The Arby’s restaurant where I worked during my high school and college years is now a great big greasy hole in the ground. It was recently demolished to make way for some kind of development in the business district of one of the first-ring Minneapolis suburbs.
I worked part-time at that restaurant for five years all together. I can still tell you how many ounces of “meat” went on a regular size roast beef sandwich, and I could probably still build a chicken club sandwich with my eyes closed. Sometimes I have nightmares that I still work there, and usually, in those nightmares, I’m pissed.
My current place of employment is the corporate headquarters of one of the larger fast food chains (which will remain nameless… don’t wanna get Dooced). The corporate office building has a training restaurant where new restaurant managers come to learn the ropes. Corporate employees are sometimes invited to help out in exchange for free food, and when they got around to asking if I would be interested, I declined politely. On the inside I was thinking, it’ll be a COLD DAY IN HELL before I start serving up French fries again.
A lot of life-changing shit went down during my fast food tenure. I met my ex during the breakfast shift at Arby’s. He was the cook, and grilled up croissant sandwiches while I stayed in the back and assembled the day’s salads. We didn’t start dating until a few years later, long after he quit working there. But even so, a word of advice to all you unattached gals: Don’t marry a guy you met in a fast food restaurant. Trust me on this one.
I had moved up from salad girl to night manager when my mom’s brother was diagnosed with cancer. I was working the night he died, and a few days later, I couldn’t go to the wake because nobody would cover my shift that night. Mom still hasn’t forgiven me for that one.
Then my relationship with my mother was strained to the breaking point by my out-of-wedlock, still-in-college and most-definitely-unplanned pregnancy. Long months of spectacularly fun drama ensued, much of which went down, you guessed it, at Arby’s. Allow me to amend my advice for you gals: Don’t accidentally get pregnant by and then marry a guy you met in a fast food restaurant. Seriously.
Shortly after Demigoddess the Elder was born, I took a job with a magazine publisher—a job with a desk and a computer and not one single heat lamp or meat slicer anywhere—and my days of peddling fast food were over. Well, mostly.
I guess I still do peddle fast food indirectly, but at least I don’t come home from work smelling like “roast beef” any more.
Last week, when I saw that big ‘ole hole where the Arby’s used to be, it seemed like I should feel sad, or pensive, or something. But in reality, it was more like the way I felt after cleaning out all the closets in my house during the year after my divorce. Something more like unfettered. Unencumbered.