Tuesday, August 30, 2005

OJT (On The Job Training)

When you first start working in a fast-food restaurant, they always tell you the same thing about when you get held up: go ahead and hand over the cash. It's the same drill at just about any retail establishment. Don't be a hero, just give them the money and a collector's set of Holly Days Glasses if they ask for them. Ask if they want any help getting their bag to their car. Most of all, don't do anything that could be construed as even mildly assertive. Money can be replaced, human lives are (for the most part) irreplaceable.
That being said, I will now relate the apocryphal tale of Jo Ellen, manager of Arby's extraordinaire. Jo Ellen (her real name, as it would have been difficult if not impossible to come up with a "funny" nickname for her) was a company gal. She had worked her way up from the bottom - starting as a "lunch tuna," or entry level cashier to the lofty perch of assistant manager of the Baseline store. Jo Ellen worked hours that no one else wanted, learned every chore and task in the building, and kept an immaculate set of books. When we were trained to clean the meat slicer or empty the shake machine, we were told "This is the way Jo Ellen does it." Joe Ellen was the measure of all that was America's Roast Beef, Yes Sir.
Again, she was also sadly afflicted with a shocking deficit in the sense of humor and personality department. For the most part, this was a career enhancement for her - she never had to worry much about what she might be missing in the world outside the restaurant. Late one night, Jo Ellen was in the back room working on the books in advance of the closing while her crew cleaned and took care of the trickle of late-night customers. This particular evening, a guy came in with a gun, ready to make a quick withdrawal from the fast-food national bank. Her crew, initially stunned, began to comply to the robber's demands. With very little cash in the register, the focus shifted to the money in the back. Jo Ellen was called from the back room. At this point she must have assumed that she was dealing with an unhappy customer, because she came around the side to the front of the counter to address this gentleman's concerns. The world may never know, but I choose to believe that it never occurred to Jo Ellen to even glance in the direction of the gun. Abruptly sizing up the situation, she chose this approach: "Hey buddy, I know times are tough - but don't you think getting a job would be the way to go here?" Some versions of the story have her handing the guy an application on his way out. It would be my guess that she would have given him an interview if he would have brought it back.
I've saved the best for last - one more little piece of information about Jo Ellen. She was married, and her husband worked in a dynamite factory, handling high explosives. Maybe that's not the real punchline for this story, but it ought to be.

1 comment:

JDiego said...

That is an excellent apocryphal story, man!