrub brushing the back floor. This too, is something in which I took great pleasure and would help out if the cook was behind. I also always put away the stock when it came in - some heavy box toting if I ever saw any.

I only had to fire one person. Said person walked out on me - can't remember why, and, well, obviously, you can't allow that to happen. I know I threatened, and when he made his choice (because all choices need to have consequences, good or bad), I immediately made sure I had my boss' backing. Fired dude did not return.

I'll stop now so I don't take you through the travails of transcription and legal secretaryhood. But, after those positions, I hopped into HR and then into IT, where I remain gainfully employed and typing faster than a human should.

I'll never starve, though, with all o' those skillz.



Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Ah, Homeownership

Brian and I picked a really good time NOT to be in Chicago.

Today, June 10th, marked an unhappy day for walk-out basement owners in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

I was playing the happy housewife (which is QUITE demanding, I have learned), as I have for the majority of the past two days. Dinner was cooking, and I had some spare time to work in an abdominal workout downstairs. It was about 5:30 p.m., a gentle beginning to a good end of a productive day. Sarah Brightman was telling me that it's "Time to Say Goodbye," and gentle thunder was crackling, highlighting the slyly torrential, but yet seemingly calm, steady rain.

As I finished, I stretched and stood, facing the door, I noticed a dark streak that looked suspiciously like liquid emanating from near said glass door. Upon further, harried inspection, my fears were confirmed. Instant backyard pool in a bad, baaaaaaaaaad, bad place.

Now, this has happened before. This, actually, has happened three times previously. We have taken many steps to ensure that said nasty occurrence does not grace our property again, but, alas, the storm was so sudden and strong enough that even our safeguards of multiple grates were circumvented by the deities of rain.

Get husband. Shriek appropriately. Husband enters the great outdoors and wades into the foot deep (I kid you not) water awaiting its turn to join the swirling masses of the sewer. Husband bales the water and clears the drain. Wife re-enters the home, gathers all towels in the cabinet, and begins indoor water removal. The toilet becomes a critical stopgap in saving the Muscle & Fitness Hers magazine (new this month!) strewn carelessly on the bathroom floor from immediate drowning.

Ten minutes earlier, we could have stopped the whole thing. Ten minutes later, we'd have a bona fide mess. Three days earlier - I shudder to think, as we were out of town.

As far as heart-rate-raising calamities go, not so bad.

The two trees that flank the back of the house - soon to be ancient history. Gentlemen, start your chainsaws. We've learned this lesson one too many times.