Meredith is an excellent Chicago based comedian and freelance artist. She wrote a very good NIGHTMARE GIG so we asked her to write a HOW I GOT FIRED. You can see Meredith this Thursday, May 21 at saki records in Chicago as a guest on You, Me, Them, Everybody. -ed.
I’ve never cared about any job I’ve ever had. I’ve liked my coworkers, and sometimes even my bosses. I’ve liked certain perks of jobs, like giving my friends free cookies at the dessert shop I hosted at, or falling asleep on a warm couch instead of watching someone’s child attentively. I definitely have always liked working in restaurants, because you can make friends with the bartenders and they’ll give you white wine in to-go cups to sip during your shift. I like downtime where I can draw my pictures, and even menial tasks like rolling silverware or folding T-shirts. But I’ve never liked working. Blame that on my being the youngest child, or being right-brained, or a Millennial, I don’t give a shit. I get bored and restless after about six months of doing any job, and it takes everything in me not to scream in someone’s face, “OH YEAH IT’S PRETTY UPSETTING YOU HAVE TO WAIT SIX MINUTES FOR ME TO CLEAR THIS FUCKING TABLE THAT SOMEONE’S STILL SITTING AT YOU FUCKING DICK. FUCK YOUR BRUNCH. NOTHING MATTERS. YOU KNOW THE UNIVERSE IS SLOWLY GOING QUIET AND DARK?”
But I’m a good worker, for the most part, if not distracted. Instead of yelling in people’s faces I can turn on the brightest smile and say, “I know this wait is crazy! I love that sweater, where did you get it?” and people give me a dollar and I add to it a sad fund I’m saving up to move to the moon.
I’ve worked as a hostess since college at a few restaurants, because it’s an easy, talentless job with a lot of time to spend staring out the front window, wondering what death feels like. It’s the type of job where it’s acceptable to file your nails in public for some reason, and I like that because it feels as close as I’m going to get to being the secretary for the Ghostbusters.
I worked at an Asian-fusion restaurant in my junior year of college for a short time. My now roommate got me the job, and it was my first time working at an upscale restaurant. The chef, Jackie — a small, angry old Asian woman who demanded to only be called “Chef” and never by her real name — was the biggest fucking racist I had, and probably ever will, worked with. Although the thing about restaurants is that everyone is fucking racist, and you weirdly learn to be one to by accident, but it goes away as soon as you’ve finished your shift drinks. For example, every day she would get a delivery of whole catfish from the Calumet Fishery, a Chicago legacy. She would lovingly prepare the perfect seasoning for them during the course of the day, and tell the waiters at our pre-shift meetings how many we had, holding small contests for who could sell the most in a night. It was cute. Except for when this cookery witch would spot a Black couple coming into the restaurant and LOUDLY say, “TWO BLACKS, FIRE UP DA CA-FISH”. Chef. Dude. You cannot do that. I cannot make that better for two people with a free appetizer or a smile. You little racist monster. But she was LITERALLY never wrong about that, which made everyone feel uncomfortable and weird. She also liked to get my attention by throwing pencils at me. I hated her and weirdly respected her in a way for being a boss-ass bitch with no fucks to give.
So one night we had a slow shift, and my bald manager Danny was being a jerk, as usual, about nothing. I was bored and restless, like I said I tend to get, and was poking around the computer at the hostess desk. Each day the hostesses would leave notes for those working the next day about clientele and customers’s food allergies — pretty normal stuff. It was toward the end of the night and I had finished my work and a quarter of a bottle of nice gin in a to-go cup due to once making out with the bartender by accident. I stared across the space of the restaurant, to the open kitchen, and watched the little raccoon-hands of Chef working at plating her creations, sourly looking at anyone who came within a 15-foot radius of her. And I began writing in the hostess log, laughing to myself. I was opening the next day and thought, “Oh what a fun little thing to open up to tomorrow you clever silly girl! This is a joke just for us!” and typed out what ended up being one of the better rap songs about an Asian-fusion restaurant in the West Loop in Chicago.
I completely forgot about it by the next day, due to shift drinks.
I walked into the restaurant for the lunch shift, looking stupidly presentable and chewing the gum that hopefully would hide the booze burning off inside of me. Shitty bald dickhead manager Danny immediately sat me down at a table in the front, and pushed a sheet of paper across the table at me. I looked down, and found a screenshot of the hostess computer, printed, with red ink on it saying, “WHAT FUCK IS THIS” in Chef’s handwriting. With a sinking stomach, I took a look at the words I had laughingly written the night before. They were, to the best of my memory, these:
“Chef Jackie’s a cuntch who know how to lunch
Got that rice bowl game on lock like it’s Sunday brunch
Now listen to me when I tell you that despite her size
She can tell what color skin you got thru her slitty little eyes
She’s yelling in the kitchen at Miguel in broken Spanish
But Miguel’s from Brazil, that’s Portuguese you mean old mannish
bitch stop you’re gonna die soon no one will remember you forever
cause all you make is food, you worthless elvish racist beaver”
I sat, staring at this for awhile, I’m not sure how long, until Danny motioned to the door and I folded up the piece of paper and walked out. I had that feeling of being kicked in the gut by your own shoe, and called my mom and cried and went home and felt sad for myself until I realized that that job fucking sucked. All jobs fucking suck. Do I want to waste my time doing stuff for other people for 10 dollars an hour? No. I don’t. I never do. I only do it when I feel like my art career needs to take a backseat so I can screw my head on right and not have to think. I pinned the print-out to my idea board above my desk and found pride in it after awhile.
So now I’m a freelance illustrator, and I work for myself. My boss is still racist, but at least she’s cool and never throws stuff at me, so things are pretty alright.