Last week, GQ published a revealing new interview with the worst employee ever to darken the coastal New England-styled interior of Red Lobster: an old salt named Nicki Minaj.
The interview, conducted by GQ contributor Taffy Brodesser-Akner, is a notable document not just because Minaj finally elucidates the symbolism of the highly sexualized music video for her single "Anaconda"—"I knew that I wanted a gym theme"—or because she manages over the course of it to "doze off" four separate times.
It is also noteworthy because it contains the latest tantalizing snippet of the great founding myth of Nicki Minaj's life.
Throughout her conversations with Brodesser-Akner, Minaj comes across as a difficult interview—the succulent meat of her opinions, the red roe of her thoughts, the green tomalley of her soul, all guarded by an unbreakable rock-like carapace.
Except when she's talking about her wild youth at Red Lobster:
She was fired from a waitressing job at a Red Lobster after she followed a couple who had taken her pen into the parking lot and then flipped them the bird. I asked her if it was a special pen. "No," she said. "It was the principle."
An Annotated Oral History of Nicki Minaj's Employment by Red Lobster
Part One: The Pen
This month's GQ feature was not the first instance where Minaj shared a piece of lore from that time in her past when her financial well-being was dependent on the whims and gifts of the wine-dark sea. Indeed, it was not even the first time she shared the story of The Time Nicki Minaj Chased a Customer Out of Red Lobster For Taking a Pen. Rather, this anecdote bobs to the surface again and again, through seasons and across decades, washing ashore throughout Minaj's press tours, each time slightly different but sharing key core ideas, like the Flood Myth across Mesopotamian belief systems.
It is a story of self-reported antics that Nicki Minaj tells over and over in order to emphasize that these are exactly the types of antics one can expect from a Ms. Nicki Minaj.
"I worked at Red Lobster before that and I chased a customer out of the restaurant once so I could stick my middle finger up at her and demand that she give me my pen back. I swear to God I was bad."
She was fired for following a customer into the parking lot, knocking on his car window and giving him the finger. "He stole my pen!" she says cackling. "I gave him the pen to sign the credit card slip, and I was gonna show him: I will lose my job for a pen. So I chased him into the freaking parking lot. Who does that?!"
Ten years on when Nicki Minaj relays her account of the incident, it is almost always with a heady Red Lobster Signature Cocktail-style blend of amusement and chagrin, as if Nicki Minaj cannot quite believe that a person would be so bold and wantonly aggressive as Nicki Minaj.
This, perhaps, is the reason a then-19-year-old Onika Maraj chased a customer out of Red Lobster to reclaim her pen: Not to reclaim her pen, but to have a story about the time she chased a customer out of Red Lobster to reclaim her pen.
But this anecdote—an anecdote in which a waitress chases you out of a Red Lobster, raps on your car window, and gives you the finger because you (perhaps unintentionally?) removed a check-signing pen from Red Lobster—is not the only indication that Nicki Minaj was a less than stellar employee.
Part Two: The Final Nail in the Salad
A former Red Lobsterman who spoke to Vibe for the same feature in 2010 shared a story about Minaj losing a nail in a salad.
One time, on an especially busy night, she was rushing to get some plates to a table and one of her super-long nails popped into a customer's salad.
"Our manager said 'Look at this, Onika. This is not good,'" recalls a former coworker. "And Onika goes, "Damn, I know! I can't believe I just broke my freaking nail!'"
Part Three: The Great Biscuit Bamboozle
Two years ago, in July of 2012, she complained to Jay Leno of customers' insatiable hunger for Red Lobster's signature Cheddar Bay Biscuits, provided gratis with the purchase of a meal—a purchase which, for many if not most customers, functions exclusively as a means of ensuring that Cheddar Bay Biscuits will be brought to a given table.
At the time Minaj was working at the Red Lobster on Bartow Avenue, Leno was already one of the wealthiest entertainers in America. And here she was, a mere ten years later, recounting the experience for him in lively detail.
"[Customers] always want too much bread. That's what bothered me. You guys, please, if you go to Red Lobster, stop ordering extra bread. You don't understand, because...We're so busy in the kitchen and it's like, the kitchen is hot, you're waiting for your orders, and you have another table, and blahblahblah. And you go to the table and you're thinking it's a big emergency and they're like: 'Can we have some more bread?''
"I didn't want to be there, and the customers could tell," Minaj added. Her earring fell out during the interview.
But perhaps Minaj abhorred those eager customers because their glassy, greedy eyes formed a mirror reflecting back her own intemperance. In 2013, Minaj revealed to Marie Claire that she, too, was a fan of the chief export of Cheddar Bay. When asked during a fan-led Q&A to describe her favorite memory from her time at Red Lobster, Minaj answered:
"Eating all the bread."
Part Four: Cheddar Bay Chicanery
It should come as no surprise, particularly to those who are familiar with Minaj in her current career as a rapper, that Nicki Minaj no longer works at Red Lobster. She was fired. The circumstances and volume of her firings, though, will come as a shock to many.
Nicki Minaj has been fired by more Red Lobsters than most people will ever visit.
In 2010 Nicki Minaj was a guest on Atlanta's Hot 109.7 "Rickey Smiley Morning Show!" While in the studio, she discussed her smash-hit debut studio album "Pink Friday," and also Red Lobster.
After explaining to listeners that her stint at Red Lobster occurred during era of legendary strife with the servers of a nearby Applebee's ("...[W]e did kind of have like Applebee's-Red Lobster beef, like back in the day. It was like the Applebee's waitresses thought they was better because they had a newer establishment."), Minaj dropped a bombshell: For a time, her life essentially consisted of getting fired and rehired by various Red Lobster franchises across the New York metropolitan area:
"...I got fired from, like, five different Red Lobsters. I got fired from, like, every Red Lobster you could think of: The Bronx, Long Island, Queens, everywhere. I don't know why, but they thought I had [an] attitude."
Why was Nicki Minaj allowed to continue sowing seeds of chaos across the greater New York City area (Red Lobsters), without intervention from the restaurant, or its former parent company, Darden Restaurants, Inc.?
Because she deceived them.
"But what was so crazy is that [in order to get hired] you had to lie and say you had never worked at Red Lobster before. And I swear to God I'm not trying to be funny. So I used to lie on the applications until they would find me out. People would notice me and then they would go and tell the manager. I had haters back then. I've had haters since Red Lobster."
Of course, we all have our own reasons for wanting to work at Red Lobster. Perhaps Nicki Minaj continued applying to franchises across New York, rather than taking her considerable experience to another casual dining chain, because Red Lobster was a place where she already (to borrow a nautical phrase) "knew the ropes." I've never seen anyone communicate their passion for the sea to customers so efficiently, her shift supervisors would say, unaware that they had just welcomed aboard Chaos incarnate, in regulation non-slip close-toed shoes.
Perhaps she simply wanted to prove to herself that she could work at Red Lobster without getting fired. (A hypothesis that would ultimately prove incorrect.) We have already established her complicated relationship with the Cheddar Bay biscuits.
The Moral of the Story
Whatever the reason, it seems clear that—assuming we can extrapolate future behavior from past—Nicki Minaj will apply for employment at New York area Red Lobsters many more times before she is rendered unable by the incapacitation of old age or death.
As these anecdotes indicate, to hire this candidate would be a mistake.
Therefore, Gawker must decline to provide an official endorsement of Nicki Minaj for the position of server at Red Lobster at this time.
[Photos via Getty, Wikipedia]