Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Working in a Coal Mine, part 2

Once my days of working in berry factories and bi-lingual business plazas ended I was ready to move on to the era of college jobs at BYU. For three years I worked at the Cannon Center Cafeteria on campus. I started as a cashier and I quickly became the envy of the other college kids because I did not have to start at the bottom of the employee food chain—the dish room.

I was hired as the oh-so-glamorous cashier. I’d like to think I started at the top of the Cannon Center Cafeteria employee food chain because of my poise and good looks but who knows the real reason. Nonetheless, I was a bit hated for working at the same wage as the kids in the dishroom or the salad prep folks yet I never had to get my hands dirty. However, I did have to get dirty in other ways. I had to enforce the dress standards of the BYU Honor Code. Basically I was the gate keeper of modesty before any student could enter and partake of the delicious smorgasbord. This is where I learned to be tactful and yet tell other students to get lost: “Sorry, your skirt is too short. Beat it.” Oh the power! I also was in charge of stopping the smuggling of food outside of the cafeteria. Students loved to load up their backpacks with bags of chips, fruit, and other contraband food items as they left. I pretty much turned a blind eye to the shrinkage of food. Being a meany about the dress code was enough venom spilling forth from my mouth for one day, don’t you think?

Now the really interesting part of cashiering was seeing how many local Provo families came to eat in the cafeteria on Sunday. Let’s analyze this: it is clearly breaking the Sabbath to go to eat at the Golden Corral (although that should be illegal on a whole other scale—see Food Snob blog) but for some reason it’s okay to pay to go out to eat if it was at the BYU Cannon Center. Does anyone else have an issue with this? Usually it was the folks in administration and their families that came. I understand that students need to eat on Sunday as well but do others living in homes with kitchens need to patronize the cafeteria on Sunday? Also, for employees, you could get a free meal on Sunday if you worked at least six hours. Any other day of the week, you had to work 8 hours to get a free meal. Come on! Cheapskates….

After a year of cashiering I moved higher up the employee food chain and worked as a secretary in the cafeteria office. This felt like working in a fishbowl as the office was all windows and situated in the center of the cafeteria work zone. From here you could watch the giant vats of ranch dressing being mixed like potions in a cauldron with huge wooden spoons. There is something eerie about a recipe that calls for 3 gallons of mayonnaise that makes your tummy sick—and that’s coming from someone whose favorite condiment is mayonnaise. Anyway. My favorite part about being a secretary was changing the names on the student files once the female workers got married. And if you know anything about being LDS you know that for the most part we get married young during the college years so updating the names on the student files alone took hours each week. My favorite file was of a girl names Dana Swain. I thought that was such a cool name—nice, short, easy to spell. Then she married a co-worker with the surname of Wolfersberger. Yea, you read that right. It took me weeks to change the file tab on her manila envelope to Dana Wolfersberger. I just couldn't do it. I secretly wanted to tell her that she should claim to be a feminist and keep her once respectable last name and refuse her husbands name. But alas my job description did not entail counseling. So I painfully changed her name on her file. Changing my name on my own employee file was a lateral move if you ask me. I went from Harrington to Winward during my junior year. It’s a toss up which name I like better. Then again, the bonus to becoming a Winward was that professors stopped asking me if I was related to the then-famous Polynesian Harrington brothers who played BYU football. Or something like that. "Do I look Polynesian to you", I wanted to ask? I hardly look Mexican in the summertime and with a surname like Harrington no one ever asked if I was Hispanic. Sheesh I am getting off subject.

During my senior year I entered the real workforce and got a job at Mountainlands Community Health Center on Freedom Blvd. Once again, my inability to speak Spanish didn’t help but that was a fun job. Once I graduated I needed something full-time so I got another job, in addition to the health center, at a security company doing the Accounts Payable. This job was worse than the berry factory in Boring, Oregon. My boss loved all that Steven Covey garbage but implemented none of it into our office. One time I got the credit card bill and on it was a $3,000 charge to an animal hospital in Texas. I approached the owner about this charge and he informed me that his gross and disgusting dog that he brought to work everyday and shed fur all over me needed an emergency hysterectomy while he was doing a job in Texas. “Um, okay, so how do you want me to code that?” His reply: “Just put it under miscellaneous expense.” For more outrage about this very subject look at Paul’s blog called “Paying your Fair Share.” I should’ve quit that job on day one but Paul was in graduate school and we needed the moo-lah. So I suffered at the security company for 9 long months. In the end, I quit to get a full time job at Wasatch Mental Health. Chances are, if you are still reading this blog you are crazy. And if you are crazy, then chances are I have seen your name on intake forms while working there. But don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.


paulw_cpa said...

Thanks for plugging my blog sweetie! I had no comments until Alison had to go mess that up.

There is something eerily exciting about having a voice that seems to not be heard.

The best part of that security company is that I do work for them now and he spent a mint attending our stupid leadership seminar developed by LDS Church members called "Blueprint For Excellence". It is one thing to quote Steven Covey, but quite another to use quotes from LDS Church leaders past and present and charge people to hear them!!

Carolyn said...

Cyn, I was blessed to be drawn into your web of joy at the Cannon center. As you held the power sitting there in the secretary office, you were able to draw me in to the foodservice life, even though I was not a BYU student. I will bless your name for years to come at being given the opportunity to make food for the salad bar. The secret to any salad bar pasta salad, as I discovered, is to throw in some ranch dressing. "Nora, I have this macaroni with chopped bits of leftover ham - should I toss it?" "No, just stir in some ranch dressing and set it out in the food bar." That is quality, my friend. I should write my own blog about my Cannon center experience....

cyn the win said...

I did remember Paul that you have this afore mentioned security company as a client which is why I didn't name the company in my blog. I do have some scruples.


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