I worked at Wendy’s for eight and a half years. I started working there in July 2006 when I was 14 (Canadian labor laws be damned) and didn’t leave until August 2014, when I was getting prepared to begin grad school that September. Throughout high school and undergrad, I worked somewhere in the ballpark of 30-35 hours per week — less during exam periods, more during the summer — and routinely worked as late as two in the morning most nights.
I hated that job so much. In fact, I still hate that I spent so much time there all these years (and diplomas) later. On weekdays, I’d have to hightail it out of school to make it on-time for my 4 p.m. start. On weekends, when I didn’t have to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to open the restaurant, I had to work until 2 a.m. to close it. My younger self hated that job because it meant I had to miss out on a lot of things my friends were doing — going to parties, being able to play travel baseball, having a regular sleep schedule ... for an already-not-extremely-popular kid, this job was basically a social death sentence.
Why am I telling you this? Because on July 9, 2011, I was, naturally, at work. I mean, where else would I be? It was a Saturday, after all, and I worked every single Saturday for eight years, so I clearly didn’t have anywhere else to be. As you probably guessed already, July 9, 2011 is the day that Derek Jeter recorded his 3,000th hit, becoming the first New York Yankee to do so in the process.
I was scheduled to work 7 a.m.-4 p.m. that day. I knew the Yankees were slated for a 1 p.m. start, and I also knew that Jeter needed just two hits to reach 3,000, so there was not a chance in hell I was finishing that shift any later than 2 p.m. I was going to see his 3,000th hit, no matter what it took.*
*Author’s note: It should be noted here that, despite the pledge I made to myself and my hatred of this job, I never once called off for a shift — I’m extremely frugal and Catholic guilt is a hell of a drug—so that option was off the table entirely.
As soon as I got to work that morning, I started wearing the managers down, letting them know that I would volunteer as tribute if they needed to cut hours. If it came to it, I was fully prepared to annoy the hell out of them until they sent me home.
Usually we were slammed by noon on Saturdays, but for some reason, this Saturday was uncharacteristically quiet. After repeatedly letting the managers know that I’d be totally willing to fall on the sword and go home early so that my fellow coworkers didn’t have to sacrifice their pay, they finally came up to me sometime around 1:30 and told me to go home. It’s still unclear whether I was sent home because of the lack of customers, my general uselessness that day, or my strategy of annoyance, but my wish had been granted.
Only, there was one problem: I didn’t have a car. I lived relatively close to work, but I was still staring down the barrel of a 30-minute walk home, and there was simply no way that was going to cut it. I took matters into my own hands and, in full Wendy’s uniform — including my non-slip, grease-resistant shoes — ended up sprinting the entire way home. What should’ve taken me 30 minutes ended up taking me, like, 20. (I wasn’t exactly in prime running shape.)
I exploded through the front door, ran downstairs, stole the remote from my dad, and turned to the MLB Network, breathlessly trying to explain to my mom that I got off work early because there was something very important that I couldn’t miss. When the game came on, Jeter was just entering the batter’s box for his second at-bat. Eight pitches later, on a 3-2 count, one of the greatest things I have ever witnessed happened:
To this day I still get goosebumps thinking about how perfect this played out. And, for as long as I live, I will never forget David Price’s reaction. The all-too-familiar “I just got beat” knee-buckle is one thing, but the contortion of his upper body as he watched the flight path of that historic hit will forever be burned in my memory.
I knew it was gone the second the bat made contact with the ball. I screamed some things I probably shouldn’t repeat here and I stood speechless as the roar of the crowd (and Michael Kay...) consumed my parents’ basement. I began crying when Jorge Posada hugged him at home plate and, through tears, tried to explain to my mom what this hit meant to not only the history of baseball, but also to my brother and me.
My dad, a life-long Toronto Blue Jays fan and general curmudgeon, sat there quietly the entire time. When I was no longer a blubbering mess, I remember rewinding the TV and watching the hit over and over again. After a few moments, I took a deep breath and said, mostly to myself, “I can’t believe he just did that.”
My dad, without skipping a beat, replied, “Who cares? Jeter’s a bum anyways.”