The Everyday Quitter

A zine publisher recounts the highs and lows of minimum wage work

| September-October 1996

Nothing ever changes. Looking for a job. Haven’t heard from anyone. Had three interviews. Didn’t want anything I applied for. Minimum wage. Work awhile. Quit.

Indian restaurant—dishwasher. Have to crawl around and pick nails out of the owner’s carpet before I even get to start washing the dishes. Then I’m in trouble for not being quick enough. Did you ever try to get curry off metal dishes? My first night is my last.

Warehouse downtown—unload furniture from trucks. It’s pretty hard work. Just a week into the job there’s a big meeting with managers, and a lot of new bullshit rules. Later that day a manager gets mad because we’re behind schedule. Does he not realize we have just spent two hours in a meeting with him? Then he sees a footprint on a white couch and tries to match it by checking the bottom of our shoes. I don’t return the next day.

I apply at a bookstore. The owner says he might hire me but he has to fire his night clerk first. I apply at a lot of hotels, a carpet warehouse, bowling alleys. Don’t hear a thing.

Sterile new corporate center by the outer belt, near a suburb called Wonderland. The guy at the desk won’t get off the phone—just hands me the application. In the back office, the boss shakes my hand like he wants to break it, or send me over on my back.

“Well Randy, what we have here is a very fast-paced warehouse position. It’ll be hard work. What we’re looking for, Randy, is someone who is willing to bust his ass. Do you think this person is you?”