My first job was in 1981 at the Carl’s Jr.’s on North Texas Street by what was then Lyon’s and is now the Benicia Grill II.
It was ironic that I got a job there because me and my friend John Nolan (who was hired the same day as me) used to go there late Friday nights when our efforts to meet girls on the Fairfield cruise inevitably failed and we played a game called “Drunken Napkin Holder Toss.”
I was a senior in high school and befriended a girl at work named Debbie, who introduced me to a bunch of “partiers.” We would spend all day at Lake Berryessa, then I’d go to work buzzed and sober up by the time my shift ended. I apologize to all those who received meatless, raw or burned burgers back then.
Between the deep fryer and the burger-assembly station, there was a walk-in refrigerator with a smaller walk-in freezer in the back of it. I would grab an orange juice in the fridge, slam it down in the freezer and throw the empty container under the bottom shelf.
One day I was weighing out onion rings and overheard the boss, Marlene, telling a different Debbie, who I called Sarge, to first fire the orange juice thief if she caught them and then to call her. My thirst for free OJ ceased immediately.
My thievery didn’t, though. In the back near the mop stall was where I and several other employees grubbed. We would construct and consume delicious experimental hybrid burgers made of Carl’s fare featuring steak, chicken, onion rings, cheese and a variety of sauces. We would have submitted our tasty creations to the powers that be if we hadn’t, well, stolen them.
I was a super-fast burger assembler (when sober), but one day at work, yet another Debbie put me on drive-thru and put a woman on burger assembly who had two speeds: Slug and Dead Slug.
Needless to say, we quickly got behind and customers were angry. One guy cussed me out when handing me his money and I exploded, threw his money back at him and told him to get the (bleep) outta my drive-thru.
Sometimes for giggles I would sneak into Marlene’s office and crank up the Muzak playing in the dining area until it was blaring.
Church’s Chicken used to be next door and one day this guy who worked there stopped me and asked about a female co-worker. He wanted her phone number and said I could get it from her personnel file. I indignantly told him I could not do such a thing. He then offered me two . . . uh, glaucoma treatments. I agreed and gave him her number.
Two days later I came to work and everyone was shooting eye daggers at me. Marlene called me in the office and explained that the guy had called my co-worker and when she asked how he got her number, he told her. The only reason I wasn’t fired was because my co-worker requested that I not be if I apologized.
One glorious spring day some friends of mine came by Carl’s when I was working and said they were going to a massive party at the lake. I wanted to go so bad, but there was no way I could leave.
So I took out the trash and lay down on the ground by the large trash bin and waited to be discovered. It took forever but a co-worker found me and I acted like I had passed out and hit my head. They debated whether to call an ambulance, but I said I just needed rest. Ending up in the doctor’s office is worse than being at work, to paraphrase philosopher Ferris Bueller.
They finally agreed that I was good enough to drive myself home and it was lake party time.
So let’s recap: I stole food, stole the company’s time, came to work drunk, pulled childish pranks, cussed at customers, traded a co-worker’s private info for two joints and lied to go party.
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. In March 1982 I was made Employee of the Month.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at email@example.com.