And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
from A New Path To The Waterfall
Copyright 1994 & 2018 by R.B. Weeks
All rights reserved
I'm feeling shitty today, so I thought I'd tell you a particularly shitty story... see if sharing improves my mood or wrecks yours, which, hey, I guess means I’ll feel better either way...
I'm unemployed again. Could be why I'm feeling so shitty. Even though it's a major relief to know I don't have to go into that donut shop one more greasy morning, I think I'm gonna miss the free donuts and coffee and stuff like that. And I’m broke, so there’s that.
So yeah… and of course, it's my fault I'm unemployed, again. I'd just taken all I could. I was so sick of that asshole Chester.
Chester was my manager. He's 19 and loves being a boss. He actually thinks of his donut manager job as a career.
He liked to boss and talk shit to us like we were stupid little kids. While we were in training, he even called us his kids, and he called me Joey, even though my name is Joe (and I’m 5 years older than his dumb ass).
I’m not against higher education, you know, but how hard can it be to learn the donut business? Apparently, making donuts is like a really tough skill to develop, so you have to have like eight hours of intensive apprenticeship spread over two fuckin’ weeks of of part time work.
So, think about it: my first day on the job, I couldn't even go to a bar and tell friends I got a job as a donut maker. I had to tell them I was a fucking donut maker apprentice. And Chester, he dragged those 8 hours out, to make them last the whole two weeks. I was a goddamn donut making genius by that time, I tell ya.
It sucked, but I needed the money, and the free donuts and coffee and shit were pretty cool, I thought.
One of Chester’s favorite bossy-assed things to do was yelling at delivery people.
"You're 20 minutes late!" He'd yell. "Do you realize how many donuts we could have made in the last twenty minutes?" “Do you have any idea how many customers we have to take care of here?”
He always said shit like that, even though we had enough donut making inventory stuff to last a year or so, if you ask me. I was gonna start taking some of the extra dough and such home to make my own right about the time Chester fired me.
He just loved being the big man.
He also liked to yell into the phone. Chester was a busy man and made sure every caller knew about it. Almost anyone who called got yelled at, except his Mom. She called at least once a day to see how things were going for her little boy. She was really proud of him, I think. Wonder what the hell was wrong with her? Maybe it’s a clue to what was wrong with him.
Gloria and I used to mock him and laugh about the way he'd snatch the receiver up to answer the office phone, saying things like, "Deelish-Donuts. We're really busy, can you hold, please?" He said that even when we were all just sitting around eating free donuts and coffee and listening to the radio. He didn't have to be nice on the office line coz it was mostly for deliveries, interoffice calls, and such.
He snatched that phone up so hard it looked like he was expecting it to fight back.
That gave me an idea. The idea that led to my recent unemployment.
Last Friday, I stopped at Wall Drug on the way in to work and bought a tube of super-glue. Fridays are way busy, almost the busiest. Lots of people getting boxes of donuts for their office coffee clubs and such. I knew Chester would be in his finest of big shot manager moods, and would be yelling at Gloria and me about absolutely nothing all morning. So, while he was out front kissing up to one of the customers, I crept over and put a decent helping of super glue all over the cradle of the office phone. It was one of the old fashioned black, plain types that sits on a desk. I pressed the handset back down and held it there a second.
I was already smiling. This was gonna be great.
I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. I mean, the glue might not hold, but I thought it would, or Chester might just get pissed at the resistance of the receiver and know it was me, or maybe Gloria, even though she never does anything like that.
I went back to making the donuts with Gloria and waited for the phone to ring.
It seemed it never would.
I started worrying that maybe the thing wouldn't ring all day, that it might ring after I got off work and I'd miss seeing Chester try to answer it.
I got tired of waiting, and told Gloria about it. I mean, I had to share the anticipation with someone. She laughed so hard she dropped a donut back in and splattered us both with hot grease. That hurt like hell, but it happens all the time, even when we're not laughing about super-glued phones. I really like Gloria. I'm gonna miss her. Everybody else there sucked.
Anyway. We’d been whispering about it, Gloria and me, but had practically forgotten our anticipation when the phone suddenly rang.
Chester was at the front counter, from which he usually comes storming to grab the phone.
This time, however, he was waiting on a beautiful young professional woman, no doubt thinking his "Manager" name badge impressed her enough to make up for his pimply face, donut-grease oily hair and the fact that he worked in a fucking donut shop in the first place, when she was probably something important, like an executive assistant or secretary or mall manager or something.
He yelled to us, "Somebody get the phone, please." He never said please, that fake little shit.
Gloria started to move that way, but I shook my head at her, and she and I went on as if we didn't hear.
"Hey, Gloria, Joey... get the-- Nevermind." By now the nice looking woman was on her way out with her box of donuts. Donuts I'd helped make. It made me feel pretty good that this pretty woman had bought my donuts and would soon be eating one, thinking how good it was and looking forward to coming back for more, maybe even complementing the front staff about the talented donut makers in back. I liked that very much, yeah…
But I didn't have much time to daydream about that, because Chester, now a little madder than usual, if you can imagine that, stormed around the corner and grabbed the phone, muttering some profanity attached to our names which I couldn't quite make out and which sure as hell doesn't matter now, anyway.
I guess I really thought he'd try to lift it and it would kind of weigh him down and maybe get dropped to the floor and break, which would have been pretty cool, coz I was tired of hearing it ring and hearing him yell into it anyway.
Chester was in fine form, though, and when he reached for the phone, he grabbed it so hard, he beat himself upside the head with the whole phone. He spun around with an incredibly dazed look on his dumb face and the phone with it's remaining momentum, plopped right into Gloria's donut fryer. Big splash. Huge mess. Gloria ducked for cover, I jumped back a few feet, and Chester slid down the greasy wall like a raindrop trying to find its way down a dry window pane.
It was so funny, I almost couldn't breathe.
He was out cold, I think, for at least a couple minutes. I wondered for a second if he might be dead, if the fryer could eliminate all the evidence, if Chester's Mom would grieve that her son had been forced to begin his short adult life in such a dangerous occupation.
No such luck. One of the customers out front saw Chester fall and ran around to see if he could help. Gloria called an ambulance. I wasn’t sure what to do next in those weird few moments, so I waited on the line of remaining customers, whose attention, for the most part, seemed fixed more on the shrinking selection of donuts than on the crime scene developing just behind the counter.
While I was putting the last of a dozen donuts into a box for an older guy who sure as hell didn't need any donuts, from the looks of him, I heard Chester's voice behind me. It was a whisper, the kind you can only hear through one ear, whichever side the whisper is coming from.
It came from my right.
It said, "You are so fired, you sonofabitch.” I felt his breath as he leaned and almost touched his mouth to my ear. “Get your ass out of here right now, or you'll be dead and fired, with charges being pressed."
I turned to look at him. He had this huge red and purple looking welt swelling up on his cheek and forehead. I could see a ridge from the corner of the phone base. It looked angry and funny. He had a couple zits that were made even redder by the swelling. I loved it.
I smiled just a little as I backed away. The old guy who didn't need any donuts walked out with his donuts, and without paying for them.
I didn't care.
I didn't work there anymore.
I pushed through the swinging counter door, untied my apron and tossed it over the counter, waving to Gloria as I pushed through the crowd of wondering, impatient Friday morning customers.
An ambulance was pulling up as I walked out of the parking lot. I found that hysterically funny, and almost fell down laughing.
I'll probably never have that fun a job again.