“It’s not in my contract, Alex”
It’s been brought to my attention several times that I am quite mysterious about my job. Most people know that I was an Esthetician in CA and that I’m in the middle of trying to get my Temporary License here in NY. Most people know that for my first year here I was in school full time and working full time–they just don’t know where.
This was on purpose. There is a sort of privacy that I like to keep when it comes to certain things. One may notice how freely I give up other pieces of information, that’s because other pieces I’m actually proud of. Like going to esthetician school, passing a state board exam and working for myself. It is an accomplished feeling. That said, I think it’s time to let you in on something.
From July 2004, until April 2008 I worked for a company I still will not say the name. But everyone always guesses if I say to them “I schlep beverages for the caffeine deficient while Sporting The Green Apron.” When I moved to NY I had secured a job at The Restaurant (no name on purpose) but when that was over I needed a job quickly, and I had decided to return to The Green Apron. Having been excellently trained and being someone who liked to know more than others I was a catch for the manager to re-hire me. She soon learned that I knew more than probably any other employee in her building. The Macy’s at Herald Square building. As in …The Macy’s on 34th street. Yah–I work, in THAT building. There are four of these Green Aprons in this building and over the past year I’ve learned where everything else is as well. And I answer the question “Where is the bathroom?” More than I blink in the 8-12 hours I spend there per day.
Why am I telling this NOW? Well, I’ve decided that The-More-You-Know and shooting star moments need to be explained more specifically in order for my complaints and venting session to be made valid. Most people can relate to “eh, It was just a stupid day at work.” But I’m betting there are only a handful of people that have yelled out “It’s not in my contract, Alex!” for a reason I will share shortly.
I started STGA (Sporting The Green Apron) on the 5th floor. They are located on the first, third, fifth, and sixth floors. The Fifth and Sixth floors are like “express” stops. As in–there is not a seating area. It is designed so people will stop and get food and drinks and keep shopping. I’m okay with this, because it’s less for me to clean. The stores I worked at previously were of fair size and I also don’t have to clean any bathrooms. So that’s nice. (Note that that’s not a win, it’s just nice).
Now, that Macy’s building is over 100 years old. There are nine shopping floors, 8 elevators, 4 sets of escalators, 3 express elevators, The ladies rooms are located on the Cellar, 2nd, 6th and 7th floors (and when I tell women this I follow it with “that alliteration should help guide you while you shop) and the Men’s rooms are on the Cellar 7th, and 9th floors. The Macy’s building is an City Block big. It is the entire block of 34th street between 7th avenue and Broadway. It is air conditioned, on most floors, fairly well–and it sort of trickles out on other floors. There is a bar & grill in the cellar, the Macy’s Cucina is in the Cellar. Jimmy’s Pizza, Ben n Jerry’s, and Aunt Annies Pretzels is on 4, McDonalds is on 7 and Au Bon Pain is on 8. There IS a floor 1 1/2 in the 7th avenue building and what they call the “balcony” in the Broadway building. There are hallways upon hallways that are inside the building that are for employees to get around without being on the floor. It is a labyrinth of dirty….filthy walls and garbage, and cages of storage and my favorite piece of this story–mice.
Rodents are not strangers to New York, if you’ve lived here you already know this. If you’ve seen a movie or TV episode that actually shows you what NY is actually like (Friends doesn’t count…but Law & Order does) then you know what I mean. The subways have rats, the streets have rats, buildings have roaches, waterbugs and mice–it’s all…just…very exciting let me tell you.
I have seen mice in this building, backstage in the labyrinths. I have also seen mice scurry across the actual floors of Macy’s. Most if not all places that have food in this building also have mousetraps strategically placed and there are pest control guys that come out weekly to check these traps. However, there are not enough traps in that building to catch all of these creatures. No way. They reproduce quickly, it’s an old building, they have made their own tunnels and mazes to get around–it’s just something we have to accept there. It can be startling to be sitting in the back counting money, or putting orders away and see movement in the hallway crawling quickly to a cage. It can also be flat out gross. It can be even more gross when you know there is a dead one near by, because you can smell it.
The smells of NY are specific. When you pass by a restaurant you can smell the food and distinguish what kind it is. You can tell the difference between a gyro, or dirty-water-dog. You can tell the difference between pretzels and nuts. You can smell a homeless person from several yards away, and you can tell when what you smell is a dead mouse.
Now, I typically close my store during the week, and open on sat/sundays. Which means someone else closes. The girl who closes (I’m referring to the shift supervisor) every night before I open the store–sucks. I always come in and have to finish her close, before I can do my opening procedures. It was while stocking the small fridges that I smelled the dead. I looked over at Alex, the girl opening with me and she could tell on my face that something was wrong. I told her I smelled something, but the fridge was clean. She knew…exActly what my thoughts were as well. She came over and knelt down next to me, took a couple breaths , stood up and said–yah…something’s dead down there. I stood up quickly and closed the fridge and said I couldn’t deal with it right now. I finished doing other opening procedures like counting the money and tills, organizing the fridge and setting up stuff then I finally…finally put on three pairs of latex gloves and jumped around as if getting myself focused or psyched for the job at hand. The metal trap is a box that these mice can get into, but can’t get out–so they die in there. End of story. I knew how to empty it, but I’d never had to do it. We always had someone else around to do it. I had to sack-up and take care of it. I grabbed the trap, tipped it over the trash and opened the sliding door and heard a small *thump* which told me the dead mouse was now in the trash. It also wreaked so much that I started to gag. Then I yelled out “IT’S NOT IN MY CONTRACT ALEX!!!!” She just kept saying I know I know!!!! And there were customers around, and Macy’s employees around by now. Just a few–but I didn’t care. Professionalism doesn’t have a category to or policy to go by when one is emptying a mousetrap when they shouldn’t have to. That’s my theory. I quickly closed the trash bag and threw the trap back under the counter and walked the trash bag down the hall to the trash drop off. I gagged the whole time. Then I returned to the floor, ripped of my 3 pairs of gloves and went to the bathroom and threw up.
Then I went back to work having washed my hands several times, rinsed out my mouth and was sucking on a pill that helps my stomach calm down after I’ve tossed my cookies. I then continued to clean the sanitizer–because it was gross, and no one else does it but me, then I smelled something gross under the sink. No, it was not another mouse. But the plumbing is not great on our floor…any floor for that matter…and I opened the cabinet and took all the cleaning stuff out to find a huge puddle of murky water. This is not the first time I’ve found such a puddle. In fact, it’s not the second or third time either. I’ve been on the 6th floor since January and it’s been at least once a week I’ve cleaned that stupid thing out. I’ve called facilities to fix it several times. It’s always fixed for a few days, then it happens again. So I’m cleaning that out and the new assistant store manager from the 3rd floor comes over to me and asks me if I have my hat an apron….yah–it’s over there (and I point) she then goes on to tell me the policy about when I’m supposed to wear them and I cut her off with “look…i’m cleaning, i’m not ON the floor. I just cleaned out the big fridge, took out a dead mouse, threw up, I’m cleaning THIS flood now, then I have to put the order away in the back, do the deposit and get change and THEN I’ll be on the floor–I’m not putting my hat on until then. Without offering to help, and without asking why there was a flood under my sink, and without saying anything about throwing up and a dead mouse she looked at me blankly and said “put on your hat.” I stared back at her, said nothing and continued to clean. Look unless I’m dealing with food or drinks–I’m not wearing it, end of story. And quite frankly, that’s her freebie. She tries to pull that shit on me again, I’ll hand her my keys, my apron and my stupid effing hat and tell her she can run my store. Then I’m going to clock out, get my bag and go have mimosas and pancakes.
I just want to be able to like what I do, and have people that have my back at work. People that will help me. There’s 3 other girls on my floor that would help, but there’s 50+ employees that stga in that building. Some of them hate me. Some of them love me, few of them have my back. I make less than $250 a week and my taxes go to helping people collecting unemployment who sit around and do nothing and say bullshit things like I don’t have time for a full time job. And here’s the best news I can give you about unemployment in NY, it is based on what you made before and you get more than what I make schlepping beverages for the caffeine deficient, cleaning, emptying mousetraps, and arguing over uniforms per week.
From here on out, you should understand why I complain about my life, my job and why I ask that ever lasting questions “why am I in New York?”
It’s 2:15pm. I finally slept last night curled up with My Darling Sam after stuffing fried wantons and pork dumplings in my face, and we drank a bottle of wine that I called Labia because the brand is “Luscious Lips” Yes, I went there. Times are changing. New York has added five years of age to my face in one year. I’d grab the reins and pull if I could find them, but it’s too cluttered and if I move around to much I sweat WAY more than one should. I’d audition for plays if I could, I’d audition for TV/Film if I could–but right now I’m the person who has to do anything I can to barely get by, live on food other people buy me and take any open shift that is available so I can keep a roof over my head, my phone turned on, and enjoy that indoor plumbing–or I’ll end up living with those rodents.
I’m pissy. I’m allowed to be.