Thursday, February 17, 2011

At Work

When the alarm sounds this morning, I barely twitch an eyelid. Still trying to shrug off the effects of a near-comatose sleep, I get ready on autopilot. You know the drill - I've nearly perfected it after 11 years of going to school.

dig around for shirt
get dressed
put foot into wrong shoe
put foot into right shoe
take off shoe
put on sock
put on shoe again
scurry out door

Every day at work, I do the same thing. This, now, I also do on autopilot.

bags off
light on
apron tied
cap adjusted
slice hams
check time
slice extra silverside
slice those random meats that are fairly popular
check time - its eight o'clock
slice random meats that no one likes
wash up

It takes an hour or so to get the first part of the case ready. During this first hour, my end of the shop is busy. Kim and Nathan are getting bakery stuff ready. Nathan and I take turns with who is more talkative. Today, it's Nathan's day, because he's had more sleep than me.

The chickens are disgusting, and always will be disgusting.

reach into box
pull out chicken
sprinkle seasoning liberally 
impale on racks

And once I've made a considerable mess of my apron, I slam the door shut and push my chicken trolley back to the coolroom.

Gino comes in about now. Gino reminds me a lot of my father, because he's a troublemaker and has the same calibre of jokes.
Gino picks up a broom and brandishes it at me. "Uh oh," he says, "Kim's left her broom behind."
I peer at him.
"How's she gonna get home? She'll need her broom!" Gino beams at me.
"You're terrible," I say, a laugh traipsing through my words.
"Hey Kim," Gino shouts, pushing his grocery trolley down the aisles to find her, "I just called you a witch!"
I can only assume Kim's reply is of the non-verbal, one-fingered, variety.

Gino helps out in the deli as I get the case ready. If there are more than two people, Gino will rush over excitedly and grab pies and meats for customers. Gino has more enthusiasm than me, presumably because he has an extra hour's sleep.
"What can I get you, my friend?" he asks, rubbing open a plastic bag.
I, meanwhile, am at the pie case. There's one customer who comes in and he has one of those smiles that I'm forced to smile back at. He will come to my deli case three times in the one day and smile whilst getting goods.
I know the drill.

can i have a plain pie please
can i have a medium tub of
creamy shell pasta
sorry to bother you again
but can i grab some shaved ham, just a couple of dollars worth
no problem

I expect this daily, much like I expect the man who orders a medium tub of tabouleh to come in. He doesn't today. This saddens me.

The chicken oven clangs with an irritating buzz.
I pull the chickens out, carry them to the bain marie, and flee to my break.
In my break, I attempt to solve a murder.

As I come back, I overhear Kim and Gino.
"I'm leaving earlier than you today," Gino says. I hear a clunk, and assume Gino's stacking the tinned fruit.
"Why?" Kim asks.
I can still hear them as I go to serve a customer for Kim.
"I've gotta go to the doctor's. Skin cancer or something - "
"Cancer?" Kim's voice becomes higher pitched. "You got cancer?"
"No, no," Gino laughs. "Check-up."
Kim says, disgruntled, "You could've said that to begin with."
Gino just laughs some more.

And then 11 o'clock comes, and I am cleaning a slicer.
Sam enters, and bids me adieu.
I walk home, in the rain and in the wind.
With an umbrella,
listening to music,
and solving the murder I couldn't solve before.

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