Deli tales: — in which I give a man the gift of pants.

Why do I do it?  Why do I go back?  Am I that devoted to the luchre of this world?

Only a few things have changed: pizza is no longer sold all day, but is a lunch-exclusive.  The rotisserie is no longer self-cleaning.  (For those of you who don’t know: this is the fifth summer I’ve come back to work at the Deli of the local Fred Meyer [Kroger]).  But otherwise, all is well with the world of the deli, if “well” is the right adjective for a sort of combination of an oil derrick and a crematorium.

Needless to say, I’m not quite “on the ball,” because obviously I try not to think about work any more than I have to when otherwise occupied, say by graduate school.  It took me a while to remember the old routines, especially since the old role known as “pre-closer” has been replaced by something different, something that involves cleaning a row of four stainless-steel machines, each of which smells like flesh-smoke, simmering blubber, and dry-rub spices.  One of my co-workers helpfully showed me a super-cleanser today that will just “melt off that gunk,” provided I was not “afraid of getting a few chemical burns now and again.”  No, silly – who would be afraid of that?

So, played any good video games lately?  This is the usual salutation of one “Abraham” (not his real name) who works at the U-Scan cash register.  I’ve never claimed to be a gamer, because I’m not.  It would just be bad form.  But he keeps asking.  “Um, no,” I replied, trying to think of how to keep the conversation afloat.  “Too busy with school?” Abraham inquires, since apparently that is the only excuse for not plugging in to WoW for seventeen hours a day.  “Just trying to stay out of trouble,” I respond, apropos of nothing, and swipe my timecard.  

Yesterday I lost control of a big vat of Apricot Barbecue sauce.  I almost had it in its little cubbyhole when the unconquerable greasiness of the place took command and the thing flipped out of my hand, laid down a flat trail of sticky sauce, and then leapt into the air just in time to slime the entire pants-leg of my colleague, “Andreas.”  It was epic, tragic. comic.  They were so thoroughly ensconced in the viscid gunk that I had no choice but to buy the man a new pair of pants.  At least I got the employee discount.

I have a theory.  There is one thing that people want.  Yes, people have started wars over women and given their lives for money; but there is one thing that trumps all the rest.  What is it?  Ranch.  People freak out even before I have time to ask if they want ranch — “OH SWEET LORD DO YOU HAVE RANCH PLEASE TELL ME YOU HAVE RANCH AND NOT JUST ONE AT LEAST TWO OR THREE CUPS PLEASE GOD SAY YES –”  I’d like to conduct an experiment, one in which a person has to, say, administer an electrical shock to a puppy to get a cup of ranch for his or her extremely dry jo-jo potato wedges.  How far would they go?  How many would they kill?  My guess is that, considering the enthusiasm shown, all the furry creatures of the world would have to pay before the wife-beater crowd could be satisfied.

More to come as it appears, plus some more anecdotes of gaming from co-workers …

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2 responses to “Deli tales: — in which I give a man the gift of pants.

  1. Hey Robert! Played any good games lately?! “Abraham” is kind of a strange/funny guy, and by the way, that’s a good alias for him. 😉 From the few times I tried to engage you in conversations about PC games, I realized that you probably didn’t have the time or inclination to be a serious gamer. “Abraham” doesn’t seem to catch on to that sort of nuance though. As much as I regret to say this, it’s quite likely you’ll be seeing me there in another week or so. Reinforcements for the Western Front, if you will, and I sure hope it’s quiet when I get there. I’m hoping that somehow this acute inflation (relatively speaking) the U.S. is experiencing translates into slower business at the deli counter. How’s the rest of the crew this time around? I hear that a certain “Linda” is still around from my dad, who goes by the deli now and again. That’s really too bad, surliness within our ranks is terrible for morale, at least mine anyway.

  2. Nice. I have to admit though, I’m that way about Honey Mustard Sauce (particularly the Chick-fil-A kind! @_@).

    I’m hoping working retail this summer will afford some entertaining stories. So far the most exciting thing that happens is when one of us accidentally takes a customer’s own garment when clearing out a dressing room. Usually we ponder the article for a few moments trying to decide which season it came from and what its SKU is, before dashing back into the Wardrobing Room with panicked fleetness.

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