April 13, 2010

Standard Application

Tony had walked into the restaurant the day before after smashing a brand new Oldsmobile into the side of the automatic car wash outside of the detailing station at the Good Olds Dealership across town. His manager wanted Tony's paycheck to help pay for the damages and Tony wanted a new job anyway, so he stripped out of his coveralls and walked to his own car in his boxer briefs, which he had also rammed into the automatic carwash earlier in the year. It was a brief sojourn into the world of suits, ties and sales, a multi-tiered social system of puppetry, mealy mouthed businessmen and gruff drones in garages, churning out repairs and eking by on the wage they earned in the dungeon below the suited white men. They made deals.

 Tony walked in and asked for an application at the counter. The restaurant seemed like it was upscale; he could tell because it was dark and they tried to hide the fact that the silverware sat on white paper napkins and the white paper napkins sat on a plastic tablecloth with little cartoon chefs in jumbled lines. Also, there were candles on every table.

A woman handed him an application with a smile. She was tall and her eyes wet with the sun on her face, maybe in her mid-thirties. She wore a casual but flowing black dress, which meant she was in charge, while the other middle-aged women wore uniforms, which meant they were peons.

"Applying for the line cook position?" she said sweetly.

"Yeah," said Tony, pointing at the window. "Saw the sign on my way to the grocery store."

"Excellent," she said with a little hop. "I'll let the chef know we have an applicant."

She disappeared behind the swinging door to the kitchen. The chef! They have a chef, he thought, impressed. Tony worked at a another restaurant for a time before his stint at the dealership and they didn't have a chef.

The application was standard. Same old questions. It left little room to elaborate and exaggerate his roles at the other restaurant. For example, he had to write "prep/line cook" instead of:

Assistant Creative Director to the Kitchen Manager 
Makida's Grill, April 2001 - April 2001
  • Assisted chef in creating seasonal menu selections
  • Discussed and generated business solutions 
  • Deepened knowledge of all hospitality products and services
  • Mastered the art of gift-basket assemblage
  • Bore the brunt of Kitchen Manager's piss poor attitude
  • Covered inventory for Kitchen Manager when hung over
  • Poked Kitchen Manager when sleeping on bucket
Tony was about half done with the application when the door swung open abruptly. A small man emerged in a chef coat and jeans. His nose was pointy and prominent and his eyes were wide, pupils full as he scanned the room. His face seemed to calm when he saw Tony, who smiled and reached out his hand.

"Hi, I'm Tony," he started.

"Yeah, cool! Applying for the job?" said the man loudly, smiling, eyes widening.

"Yes, I'm about halfway through my application, should be done in a bit," said Tony.

"Great! That's great," said the man. He reached out and slapped the application with his right hand, yanking it from under Tony's pen, which drew a long, blue vertical line down the page. His wide eyes scanned. "Okay, yeah. Yeah this is great," he said, dragging the page off the counter. Tony heard it crumple and bounce into a metal trashcan. "When can you start?"

Tony hesitated. "Well, I guess I can start whenever really."

"Good, that's great. How about tomorrow?"

"What time?"

"How about 4 p.m.?" said the man, reaching out his right hand. Before Tony could even answer he said, "Well?"

"Yes. That's fine, I can start tomorrow,"

"Fuck yes, that's great. Glad we chatted," said the man, wringing Tony's hand quickly and violently before steamrolling back through the swinging door.

The pretty manager appeared from what seemed like a little alcove to the side, smiling.

"Congratulations," she said. "Sounds like you got what you came in for.'

"Yeah sounds that way," said Tony, pushing the stool away from the counter. "Was that the chef?"

"Yeah, that's Kelvin," she said. "He's a genius. You'll really learn a lot working with him."

"That's awesome, I'm looking forward to it," Tony said. He almost forgot to ask: "And what's your name?"

"Reese," she said, reaching out her hand to shake his. Suddenly, her expression fell and became solemn, her eyes stared over his head. There were two old people standing in the lobby skeptically looking between the "Please Wait to Be Seated" sign and the empty restaurant.

"I'll be right there," said Reese, resolutely, and she sped from behind the counter to the front of the lobby, ushering the couple to an empty table, promptly changing direction when they pointed to an identical table against the far wall. She bowed when she apologized, unconsciously perhaps, and the old couple looked down their noses at her with unconscious intent. As they both settled in, Tony pulled his sleeves over his hands, pushing through the glass front door and fighting the wind to get to his car

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