Working in such a commercially central place at the Grove City Premium Outlets in Pennsylvania (which is where I serve at Primanti Bros, come grab a colossal fish, BTW and ask for the bald Englishman), I go through my day watching people. I love watching people, it’s the most insane reality show you could ever watch.
Now, I don’t feel I’ve ever belonged to the human race, I don’t feel I’ve ever been a part of it. I simply process things differently. I don’t get offended at every little thing, I love with my whole soul, I make love for its own sake and I firmly believe that the conceptual counterweight for violence and division is love. But, I go through my day trying to make people happy by bringing them food, some companionship, a joke here or there and they repay me with pieces of paper I can trade for things on Amazon (and thus feed the only real bona fide addiction I have). It’s an awesome life. I also work with some of the best people you could ever hope to man a restaurant with. My managers (coaches, we call them) the grill line, my fellow servers (“players” in Primanti-speak) are simply (in most cases) the best templates for humanity that have ever been produced thus far. If the human race ground to a screeching halt and just the staff at Primanti Bros were left, you would have a decent template to start repopulating the earth, after some Lord of the Flies-style winnowing of the herd.
Spend a day with any of these people and you’ll see why some of us consider the place home, and our fellow players, family. (If you can maintain a straight face when Phil is hilariously on fire, I’ll buy you dinner.)
We look out for one another. If one of us fails, the day is a loss. If we all win, the day is a win. But, we stick together. Somehow, we do. We are all different backgrounds. Some of us go to college, some of us have already graduated and still work there. Some of us are content with working with no higher, loftier goal. Some of us want to usurp the echelons of upper management and run the entire chain with a iron fist and an army of rabid lawn gnomes. Some of us are just doing it until something better comes along. Some of us are just eating company time and skating by. We have atheists, Christians, and yes, a Muslim or two, though I won’t out them, because those facts are only relevant to the following; we are men and women charged with the daily task of doing what the rest of the world can’t seem to do; “be grateful for each other enough to work together and not kill each other.” Sure, tempers flare, some things are said behind gritted teeth and at the end of the day, we are cogs in a business machine.
But, that doesn’t mean we have to act like it. We are people of different backgrounds accomplishing a common goal of making each other happier and making others happy. We are the living embodiment of what the rest of the world needs; peaceful coexistence, tolerance and happiness.
We don’t squabble over interpretations of “Merry Christmas”, or “Happy Holidays”, or whatever the h**l the politically correct term is these days, we’re too busy loving each other, enjoying each other’s company and making our fans happy. That’s what we’re here for, and as long as we cross Primanti Bros’ threshold every day with that in mind, and we accomplish it, the fact that we are getting paid is kind of irrelevant to the fact that we’re putting some happiness and camaraderie into the world.
I am always looking for pattern. “Why does THIS give me so much happiness and joy when I’m here?” I finally found out why. Where I work, gives me the freedom to be who I am within their framework. They didn’t hire me for my ability to accomplish a task, as any trained baboon can take an order, put it into a computer and bring the food to the table. They hired me for my personality, and the hopes that it would be a good fit. They hired me because of the way I made them feel when they interviewed me. They hired me because of the way I make people feel around me.
I exist to make other people happy, because in doing this, I make myself happy. I give flowers to a beautiful woman, not because I have ulterior motives, but because the smile on her face is the nectar of the gods to me. I give a guy a hug who has had a bad day and buy him a beer because the handshake and genuine “thank you” afterward makes me feel as if I can leave the world better than I found it, one sandwich at a time. I bring Swedish Fish on Saturdays because I know that it will make my coworkers, my friends, happy. Primanti Bros may be a corporate entity that exists to make money, and I would never begrudge them this. Because, that’s not what it means to me. This isn’t a job to me, this is a second home.
I can get paid just as much elsewhere. (Or at least, I think I can. I haven’t looked, to be perfectly honest, as I’m quite happy where I am.) To me, the second I started working there is the day my life changed. I am happy, because my job, where I work and the people I surround myself with make me a better person. If you want to know why I’m such a happy person, all you need to do is spend some time with my wife and daughter, then come to work with me and spend time with Lexi, Shauna, Phil, Jessie, Shaun, Liz and everyone who make that place home. (There are SO many other people working there for whom this can be said, but it would be a longer article than it should be…)
I love my job. I love my place in the world right now. I make people happy for a living. If you sit down at my section, I don’t see you as a tip; I see you as someone who came to me looking for something, and sometimes, it’s not food.
Photo: Getty Images