Last week, Whitebait tagged me for the “meme of four” that’s been going around. It’s a dilemma. As someone who was always picked last for the kickball team, I appreciate getting tagged; however, I’m not big on memes. Therefore, I present a consolidated meme, narrowed down to one question: name four jobs you’ve had in your life.
- Bus person at the General Sutter Inn in Lititz, PA
- Monorail operator, train driver, and general all-around ride jockey at Lancaster’s Dutch Wonderland
- Inspector #71 and clothes scanner at the QVC returns warehouse in Lancaster, PA
- Evening proofreader at a printing company in Lancaster, PA
I applied for the General Sutter job at the request of my high school friend Loopey J, who thought it would be totally cool if we, like, worked together. Without informing my parents, I walked down to Lititz’s oldest fine dining establishment, filled out an application, and was immediately offered a job by Drunky and Uptight V, the couple who then owned the restaurant/inn.
Drunky V had some serious alcohol issues. He started each dinner shift reasonably sober but usually had a stumble to his step by the time we were resetting the last table. Unfortunately, his impaired gait wasn’t the only clue that he’d spent too much time up at the bar; by nine or ten o’clock he would begin standing extremely and uncomfortably close to any female staff unfortunate enough to cross his path, and the smell of booze was unmistakable, even to someone as naive as I was. But the worst part about Drunky J at the end of the night was his habit of walking the birds.
Uptight V loved birds. She decorated the Inn’s coffee shop with empty birdcages and bird wallpaper that featured huge, terrifying–possibly carnivorous–indigo birds with eyes that followed innocent buspeople all around the room as we folded napkins and prepared for the dinner crowd. Three steps above the coffee shop was the Inn’s main lobby, which also featured birdcages. Except that the lobby’s birdcages contained real birds. Loud, squawking, dirty little monsters who lived disturbingly close to the main dining room. The only hope they had for a change of scenery was at the end of each evening, when Drunky V grabbed one from among their ranks, perched the chosen creature on his shoulder, and paced from the lobby to the bus station to the bar to the kitchen and then back again, over and over. By the third or fourth loop of this ritual, the back of Drunky V’s jacket was invariably covered with bird excrement.
Despite the escapades of Drunky V, it was a good year at the General Sutter Inn. As Loopey J predicted, it was totally cool to work together. We snuck downstairs and bought Benson and Hedges from the cigarette machine, hiding them in a doggie bag that read “Becky and J’s–DO NOT TOUCH.” Naturally, the head busperson found our stash, even though we’d hidden it on top of the coffee machine, and laughed her ass off at two silly high school juniors who smoked Benson and Hedges on the sly. On slow nights we went out back to hang with the cooks, who sat on the hood of an El Camino and alternated between treating us as comrades in the war against Drunky V and threatening to dunk us head-first into the fat barrel. Luckily, Unstoppable B, the shrewd and streetwise senior server and fifteen-year General Sutter veteran, was usually there to defend us against cooks, head buspeople, and inebriated proprietors.
Thanks, Whitebait, for inspiring this walk down memory lane. Those who did not like this walk down memory lane should feel free to e-mail complaints to Whitebait.
I should also mention that Drunky and Uptight V sold the General Sutter Inn many years ago. The birds are gone.