Monday, August 3, 2009

A Sort of Therapy: Part Five

I had been working at a pizza place in Clymer for a few years. I made some good friends there. I learned a lot about myself. My boss was JR, a guy in his 40s. He was very outgoing and fun, for the most part. He only hired women/girls and instructed us to throw the men's applications out. He did not trust guys. He would party right along with the rest of us and often supplied the alcohol, even if he wasn't going to be there. He was married to a nice woman, had two small children, and his elderly parents helped him to run the business. During the day, there was a woman that worked there who was in her mid-twenties, SM. JR depended on SM for EVERYTHING. She held the business together, it seemed. So when SM had to move on (she finished college), JR changed drastically. He was under a lot of stress. Before long, I found myself in SM's former position - doing schedules, sometimes closing or opening, helping with the ordering of supplies, menu changes and prices, etc. A lot of the newer girls relied on me if they weren't sure of how to do something. I trained a lot of people and even did interviews when JR didn't want to or couldn't. I also took his dad to chemo appointments when JR could not, picked JR up when he was out drinking too much, and watched his son here and there. I did some personal errands for him too.

I found myself finally working dayshift (everyone wanted it but there were only two spots for it). I thought I deserved it for being his "go-to" girl. At that time, I was thinking of my future and knowing that I could not work for a pizza shop all of my life. I found out that I was the highest paid person there, but it was not by much (I'm talking a matter of cents). I felt like I was being taken advantage of. I put in a lot of overtime and was there anytime he needed me to be. Then a girl was returning from work after having a baby, and JR was going to put me back on nightshift. That threw me. I was really not expecting it. So I decided to get another job and stop messing around. I wrote him a really nice letter thanking him for everything he'd done, how much I'd learned and how I loved the job, but that I needed a new experience. I even told him that I'd continue working there until he could find a replacement for me.

First, let me explain something: JR was known for not being able to seperate business from personal things. A lot of other girls would need to quit and break down crying asking him not to be mad at them. I was the same - that's why I decided to go with a letter. He had a reputation of giving a bad recommendation if someone left when he didn't think that they should. That was all I needed.

Anyway, after he got the letter, he stopped speaking to me for weeks. He barely said a word to me, and only if he had to. One weekend he put me on nightshift with no explanation. I went to work. It was really busy. I don't remember everything but I do remember that he just suddenly flipped out on me in front of a lot of people - co-workers and customers, about me writing him that letter. He said that we weren't in "high school passing notes" anymore and if I had something to say to say it to his face. He didn't need me, and his business did not depend on me. I didn't say anything. I know I was tempted to punch him in the face, but I stood there with my hands clenched behind my back and let him scream in my face. I didn't cry. He went on and on for at least 5 minutes while customers were just a few feet away. So he finally stopped and went over to the other side of the kitchen (it was open - the customers could see everything because there was just a counter seperating them from the kitchen). The phone was ringing. Everyone was trying to get back to work. I put on my coat and grabbed my keys...I was standing there thinking, "Should I just walk out? Say something? Just let it go?" One of the customers looked at me and shook her head, like she pitied me. I grabbed the phone that was ringing, took one last order, and said goodbye to the girls. I walked out.

I had asked JR for a loan and he had been taking it out of my pay every week. He yelled at me that he wanted the balance in full on Monday or he'd take me to court. I didn't say anything. We had a verbal agreement and that was that. I knew I owed him the money and intended to pay him back. In the letter I had addressed this and asked him to please speak to me about it so we could work the rest of the money I owed out. He chose not to.

JR was friends with the magistrate. I had often picked him up, too drunk to drive, at the magistrate's house. I knew that he'd sue me if I didn't pay right away. But I didn't have it - not within two days. And he knew that.

So Monday came and went, and I had no money, obviously. I got a job in no time but it took me a month to officially get in (three interviews, a test, several clearances and a drug test along with training over an hour away). JR called my house and yelled at me about the money. He said, "When are you going to pay me?" I said, "As soon as I get my first paycheck." He said, "Not good enough. Why aren't you paying anything at all?" I told him, "You said not to bother you unless I had the money in full. I don't have it." I then asked him not to call me and harrass me anymore, that I would get the money to him when I had it. He said, "Then your ass is going to court." I made a point of repeating everything he said with my parents in the room. JR never liked that. It always ticked him off.

So about two weeks after I had quit, I got notice that I was being sued in court. My parents were so mad at JR. JR was purposely doing this because I had quit. I heard from a girl still working there that his wife had not known about the loan and was freaking out over it too. So my parents gave me the money and I took it down to the pizza place. One of the girls that I had worked with since forever snubbed me. I was not surprised. JR came to the front and counted the money. He said, "This isn't enough." I said, "That's how much I owed you." He said, "Not with court costs." I just stared at him. I told him I'd be right back. I went out to the car (my dad had driven me down) and told my dad. My dad was furious. He wanted to go in there and give JR a piece of his mind. I just asked him if he had the rest of the money (it was something ridiculous, like a $15 filing fee), and my dad gave it to me. I went back in and gave it to him. I asked him for a receipt. He wrote it out, and when I looked at it I handed it back and asked him to please write, "Paid in Full" on it. He did, and I wished him a Merry Christmas. He didn't say anything and I left.

A year or two later, my parents saw him and his family at the hospital. He had the nerve to pretend like nothing had ever happened and asked my mom how she was. She said, "Fine" and proceeded to walk right past him. They will not order from the pizza shop anymore, even though I hear he doesn't own it anymore.

On all of my applications, when it is asked if they can contact my employers, I say "Yes" but then when interviewed I explain my former boss's feelings towards me in the most professional way possible.

I still have dreams about that place! I often dream that JR is mad at me or that I forgot to go to work...something along those lines.

In the meantime I had gotten a job working with people who lived with physical and mental disabilities. It was the night shift. I was supposed to hang out, clean, and check on them (there were three gentlemen) during the night. It wasn't a terrible job, but I was on my own and had difficulty getting them all out in the middle of the night firedrill in under two minutes.

I had met a man named BY during this time. BY was from Punxsutawney and I was working in Indiana (about 40 minutes away). He seemed like a sweet guy. I knew he was living with his parents and was under the impression that he worked for his uncle. He seemed like a sweet, quiet guy. Before I had been dating someone that moved to Philadelphia. The distance was too much. It was nice to see someone that lived a little closer. I was still speaking to MA during this time, but that was it. I didn't see him. He'd call me once in awhile.

BY was persistent. After our first date, I wanted to just go slow. I wasn't in a hurry to jump into anything. BY called me a lot. He wanted to see me the very next day after our first date. We went to a fire tower out in the woods and hung out, just getting to know each other. On other dates I paid for a lot of things. I had a decent paying job and didn't think about it, I guess. His parents seemed nice enough. A little on the strange side, but nice. Before I really realized it, we were inseperable. I would end up driving all the way to Punxsutawney after a really long shift (12 to 16 hours), sleep at his place, get around, hang out with him, and be off to work that same night. It got very tedious and I found myself falling asleep while driving. He thought we should just get an apartment together. I was never home and was always with him anyway. So we went looking for an apartment.

My mom was not happy. She did not want me moving in with a guy. She thought we should be married first. I opted to take my aunt's advice. She said you never really know someone until you live with them, so I should just find out before doing something as serious as getting married.

We found an apartment in Punxsutawney. It was on the third floor of this old Victorian house (it was basically the attic). But it was ours! We got a cat that we weren't supposed to have (my Kelita!) and things changed. First he convinced me to quit my job. He told me that he'd make enough money to support us both by doing odd jobs for his uncle. I didn't need to drive all those miles to work doing something I wasn't too happy doing. He would take care of everything. He just wanted me to stay at home and take care of the apartment and him. So I stupidly did. I fell for everything he said. He couldn't afford to take care of everything on his own. We found ourselves living without a lot of things and barely making the rent. He had to get a job stocking at the local supermarket. His "job" with his uncle wasn't working out. I think he really didn't have a job - he just said he did.

So we soon found ourselves having to move. I believed everything he told me. He took care of the bills. One night we were visiting his parents, and I heard his mom ask him if he had heard from "Holly". He said he hadn't and didn't seem to want to talk about it. She said, "You need to talk to her. Are you sure it isn't yours?" I had tried not to pay attention to that, but when she said that, I was all ears. He said, "Yes, it's not mine. I told you that!" He walked away from her. She followed. She said, "But how do you know?" He said, "Because I wasn't with her then!" And then I had to say something. I asked what was going on. His mom said, "His ex is having a baby and we don't know who is the father." BY said, "It's probably her boyfriends! I wasn't with her!" And then his mom insisted that he get a DNA test. I was pretty shaken, to say the least. We went up to his old bedroom to talk and his mom followed. I asked him why she cared so much. His mom said, "Well it is his wife!" I was floored. "WHAT?" I asked. He said, "We're not together. I am just waiting to get enough money to get divorced. We haven't been together in a long time!" I started crying and asking him why he didn't tell me. He said he didn't want to lose me. She didn't matter. They hadn't been together and that wasn't his baby. I told him to take me to my parents house. In the driveway, at my parents, he told me that it was a big deal. I flipped out yelling at him. Not a big deal?! Wow. So my dad came out and told me to stop my yelling, that everyone could hear me. I went into the house and my mom told me that I shouldn't treat him like that (she didn't know about the "marriage" yet).

He called me and convinced me that it wasn't as bad as it sounded. He loved me and I was everything to him. She left him for another guy and they were having a baby together. It wasn't his. I believed him, just like for the next two years I'd believe anything he said...