You know, people really suck. I’ll give you an example: Here I am, just me on duty at the Come‘N Get It Eatery. The place is just filled with all these people wanting to get served right away, can’t wait a minute. You’d think they were starving or something. You’d think they haven’t eaten in days. Some of them looking like they could afford to stop eating for a week and it wouldn’t hurt them none. People waving me to their table, some snapping their fingers at me. I really hate that! Here I am, running myself ragged, trying to write down their orders as fast as I can, and bring them their food. But the cook isn’t fast enough to get the orders ready, so the customers think it’s my fault, or at least I’m the one they take it out on. They must think the food magically appears all cooked and all. I’m the only one they see, so it’s my fault if it takes longer than the creeps would like. Jerks! Probably won’t leave a decent tip.
There’s one table where there are four fat adults and two fat kids. The nasty little tykes must be eight and ten years old. The ten-year-old boy keeps sticking his tongue out at me. That really burns my ass, the little son of a bitch. Then he gives me the finger, the little shit! You’d think his parents, or whoever they are with him, would tell him not to do that, that it’s rude. Not only don’t they not scold him, they actually laugh, the bastards! I’m ready to stick a fork in their fat faces! Then the eight-year-old drops her cherry pie on the floor where it makes one big-honkin’ mess, let me tell you. Looks like someone got shot full of holes and bled all over the freaking floor. And I actually have seen people get shot and bleed, where I live, so I know what I’m talking about. Anyhow, there’s no busboy on duty this afternoon, so I have to clear away the dirty plates with all their slop on it, and now I have to clean the damn floor next to the fat bastards’ table. That takes a little time with brush and pan, then with a mop and a bucket of water. I’d like to serve them that water for soup.
So, while I’m cleaning up the mess the kid made on the floor, sweating away, people asking where’s their order and such, one of the fat bastards has the nerve to tell me to hurry up. Hurry up?! Here I am, working like a goddamn slave, damn it, and they’re telling me to hurry up?! I feel like pouring the filthy cherry soup in the bucket all over her Royal Immenseness. Okay, now they have their bill and are heading to the cash register. And what the hell did they leave as a tip? Two bucks!! Oh, and thirty-four cents in nickels, dimes and pennies. Can you believe it? Two freaking bucks plus small change!. Who the hell this side of 1950 leaves a tip like that for four immense adults and two rotten kids?! Their total bill added up to seventy-eight dollars and sixty-six cents! I mean, ten percent of their bill would be eight bucks, right? And if they cared about how hard I’m working, a decent group would have made it twice that. Yeah, twenty percent. I feel like throwing it back at them and giving the finger to the whole bastardly bunch. But I won’t. I need to keep this job.
Okay, now I see these sailor boys in their white summer uniforms –they don’t like me calling them sailor suits –sitting around a table. Two blondies and a good-looking dark-haired one. They’ve been sitting there guzzling their beers that I’d brought them, talking and having a grand old time while watching me, the slavey, break her back. I know I should’ve gotten over there to take their orders sooner, but it was so busy and other people were so damn impatient, and I had to clean the damn floor, that it took me extra time. So, I finally crawl over there –well, of course, I’m not really crawling, but I feel like I’m crawling, in my head, you know—and ask for their orders. I write it down fast as I can, put on my fake smile and tell them they’d have their orders in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. The dark-haired one, a handsome guy, asks me if it’s on the menu.
“If what’s on the menu?” I say.
The wise-ass gives me a crooked smile and says, “Lamb’s tail.” Okay, so he thinks he’s a funny guy, but I ain’t in the mood, so I give him that fake smile I learned how to do and tell him, “No, it’s not on the menu. We only get it once in a while, and some other guys already beat you to it. No more left. Come back tomorrow for breakfast, we’ll have plenty then.”
So, they laugh it up and I’m thinking okay, that’s nice, we’re all having a good time. But then I think Wait a minute. What if they’re not laughing with me, but laughing at me. So, I get real pissed off, turn around in a blue funk, cursing under my breath, and head for the kitchen to place their stupid orders.
The cook has it ready real fast, for once. I pick up the tray and take it out to the sailor boys. Two of them looked satisfied with their dishes, but dark-haired lover boy looks at his plate, puts on this disgusted face, gives me the stink eye and says, “Hey, this ain’t what I ordered.”
“Whaddayou mean it ain’t what you ordered? You ordered the turkey sandwich.” And he says, “Yeah, the turkey sandwich, but the cold turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mayo. Not the hot open sandwich with gravy, French fries and mixed vegetables.”
Now, I gotta admit I don’t really remember which one he really ordered, I’m so damn busy and harassed, but I sure as hell don’t want to get charged for the hot turkey sandwich, even though I’d be able to eat it later. So, I figure maybe I should use my feminine wiles on him, and that might make him change his mind. So, I smile –not sweetly, but like I’m hot for his bod, gazing at him with narrowed eyes, running my tongue along my lips, while at the same time I jut my hip against his shoulder and leave it there while I’m talking to him..
Now, this maneuver has got me some really big tips. Of course, those well-heeled big spenders expected some off-duty action with me. But I don’t do that kind of stuff for tips. Well, hardly ever. But that move of mine used to make some of those guys, mostly bald, paunchy guys maybe having a mid-life crisis, trying to recapture their youth… You know. You could see their pupils get big, like something else they have, when they gazed at my face, their faces get nice and rosy, and I could even hear them pant. Idiots! So, I tell this good-looking young buck, using my breathy, bedroom voice, “Oh, come on now, honey, why don’t you take the hot one. You’ll be happy you did,” and then flash my fake smile.
But does it work on sailor-boy? Afraid not. Hate to admit it, but that wise-assed swab just keeps saying that no, he did not order the hot sandwich. The bastard just keeps insisting he ordered the cold one, and doesn’t want the hot one, and sure as hell doesn’t want to pay for the hot one. Then he stops, looks at me right in the eye, and says, “Hey, lady, who’s the hot one you keep talking about? Is it you?” And then he laughs his ass off, and so do his stupid buddies. A-hole! I was freaking mortified! The bastardly bastard! Now I’m thinking, okay, so my feminine wiles have no effect on him, eh? I figure he’s probably queer. Yeah, must be. Which is a shame, ‘cause he’s so damn good lookin’ an‘ all. Anyhow, I warn the conceited dickhead I’d give him the evil eye, if he insists he wants the cold sandwich. The guy raises his eyebrow like he’s really pissed off and again tells me to get him the sandwich he ordered.
So, I bring the hot one back to the kitchen and the snot-nosed dishwasher kid laughs and says old man Tedesco would take it out of my pay. I feel like shoving the plate down his gullet. Or up his wazoo. No, I guess the beer bottle would be better for that operation. Ha! Anyway, the cook gives me the cold turkey sandwich and I bring it out to his Royal Bastardship and tell him I’m putting the evil eye on him and his buddies, and it will make him lose his temper more and more and he will suffer because of it. I tell him it will drag him right down to the bottom of hell, so I hope he likes tropical climates. Who knows if it’ll have any effect on the wise-ass homo, but it felt good to me.
I’m glad it feels so good to me, for a short time, of course, because I know they won’t leave me a decent tip, if any. But whaddaya know? I see they left a decent tip, after all, unlike those lard-ass slugs with their obese kids. Nothing to write home about, of course, just a ten percenter. And that’s after I gave them the evil eye. Gee, maybe I shouldn’t have lifted the top slice of bread and spit on the lettuce and tomato. Oh, well, I don’t have a cold or anything. No COVID symptoms. Can’t cry over spilt milk. But, why would they give me anything, in exchange for the curse I laid on them? Maybe they believed I could really do a job on them, and didn’t want to make me angrier, ‘cause I might make it even worse if they stiffed me. But now I’m thinking how maybe if I hadn’t given pretty-boy a hard time, just took the hot sandwich back, so I could eat it later for supper, and brought him his cold one and was all cheery and all, they might have left me a twenty percent tip. Well, lesson learned.
Oh, crap! There’s a bunch of people just came in: five adults and ten kids. A couple of the women frowning at me, looking disgusted, because I’m just standing here instead of trotting over there as soon as they reach that table. The grey-haired skinny guy with the creepy pencil moustache, wearing a beret, who looks like he hasn’t eaten in three days, hasn’t sat down yet even though the others have. No, he stands there, squints at me, squeezing death rays from his eyes at me, and claps his hands. Actually claps his freakin’ hands at me! Twice! Does he think I’m a cocker spaniel and I’ll gallop up to him, lick his hand and peer soulfully into his eyes? I drag my ass toward him. Not fast enough, I guess, because he’s putting two fingers in his mouth. I don’t believe it: he’s going to whistle at me for service. You know, one of those loud, shrill whistles made with two fingers in the mouth. I gotta control myself, smile a lot, you know. So I can take their piggish orders and bring them the eats just like they like them. Plus a little extra seasoning, my compliments. Now which cupboard in the kitchen do they keep that rat poison in? Well, here I go. Yeah, I’m goin’ in. Wish me luck.
Clark Zlotchew is the author of 18 published books, only four of which consist of his fiction: two espionage/thriller novels and two collections of his short stories. Newer work of his has appeared in Crossways Literary Magazine, Baily’s Beads, Scrutiny Journal, The Fictional Café and many other literary journals in the U.S., Australia, U.K., Germany, South Africa, Sweden, India, and Ireland from 2016 through 2021. Zlotchew’s Spanish versions of his stories had been published in Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico and the state of Colorado in the 1980s and 1990s.