Today, before writing my October 30th entry in Triumphs & Tribulations XVI, I took a look at this date in years’ past. It didn’t take me long to find one of the great moments of my life. It was right there in the October 30th entry of Triumphs & Tribulations I. This week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series takes me back to a very pivotal moment in life that happened on this date in 2000: my first day at Domino’s Pizza.
How I first came across this moment? Arriving at 5pm Central Standard Time on October 30, 2000 actually started 5 months earlier…in the Business, Science & Technology Department of the Birmingham Public Library’s Central location. I spent a couple of hours there most days during the school year but when my freshman year concluded in May 2000, I started spending whole days there. I’m talking get there at 9am and leave at 6:05pm type of whole days. In a conversation I had with one of the librarians about my plans for the upcoming school year once the summer concluded turned into advice about job opportunities. He suggested I try one of the local bookstores since I had an interest in many types of books. I did just that a couple of weeks later, applying for and securing my 1st job at The Summit location of Books-A-Million. The manager started me out in the Joe Muggs Café, making coffee, espressos, and other drinks loaded with beaucoup caffeine. I wasn’t feeling the coffee smell and I quit after the morning rush. The search for a job didn’t pick back up until I grew closer to my 16th birthday in October. I thought I was going to get on at the Pizza Hut location on 5th Ave S & 20th St since my aunt was the longtime assistant manager but the franchisee took forever in calling me back. After school on the Friday before my birthday (October 20th) I went to the McDonald’s on 6th Ave S, where the hiring manager told me he wasn’t going to bring me on because many of my schoolmates were already on the payroll. I was resigned to the fact that I’d probably be going jobless for a while. Before I decided to get on the 8-Sixth Avenue South to my home in Titusville, I walked over to the Arby’s across from The Kirkland Clinic to get a vanilla shake. That’s when I saw Domino’s Pizza. I took a chance, walked in, and asked if they were hiring. One of the managers on duty that day—her name was Kapresha Grady—gave me an application. I filled it out right there. As I was writing down all of the pertinent information, a neighbor from my old neighborhood noticed me and we talked for a minute. It just so happened the franchisee was also in the store that day. He took my application and was immediately captivated by my penmanship. After my former neighbor vouched for me, he hired me on the spot. He told me that he would start me at a $5.50 hourly rate as opposed to the $5.15 hourly rate I requested on the application. He asked if I could start the next day but I held off until October 30th, which was the Monday after my 16th birthday. October 30th came and I arrived at 4:45pm. My father dropped me off but told me I was on my own getting home. I got my uniform and name tag before being introduced to the PM crew. On that first day, I mostly washed a lot of dishes and folded boxes. I helped out with the making of a couple of pizzas as well. As my 5pm-9pm shift was nearing a close, the franchisee arranged for me to get a ride with one of the outgoing deliveries to Titusville. Before I clocked out, he asked if I was interested in working on the closing staff on Friday and Saturday. I said yes and the rest is history for me.
What it meant to me then? In the moment, having the Domino’s Pizza gig was a great boon to me. It provided me with my first legit and consistent income…one that I would use to buy my own clothes, school stuff, and my monthly pass for MAX. That first day was all about fitting in and finding my role in the store.
What it means to me now? 15 years later, the Domino’s days are far in my rear view as I moved on in the Spring of 2003. But looking back on that first day, I’m overcome with joy and great appreciation. I learned a lot of lessons about pizza and life that night…some of which still stick with me today. One of the things that resonates with me most about that first day was meeting Herman Dunklin. He was one of the drivers and as I was in the back, washing all of the dishes from the 6pm rush, he came back to help. We struck up good conversation and our brief friendship was born. Notice I italicized the word “brief”. He was killed a few short months later. All in all, that first day of real work was a defining day in my life.