Stuck In A Drive-Thru Going Nowhere Fast

Working in the service industry is a little like being stuck in a drive-thru going nowhere fast. It seems like a good idea at the time, but the longer you’re there the more you begin to look at yourself in the rear view mirror and question your own intelligence. The assholes in front of you don’t move fast enough, the bumper-riding idiots behind you make it impossible for you to bail out and there’s a better than average chance that the cellphone-distracted millennial who took your order got about half of it right.

There are actually times when hunger seems like the better option.

And as we all know, there’s nothing worse than getting home and rummaging through the black hole of a greasy carry out sack for the extra sauce that somehow didn’t make the trip. It’s the one thing that sends relatively sane individuals spiraling toward the precipice of schizophrenia and normally stable folk down the road to where-do-I-go-from-here purgatory.

Have you ever been sitting at a stoplight and two seconds after the light turns green the Viagra-deprived dick trickle behind you starts honking his horn? Have you ever stood in the 10 Items or Less Express Line at the grocery store only to find yourself behind the scrawny-livered colonsplatter with the overflowing cart who’s apparently stocking up his underground bunker for the impending apocalypse? Have you ever been next in line at the one available ATM behind the flabby-holed scrotumbundle whose combined transactions are equivalent to the number of tax returns the IRS processes on its annual deadline filing day? Have you ever been waiting in an exit lane for what seems like 20 hours in mind-numbing traffic when some limp-wristed pantybag sneaks up on you with an entitled turn signal blazing away demanding to cut in line?

That’s what working in restaurant and retail jobs feels like every damn day.

No one with a penchant for sanity enters the service industry with any career aspirations past the next promising gig. That would be the equivalent of an NRA enthusiast signing on to a year long PETA-sponsored cruise through lake West Coast. Not unlike a NASCAR driver pulling in for a pit stop, service industry jobs are primarily viewed as temporary refuels designed to keep people going who are on their way to finish lines that are so much bigger and better. At least in their own minds.

But here’s the problem with the current service industry environment that I don’t hear too much discussion about. With rare exceptions, most hourly-level restaurant and retail jobs were initially designed to be the sole province of either high school and college students, transients, retirees or segments of society who just never quite figured out exactly who they wanted to be. Somewhere along the way, however, former minimum wage part-time jobs that used to be relegated to housewives padding their families’ grocery bills and fraternity members scoring beer money instead became the full-time sustenance of laid-off factory workers and college kids who suddenly discovered their $100,000 degrees qualified them for little more than inquiring whether someone prefers their steak medium or medium rare. Not unlike attempting to fit the proverbial square peg into the ever-expanding round hole, the technological elimination of manufacturing jobs combined with universities selling outdated career paths jettisoned individuals with mortgages and antiquated career aspirations into an industry that – in its current state – is ill-equipped to afford or address either. Suddenly, a significant segment of business that had modeled its survival by employing primarily live-at-home employees on 20 hour work weeks at poverty level wages with no benefits found itself absorbing a workforce whose demands now stresses it to a point of reconfiguration often times bordering on extinction. It’s a little like giving up your reservation on the life boat for a more secure seat on the Titanic.

And then there’s this…

If I had a nickel for every intelligent thing I’ve heard come out of a customer’s mouth, I’d be about 50 bucks in the hole. Too many shoppers have been programmed by the institutions they patronize to squeeze the very places they frequent with incessant couponing while simultaneously negotiating deeper discounts on top of it with invalid complaints. And rather than send the majority of these scammers on their merry empty-handed way, most corporate eateries and retail junkets instead enable these calloused-knuckled dunghills to continue gaming the system by loosing them to abuse the people they employ rather than risk the inevitable negative online review. It’s indeed true that the douchebags of the world stock their pantries and wipe their crusty bungholes with comped toilet paper – after flushing down their free food.

And that, in a nutshell, is what makes the service industry such an unnecessarily crotch itch of an environment on which to hang your hat. On top of the often subsistence-level wages with the added bonus of little or mediocre benefits, semi-literate bullies masquerading as managers, substance-enabled coworkers whose priorities are often somewhere else, human resource and loss prevention departments who exist primarily to either reprimand or terminate you, irregular weekly schedules which mostly accommodate little or no weekends or holidays off…You can usually add to that an invisible impersonal corporate entity several states removed from you who essentially measures your worth based on the degree to which you’re willing to eat shit.

And that’s really it. Your service industry paycheck is little more than a bi-weekly trophy trumpeting how much crap you were willing to digest during your latest 14 day marathon. Your value is measured primarily on your ass-kissing skill set, and your lifestyle consequently relies on how adept you are at not pissing off the entitled nobhatches masquerading as customers which your employer chooses to cater to.

Other than that, it’s a great fucking gig.

– Terry Everton


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