During the first week in my new job as a crew at a burger joint, things are going well and not that well for me so far.

The first day, I arrived at the mall an hour early so I wandered around the premises with my brand new spanking work shoes that squeezed two of the littlest fingers of my own feet. The socks I wore weren’t pulled out of a drawer but from another pair of shoes that I last wore about a month ago. It stank a bit but who cares, no one will sniff my shoes the way in. Massive anxiety attack, I didn’t have my earphones on. It broke the day before and I am dying to buy one but I didn’t have enough cash because of food first before other stuff.

An awkward greeting to a co-worker ensued. He asked me what’s my business there, I said I am the new guy. Clad in full black work apparel, I marched inside, faking my confidence as I stroll down the kitchen. I felt like an outcast. Amidst the sea of the crew wearing the same uniforms from top to bottom, I was easy to spot on. That’s what terrified me. A co-worker asked me to wait in the back, besides two large garbage bins. My fat build put the circular chair to surrender, but before it collapses, I forcefully placed my feet on top of the two frontal legs of the chair. At last, it tolerated my weight. The slippery tiled floor didn’t help with the grip itself. As I sat intensely for a while, I saw (my co-workers) them all in action. How fast they put the buns and patties and garnishes is incomprehensible. I thought about how long they’ve been here. A month? a year? Half a decade? I can never tell, but if I can manage to defeat my inner shyness and ask them an ice-breaker question, maybe they’ll answer. Besides, they’re people too. But not for me, I saw them all as sentient beings that were split into multiple sub-bodies. All working like clockwork. Precision. With confidence.

“Are you the new guy?” a woman asked me.

She’s not one of them. She’s wearing business-style clothing that resembled that of an HR or a manager, but her muted clothing has some color in it that resembles the restaurant’s flagship colors. It looked nice.

I replied, “Yes I am.”

I was so glad to finally get up from that agonizing chair. She greeted me with a warm welcome and she handed me a tablet. A male crew oriented me around while the manager was making an account to a link. After a moment, the manager said that I must answer a series of questions that serve as training for me. She asked for a paper from my small notepad and there she wrote my username and password that I will use to log in. She asked if I have any earphones and obviously, I didn’t have one with me so I watched the training videos in the manager’s office, in full volume, but my right hand was muffling the speaker a bit so that they can focus on their work. God knows how many times they’ve heard these training videos every time a new applicant was hired. I made sure that I won’t do any unsettling acts or anything that may shatter their eternal workplace energy. The training videos and questions feel like it was running forever. The same monotonous voice with fake enthusiasm the narrator had bothered me a lot, but on the bright side, maybe I’m the first to say this on this planet…ever.

People come and go to the office and before I knew it, the manager asked me to take my lunch break. Finally, it was full of tension. I got out of the restaurant and rushed to the supermarket to buy a 50-pesos rice meal. It was awful. Few pieces of meat the size of decorative pebbles blended well with the rice that was dry as a desert. The viand sauce however is on another level. The first mouthful of the meal tastes like manufactured, insincere, easy-to-cook pouch meals with a hint of hotel bathroom soap. It was awful. Thankfully, the pineapple juice helped a lot to wash down the excess soapiness. Of course, I finished the meal. Yes, it tasted bad but I didn’t want to starve either. I have this daily ritual whereas I blast some music to my ears after eating to acclimate my mood, but I have no earphones and the nerve to play my music around the food court since I don’t want to the topic of many people’s anecdotes regarding a man “playing some weird-ass songs on a local space”. Making scenes isn’t my thing. At least in most scenarios. But I’ll happily brawl someone if I need to.

I got back to work about 20 minutes later. They were surprised, I came back so early, they said. So into the agony chair, I sat again. After calming my inner self, I return to the office but the manager said that I should work on the ‘boards’, which is the prep area where the burgers were made. I washed my hands in a lengthy manner. I wore plastic gloves. I wore my mask. A co-worker talked to me first, surprisingly. He asked me a bunch of standard shit, so I delivered standard answers. Half of them are mostly lying since I’m not the kind of person who will divulge all of his pieces of information to a stranger. He liked me. He is gay. I wasn’t. But I’m not bothered, he’s just being too friendly. Or if it is just a series of tactics so I mistakenly fuck up my job. I balanced myself onto a tightrope of friendliness and skepticism. It turned well. Then, he passed me to another crewmate that signaled me that he’s just bullshitting me. I believed him. I memorized how many grams of mayonnaise and tomato ketchup should be in every bun. How many pickles and onions, microwave settings, and a bunch of technical things I can’t wrap my head that quickly. I promised myself that I should not fuck up my very first day.

I experienced a state of high with every burger I made, I feel like I’m not inside my body. I’m not thinking a lot. I’m at peace with myself. My movement flowed like a gentle stream of water. But that’s just me. Naturally, I fucked up everything from the wrapping to the garnishes to the microwave settings. They forgive me though, as this was my first day. Before I knew it, it was time to go. Such a relief. They bid me goodbye. I didn’t know what to say. I walked past them without looking behind. I quickly got out of the mall and rode a jeepney home. I thanked myself for socializing, finally.

I should not fuck up tomorrow.




Personal essays, fiction, and occasional shitposts.

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