I work at a place where hope goes to die. Or at least be shoved in the corner, beside dirty mopheads and overflowing garbage bags, for six to eight hours. I struggle with myself each time I pull into the parking lot, my mind working frantically, going through violent, heroic scenarios of me stomping into the shop, throwing down my uniform, and declaring my intentions to never return. Possibly throwing in a middle finger, maybe even two, depending on who was working that day. In these scenes, every single customer in the shop realizes (at the exact same moment, mind you) that they cannot possibly support an establishment that treats their employees with such disdain and disrepect; as one, they stand up, throw down their food, and follow me outside, into the glorious sunset. This is usually where the daydream ends. Because what could possibly happen after several strangers storm out of a sandwich shop, united for that one brief moment behind a disgruntled employee who may or may not have had just cause to create such a scene. Would they all grab a coffee together next door, to further discuss what had just happened? Or would they avoid eye contact, mumble something incoherent about an urgent appointment, and all wander off in the direction of their vehicles? You see where I'm going with this, why sometimes daydreams are better left inside your head.
Despite these dramatic ramblings, there is really nothing that terrible about my job. What truly scares me are the "lifers", those people who wake up each morning with tiny sparkles in their eyes, at the prospect of being able to make sandwiches for grumbling, overweight customers, day after day.
You should really meet Steven. I mean, you probably wouldn't want to. He likes to yell out, "Good teamwork, guys!" after a particularly good bout of...teamwork. I refuse when he offers me his hand for a high five. If a bag of black olives mysteriously goes missing, his voice gets low and grave, and I fear he may cry unless every last veggie is accounted for. The best conversation we ever shared involved cucumbers and how "fun" they are to prepare in the morning. My co-workers talk behind poor Steven's back, whispering about how they hid the olives behind the bread cabinet just to see his reaction, or how they can't wait until the day they get to quit, it will be soon, they hope, yeah, just after they graduate, then they'll never eat a Subway sandwich again. Steven terrifies me. Not in the way that when I see him coming, I cower and wait for him to pass. I mean, I'm afraid, someday, many years from now, I'll be making my young co-workers laugh behind my back at how enthusiastic I am about the tomato slicer.