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Friday, June 13, 2014

Now with More Room in the Garbage Bag

I stink of onions.

One washes, as one does, but if you make enough sandwiches, the smell gets in your pores, into the very whorls and striations of the hands.

Clark’s Submarine Sandwiches:  a brown polyester uniform with an elastic waistband and a free sandwich every time you worked.

Plus:  onion stank. 

A gal could do worse.

Brandi was in her late 20s, maybe even 30 years old, an impossibly old woman in my 17-year-old estimation.  A simple woman with a good work ethic and the ability to spin a broom like a color guard with a coke habit, Brandi worked all the hours she could get.

We are in the back, late on a Thursday night. 

I am slicing my way through a 20-pound bag of onions.  Wheeesh.   Wheeesh.  Wheeesh.  I’ve been working the mandolin slicer for a while now; and despite holding a piece of bread in my mouth, my eyes are burning, tears running down my face.

Brandi grins at me.  “You got any other jobs?”

I stick my tongue out, show her the bread.

“Oh, yeah,” she says.  “Anyway,” she says, “I got other jobs.”

Wheeesh.  Wheeesh.  Wheesh. 

I raise my eyebrows at her.

“Oh, over at the Kutz and Kurlz,” she says.  “I been there for a while now, sweepin’ up hair, folding towels.”

I purse my lips, nod sympathetically.  I don’t feel much like talking, what with the onion fumes and all.

My other job is bussing tables at a nearby Mexican restaurant.

Brandi pulls the garbage bag out of the 20-gallon can.  Full of rusty lettuce, onion ends and tomato butts, it’s a heavy, wet mess.

“Hey,” she says.  “I know a trick for getting more garbage into a garbage bag.”

Wheeesh.  Wheeesh.  Wheesh. 

I raise my eyebrows again.

“You spray it,” she says, nodding.  “You spray it down with water and then it gets heavier and sinks to the bottom.”

She smiles.  “Yep,” she says.  “Learned that over at the Kutz and Kurlz.”

I smile, show her the piece of bread again, and she laughs. 

Wheeesh.  Wheeesh.  Wheesh. 


23 comments:

Sioux said...

When I was 8 or 9, my hands stunk of onions as well, but that was because that summer, I decided to make money by pulling the wild onions out of people's yards and trying to sell them--door to door--to people, so they could put them in their salads.

Needless to say, I only had a couple of sympathetic customers.

Your trip down memory lane made me go back to my sucky jobs. Thanks--as always--Pearl.

(How did the writing retreat go? Is another book ready?)

Delores said...

There's worse stank than onion....

Pearl said...

Sioux, the retreat went very well! My book on the cats is almost ready, but I'm to concentrate on "building my platform", which is to say, submitting articles to magazines. So I'm concentrating on that for a while!

Anybody know any magazine editors, please let me know! :-)

Pearl said...

Delores, :-) there certainly is, and sometimes it's on the bus!

Should Fish More said...

Sophmore year in high school I worked the summer at a salmon cannery gutting fish. My girlfriend dumped me after a week.

vanilla said...

With no preaching, you have caused me to think about the thousands of people who toil in the kitchens of hash houses and fast food joints, "all the hours they can get," just to make it through their week. And to provide me with an inexpensive sandwich.

jenny_o said...

But, but, but ... hair trimmings are different from vegetable trimmings ... or am I missing the whole point of the post, which is entirely possible, since everyone else is talking about something else ... the story of my life

At my minimum wage restaurant job we got a discount on our Famous Name Chicken and all the gravy we wanted. The whole four months of summer I ate maybe two pieces of chicken. Every single other day I took a tuna sandwich from home, and ate it with a little dish of Famous Name Coleslaw and root beer. It's a combination I love, even after a whole summer of it.

I don't think that's the point of the post either. Damn. And now I've made myself hungry.

Joanne Noragon said...

My grandson worked at McDonald s last summer. When he got in the car at night I knew which station he'd worked all day, even the ice cream. Sour watered down milk. Even the apple pie smell turned my stomach because it smelled like fry, not pie.

Leenie B said...

You learn more than tricks of the trade at your first jobs ...you learn a lot of life skills too.

Leenie B said...

Ever figure out how to get onion stank off your hands?

Linda O'Connell said...

And I imagine she is still spritzing cut hair :)
How was your conference?

Diane Tolley said...

Hair. Onions. I can see the similarity.
My first job was at a bull stud. Yeah, that's exactly what it sounds like. I won't describe the smells there to you.
You have a good imagination . . .

Elephant's Child said...

My first job was selling women's underwear. And it decided me (quickly and definitely) that it wasn't a career choice.
And there were some smells there I don't want to think about too.

Daisy said...

One of my first jobs was working at a little Mom and Pop ice cream stand. They served sandwiches and fries and yes, onion rings, but my job was just serving up the ice cream--cones, sundaes, making shakes. The owners did all the cooking and fry and grill orders so luckily I didn't have to worry about onion stank. :)

sage said...

I love onions. Thanks for your sacrifice, but I can understand better the difficulty of such jobs.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
What? Now you're telling me it is breads at dawn and 10 packs of the heavy stuff???

Top tip; after peeling onions, rub hands on steel sink; actually you can buy steel 'soap' bars for the purpose now. Just a thing. YAM xx

Geo. said...

“You spray it down with water and then it gets heavier and sinks to the bottom.” This line has an axiomatic quality that will doubtless help me in future household emergencies. Thanks!

Pearl said...

Yes, poor Brandi did not seem to see the difference between how light hair was and how you could make more room for it by spraying it with water and how onions did not need to be sprayed but settled on to the bottom of the garbage bag on their own.

She was a good gal, though, and I sometimes wonder where people with limited schooling and limited curiosity end up, how they make a living. She is no doubt still cobbling together jobs...

Val S said...

I just found you via, oh, I can't remember - some links from some blog that was linked somewhere else. Anyway, I got here so I could read this piece and nod inwardly and say to myself "The Old Spaghetti Factory." My waitress clothes when I worked there always smelled like spaghetti. It was a good smell, but I wouldn't wear those clothes anywhere else. Especially not to 8:00 biology lab.

I read some of your other entries, and I can tell the housework is not going to get done today. Thank you!

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Ya know, there's a metal soap-shaped thingy sitting next to the kitchen sink and I bet it's intended for getting rid of onion stank. Maybe other kinds, too. I've never used it. Been married nearly 30 years, it was probably my hubby's and I assume he uses it. Go figure.

The Geezers said...

Perhaps as a fellow MInnesotan you've already found this, but I've learned that cooking with and eating onions and garlic seems to make me less desirable to mosquitos.

Alas, it also seems to repel my wife, too.

Musings, Tea, and Me said...

Wow, that was a LOT of onions you sliced!

Love your writing, Pearl. Found you through Sioux, who sent me here, bless her heart. -Vickie

Chicken said...

Which reminds me of my first job in a shoe shop which reminds me of how now, in that same sandwich shop, you wouldn't have to slice onions because they would arrive already sliced by someone in China. And also of my grocery store friend who announced that if she won the lottery she would run up and down all the aisles of the store knocking everything off the shelves. Broken glass everywhere. Which also would not need any additional water but my friend don't care either way because she won't be cleaning it up, so there.