The Snack Bar
I. You are 14 years old and you work at the snack bar. You have pimples on your face and you smell bad. You are sweating profusely as you stare at the hamburger. “Don’t burn my hamburger,” says the man. “I won’t.” “I want it medium-rare.” The man is morbidly obese and smells like farts. You don’t know what medium-rare means. You just say ok, and squish the burger with the spatula. “Don’t squish my burger!” yells the man. “Sorry!” Your voice is nasal and annoying. “I won’t pay for it if it’s dried out.” “Ok.” “Medium-rare!” “Yes, sir.” You squish the burger some more when the man isn’t looking, and then you scrape it off the dirty grill and place it on a bun. You give it to him and he examines it carefully. He sniffs it a few times, and then takes a bite. “This isn’t medium-rare!” he growls, spitting burger chunks everywhere. “It isn’t?” “I refuse to eat this!” “I’m sorry!” “Make me another one!” He throws the burger angrily back onto the plate. “Medium-rare!” “Ok.” You still don’t know what medium-rare means. II. Your boss is gigantic and red, and he’s always very angry. He’s always telling you to do stupid things that don’t need to be done, like waxing the ceiling, or polishing the ketchup packets, or aerating the tuna fish salad. “I’m not paying you to stand around with your thumb up your ass!” “Sorry.” Your boss’s son, Kyle, works at the snack bar with you. Kyle is 23 years old and smokes an enormous quantity of marijuana. Kyle is constantly ruining everything, because Kyle is constantly high. “There’s no soda in this cup,” says the customer. “Huh? What? Oh! You wanted SODA? Sorry. What did you want? Coke?” “I wanted SPRITE.” “Word. I got you.” One time, Kyle accidentally filled the soft-serve ice cream machine with vegetable oil, thinking it was ice cream mix. Another time, he went into the back to get some napkins and didn’t return for over an hour, because he had fallen asleep. If any other employee did the kind of stuff that Kyle did, that employee would have been fired immediately, but Kyle is allowed to do whatever he wants because he is the boss’s son. “You did a good job today, Kyle.” “Thanks dad.” III. You are trying to explain. “I’m sorry, sir, but we’re not allowed to give out cups of water.” “You can’t give me a cup of water?” “No, I’m sorry sir.” “Why can’t you give me a cup of water!” “I’m sorry but my boss said we’re not allowed.” “Oh so you just do whatever your boss tells you? Is that it?” “Well–” “So if your boss told you to jump off a bridge, you would do it?” “Uhh.” “Uhh what? You’d just jump off a bridge and kill yourself? Huh? Is that it?” “No, no. I wouldn’t.” “Do you know that it’s against the LAW to deny someone a cup of water?” “No, I didn’t know that,” you say. “Well now you do buddy,” he says smugly, “and I DEMAND that you give me a cup of water right now or I will have you ARRESTED for breaking a FEDERAL law.” You decide you don’t want to get arrested, so you pour the man a cup of water from the sink. As soon as the man leaves, your boss comes out of the back and says, “Did you just give that guy a cup of water? What did I tell you about giving people cups of water? Do you know how EXPENSIVE those cups are? That’s money walking RIGHT out the door! I might as well just take out my wallet and throw all my money in the garbage!” “Sorry, he said he was going to call the police.” “What the hell are you talking about he was gonna call the police? I would fire your ass right now if it wasn’t August.” Your boss gets right up into your face and you can smell his rancid coffee breath. “I’m deducting the price of that cup from your pay.” “Ok.” IV. “I want you to burn it,” says the man. His voice is like sandpaper and he smells like cigarettes. His flesh is leathery and charred from excessive sun-tanning. He looks like a mummified corpse that’s been dipped in Cheeto dust. “Burn it?” you ask. “Yeah I want you to burn it. I want it burnt.” “Ok, I guess I can do that.” You throw a hot dog on the grill and cook it for twice the time you would normally cook a hot dog for, until it’s all dark and wrinkly. “Is that good?” “No, no, more burnt,” the man is saying, “I want it really burnt.” “Ok,” you say, cranking up the temperature on the grill. Soon, the hot dog is completely black, and you ask, “What about now?” “I said I wanted it BURNT!” Black smoke is pouring out of the ends of the hot dog. “Just burn it to hell!” The man shrieks. “Ok,” you say. V. Some people feel the need to make their orders extremely complicated for literally no reason. “I want you to interlace the cheese with the ham,” the woman is saying. “What do you mean?” “I want you to weave the two of them together, like a mesh. I won’t eat it unless the ham and cheese are woven together.” “Uh, ok, I guess I can do that.” “And I want one of the pieces of bread to be whole wheat, and I want the other piece to be pumpernickel.” “Ok.” You are writing this all down as fast as you can. “And I want you to cut the crusts off, but save them in a little plastic bag for my Yorkie.” “Ok.” Crusts for Yorkie in bag, you write. “And I want the sandwich cut into nine equal pieces.” “Ok. Anything to drink?” You are trying desperately to bring the order to an end. “Yes, I’ll have an Arnold palmer.” “Ok.” “I want it to be seven-tenths iced tea to two-tenths lemonade, and one-tenth club soda for a bit of effervescence, plus just a LITTLE,” she holds up her thumb and index finger for illustrative purposes, “splash of cranberry juice. And I want it with a lime, NOT with a lemon.” “Ok.” VI. But every once in a while, you’ll get a customer who is really, genuinely nice. When you ask them how they are, they answer, “I’m good, how are you?” rather than just ignoring your question as if you were nothing more than a computer voice prompt asking them to press one for English. Overall, these customers are extremely pleasant, and sometimes, they will even tip you. “Here’s something for you.” The customer hands you a crisp ten dollar bill, and you say, “Thank you! Thank you!” “You’re welcome.” You are on the verge of tears. You hold the ten dollar bill as if it is your first-born child. At that moment, you are euphoric. What marvelous things you will do with this ten dollars! You are overcome with an overwhelming sense of hope for the future of humanity! Maybe, just maybe, there are still good people out there. People who are actually nice. People who are not mean for no reason. People who– “Hey, kid! Can I get some freakin’ service here, or are you just gonna stand there with your thumb up your ass?” “Oh, sorry.” Never mind.