Thursday, January 03, 2013

Howdy, Welcome to Po'Folks

It still seems kind of incredible to me that Po'Folks even existed. They were trying, I guess, to do what has been so successful for Cracker Barrel, but Po'Folks was more over the top with their yee-haw and what have you. Everything on the menu was written in extra cutesy countrified jargon. The slogan was "We po' but we proud." One item offered was "chicken wangs." I ask you.

Po'Folks was not my first waitressing job (it was my third), but it would have been a nice, easy place to learn the ropes. It was the first place I'd worked where we keyed orders in instead of writing them down, so no more getting yelled at when the cooks couldn't read my writing, and I was pretty quick to memorize the abbreviations on the keyboard.

I was also pretty quick to get hooked on sweet tea, man. That was the best thing about the job. The worst thing, aside from the low tips (Some of the lunch specials were under $3! Come on!), was the uniform, which consisted of a flowered blue headscarf and apron, over a checked shirt and jeans. I did love the nametag, though, made to look like we'd carved it right out of a tree in the backyard. If we'd had a backyard. What we had was a parking lot across from the mall.

I actually worked at Po'Folks twice, in two different towns, but more on that later. This first time, I was 19 and weirdly, working there was a key piece in coming out of a serious depression that had been crushing me for the previous year or so. I'd had all the self-loathing I could take, I guess, and one day I set out to get a job, any job, to save up some money with an eye towards spending most of my summer traveling around California, seeing friends, living life, being 19.

I lied my ass off when I quit, though. The managers had always been so nice to me. I couldn't bring myself to just say, I feel like going on a trip, you know, just because I want to, so, thanks, bye! Instead I told them an elaborate yarn about how my schoolteacher boyfriend had found work out there and now I needed to go be with him. I KNOW. I don't pretend to understand what my problem was. The boyfriend was not fictional, but everything else about the scenario was, and the truth - that my relationship was a veritable festival of dysfunction and that I was sad about the fact that I was going out west alone - this was too much for me to get into with these nice, enthusiastic people. I didn't want to bum them out, and I didn't want  them to pity me.

1 comment:

Lone Star Ma said...

I like reading these posts about your early jobs!