Part-time, full-throttle: students reminisce on workplace ordeals

Junior Wesley Kise has had plenty of interesting experiences gigging with a local band, but it was a job at a local health food boutique that left the greatest impact on him.

“This lady walks in, and she orders humus,” Kise recounts. “It’s one of my first times working there, so everyone already knew that she always gets the humus and asks for a spoon, but I didn’t know this.”

So, he hands her the humus and expects her to be on her way—but according to Kise, she “sits down, opens it up, and starts shoveling it with her forefingers right into her mouth.”

“I just stand there wondering, ‘Should I give her a spoon?’ But I don’t because I don’t want to be rude.”

So begins one of the many stories I was told by CHS students who work part-time—from senior Daniel Orlov, who says a restaurant he used to work at brushed up against the wrong side of a law, to senior Noa Daniels, who says she was once tipped $55 by an elderly woman who said the dog she had given a haircut looked “perfect.”

But Kise’s discomfort, however, was as an experience shared only by senior Heather Charlton, who says she was closing up at Island Taco in Carmel when an intimidating customer walked in.

“He had a beard, a flannel and weird scary eyes, and he was kind of scary,” Charlton remembers. “He’s like, ‘Are you guys still open?’ So I say, ‘No, all our food is put away. Sorry.’ Then he starts to scream at the top of his lungs, and he runs outside and knocks over all our plants and tables!”

Fortunately, Charlton was unharmed and says that things are fine now.

Although she’s never had to deal with humus-fanatics or violent customers, senior Selene Elias, who works as an intern at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, has no shortage of anecdotes about her time on the hospital floor. The story of the time she left a coffee machine unattended is perhaps her favorite.

During one shift, Elias decided to prepare some coffee for the doctors on duty, and after one successful round, she decided to brew a second pot of decaf. But when she returned to check on the machine—a massive relic from the ‘80s—she found it “was exploding and spilling coffee out of places that shouldn’t have spilled.”

Even after turning off and unplugging the machine, it continued to spew out freshly-brewed coffee. But as stressful as the experience was, Elias says, “The machine works again now…so it’s a happy ending.”

Senior Robert Chambers, who works at the Crossroads mainstay r.g. Burgers, is no stranger to the unique challenges of beverage maintenance: “When we run out of milk [for milkshakes], my manager gives me $80 and tells me to buy another 16 gallons…and just whole milk because it gives the shakes a richer taste.”

It’s a challenge to transport the milk, Chambers explains, because he has to buckle each carton into the backseat of his Volvo. However, there are fortunately no provisions against buying dairy products in bulk, although Chambers gets “a lot of questions at Safeway,” he admits.
-Christopher Good