Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

Get Me a Panini—Roast Beef

Get Me a Panini—Roast Beef

Photograph via Flickr by jeffreyw

Editor’s note: Once a week, Laura Morton will use personal history to put a Craigslist ad into perspective.

Pressing

I left New York about ten years ago for what I thought would be a few months. I moved back into my parents’ home, to my teenage bedroom, which had since been turned into a spare room with painted walls replacing my murals and posters.

My purpose of moving home was to direct my first short film. I’d spent the year before rewriting my script and couldn’t wait to put the plan in action.

But planning and saving money and getting all things in order took time, and I needed some job that would give me a little spending money, time away from the house, and enough busywork to get my mind off the project.

I found that part-time job at a local health food store about a mile from my parents’ house. Luckily, I had a friend who worked there, so she had an “in.” They interviewed me, and after I told them one of my passions was health and wholeness, I was hired.

At first, I worked behind the checkout counter. I helped customers, inevitably saw people I went to grade school or high school with, and did my best to live up to the six bucks an hour I was making.

One afternoon, the manager handed me a few envelopes from that day’s mail and asked me to bring them over to the coffee shop. I had no idea what coffee shop he was referring to—a fact he was rather irritated to discover—but it turned out that it was an extension of the bakery, and it was only a block away.

The manager handed me the mail and left me to find it on my own.

I finally did. In a lonely, old strip mall next to a bridal shoe store that held fast to its 1970s glory days.

There were two hipsters leaning on the counter. They both wore stained aprons and appeared completely uninterested in anything around them.

I held up the mail.

They continued to stare blankly.

“Who should I give it to?” I asked.

“Richard, probably,” one of them said.

“Where’s Richard?”

They both shrugged.

I waited a moment for something to happen, but when nothing did, I placed the mail on the counter and left.

I got back to the main store and asked another cashier what was up with the coffee shop.

“It sucks over there. That’s where they send the retards to work.”

The next day, I was sent to work there.

I arrived early, at 6 a.m. The front door stood open, but no one was around. I walked around the counter and back to the kitchen, where dust had settled, and finally found one of the young hipsters making bagels.

“Hey,” I said, “they said I’m working here now.”

He stared at me for a long confusing moment and finally said, “Okay . . .” then went back to the bagels.

I walked up front to the counter and waited (for what, I wasn’t sure).

A customer, an old man with a bad hip, walked in and right up to the counter. He’d kept his eyes on the blackboard menu from the moment he set foot in the door.

“Get me a panini—roast beef.”

I turned around and looked up to the colorful blackboard searching for what he’d just ordered. I looked past all the chalk drawings, the delightful colors and fonts, until I saw the list of paninis we apparently offered. Sadly, I had no idea what a panini was . . .

But, I gave him a confident, “Sure,” and walked back to the bagel guy.

“So, this man wants a panini.”

“Then make him a panini.”

I nodded, walked back to the counter and checked the chalkboard again. Luckily, there was a drawing to let me know, generally, what the final product was supposed to look like. I read the components (roast beef, gorgonzola, etc) and found them in the fridge below the counter.

I placed everything in front of me and put it together as best as I could and plated it in the most delightful way, when the bagel guy approached me.

“You already cooked it?”

I looked at him and back at the sandwich.

“The meat is cooked already.”

He rolled his eyes, took the sandwich and placed it in what I later discovered was the panini press.

It was in that moment that I realized why the management had sent me to work at the coffee shop.

The Ad

CL>seattleeastsideall for sale > wantedbusiness/commercial > by owner

PANINI GRILL – $350 (MAPLE VALLEY)

PANINI GRILL
220 ELECTRIC

WORKS GOOD $ 350.00 OBO
xxx xxx xxxx

The Response

The panini maker might work “good,” but I apparently did not.

I was fired four months later.