The envelope with the social security card came in the mail 2 weeks after the decision was made. They had sent it with a friend who was visiting Miami who came by Aunt Fern. I was sure life would get better with a social security card even if it meant taking my cousin’s identity. I had been watching a “Now Hiring “sign at a McDonald’s near the stop I got off to catch my second bus. It was the only place I could think about to apply for a job. It was not what I thought would be the ideal job, but it was one of the only jobs available to teenagers with no prior job experience.
All I could think about was the type of jobs the most of my peers in Jamaica got during summer. They worked at their parents’ business, which was a “white collar” type of business. They had jobs, which were nothing like what I was about to do.
Two days after getting the social security card, I stopped at the McDonald’s on the way back from work. The plan was to work a distance away from home where no one knew me, hence blowing my cover by using my real name. I walked into the restaurant & looked around. It was a different look than when I used to go into MacDonald’s. I now could be one of the people working there — mopping the floor, cleaning the table or preparing the food. I joined the nearest line & waited my turn to get to the counter.
It was my turn and I stepped up to the counter.
“May I take your order” was the greeting I got from the bubbly girl in the blue McDonald’s uniform at the cash register. When I told her that I wanted a job application, her face changed to a smirk. She went under the counter & came up with a one-page application.
“You can fill out the application over there”, she said pointing to an empty table. “No need to join the line just bring it back to me when you are done”.
I scanned the application as I walked over to one of the empty tables in the restaurant. I had never filled out a job application in my life so this was a challenge. The first line asked for my full name. I was about to write my name when I realized that I was supposed to be my cousin. It took me about 26 minutes to complete the application due to me having to carefully ‘doctor’ the information to reflect my cousin.
Once I completed the application I handed the application back to the girl. There was no one in line so I did not feel too bad about bringing it back to her. She still had a little smirk on her face as I handed the application to her. I did not notice her name badge the first time but this time I took note of her name. It was Cindy.
I was turning away to leave when she said,”Wait, the manager is interviewing today if you have time. Just take a seat over there while I take your application to him.”
I was a little surprised. I was not prepared to do an interview. I was not even dressed for an interview. In Jamaica, it would be totally unacceptable to interview in the state I was in… jeans, T-shirt and sneakers.
I sat at the table and waited. My mind was racing and I was nervous. Would my appearance discredit me? Would he know that this was not my name?
The waiting was really just too much. I felt like I was going to faint.
Suddenly, a middle-aged, slightly heavyset man in a light blue shirt and navy blue pants came over to my table and sat across from me. I figured he was the manager because he was older than everyone else I saw working. He did not wear a hat. His name badge read Joe. I got up to shake his hand but he beckoned for me to sit. He asked how I was doing and we exchanged a few pleasantries. For me, this broke the ice. He automatically knew I was from Jamaica and told me that there was another Jamaican manager working in the store. He asked if I was from Kingston like every Jamaican he has ever met. I told him that I was from Upper St. Andrew, but then in the back of my mind regretted it because it was too close to my real identity.
He then started looking over my application and the interview begun. The questions were fairly simple. I thought I had to know my cousin’s past to get through the interview, but I soon found out that it were not necessary. I could basically be me with just a different name. Once he was done, he told me that if I was being considered, I would hear from them in a week.
As I walked back to the bus stop, I wondered if I did well on the interview. It did not take long for me to get an answer. As soon as I got home, Uncle Wade said that Joe from McDonald’s called and wanted me to call him back. As I picked up the phone to call back, my heart was beating at a rapid rate. Joe told me that I had the job. I was in shock! I was able to pull it off! It was just so quick!
He asked when could I start. Still in shock, I told him tomorrow not even thinking how I would tell my other boss I was quitting. Joe replied, “That’s fine. Please come in for your orientation tomorrow.” My new world as someone else was about to begin.