I woke up the first morning of my new job terrified of taking that first baby step toward economic independence. The jitters were smoothed away by my mom’s obvious pride, her insistence of taking a picture in that horribly unflattering uniform and my uncle’s unconditional support and wisdom who told me: “Just spit in their hamburger if they get racist”. Bless his heart.
I walked into Mickey D’s at 6:30 am, right on time for my first shift. My first day of my first job, yay!. They greeted me nicely and bombarded me with restaurants clichés about teamwork, leading by example and the one I’ll never forget “If you can lean, clean” (fuckheads).
They put me in front counter and let me by myself to figure out the mysteries of the breakfast menu. What the hell is a sausage McMuffin? What exactly are hashbrowns? Why in the world are they eating fried shredded potatoes with ketchup at 7 in the morning? (Ew). The thought of that and nerves had my stomach doing 360s.
It was all a blur, a confusing whirl of orders and beeping, made much more so by the people who refused to speak English properly. I was soon sorry, they don’t teach English slang in my high school. “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what you are saying” I said to the sulky teenager with the bad attitude. “Don’t you speak English girl?” He asked me. “I know I do, do you?” I said to him. The kid called the manager and told her to put me in the back with “the others” because I spoke no English, (and on my first day!).
I wanted so badly to tell the little prick off. But I had to be quiet, had to stay out of trouble. Putting a filter in my mouth was a first. Screw that! I looked at him as if he was the dirt under my shoe and said: “I speak English, I don’t know what language you are speaking in, maybe you should hurry up to school and learn something” The manager looked at me mouth gaping and turned around to give the kid a free muffin and a soda. I shook with anger and swallowed the diarrhea of insults that I was sure was coming. The nerve of that stupid little brat! Who the hell did he think he was? As if I was working for him… Oh… wait! The kid went away with his disgusting breakfast while I wished all sort of unchristian and anatomically impossible things on him.
By 7:30 the “school rush” was over and the manager called me to her “office” a glorified whole in the wall with a chair and a computer. She looked at me, smiled and said: “Hon, you are so quiet I didn’t know you had it in you!” and high fived me. She was Mexican, she had walked to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 14 and cried the whole way here, she cried until dehydration left her with no liquid to spare, so she silently and dryly sobbed for the family and the life she left behind.
She was barely five feet tall, had fiery red hair and startling blue eyes. She was sweet, beautiful, married to a husband that slept with her sister who was 14 years old (I am not sick enough to make this shit up) regardless of their three kids. Even though her life was full of tragedy and Jerry Springer-like drama she was the sweetest, nicest and most helpful person I met there. She walked me through my trainning process and refused to give up on me.
In short she took me under her wing and saved me.