Edible Nonfiction: Today's pick
Maggie Panko's first job
Like many teenaged Canadians, my first job was at McDonald's. Unlike the majority of those same Canadians, I got fired.
Back then I wouldn't talk about it. McDonald's was the youth employment catch-all, a factory for start-up resumes and grey meat. My best childhood friend worked her way up to Assistant Manager. Everyone would do it. Anyone could do it.
Unless you had a problem with the Fish.
Truthfully, it wasn't the Fish alone. The Fish Incident followed a couple of crucial screw-ups: locking the cash by accident after inserting a hundred dollar bill, helpfully explaining to a customer that she could "take the pickles off" instead of waiting for a plain hamburger, or telling a man it was a "bummer" when I showed up with a caramel sundae instead of chocolate. I was a little off. Then a lot.
This was years ago, before automated fast-food cash registers beamed orders directly to the kitchen. If you wanted something other than hamburger variants, you had to call it back to the cooks.
A man in neat clothes ordered a Filet-O-Fish.
I faced the kitchen and hollered:"Fish sandwich!"
There was only one fish item on the menu. Who would actually yell Filet-O-Fish? Ridiculous! What was with the gaping O? There wasn't even an apostrophe, as if execs were too lazy to brand it a faux-Irish staple.
My manager was apoplectic. He instructed me to pronounce the title fully. I refused. Again, he demanded. No.
Some people are not team players, he said.
The next summer, I knew my record wouldn't snag the high paying full-time job I wanted to save for university.
Oh well, I thought, talking to the burly recruiter who stopped by our high school. The army it is.
Maggie Panko is from Montreal, QC