Guest Post: Wearing the Uniform

Today’s guest post comes from Melissa Mathieu, and I’m posting it in honor of her six-week anniversary at Round Table Pizza in Morro Bay. Happy Bastille Day, everyone!

So, almost 6 weeks ago I started delivering pizzas part-time for Round Table. I have to say that it’s a much more fun job than the pressure-filed corporate office jobs I’m used to, and I’m not surprised that people treat me differently because I have a service job, but I was awed at how much.

Let me just say now that I recognize my privilege: I have two degrees, and I have the privilege that this is more a tour of this life than a final destination. Nevertheless, my experiences working for minimum wage has developed my empathy for those who don’t have a choice in jobs.

People react strongly to my uniform: to the people I deliver pizzas to I’m the slightly inconvenient, but ultimately benevolent angel that brings food; to the people, especially men, ordering food at the counter I’m a delay in getting their food and not human enough to warrant much more than civil politeness, open contempt or sometimes blatant sexual objectification; and to the people who witness me running errands-to the bank or to Albertsons for the soda run- I receive confused and obtrusive stares, as if they are not sure whether I am an alien or an apparition.

I don’t miss the glaring fluorescent lights and minimal windows, being glued to a desk from dark morning to dark night unable to move except to the bathroom, the necessity of corporate obeisance and the frequent use of corporate catch phrases *with a smile. I don’t miss turning a blind eye to open nepotism, the worship of title and rank, and the sickening frequency of bad birthday cake. I don’t know that I particularly miss that my bosses at these office jobs often acknowledged my over qualification and tried to cater to my pride without offering me a promotion.

I like people I’ve worked with at all my jobs and have been treated mostly like an equal even by management. I’ve worked retail before, even worked at the county where all the customers were hostile or on drugs. The difference I guess is that in the past the difficulties of the job were acknowledged as challenges, not my own fault. But in this new job, customers treat me like it is my fault, that I deserve their contempt for not having the good taste to get a job that pays enough in money and prestige to be snobby and condescending to hardworking service workers everywhere. I could also assume that the person who serves my coffee or rings up my groceries is a loser, but how could I possibly know their experience?

Despite my ranting, I like the job and still think people are basically good. I am sleeping better, eat good pizza all the time despite it’s effect on my weight, have the satisfaction of hard, clean work, and some tips in my pocket at the end of the night. And my co-workers aren’t bad, either 🙂 Perhaps someday humanity will outgrow the tired notion that some groups of people are inherently superior. I look forward to that day. That and remember to tip well!

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About R. Jean Mathieu

They say he speaks five languages, was conceived on a chess board, and once seduced a tong boss' daughter and lived to tell the tale. All we know is, he's called Roscoe. You can find more scurrilous lies at rjeanmathieu.com and buy his books at fedoraarts.com. View all posts by R. Jean Mathieu

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