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195 pages, Hardcover
First published January 1, 2014
[W]e work in insane conditions. Dangerous even. Most kitchens in the middle of summer are intolerable, with temperatures well into the triple digits. I've seen people sent to the hospital with heatstroke. A lot of us will run into the freezer for a few minutes until we cool down. I'm not a doctor and can't say for sure, but I'm fairly certain that going from an overheated to a minus-5 environment can't be healthy.
My arms and hands are covered in scars from the fryers. Oil at nearly 400 degrees doesn't tickle when it hits your skin, and you can't avoid the splatter entirely. I've burned my hands because the oven gloves had worn through and the owners were too cheap to spring for another pair. I've sliced my fingers nearly to the bone when knives have slipped. I've dropped equipment on my feet because it was so busy I didn't have time to wash the grease from my hands. I've hurt myself in more ways than I can count because that was how I got my seven or eight bucks an hour.
Stuff like that is unavoidable; it's the nature of the work. We know and understand that when we take the jobs. Any dangerous job is like that; we're not stupid. The point is more that the risk is devalued--that our injuries, rather than being seen as the sign of our willingness to literally bleed for our employers, are seen as a liability. (15-16)
[P]eople still wonder why we, working at the bottom, aren't putting our souls into our jobs. In turn, I wonder about people who think that those who are poor shouldn't demand reciprocity from their employers. We should devote ourselves to something that doesn't benefit us more than it absolutely has to? We're meant to care about their best interests, but they don't have to care about ours? If you're going to put as little as possible into my training and wages, you're going to make sure that I can't get enough hours to survive in order to avoid giving me health care, and generally make sure that I'm as uncomfortable as possible at any given time just to make sure I know my place, then how can you expect me to care about your profit margin? Remember, you get what you pay for (29-30).
He'd been under the impression that when I said, "I'll be there," I meant that I'd be using my teleportation device instead of the beater car I had at the time. I blew it off, figuring that he was just in a bad mood. But he simply couldn't let it go--every time someone complained about this or that setup not being done properly, he said that if only I'd been there on time we'd have made it.
I lost it. Completely. This is the version of what I said I can best remember through my blistering rage: "If you think I'm so goddamned terrible, why did you call me in? Did you not realize I'd been on a fourteen-hour shift on a few miserable hours of sleep? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU INCOMPETENT FUCKING ASSHOLE?" And I said this all in my outdoor voice. In front of customers. I spent the afternoon looking for work, as I was newly unemployed.