While we spoil the grandkids, I thought I would entertain you with a short story, Connecticut. It's taken from reality, except for the confrontations.
Enjoy this short story!
Another day at work at the Pleasure Palace. Okay, that's sarcasm. Because I managed to (a) show up every day, (b) pass drug tests, and (c) not drag my personal life into work, such as divorce, single parenthood or friends getting $200 worth of meals on me, I have worked my way up to Manager of the Southington MacDonald's.
Yes, I received a raise in pay, more benefits and the honor of the title, but it came with a cost. I must run the place and deal with the others, the ones who failed to do a,b,c, any or all of the above. And most of them hate me for it, thinking that since they managed to not get fired for a longer period of time than I have, they should have been the manager. Like Tyler. Oh, yeah. He'd make a great manager. If I could get him to tuck his shirt in.
When one becomes a rookie manager, he gets the worst shift. Weeknights, 'til midnight. Graveyard Will, that's what they call me. And believe me, the freaks come out after nine. See? Those three. Just came through the door. They'll order two medium drinks and nurse them for three hours in the back while they use our free Wi-Fi to download just about anything.
The tall guy is actually the Follower. He might as well have a ring in his nose. Sure the shaved head and goatee used to look intimidating, but now everyone sports the look, so he's an empty shirt. A tight, black, worn out empty shirt.
Greasy is the middle guy. He's got the long hair and beard, jet black. I bet he dyes it. Always wears the Wizard shirt, with a guy wielding a saber. I doubt he's washed it in a year.
Smarmy is the leader. Here he comes.
"Hey, I'll have a..." he stares at the screen above. Every night, it's the same thing. He orders three things and cancels them, then gets a medium drink. He thinks it's pretty funny. He'll refill that drink until the cup's ready to fall apart.
"A Big Mac." Tyler enters it into the computer.
"No, no cancel that." His buddies laugh like it's the funniest thing they've ever heard. Except they heard it last night.
"A McDouble....no, no cancel that...a Quarter Pounder with cheese...no. Make it a medium drink."
He would be a hit at the comedy club if idiots like those two filled the seats.
Greasy orders one too, just without the hilarious drama and Follower doesn't get anything. And there goes Smarmy. He'll fill it and drink the top off four times. Maybe he should just stick his head under the soda dispenser and nurse it like a baby.
They head to the back, just like every weeknight. I suppose on weekends they are out on dates with beautiful babes. Right.
The fry alarm is beeping incessantly and apparently no one else can hear it, so I go over and pull them. Meanwhile Courtney is playing 'bump into Adam.'
"Okay you two. Knock it off."
Courtney gives me the frown with her lower lip out. I'm killing her. "I just bumped into him."
"Well, just don't bump into him anymore."
And the classic reply. "Whatever."
I grabbed a towel to clean up the tables in the back. And check on the Three Losers. Cups and napkins littered every table and spots on the floor. I picked them up and wiped the tables. Greasy and Follower stood over Smarmy's laptop to watch a video. Sounded like some comedian. Rude and crude. Greasy threw his head back and laughed.
"Hey guys, keep it down, okay? This is a public place."
"Yeah, right. Okay." Smarmy's eyes never left the screen. The volume remained up. I turned and almost ran into Cheap Old Man. Another regular. He's probably pushing 60 and pretty much keeps to himself.
He sidestepped. "No problem." He sat behind a table, his back to the wall in his regular spot. Started on his hot fudge sundae, off the Dollar Menu and opened his little computer.
"Sorry about that." I meant for almost running into him, but he looked over at the Three Losers. "No big deal."
I picked up and wiped up. Headed to the front to dislodge Courtney and Adam from one another. Found a job for Courtney. Cleaning grease off the floor in the back. That's what she gets. She skulked over and dabbed at some dirt.
I forgot about the bathroom after getting sidetracked with the Losers. A family with two kids sat in a booth, Dad focused on the TV. Follower guffawed and I heard more disgusting words from the laptop. Mom looked to me as if to say, "What kind of garbage is this in your restaurant?" I smiled at her and focused on the Losers. Mr. Take Charge.
Before I got there, Cheap Old Man piped up. "Hey. You guys. Keep it down. There's a family here. With kids."
"Shut up old man."
That got me going. I trotted up and hissed, "Stop it. Right now."
"Ohhh," Smarmy said, "We better be good. Or...what? You'll throw us out?"
I rehearsed the policy in my mind. "I'll call the police."
"Oh, the police," he said. "Well, by the time they get here we'll be gone. And you can't hold us. Besides, what law have we broken?" "
"The law of common courtesy."
"Okay, okay,” said Smarmy, "we'll keep it down."
I checked the bathroom. Towels overflowed the can. I popped the lid off and smashed them down with my foot. Tossed the rest inside. On my extensive experience, I knew I had bought an extra fifteen minutes before needing to dump it. I wiped out the sinks and the wet spots on the floor with paper towels and dumped them. The place looked okay.
I stepped out and heard more garbage from the Losers. Mom and Dad and the kids got up to leave, she looking horrified. I don't like these clowns giving me grief, but I hate losing customers.
"Listen, I warned you. Now clear out."
"You going to give us a beat down?" Follower asked. Great. Talk about escalation. Follower never gives me trouble.
"You're going to have to leave."
"Call the cops."
"I may just do that." I spun on my heels and crashed into Old Man. "I'm so sorry. I need to go."
"Let me walk with you." He turned to walk beside me.
"Oh, no," Greasy said, "he's got the old guy on his side." The three of them jeered and insulted us as we left the room.
The old man put his arm around me. "I've been in business myself, and I know what you're up against. And I've watched you. You really try. I appreciate that." He walked up to the counter. Adam stood there without Courtney for a moment and asked for his order.
"A large drink, please." He turned to me. "Because of being such a big corporation, they have to tie your hands pretty good. And in their defense, think about the news." He pointed to CNN on the TV screen. "'MacDonald's manager beats up three poor customers.' So there's only so much you can do." He stepped over to the soda fountain and filled the drink with root beer. "Come on." He sipped the drink.
The guy walked straight to the Three Losers and dumped the drink on the keyboard. Before it emptied, he threw the cup into Smarmy's face. Smarmy stood.
"Hey! What you doing old man?"
He stood with his hands in fists at his sides. "I've had enough out of you punks. Will here has asked you nicely to back it down, and now some really nice customers have left. So now, you're done. Your computer that's been spewing crap all night, certainly is. And now, I invite you out to the parking lot. I'll either beat you down one at a time, or take all three of you at once. Or you three get up and leave, and don't come back. Ever. What'll it be?"
Smarmy wiped the brown soda off his face. Follower and Greasy stared at the table. Smarmy folded the screen on his computer and headed for the exit, the other two in tow.
I exhaled, not realizing I had been holding my breath. "Thank you so much."
"No problem. Only so much you could do."
"Listen. Any time you come in, dinner is on me."
"Thanks. But just a hot fudge sundae will suffice."
"Nah. Tomorrow." He returned to his spot at his notebook.
"Could you have beat up all three of them?"
He looked up. "Me? Of course not. But they've never been in a fight. They play Dungeons and Dragons and do all this fighting on a computer, but I give one guy a bloody nose and they would knock each other down getting out of there. And it's too bad, really. Would have been fun to see."
"Well, I sure appreciate the help."
"And I appreciate the quiet."
He got back to his computer.