Pronghorn, Chapter 40: Popping in to the Pizza Place

Continued from the previous chapter, here.

On Monday, as directed, Asa Pemewan returned to the Pizza Place, clad in a black t-shirt, khaki slacks, and black sneakers. The last were new to him, bought over the weekend from a local thrift shop in anticipation of coming to work. And I can get newer shoes after the first paycheck, Asa thought. These just have to get me through until then.

Jennifer greeted him shortly after he walked into the restaurant. “Hi, Asa! Welcome back! Did you have a good weekend?”

Asa did what he could to match her cheer. He smiled, nodded, and replied “It was better knowing that I had work to come to at the end of it.”

“That’s great! Keep up that kind of attitude, and you’ll do fine! So, come on back, and we’ll get you started.” She gestured to the back room again, and Asa followed. Jennifer continued to talk as they went along.

“So, you’ll have to read through the orientation packet. I’ll set you up in the payroll system while you do, and I’ll clock you in at two–it’s a couple minutes past, now. When you come in, you’ll clock in on the keypad by the back room.” She pointed at a wall-mounted number-pad as they passed. “You’ll clock out the same way. You’ll have an ID number in your orientation packet. Key it in on the number pad. Then it’ll ask for your password. That’ll start as your birthday. The first time you use the system, it’ll ask you to change it. Do so. It’s like a PIN number for your ATM.”

Asa nodded as they reached the back room. “Got it.”

“Good! So,” and here, Jennifer pointed towards one of the tables, “you’ve got the packet and your two shirts. Duck into the bathroom and put one on, and please tuck it in.”

Asa nodded again. “Not a problem,” he said, and he went into the bathroom, soon emerging with the polo–black with blue collar and blue elastic on the ends of its sleeves and a slice of pizza embroidered over the left breast; a pair of sewn rounds sat high on the right–on and tucked in smartly. A driving cap had been included in the package with the shirt; Asa had it on his head, as well. When he returned to the back room, Jennifer said “It looks good on you! You’ll notice a couple of circles sewn into the shirt. Your nametag goes there.” She tossed him one; he caught it and saw that its white plastic had “Pizza Place” engraved into it. A printed label on it read “Newbie,” and Asa looked up at Jennier quizzically. She smiled “It’s a bit of a tradition. You’re the new hire, so you’re ‘Newbie’ until someone else signs on. Then you get your own nametag.”

She sat. “Everybody here’s worn one of those. I think that’s the third one the store’s had. They do wear out after a while. But you may not be wearing it long. We still need another driver.”

“That’s a comfort.”

“Just think, though! Until we get another new driver, there’ll be a lot of business for you. That means more tips for you, more money in your pocket.” She leaned in. “This is one of the few jobs that actually rewards you for working harder. Make more deliveries, get more money. Make deliveries faster, make more deliveries. Work harder, make deliveries faster. It works out for you. Or, at least, it does if you’re willing to work for it. Are you willing, Asa?”

Asa nodded. “I am.”

Jennifer nodded sharply in reply. “Good! Then you’ll need to go through the orientation packet. Read it, do the assessments that’re in it, and keep it ready while you work here. Other than for the orientation, I’m not going to quiz you or anything, but you’ll need to know what all it says. Company policies are all in it, and we’d really like you to follow policy. It’s kind of the point of having policies, you know.”

“I understand,” Asa said.

“Good! Well, I’ve got to get back to the front of the store. Customers come in, they expect to see smiling faces and food getting ready, and I get to make sure that they do! Come get me when you get done. I’ll have you start out on the make table, work it for a while until the head driver comes in. He’ll be the one who trains you.”

“He, who?”

“Manny Davis. He’s been here for a few years. I’ve got one or two folks’ve worked here longer, but Manny’s got the best driving record. Works the make table like a boss, too. Won’t take a management job, though. I don’t understand why.”

I think I do, Asa thought, but he nodded his head and said “Okay. Thanks.”

“Alrighty, then.” And Jennifer popped back up to the front of the restaurant, leaving Asa alone in the break room with his orientation packet. He opened it and read, finding the first few pages generally saccharine materials congratulating him on taking the first step into an exciting, fast-paced career with ample opportunities for advancement. After the laudatory tract ended and a company history was presented (“Pizza Place Pizza Parlor first opened in Gary, Indiana, in 1962.”), the dry corporate boilerplate began, outlining the restaurant’s reporting hierarchy (employees report to managers who report to district managers who report to the head of the franchise, and the franchise head liaises with the corporate offices, still in Gary) and showing uniform standards. General policies, as well as specific position duties and store roles, followed, as did compensation and bonus programs. Those piqued Asa’s interest, and he made ample notation on his pages before filling out the assessment. That done, he tore the relevant pages out of the orientation packet and took them up to Jennifer.

She smiled as she took them. “I’m glad to see you got it done. Now, we wait for Manny.”

Did you get as much from reading me as you do from reading a newspaper? Could you kick in as much for me as you pay for that so I can keep doing what you like? Click here, then, and thanks!

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