And there was that one time, that I had nearly forgotten, when I worked at Pizza Hut for a few days. True to my basic economic behavior pattern of my teens & early twenties, I went looking for a job feeling the urgency of having achieved a penniless state. In this case, I had spent my meager savings on groceries and metro fare while spending the several weeks immediately prior as a full time volunteer at the National Organization for Women headquarters in DC. Which was awesome! And hard, and weird, and a lot of other things, and now I was back at my parents' house for a few weeks (about six) with plans to move to Atlanta just after the first of the year.
So, what one wants to do in that kind of situation is pick up some jive job right quick to make as much cash as possible before setting off on the next big thing. There was a Pizza Hut that had just opened up on Highway 41 not far from the turn off to the way out in the woods place that I come from, and getting hired there was not difficult.
I wanted to work on the floor, and have cash in hand, but I was up for doing whatever. My first few nights there I worked "on the line" which meant putting the toppings on the pizzas before handing them over to the oven person. This was not bad! I liked the uniformity of it. Also, Pizza Hut has always been my favorite junk food pizza. So delightfully greasy!
At the end of the night, it was my job to scrub the big pans. This also was not bad, although I was weirdly chided for taking a lot of time and trouble with them. Perfectionism was not a valued trait at this Pizza Hut. So, a few days into it, I got this outrageous cough. While I was in back scrubbing away, the manager poked his head around, exclaiming about "walking pneumonia" and saying I should go on home. I did go home, and was sick for a few days, but came back when I felt like I was well enough, so I could get trained on the floor and make that money, honey.
Well. Loading up my drink tray for my first table, I was hit by one of those coughing fits that leaves you crying and gasping and just beyond pitiful. It was embarrassing and scary and a real bummer. The head waitress was like, Honey, you have to go home. I called my parents' house (1989, man! No cell phones going on!) and my brother came to get me. I waited for him out on the sidewalk because there was no place really for me to be inside, and also, I was embarrassed.
A funny thing, to me, is that I remember this particular car ride with my brother very clearly. He took a lot of pride in his car stereo, and when we pulled into the drugstore parking lot (had to pick up some Nyquil, natch), he was like, Hey, have you heard this yet? and turned up Bust a Move, which, in fact, I had not heard yet, and you know, I was into it.
I never went back to that Pizza Hut. I was sick for weeks. I was so sick, eventually, that my parents moved me off of the couch and into their room, where I was Nyquiled out of my mind, propped up on pillows, watching various movies a few minutes at a time, as my brief states of wakefulness permitted. I remember being captivated by The Untouchables. I remember crying through Scrooged and thinking, man, I must be REALLY sick. Family members were in and out, bringing me tea, Nyquil, movies. It was a hazy December.
My mother told me that the Pizza Hut manager called to check in on me and get my address for mailing my check, and that he was very nice and talked about how he'd had pneumonia last winter and how important it was for me to get rest and get well. Nice guy.