Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My first job

I walked in to Happy Harry's Pizza on March tenth, 2014. I was excited and nervous, as it was my very first job interview. Dressed in a green, flannel shirt, I nervously walked to the front of the restaurant and in a faint voice, I told the cashier what I was there for.

"What?" she asked.

"I'm here for an interview," I repeated, my voice croaking.

I was then ushered back behind the kitchen area, to a windowless room  where my future boss, Carlotta, sat calmly.

"I know you're here because you want the job, but why Happy Harry's?" she inquired.

Crap. I didn't prepare for this question. "I... well, it's better to work for a local place instead of one of those chain restaurants," I spluttered.

Agreeing with me, she moved on, reading off of the application that I submitted last week.

"So, you've done a lot of work in Boy Scouts and youth group. And you're an eagle scout."

"Yes," I repeated.

After forty-five minutes, Carlotta decided to hire me on the spot. "You seem like a really awesome kid," she smiled, "I'll have you start Monday at three-thirty."

Excited, I pushed my germophobia aside and shook her hand, even though she was suffering from an obvious cold. I did it. I got my very first job; a home run. I left with a huge smile on my face, but quickly wiped it off and, once I got in my mother's car, I told her I didn't get it. After she expressed her sympathy, I could no longer control myself and I grinned and told her I was just kidding.

"I can't believe it. You're a working man," she said.

Monday came along and I was supervised by a classmate who got the job two years before. She also happened to be my brother's girlfriend. We hadn't talked for several years, until recently, after we moved from grade school to middle school, as our learning environment got much bigger. We worked well together, despite that I'm quite shy. The day went well and I was excited that I had made my first $32. Sure, people complain about minimum wage, but I was grateful. At least now I could stop begging my parents for money to buy junk at Walmart.

The next day, Carlotta was working alongside us, with her husband, Ron. Soon, the time came to fill the cheese bin inside of the station. I retrieved a large, white bucket of mozzarella and returned. As I began adding to the supply, a large amount escaped my grasp and landed on the ground.

"What a waste," Carlotta complained, "pick that up."

Thinking nothing of this, I quickly grabbed the ruined cheese and returned after washing my hands.

Within a few weeks, I learned that Carlotta's mood was unpredictable. Some days, she would be quite chipper. When I would make a mistake, one day, she said, "Oh, no, don't apologize. It's alright." The next, she would tell me off. Most of the time, I would move past any negative statements she made and would continue working.

In late May, work became nearly unbearable. Two of Carlotta's star employees were quitting, as they needed to work at a summer camp or find a higher paying job. On top of that, one of her new employees was fired after he failed to show up for work. Because of the shortage of workers and the ever-growing amount of customers, my boss began to work alongside me. Now, she had only one mood. Anger.

The rushes gave me a lot of anxiety, which led to me working frantically, consequently resulting in a messy station. "I can't work like this! I'm cleaning up your mess." she barked. My face turned red and I continued on the order as she wiped the olives, onions and cheese onto the floor. Later that day, I was confused with an order. Somebody didn't want their garlic bread  baked. Most of the time, they were, or another employee would package the item after I finished putting it together. I made the garlic bread and then placed it on wax paper, accidentally bumping it into one of the pizzas nearby, which caused some sauce to smear on the wrapper. Once my monster of a boss saw this, she was quick to criticize me. "Unacceptable."

I then asked a quick question on how exactly to wrap the bread with the nearby plastic film. Carlotta grabbed the item and wrapped it herself. "You've worked here how long and you can't wrap a garlic bread?" she mumbled, loud enough for me to hear. By now, I was shaking. By the look of my hands, it seemed like I had just downed half-a-dozen energy drinks. As usual, I forced myself to continue.

By midday, there were more orders coming in. Carlotta even placed her own, which was currently in the oven with six other pizzas. The timer rang, and because I was impaired by the panic, I grabbed her meal from the ancient stove and placed it in the back, where the employees eat.

 After processing more orders. I glanced up to see her walking swiftly toward me. "I want my pizzas cooked!" she snarled.

Right now, I was at the point where I should have thrown my apron at her feet and said "fuck you, I'm out of here." But instead, I whimpered "do you want to spray that sheet with the cooking oil before you put it in again?" She responded by repeating what she said earlier.

The next day, I snuck into the back and placed my resignation and my two-week notice on her cork board. I was sick of her and Happy Harry's and needed to get another job that made me feel like I was going to relapse in major depression. I made it through within fifteen seconds, avoiding any confrontation from my verbally abusive employer.

Since my departure, at least three more people have left. It sounds bad, but I always liked driving past the restaurant and seeing her tacky HELP WANTED sign posted on the door, for the umpteenth time. Truth be told, she deserves it.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Unidentified persons awareness

Imagine leaving your home to go to work, school or getting groceries. It's a normal day and the sun shines vibrantly in front of you. But then, your life ends. It doesn't matter how, but it's over. You lose your friends, family, precious memories -- and your identity. When you body is found, within hours, days, weeks, months or even years, nobody knows who you were, despite that your face may have been recognizable, unique qualities such as scars, dental work and birthmarks could also be observable.
Over forty-thousand people in this country alone are faced with this problem. Decedents of all ages, races and sexes have spent years being known as "John" or "Jane Does," accompanied by mortuary photographs or facial reconstructions.

Reconstruction of the Glendora John Doe
In November 1979, a teenage girl was murdered and found a day after she died. Her clothing and jewelry were distinct and her dental information, fingerprints and DNA were all recovered with ease. She was nicknamed as "Cali Doe," named after the town she was discovered in. Her killer has never been found, although she was identified in early 2015 as Tammy Jo Alexander.

Moving forward,  some aren't as lucky as Cali Doe was. The partial skeleton of a male child was found in Glendora, California in 1984. Unlike Cali Doe, his fingerprints, clothing and DNA were not recovered. Examiner's weren't even sure if he was, in fact, male. However, they do know that he may have been of mixed race, possibly white and Asian and likely had hydrocephalus.

In 2012, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (abbreviated as the NCMEC) began a project on Facebook, dubbed as Help ID Me, which they launched to help identify America's unknown children. So far, 279 decedents have been added to their website. They began to digitally recreate the faces of these children and young adults, which involved scanning their skulls into machines and then adding layers of tissue and skin to digital skull in a fairly expensive computer program. For cases where the decedent had not been dead for very long, an artist drew over a sketch of a morgue photo, also with a digital program,

One case, of a girl who was discovered on Valentine's Day in 1988 in Millen, Georgia, a sketch was created earlier in the investigation. Recently, the NCMEC created a composite using the latter method, which looks somewhat different than the original. Hopefully with this new and more accurate technology, such cases will eventually be solved.

The girl found in Millen, Georgia in 1988. The NCMEC created the composite on the right.
What people do for the unidentified is extraordinary. Not only are their faces recreated, but countless websites feature their cases with information ranging from the location they were found and their physical descriptions, as well as missing persons who have been ruled out as possible identities. Such sites, such as The Doe Network and The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System have exceptional coverage and have even assisted detectives in identifying the unidentified.

Since late 2013, I have become fascinated with these cases and have even created multiple pages on Wikipedia about such people, including a young woman found in California. I also have a separate blog dedicated to the unidentified.