Last week I worked 57 hours. Last week was tough. Last week tested the very core of my being. I woke up on Monday morning for my personal training session, excited to take my fitness journey to a new place.

“What are your fitness goals? Like, walking up a flight of stairs without being out of breath?”

“Wow, he must really think I’m out of shape,” I thought, out of breath from the flight of stairs we’d just walked up.

“Yes, actually,” I said.

I left my personal training session with sore thighs and an optimistic view of my weight loss journey. Then I went to work at the pizza place, where people continued to hit on me, one of whom was a friend of my boss.

“Who’s this cutie?” asked the 30 year old Latino man with braces. (Side note, every man who has hit on me thus far has been Latino. Is there some sort of memo I didn’t get?)

“I know, right?” said my boss. “Why do you think I hired him?”

Now, I couldn’t tell if my boss was kidding, but if he wasn’t, that would explain why I had not been fired after all the mistakes I had been making. Never before had I thought I would be able to use my looks to get anywhere, but it seems I was mistaken. I feel like Nicole Richie.

I worked until 245 in the morning, and went home exhausted, knowing I would have to get up at 630 to be ready for work at 8 am at my new job. My new job was at a salad place that was set up like a healthy chipotle. I had training scheduled for 5 days in a row, from 8 am to 330 pm. It would be a long week.

I awoke at 630 feeling like death. After my morning meditation, I closed my eyes for a moment. When I opened them, it was 745. Shit. I ran to my car, hoping I wouldn’t be late on my very first day. Stuck in traffic on crescent heights, I called the man who hired me to tell him I would be late.

“Sorry, I thought I left myself time to park but I didn’t,” I said. It was true, I knew I would be even later because parking would be impossible to find.

“That’s okay, just tell Bjork (not her real name) that you called me and maybe leave earlier next time,” he said. Sound advice.

I parked my car in a two hour parking only space, knowing I would be there for more than 2 hours. I prayed I wouldn’t get a ticket. (Side note- I did). I ran to work, having parked a ten minute walk away. Finally I burst through the doors at 810, and by burst through the doors I mean I ran into the locked door and then embarrassingly shuffled to the correct door. I saw an stern looking blond woman walking around behind the salad bar as the other employees were setting up.

“Bjork?” I said. I felt like we were meeting for a blind date.


“It’s fine!” She said. “Calm down and have a seat over there.”

I took her advice and sat down at a table near the front. “How do I look calm?” I thought. I gazed serenely out the window. Finally she approached me. She asked me questions about my previous job and what I knew about healthy chipotle, as I smiled kindly and practiced my listening face, hoping she wouldn’t notice me sweating. Wow, I really needed more personal training.

“What’s this?” She asked, pointing to the folded up piece of paper I had on the table.

“Oh, I printed out the certificate from my food handlers card at staples but it accidentally printed out really big,” I said, unfolding a diploma sized certificate that identified me as a person able to handle food in Southern California.

“Maybe we can hang it on the wall,” she said, handing me my official work shirt.

I went to the bathroom to put it on. It was two sizes too small- on the plus size, my breasts looked great. I changed back into my regular shirt. “I think you gave me the women’s size shirt,” I said.

Clothed in the correct shirt, I tied my apron and put on my hat backwards like the rest of the guys. I felt like I was back at UVA. I shadowed a man who was leaving the next day to work in the new store in Santa Monica. After everything we did, he would say, “Don’t do it this way, I’m just doing it like this to save time.” I learned a lot from him.

All in all my first day was very stressful. I felt like I did everything wrong, and Bjork would correct me in a way that made me feel like I was a small child who had broken the rules. She  would disappear at random moments and return with a fresh coat of red lipstick for no apparent reason. I couldn’t quite get a grasp on her. Every time she spoke to a black employee she would say, “Hey brother! Good job yo!” She was an enigma.

Healthy chipotle has a rule that you must be smiling at all times. Each person has a “smile word” that someone says to them when they’re not smiling and it makes them smile. Bjork’s is freedom. Mine is Lady Gaga. I was stirring watermelon cilantro juice alone in the back and she said to me, “smile!” I stirred the juice, grinning wildly and thinking, “I’m having a nervous breakdown.”

I got off work, went home, and slept until 6 the next morning. Then I did it all over again. The proceeding days became a lot easier as I began to get the hang of it. I heard rumor that David Beckham came in and ordered a Kale Caesar without the kale. Maybe this place would work out after all.

After a few days I began to really enjoy the other people there. I felt like I finally had a handle on Bjork, and I wasn’t making quite as many mistakes. I became friends with two of the Australian girls who had trained me. I went on the email chain we had gotten for our schedule, and emailed one of them asking to hang out. I am aware of how creepy and desperate that was. Luckily for me she didn’t think so and me and the two Aussie girls went to the beach at Santa Monica. We stopped at the healthy chipotle there and one of the founders was there. One of my friends hugged him.

“You know what you should do?” I said.

“Sleep with him?” She said.

I think I’m going to like working here.

-Theodore Dandy


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