Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dirty Jobs..Atlanta Edition

Mike Rowe...I feel your pain

Have any of you seen the movie American Beauty? The opening scene has a voice over from Kevin Spacey that goes like this, "Look at me, jerking off in the shower - this will be the high point of my day. It's all downhill from here."

I know what that man means!

The following story takes place on July 1st, 2009 in Atlanta, Ga. I can only imagine Death Valley California and the surface of the sun being warmer places to work. I initially met with the company under the understanding this was a sales position for a linen company. I was assured it was a good gig and not as "gay" as it sounded. By linens we are talking about napkins, table clothes, chef coats, etc, for restaurants and hotels. Not doilies that Robby and Harry buy to decorate their cottage.

After three interviews with the company I was hired but the sales job had now turned in to a management position after they realized I have experience working with "ethnic groups" in the construction world. Look at me! I've already been promoted! The phrase,"Check out the big brain on Brad!", from Pulp Fiction kept going through my head for some reason.

So I leave my apartment around 7:50 in the morning and roll in to work just after 8:30. A 40 minute commute to start the morning is what I always dreamed about when I was a little boy.

I get to the office and the lights are off in the main room but I see my boss Regina in her office just off to the side. It looks like she has just woken up and she informs me that one of the drivers called in sick and this is going to make the whole day hectic. I think how bad can it be? Surely a driver has called in sick to work before. This isn't a start up business and there should be a procedure for cases like this.

The main problem is some items have to get to Turner Field before noon and they have nobody to take them. They call their back up driver a few times, Julio, but he will not answer his phone. I get the feeling he knows why they are calling him. When they finally get in touch with him he agrees to come in but it sounds like he has just woken up and isn't pleased. While waiting for Julio to arrive they give me a lilttle background on him. Julio use to be a full time driver for them but he doesn't have his license anymore. They don't really seem to care about that little detail and still send him out on the road whenever they need to. The problem is you need a picture ID to get in to Turner Field for deliveries. I guess they think somebody wants to kidnap Chipper Jones, I don't know. Regina tells me that I need to ride with Julio down to the stadium and make one more stop then come back.

It's funny all the places I went had something to do with my past. It's like they were filming a reality show based on the movie "Scrooged" and I was costarring with Ghost of Christmas Past. To quote a friend of mine, "This shit just writes itself."

Me and Julio Down by the School Yard

So we load the truck up with a few things then take off to Buckhead. When Julio gets in the truck he says a few Hail Mary's then puts his seat belt on. He turns the radio on with the station preset to Viva 105.3 or whatever the Mexican station is. Riding down the road I notice there are two Mexican songs playing but I'm not sure why. After a few seconds I figure that he has a Mexican ringer on his phone that is going off. I make a Dunaway joke to myself and laugh. "Vamanos!"

The first stop is at The Mansion and it's at the location of the old Art Institute of Atlanta which is the reason I am in Atlanta in the first place. I didn't think anything of it at the time but God must have been chuckling about it all and the day he had in store for me. We make the stop, drop off the linens and pick up the dirty ones. It's a relatively new place with an underground loading area and things are clean and easy to maneuver. We go to leave and Julio tells me I have to drive the truck. This is a 30 foot box truck the likes of which I have never driven or wanted to drive before and he expects me to drive in Downtown Atlanta like I am on a back road in Madison. I can't imagine why he doesn't have his license anymore. I realize people drive larger trucks every day right through Atlanta and also Doctors can look at the guts of a dying person laying on a table. They were born for that and I don't claim to be either.

For some reason Julio thinks they have hired me as a driver and that I have done this kind of thing before. I didn't have the heart to tell him they are training me to be his boss and I was also scared he may pull a blade on me. Julio keeps driving and we get to Turner field where he talks his way in some how without an ID. The Braves security staff is about as top notch as their 3rd Basemen it seems. We have to deliver things to the 755 Club but we are parked on the other side of the stadium. We only have one cart to take up and Julio takes it so I'm just walking enjoying the view figuring I would run in to Brian McCann eating a hot dog or snow cone.

We get up to the 755 Club and I make a comment that I hadn't been in there since I dated a girl who worked there during college. Then we go back to the kitchen to drop off napkins and pick up the dirty ones. This was my first dry heave of the day when I see the pile of 2 week old napkins with flies all over them right in the kitchen. If you know me you know I have a weak stomach that is second only to Robby's. Actually it wasn't so much seeing the flies that did it but when I had to pick up the bags of dirty napkins with flies on them is when I started gagging. We had to make several trips across the stadium to get everything and of course my cart had a gimp wheel which made it twice as hard to push.

By this time it's 11:45 and I'm thinking the day is half over and this isn't so bad. Julio is rough because he was called in to work on his day off and tells me that we have to run the normal route when we get back to the office. We get back and unload then reload about 9 carts then take off again. Julio is in a bad mood and tells me we probably won't be done until 9 pm but I figured he was just joking. Silly me. He says we are stopping at QT which is music to my ears and I forget about the flies and dry heaves for a minute and get 2 taquitos, a 32 oz tea and a donut. Total cost $3.51. Life is good once again!

We head back to Buckhead and I am wanting a nap by the time I finish the last of the donut. I forget where we went to on the next few stops but I was sweating and gagging at each of them some worse than the others. I remember I got a refill on my 32 oz drink at two of the stops though. Total fluid intake for the day is 96 oz and I don't have to use the bathroom yet.

Seems some of these restaurants keep their dirty linens outside in the heat and rain so bugs can get in them and eat the 2 week old food. We go to one place, Eclipse de Luna right off Piedmont and right beside Atlanta kick. I've gone out with two girls who work for Atlanta Kick and figured I would run in to them with the way my day has been going but luckily I didn't. This is the place I lost part of my lunch because the bugs and stench were so bad. The best way to describe the smell is that of rotting fish and old peaches. Julio actually laughed at me and told me just to hold the cart while he threw the stuff in it. Of course some of it got on me and I gagged more...

Somewhere around this time is when Julio lights up his first cigarette and asks if it bothers me. I of course lie and tell him I'm fine with it but decline his offer to smoke one with him although it is tempting after the day I've had so far.

We keep going up Piedmont until we are sitting at a red light with the Gold Spa on my right. I had just read online that a security guard just got shot and killed there over the weekend but they are still open for business. I consider that guy to be luckier than me at the moment.

The next stop is Ansley Golf Club right by the pool where we park in a no parking zone. (I took a picture of this) I think this is the point I sent out an email that simply said, "Shit." I had met this cougar a while back who is a member there and has invited me to the pool countless times but I never took her up on the offer. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to run in to her since the last time I had spoken to her she referred to me as "Asshole."

Julio said since he didn't have a license he didn't have to obey parking signs.

This is also the first place of the day where the manager who has to sign the packing list gets rough. He complains that we are late and then doesn't believe that we have brought everything on the packing list because the other guy never does. Of course we have already stored everything in the closet and mixed it with the linens they already had. I got the idea that this manager was talking to Julio like he was only because Julio is Mexican. Luckily Julio is like Rain Man when it comes to linens and remembers exactly how many linens we had brought in and where we put it. It was 2 carts full and probably 200 items.

We leave there after pushing the carts full of dirty linen up a hill that can best be described as the hill that Douglass Phelps grandmother use to live on in Madison. Harry and Robby can tell you that is the steepest hill in Madison and the most fun when it snows. On the way up the hill I repositioned myself behind one of the carts trying not be seen by the Cougar. It's like God is playing Frogger with my soul at this point.

The next stop is Willy's in Midtown and there are nothing but gay people sitting around drinking and eating tacos. It's like I was getting violated with their eyes as soon as I stepped out of the truck but I put my sunglasses on tried to make the most of it. I even got a cat call from group of black dudes. (This reminds me, who wants to go see Bruno with me? I have free tickets.)

The next couple of stops were all about the same with me sweating a lot more and getting more discouraged by the stop. I guess I should point out that I was told to wear jeans and Julio was wearing shorts. I had a pair of gloves that are cotton with red latex on the palms so that you can grip things better. These gloves also keep the sweat and funk inside the gloves and Julio didn't take his off all day. I just gagged again thinking about that again. I would take mine off at each stop and try to air them out on the dash board so that my fingers didn't look like prunes. The fire from Julio's cigarette must have dried his out through out the day.

OJ Simpson's gloves

I guess around 5:30 pm Julio says we only have 4 more stops and they should be quick. He says this as we are sitting still on 75/85 and I wonder if he sees the irony in that statement. We are on the road where a parking deck collapsed a few days earlier and traffic is all backed up but I can see the Cheetah right in front of us. I am praying that Julio has been holding out on me and that we are going there to make a delivery as a surprise to me. Surely the producers of my fake reality show aren't this cruel?

Instead we go to this place in midtown and change out their mats but the ones we brought to change are different than the ones we are picking up. This makes the owner/manager/whore/bitch angry and she says she is going to call somebody about it. Be my guest lady! This was one of those trendy places and she was coked out of her mind and thought she was a lot hotter than she actually was. Her little helpers who remind me of the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz got rough because we were late and wanted to know why? My first day on the job and I am taking heat from an assistant to the assistant of some over priced trendy establishment for somebody else's mistakes. AWESOME!

We make the rest of the stops and only one other Owner gets rough about us being late. In fairness to him he wasn't too bad and by this point it's around 6:30 pm and people are there for happy hour so I can see why he would need his stuff.

We head back to the office up I-85 which was to my surprise moving at a decent pace and get back just in time to unload the trucks. I figure we would just roll the 9 full carts off the truck and let somebody else deal with it. Wrong! This was the worst part of the day and it came at the end of it which makes it even worse. We had to unload the carts from the truck then unload each bag by hand in to a pile. I can't do it justice by talking about these bags without you seeing and smelling them for yourself. Some are cloth bags, some are garbage bags and some are just loose napkins. But imagine these things weighing between 40-70 pounds depending on how wet they are and how much shit is in them. Then having to bend over in to the 5 foot bins to pick them out.

The bags that were tied and heavy were nothing compared to the busted bags that smelled like dead animals and rotting fruit. I really have no desire to eat at any of these places I went to now that I have seen their kitchens. For the next few days I will only eat at places that have paper napkins or serve food in a bag out of a window.

As we are tossing the bags Regina walks out laughing asking how it went and they figured I would quit. They say that the first day is always the hardest which goes against everything job/first day of school I have ever been associated with. They ask me what I think and all I could say is that I will sleep well. Then they ask what size shirt I wear and I tell them XL knowing that I would never put one of those shirts on in my life.

I finally head home around 8 pm I guess a full 12 hours from when I had left my house that morning. I wasn't hungry at all and the thought of food made me sick to my stomach but I pulled in to the one place that serves me comfort food...Taco Bell. To make all the bad thoughts go away I ordered 3 crunchy tacos, 3 soft tacos and a large sweat tea. I had 2 Teas just waiting for my food and drank 3 total.

I did the math and figured I had 172 oz of fluid during the day which comes to roughly 11 pounds not including the tacos, toquitos and donut. When I woke up yesterday I weighed 241 pounds and when I got home after eating and drinking all that I weighed 234 pounds.

I can safely say that was the 3rd best shower I have ever taken in my life. The Best was after the Home Run Derby during the All Star game where we walked a few miles after standing in the rain all night. I also had a serious case of stomach cramps after eating an ungodly amount of hot dogs and buffalo wings to go along the worst chaffing that I have ever had. The second best shower was after hooking up with a girl who scared me to death and I scrubbed myself for a good 30 minutes like I had battery acid all over me. I survived the first two so I knew I would be ok after this day.

I've worked in water tanks at the lower tip of Texas in August in 120 degree heat, I've driven a bulldozer in the woods and run over hornet nests and I've helped empty septic tanks in the summer but none of those jobs were as bad as this. Well the septic tank deal was bad but it only lasted an hour.

Originally this was a sales job but when they saw that I have management experience with Mexicans they wanted to use me for that. It's just not something I want to do and I would rather be poor than miserable every day of my life.

I emailed Regina the following morning and told her I wouldn't be back. She responded by saying she "totally understands" and hopes to run in to me in the future.

God only knows where...

*Please note this is the PG version of the story. For a full uncensored version of the story please check out my book coming out in the Fall of 2010.


Katie said...

I don't really know where to start.

1) Julio ... the Rainman of linens!! I'm sure his mother is so proud.

2) Why would a Cougar that you just "met" recently call you an Asshole? I sense that we're not getting the full story here.

3) I want to see Bruno

Unknown said...

Brilliant. I prefer the uncensored version.

Becky said...

Wow, this must have been a bad experience if it motivated you to acutally write on your blog.

Erin said...

I agree with Katie - can you elaborate on the cougar story?

Anonymous said...

I think you're being a little short sighted by quitting. Think of how much material you could have for your blog by staying on. True artists would suffer for their work.

morgan said...

Holy crap that is the worst day at work EVER!

Drew said...

Ah, crap jobs in Atlanta, GA. Sounds like Julio needs to wake up from his drug addict slumber and get a license, or find another job. Sounds like one hellacious day.

Anonymous said...

Is Regina hot? Do you have a future with her?

Lauren' said...

While I enjoyed this post...months ago...I am officially Getting Rough.

Update this thing, JZobs!

J said...

Wow that is unbelievable. That has to be the most horrific first day - no wonder you didn't stay!

Anonymous said...

Rather cool blog you've got here. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything connected to this matter. I would like to read more soon.

Kate Kuree