The Last Day My First Job Existed

Last updated on October 14th, 2022 at 03:20 pm

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes


The Scintilla Project Logo

The Scintilla Project aims to help bloggers become better storytellers by sending them email prompts for a two-week period that spurs them in the right direction.

Today’s prompts were to either tell a story about a time you got drunk before you were legally able to do so or tell a story set at your first job. Since I didn’t start drinking until 20—a full year past the legal drinking age up here in Toronto — I don’t have much to offer on the first one. I was a bit of a snot who’d hold a holier-than-thou attitude to my peers who’d be drinking and getting high in our teens.

You live, you learn.

3/4 Score and No Extra Years Ago…

Me at the farewell party for St. Hubert Bar-B-Q in 2005 with a full denim outfit.
The only thing that might’ve been worse than the restaurant closing may have been my fashion choices in 2005.

As for the first job—many know that my Dad used to own a restaurant—a rotisserie St-Hubert, in fact—on the west end of Mississauga. I did a lot of my growing up there, playing tag with my brothers between the booths before the store opened for the day; reading in the staff area while my Dad ran errands—I spent enough hours there for it to be another home.

Eventually, though, I’d be a teen and my parents wanted me to learn the value of money, so just shy of my 14th birthday, I started working at the restaurant as a take-out cashier.

I’d be at the restaurant for 4 years—which story should I tell you?

Eight Million Stories About the Restaurant Life

  • The time I tripped and a bowl of garden salad flew and landed on a customer’s head, leaving me sporting a mortified look as French dressing streamed down her face?
  • The time a guy scammed me for $50 with some sleight-of-hand and double-speak?
  • The scar I have on my right arm from a plate shard lodging itself in there after a sprinkler malfunction and a very slippery floor?
  • How managing a take-out area packed with tired and hungry people landed me a new job after they all left calm and happy from my jokes and stories?
  • Or how my coworkers sometimes gave me an extra-hard time because I was the boss’ son, leaving me wedged into a (thankfully empty) trash can butt-first with no easy way to get out?

The truth is, there’re so many stories I could tell you about my time there, but the one I’ll keep with me for the rest of my days is the only time I’ve ever seen my father cry.

Tears of Ambiguity

Exeunt Omnes.

My Dad ran that restaurant for 20 years. Over that time, he grew relationships with loyal customers, staff and peers who owned other franchises. He was so dedicated to the restaurant that even with the city under cover of 40 cm of snow in what we’ll call The Great Snowfall of 1999, we shovelled 4 hours and drove 1 more to attend to the 4 customers we’d serve that day.

But to Dad, it was about the principle—not the numbers. We had a service to offer, and no one was going to stop us.

Or so we thought.

In 2004, Quebec’s parent company gave us an ultimatum—pony up a million dollars or close up shop. By 2005, we found ourselves at the restaurant one last time for a farewell party.

With 20 years of history, relationships, and both good times and bad leading to this very moment, the situation’s gravity weighed upon him, his speech cut short by tears. Tears of sadness? Gratitude for the amazing staff who he’d had for all these years? Relief after the lifting of the recent years’ burdens from his shoulders?

I don’t know if I’ll ever know, but that’s one moment that’ll stay with me forever.

The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad

The Doomz State of Affairs, Issue VIII.

INSERT INTRODUCTORY PROFOUND STATEMENT HERE.

I don’t have to be a psychic to know that 2004 is going to be filled with a lot of hard decisions.

STAGNATION.

If you only keep up with my life through LiveJournal and don’t talk to me on a regular basis, then you wouldn’t know that I’ve been questioning my purpose and the meaning behind my life more than usual recently. I know some people will probably reply to this post with something like “The meaning of life is to make the most of every moment”. Man, I’m really tired of that. How the hell am I supposed to enjoy life in an environment where I can’t fluorish? I was talking to luvsgurl about this, and she and I agree that I eventually need to get out of Mississauga and experience more. It’s kind of like ghetto-child syndrome, where people that have grown up in the ghettos more often than not have never been outside of the ghetto where they grew up. That’s what I’m feeling like. Like there’s a world of opportunity out there, and I’m stuck in this place. Oh well, only two more years until graduation. Then I’ll probably make a run for it.

END OF AN ERA.

Sunday, my father closed down his restaurant, St. Hubert’s Bar-B-Q, for good. I have mixed feelings about the entire thing. For one, I saw my father at his most human—for the near 21 years I’ve been living on this planet so far, I’d never seen him cry before. For me, it was surreal in a way—sort of like the entire thing wasn’t happening. It was good to be there on Sunday night, though. Got to see a lot of people that I haven’t had the chance to spend time with as of late, and got to reminisce about growing up around St. Hubert’s. There are people there who still remember me from when I was still running around in sweatpants from pre-school with thick ass adult glasses since glasses for kids was a relatively new thing at the time. Anyway, getting back to the point—yeah, it was a weird situation at best. On another side note—to all you people whining that the place is closing? Joking that you’ve been there so often that my dad owes you some free meals? Talking about how there’s always Swiss Chalet? You know what? Screw y’all. My dad started this place by himself, and he’s ending it by himself. He’s a greater man than you people and your incessant drivel. He put his heart, mind and soul into the joint. And as for me? This place was my history—it’s where I grew up when I wasn’t at home, school, or my grandmother’s. It’s always something that will be irreplaceable within me—it’s not about the friggin’ money. It’s about its meaning. And it’s lost on y’all.

WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE

Usually, if you asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. How times change, my friends, how times change. After thinking about it, I decided that I couldn’t choose between cinematography, graphic design, creating a community for artists, amongst other options. So I figure, why not just combine the whole shebang into one mega-company? That’s what I want to do. As I was telling 0094 as we walked out of Square One, I want Mississauga to eventually become something of an Art Mecca. His tone of reply indicated something of disbelief/thinking it couldn’t be done. We’ll see, man! We’ll see.

ADDITIONALLY, ON THE ART TIP:

So I haven’t updated my comic in a week or two (nobody really follows it anyway, so only one person’s been complaining). Why? Well, it’s partially due to the near-insurmountable pile of work I seem to have right now. The other reason is simply a lack of motivation. My comic doesn’t interest me, and I can’t seem to find an angle that’ll work for me. Maybe I have mild ADHD or something. Can never really seem to focus on one thing for a lengthy period of time. But I do know that I have to represent with a sizeable amount of work at the convention, so work I will!

IN CLOSING:

I have nothing else to say, really. Chatting with friends, reading up on the lives of others, and seeing one of my ex-girlfriends take a year off of school to travel around the world and experience things (she’s in Australia right now swimming with dolphins after learning how to surf yesterday) … I realize that I have chosen a path of responsibility with my life. Even though I don’t enjoy it, it is who and what I have become at this point in time. I live to ensure a healthy future for myself and those I care about. Even though it ties me down to things I loathe… I must persevere and live with it. For now.

Doomz out.

–case p.

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