Tuesday, June 4, 2013

FML Madness - Jennifer R. Hubbard

My first FML guest post is from Jennifer R. Hubbard.  She was kind enough to share her story with all of us, so I'll let her speak for herself.

When I was in high school, I had a part-time job at a chain restaurant that shall remain nameless. I started out working the registers, and I used to tell my coworkers that all the problem customers seemed to get into my line. (Note to customers: Bringing a minimum-wage cashier to the verge of tears with your verbal abuse is nothing to be proud of, mmkay?)
For purposes of this story, it helps to understand that our managers got very irritated whenever we had to void a sale. They had to unlock the register and initial the slips of paper, and it was all a big deal.
One morning when we had just opened, the first customer walked in. She had a choice of my friend’s register, which was directly in front of her, or my register, which was farther away. She veered over to my line and ordered a coffee, and I rang it up. While I waited for her to dig her money out of her purse, I put two creams and two sugars on the counter, which I would give her along with the coffee. “Oh, I’m going to need more than that,” she said, glancing at the cream and sugar. So I put two more creams and two more sugars on the counter. But she said, “Oh, I’m going to need a lot more than that.” So I piled up more cream tubs and sugar packets, still waiting for her to pay for the coffee.
At this point, she closed her purse and said, “I’ve changed my mind. I’m tired of dealing with you people.” She then walked out of the store while my friend said, “They really do pick your line!”
The most FML part was having to tell my manager that I had a void on the first sale of the day.
Nowadays, I have a desk job. :-)

Repeat after me:  be nice to people in the service industry :)

Today I've got a copy of The Secret Year and Try Not to Breathe to give away!  Leave a comment about your worst job and I'll pick two winners at random on Monday.  You've got all week, so make them good!

Jennifer R. Hubbard (www.jenniferhubbard.com) is the author of young-adult novels The Secret Year, Try Not to Breathe, and the upcoming Until It Hurts to Stop, all published by Viking (Penguin). Her high-school job served as an inspiration for the main character’s part-time job in The Secret Year.


  1. Shaun and Jenn,
    One of my worst jobs involved 12-hour shifts at a bakery glazing pastries, selling them, and cleaning up. I would be so exhausted by the end of the day I'd barely drag myself home only to get up at dawn the next day and do it again. On the up side, I volunteered to drop off the unsold bread at a local soup kitchen each night on my way home, and that made it all feel worthwhile.
    All best,

  2. The day I knew that all of my expensive education was utterly worthless. I had a graduate degree and was in the summer hiatus awaiting the beginning of the next one I was to pursue, and I got a summer job in a lab to tide me over until school started again. It was a pathology lab - my degree was in microbiology, after all - and one of my jobs in the leb would be to inject the laboratory bunnies with - something - I forget what - some poison - and after two weeks they would be "sacrificed" (their word) and their livers examined for the effects of whatever it was that I was to put into them.

    Day came for this to be done, I went into the rabbit room with a syringe which (as I recall) was full of some noxious yellow liquid. I put it down on the bench, reached into the hutch, got one of the rabbits... and it was a small brown thing, no bigger than the palm of my hand, and it sat there on my open hand quite quiescent, looking me in the eye, its tiny nose twitching at me over its folded front paws.

    And right there and then i knew I could not do it. I *could not do it*. I put the rabbit back into the hutch, left the syringe of poison on the bench, and fled to the ladies' where I sat crying my eyes out for an hour. And then I quit.

    I actually ended up using that entire episode in a recent novel, if you REALLY want to read about it in more detail - it's in Olivia's story in "Midnight at Spanish Gardens", for those who want to go look. But it was a devastating moment of clarity and it marked a Before and After kind of break. The things that my education had trained me to do... I could not bring myself to perform them. ANd yeah, sure, there were labs where there would be JUST bacteria and no bunnies - I could have ended up in a high-security lab studying xenobiology, for all I know - but everything that followed that moment in the animal room would have been tainted by that memory, by that brown rabbit's tiny reproachful ghost.

    So there you go.

  3. I worked at a retail mall food court restaurant once, when I was 15. never again!

    Still, pretty funny story, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Yes, please be nice to people in the service industry! Ugh. It makes me crazy when I see people (especially adults) treating kids in high school as you were treated. And worse. Why do people have to take our their frustrations on those earning minimum wage?
    Anyway, it's a great story. I already have both of your books (and love them), so treat someone else by picking another name. : )

  5. Ah, teen-job-woe. I have a story for you. I worked in a bakery during my high school years. Until then, I'd never tasted coffee. One day, I decided to try it; and I loved it. Madly. I think I drank six cups of coffee during my four hour shift. Damn, was I wired come closing! I did my thing, counted out the receipts and the money in the drawer, put away the day-old stuff for the raccoon lady, and started to lock up. The phone rings...
    "Hey," says the drowsy voice on the other end.
    Mike, I thought, our overnight baker. "Oh hey," says I.
    "Whatcha doin'?"
    "Counting the money. Did you need something? I'm about to close up."
    "Nah, just wanted to talk to a pretty girl."
    Creep-factor x six cups of coffee kicks in.
    "Haha, thanks. I have to go. Bob is across the street, shooting pool. I have to..."
    "Oh, so you're alone?"
    Creep-factor x six cups of coffe + visions of every teen horror flick in existence.
    "This isn't Mike, is it."
    Cue maniacal laughter...
    I dropped the phone and dashed across the street. Bakery unlocked. Money spread out on the counter. Crying hysterically.
    Bob was a very nice boss--especially since no one stole the money while I babbled incoherently.
    Moral of the story, never drink six cups of coffee in four hours or pick up the phone after closing. Ever.

  6. You all are awesome. Keep 'em coming!

  7. I had a job calling doctors during their hospital hours to remind them that they owed the journal publisher I worked for a review of some fellow expert's book that they'd agreed to read. This was in the days before cell phones, and even beepers weren't that common, so I had to have these doctors paged. I always pictured them coming out of surgery or emergency consultation to call me back, under the assumption that I needed something, you know, important. Whoever has that job now gets to use email and voicemail. So lucky!

  8. When I was in high school, I worked at a well-known retail store. (Won't mention which one.) Our store had the highest theft rate and the highest employee theft rate in the state. Even the woman who trained me dipped in the till. Many of the customers were rude. The storm alarm blared often. We had a policy to not allow anyone to use a credit card under a certain dollar limit ($5). I worked in the candy and nuts department, so many customers tried to charge $1 of candy and would yell when I told them no.

  9. Wow, I wish this comment thread were a book of its own. We're running the gamut from the horrifying to the humorous--thank you, everyone, for sharing these memories.

  10. Ah, Jennifer, the blahs of retail. I hear you. I worked in a bakery during high school and OMG. Between the older woman I worked with who refused to show me how to add stuff up with the cash register (they were scared of it) and made me do all the math in my head or on paper while the line piled up and the customers who didn't like that I looked young and longed to find any reason to yell and the boss who offered to give you more money if you, uh, did things for him (I didn't), good times.


Keep it clean, keep it classy, and jokes are always appreciated.