It seems as though I am on a bit of a nostalgic trip down the winding road of past employ lately, so why veer off when one is meandering through the memories of funny or pathetic jobs of yore?
A couple of years after college, I had a job making tape duplications – or what are known in the bowels of television production machine rooms as dubs – of commercials for broadcast. The job of dubber – yes, I was a dubber – is important as it doesn’t matter whether the commercial (or show) is sure to win an award, if the dub is messed up, it won’t make air, and no one will ever see it. And then, no award. And possibly no pay for the television production company as well. Despite this, dubbers are woefully underpaid. So much so that my coworker at the time brought along a newspaper clipping to his yearly review to back up his claim. “See, according to this study in the Boston Globe, what you’re paying me puts me under the poverty level!” Despite this creative approach to a point well made, under the poverty level we remained.
In order to make enough money to afford the train which transported me to this Glamorous World of Television Production job – there is a sitcom yet to arise, I promise you, or at least a blog post having nothing whatsoever to do with food, but consisting solely of amusing and/or disturbing television career anecdotes – I worked as a bartender-cum-short-order-cook at a golf course.
I had been a bartender for most of my college summers. In fact, I met JR at the first golf course where I worked. While I struggled along in the early stages of my très glamorous tv career, I worked at a second, shall we say, dysfunctional, golf course. The members were apparently not well versed in the rules and regulations surrounding tipping, and so frequently would either tip me a nickel – you read that correctly, a nickle – for a round of four sodas or beers and four made-to-order burgers, or, and I’m not certain if this is a bigger offense, or whether it is simply equal to the five-cent tip, they would abscond with tips in larger denominations that other, more generous people had left for me – say fifty cents or, gasp – sometimes even a whole dollar – while I made their burgers. Perhaps they looked at money left on the bar as a communal fund to promote everyone’s enjoyment, and to subsidize their burger purchase. In this scenario, I would sometimes end up with a tip-jar net loss of 95-cents after frantically running from one end of the bar to the other in order to be certain their burgers were cooked to their specifications while also quickly fetching them their desired libation. Whereas at Golf Course Number One I would make anywhere from seventy-five to one hundred dollars in a shorter shift, at Golf Course Number Two, I was fortunate to leave with twenty dollars at the end of the day. And even back in the early days of my career, the train was a bit more expensive than that paltry amount.
Fortunately, frustration got the better of me. At my dubber job first. I quit that job, found myself even further down the poverty scale for about four months – not terrible, really, for four months is not a lifetime by any definition – and ultimately landed a job that more than doubled my salary. I was no longer a dub tech/dub queen/dubber, I was a Producer, and the day that I received my first paycheck, I gave notice that I was quitting my bartending gig.
On my very last day at the golf course, my friends, Karen and Peter, came in to visit me. It was around three in the afternoon, I had been working since seven that morning.
“So, how are you doing with tips today, Amy?” Peter asked.
“Pretty good, Peter. Pretty good. So far today, I’ve made fourteen dollars, but I only have twelve because someone stole two bucks off the bar,” I replied.
And, really, that was pretty good for there. And, really, I was pretty happy to never go back.
Perhaps if these golfing oafs had partaken of this burger, they would have been more inclined to tip properly. On second thought, no, I don’t think so. They were oafs, after all. But you and I can enjoy it and gloat over the fact that we do like to tip well. And that we are not oafish in the least.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup barbeque sauce
- 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (I used Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value brand)
- freshly ground black pepper
- Caramelized onions - you can cut this recipe in half for four burgers
- Pancetta cooked to your desired doneness
- Bolos Levedos (Portuguese muffins), or similar sweet roll - look for bolos levedos/sweet bread rolls at a hefty discount on the day-old bread rack - these are moist breads, so they hold up well even "day old", and leftovers can be frozen for future use.
- So, so simple, and yet so good. Combine the beef, egg, barbeque sauce, and Gorgonzola together in a medium mixing bowl. Season with pepper, and form into four equal-sized patties. Fire up the grill.
- While the grill preheats, make the caramelized onions, and - because it is so darned easy this way, bake the pancetta on a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven at 400 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes, contingent upon how crispy you like your pancetta.
- Grill the burgers over medium heat - you don't want a raging fire folks, neither cooking nor grilling are a race, and this happens quickly enough as it is - for 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium rare, flipping only once. You can also check the doneness with a meat thermometer to be absolutely certain you're burgers are cooked as you like them.
- Toast the bolos levedos or rolls, and then top one half of the roll with pancetta, burger, and caramelized onions, place the other half squarely atop the whole pile, and serve it forth. Enjoy with a beverage of your choosing, and feel free to put out a tip jar. Your family may even surprise you.
Dinner tonight: $5.64. Grilled chicken legs with barbeque sauce and corn and tomato salad. The chicken legs cost a bit too much for the four I purchased, despite the $1.19/pound price tag. I think that if the U.S. Olympic Committee visited the store where I purchased these bad boys, they would advise athletes to avoid eating them lest they have unfavorable steroid-testing results, just as they did for the 5-pound (and more) chicken breasts they discovered in China’s grocery stores last year. Each leg weighed over a pound. That is just plain wrong. To be clear, this was an order-from-the-butcher-type set up, so until they were handed back to me, I was unaware that I was buying what appear to be enhanced chicken legs. And, you are right, I could have refused them, but I did not. Instead, we are going to eat these, as we do not waste food here, and both JR and I have resolved never to buy chicken legs from that store again. So the cost was around $2.60, which includes the above diatribe. It’s like the diatribe was free. The barbeque sauce is homemade and will be going into the cookbook, so please look for it next spring! The amount we will use tonight is about a third of the yield, and that costs $1.21. The corn isn’t in season just yet, so it’s still the frozen Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value supersweet corn, and that cost $1.39 for the bag. The tomatoes cost $1.79 for a pint of grape tomatoes, and we’ll use some olive oil and a shallot for that, so we can add in 58-cents for the two of those. There will be some leftovers from the corn salad, I’m guessing around half of it, so we’ll be eating $1.83-worth of it tonight. Even with overweight and slightly frightening chicken legs, it’s a pretty low tally for a summery dish, wouldn’t you agree?