Trader Joe's applications include basic math problems that we learned in sixth grade. The owners don't want to employ people who can't do addition to work in their grocery store. I was staring at our engorged pantry shelves debating between macaroni and cheese or top ramen when Fi-T yelled from the living room, asking if I could help her.
"I'm twenty years old, in college, and I don't know if this math is right. I'm supposed to show my work and not use a calculator. Do we have a calculator?" She asked.
"Oh, that's easy. It's just addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Nothing like calculus or that zero number thing," I replied after glimpsing her application.
Upon examining the problems longer than a second and a half, I realized that math concepts I learned from the age of nine onwards have dissolved into the chasm of my life. I may never recall them. Our other flatmates entered and we harassed them for help. An iPhone told us the answers. Between International Studies, English, and Exercise Sport Science majors, a few math problems took us forty minutes. And we had the answers.
Trader Joe's hired Fi-T. Within two days, she referred to her new employers as Trader Slaves.
On her fourth day she told us, "Trader Slaves made me stock lettuce on the shelves for my entire shift again."
"How long is your shift?" one of our friends asked.
"Eight slave-hours," Fi-T replied.
"How is it possible to stock lettuce for that long? Wouldn't it take like a half hour to do the whole supply?" I asked.
"Well, it's the fourth fucking day I've done it. Trader Slaves can suck my balls. The discount's not even worth it."
Five days later, Fi-T entered on her lunch break. It was eight o'clock on a Tuesday night and our housemate and I were eating tri-tip, potatoes, vegetables, and salad while guzzling our second bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
"I'm quitting Trader Slaves. I am not a slave. I am a college student. I'm done stocking lettuce," she announced for the twenty-eighth time in nine days.
"Oh, just quit right now," I said. "Just don't go back. Stay here and drink with us."
Fi-T slung food in her mouth. As she left to walk back across the street to servitude, we yelled for her to bring back more wine when she got off her shift.
She returned fifteen minutes later. Her manager was baffled when she came up and declared she was quitting. When he questioned when her last day of work would be, she replied that it was her last minute of work. She was quitting mid-shift. Then she retrieved a case of wine, paid for it using her employee discount, and left.
Before Trader Slaves, she had worked at Pasta Pomodoro. Going to work animated her. She relished the work, people, and atmosphere. She got the job two weeks before we went on a week-long Spring Break road trip down California's coast. After working five shifts, she told the manager she needed to take a week off. He said no. She entered the apartment with tears ledging her eyes because she had been let go.
Before Pasta Pomodoro, Fi-T worked as Event Staff for athletic events. Many of our friends and I worked as Event Staff. The athletic department paid us to watch basketball games. One game, Fi-T got assigned to valet park. I wasn't working and walked by at six-thirty with K-Hoe and Twat to see Fi-T standing at the parking garage entrance. Fi-T was going to park a car. K-Hoe, Twat and I were going to get drunk.
"Oh, just come with us. We have Vodka," I, Lucifer, emplored.
Fi-T sprung to a group of male soccer players walking past us. She passed her job to someone else. We didn't know who he was. His name was Dumbass.
"Can you drive stick?" Fi-T asked.
"No," Dumbass replied.
"Great. Here are the keys. You just drive it in the parking garage, park it, and come out for more. There's some system with the keys. You'll figure it out."
"But... I don't drive stick. I don't even work for Athletics Event Staff," he protested as feebly as I do when I say I don't want another drink.
"Ah, that's okay. I'm sure they know you. See ya!"
Fi-T left with us to get drunk. After sucking our beer bong Dick and inhaling a liquid dinner, we returned to the basketball game. Fi-T was still supposed to be working. We later found out that Dumbass crashed a car. It was stick-shift.
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