I got fired for refusing to serve brown lettuce to a customer. The manager, or maybe it was his pizza making girlfriend, told on me to the owner because I refused to serve the speckled brown romaine lettuce to psycho salad lady. I was the lowly floor mopper and counter girl. I doubt that the manager or his girlfriend wanted to be the ones to lift those iron chairs up and double mop the floor with the nasty string mop. But there was authority bucking going on and I was a threat.
And so went my short-term job at the Tugboat Annie’s on 33rd Street in Baltimore right next to the Waverly Farmer’s Market and a block down from my childhood home. I was maybe 14 years old and I did need the money. I worked sometimes until 3 am lifting those chairs and swabbing that deck. And I got fired because I refused to sell a customer brown lettuce.
Ten years later would find me working as a customer service representative up the block at the Blockbuster video where I got “written up” by Eric the manager for wearing red high-tops at Christmas. Later I granted a membership to a local drug dealer without proper ID and then rented all the top movies to him. He never brought them back. Bad judgement kept haunting me.
I was the rebel again at the Cafe Hon in Hampden when I refused to be a mean manager to the same people who I was supposed to work alongside as a waitress on the shifts that made up for my being underpaid. I was paid $300 a week and needed the $100 in tips to pay my bills which included an unemployed husband. You will take what you believe you are worth until you believe you’re worth more but you don’t have to like it.
I am a true believer in fairness and justice and the right thing. Until now, I just never thought it applied to the worth of my soul. Finally at the ripe and wondrous age of 48, I find life is as rich and fair as you create your vessel to contain it. I am at a place where I expect people to respect me but I won’t be offended if they don’t because it’s not always about me. And this feels like a well-earned upgrade.