Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fiction Thursday: "Let me tell you about heartache and the loss of [burgers]"

Julia hated her lunch break. She hated that she was forced to take it.

"Why can't I just work through that hour and leave early?" she finally asked her boss. "You know, Julia, union reps fought for you to have that break in the day. You should just take it and appreciate it."
"I work retail. I don't have a union."
"Fine, don't take your break. But you still can't leave early."

Begrudgingly, she punched her employee number into the time clock, grabbed her purse, and left the discount electronics storm BUY IT NOW, where she worked. As she walked to her car, she passed a couple who were hand in hand, looking at each other and laughing, alone in their own world. Assholes, they're in a parking lot and not paying attention. I hope they get hit by a car. She opened her door and threw her purse inside. No, that's mean. 

She pulled out of the parking lot and thought of the times she had happily held hands in parking lots, not caring whether or not she'd get backed over by a truck. She missed it. All her luck with the opposite sex had seemed to run out in high school. It seemed she never got past a 3rd date. She thought of her boss, whose wife occasionally met him for lunch. Maybe lunch wouldn't be so bad if I had a date. She sighed as she parked her car in front of "Cow Stacks," a local burger restaurant. It's gotta happen sometime.

Sam pushed buttons on the register as he took cash from the older man standing in front of him. Damn, the lunch rush never ends, he thought, bitterly. With lightening speed, he dished out change and ripped off the receipt from the dispenser. "Your order's number 78, thank you and have a great day!" he said as he forced himself to smile. As the man walked to the other end of the counter, Sam adjusted his polyester cap. Another customer walked up. What I wouldn't give for a break, he frowned to himself.

He smiled his way through taking another order from another dull eyed office worker on their lunch hour. Every weekday afternoon Cow Stacks filled with men and women in suits, bags under their eyes, cell phones in hand. They came from the business park next door. Sam couldn't tell who he felt more sorry for: the soul-less office dweller, or the dead inside retail slave. At least the office women dress better, he smirked to himself as he typed in the codes for a double patty cheese burger with onions and mushrooms.

The women who came in from the office building were, in Sam's opinion, unstoppably hot. Especially the ones who wore the long tight skirts and high heels. He stopped before he thought himself into excitement. It had been too long since he'd had a girlfriend. Somehow, a 23 year old burger flipper wasn't a panty-dropping profession, as the women from the business park never seemed to respond when he flirted with them. He was tired of feeling so lonely. So unnoticed. I bet they're lesbians. All of them. An office park full of lesbians. He chuckled to himself as he slid a debit card through the reader.  No, that's mean. He handed the man his receipt, and watched him move down the counter, standing next to some women in tight fitting slacks. He sighed and turned back, startled by the cute girl in a BUY IT NOW uniform walking toward him.

"Hi, welcome to--to--Cow, uh Can I what can--can--would you like a combo--fries?" Sam stuttered. He shook his head, embarrassed. He snapped himself back into action. "What can I get y--" she cut him off. "Small burger with ketchup only, please." He punched in her order with out taking his eyes off of her. She was striking. Yes, she was much taller than him, and her hair was dirty, but there was something about her. He watched as she dug through her purse, looking for her wallet.

Why is this fast food asshole staring at me, Julia thought. He's not even interested. I just saw him checking out those office girls. She handed him her debit card. She rolled her eyes as he examined the front. "Julia Jones, huh?" He flipped the card over. "Can I see your ID, Julia?" He smiled at her, and she handed over her driver's license, surprised that he even checked to see if she signed her card. "Why, thank you," he winked as he ran her card through. She could feel herself being charmed. He's kinda cute. "No, thank you, Sam." She smiled back, and awkwardly smoothed her hair. "My pleasure, and might I add, that's a beautiful ID photo," he winked. She blushed.

Yes! Sam was shocked with himself. I'm in! 

Yes! Julia thought. He's so into me!

Sam knew his time was limited as he saw her receipt printing out and the line of people getting longer behind her. Say something to her! Say something to her! His eyes flicked from the line to the now completed receipt in his hand. Say some--"Thank you, Tall lady!" He strained a smile as a winced inwardly. She stared back him, blankly. LAUGH IT OFF, he thought, and let out a small chuckle.

Julia could feel the look of confusion spread on her face. "uh, yeah, thanks" she stammered as she took her receipt and shoved it in her purse. I thought he liked me. She walked to the other side of the restaurant, out of view. Damnit.

Damnit, she thinks I'm an asshole, Sam thought as his next customers walked up. As they read the menu board, he continued to stew. But what if she doesn't think I'm an asshole? What if she's just waiting for me to make a move? He scanned around, looking for her. He could hear the cooks calling out orders. They're on 78. Her order was one away. The women standing in front of him were arguing over fries or onion rings. This is my chance. 

He tore off some blank receipt paper and started writing.

Hey Tall Lady, I don't know you. But I want to. You're beautiful. Call me? He scribbled his number down and rushed to where two empty order bags were standing. He found hers, the plain burger with ketchup, and stuffed the note inside. Smooooooth, he thought as he walked back to his register. And as he explained the difference between a little burger and a kids burger, he couldn't wipe the grin from his face. I'm in. This is going to work.

Julia sat on the other side of the restaurant, dejectedly checking her phone. What happened this time? I knew I should have washed my hair this morning. I hate being so tall. As she scrolled through her Facebook account, she thought of what she could do. Maybe I'll thank him for the burger as I leave, give him another chance to talk to me. Oh I know, I'll slip him my number! She rummaged through her purse and found the receipt he gave her. No, that's so lame. She balled it up and threw it back in her purse. Moments later, she heard her order number.

She grabbed her bag and tried to linger. He was talking to his customers. He's not even looking for me. He's so not interested. She turned and left.

He watched out of the corner of his eye as she paused by her bag. She's looking at me. Sweet. He watched as she walked out the door. She's so going to call.

Later that day, Sam's phone rang with an unknown number. His heart leapt. His head swam with possibilities. "Julia?" He asked, attempting to be cool.

"Um, no, Hi, uh, this is Jennifer... I was at Cow Stacks with my mom this afternoon, and I found your note in my bag." Sam lost his breath. "I'd... I'd like to get to know you, too."

He smiled.

Julia's boss walked into the break room as she threw her lunch bag in the trash. "How was your burger?" he asked.

"Awful. I picked up the wrong bag."

"That's the worst. Was it at least a good replacement?"

 "No, that's what really makes it the worst. It was smothered in onions and mushrooms. It was gross. I couldn't even it eat." She frowned at the trash can.

"Well, don't throw it away, go take it back."

"No, I don't have the time," She sighed loudly as she passed by him and made her way out to the floor. "My break is up."

1 comment:

Katherine Goff said...

I especially love this because I know the inspiration behind it! Well-executed!

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