Friday, April 20, 2012

Fast Food Bully

Photo by Idea Go

by Robert Thomas

It was a cold day, but the heat was unbearable. I was sweating, and the yellow M on my uniform was starting to turn orange. It was not a natural heat, of course. It was emitted from the metallic hulk that sat across from the assembly line. I was at my station cooking various kinds of food, if you can call it that. The smell of the grease and oil was starting to make me nauseous. I hated this job, and to make matters worse, I was working with Derrick today.

Derrick weighed over two-hundred pounds; he had eyes like sausages and he burled through the kitchen like a gorilla in a daycare camp. He had been in and out of prison since I had worked here, and he was the unofficial leader of the convict/drug dealer crowd that hung out at this establishment. He didn’t like me. He never did. And to make matters worse, I had just won employee of the month. This was the last straw for him. 

“Employee of the month, huh? You ain’t nothin' man. You ain’t nothin'.”

I ignored him and went back to my duties. He continued to follow me breathing and breathing; my blood was starting to simmer. Good!There at the grill I stood, trying to just do my job. I got off at 11:30, but the clock only showed nine, and I knew I was in for trouble. Anxiousness was already starting to kick in when he finally came up behind me and gusted out a puff of humid breathe onto the back of my neck. It felt like swamp gas on a hot summer day in the everglades. I tried to ignore him, but he wasn’t going away. He sat there breathing for what seemed like a half hour. I glanced at the clock, but only three minutes had passed. I stood there in stiff silence, my hair standing on top of my neck. My mind was racing. I tried to stay focused. Suddenly, I heard a loud beeping noise. I looked down at my grill. It was the burgers. They were finished. I scooped them up as fast as I could and put them into the tray. Derrick stepped back, and just laughed.

Fifteen minutes had passed on the clock now. I looked over to the assembly line and realized that Derrick had not been doing his job this whole time. The orders were starting to stack up. The customers were starting to get frustrated. The shift leader came back to see what was the matter. Derrick just looked at him.

“The McDonalds is closed. We ain’t got no more burgers. Sorry. We out! We all outa burgers!”
I decided to get the orders. 

“Look at little Mr. Employee of the month” he said.

At this point, I wanted to just plain punch him in the face, but I knew that would be suicide. I wasn’t that badly built, and I had been in fights before, but this was much different. He was experienced. He had a scar straight across his arm, most likely from a knife or gun. He had seen the world a few times before and his criminal career gave him an advantage I certainly could not counter. I wanted to call the managers, but they were all women, and much too frail to deal with a man like this. I just continued to ignore him, and get the orders. 

By ten o’clock, I was doing both the line and the grill, turning back and forth to handle the orders. Derrick was messing with the finished food. I was too busy to find out what he was doing, so I just carried on. 

Eventually, I went over to the line to make a McRib sandwich. There was only one rib left. I used it. I sensed there was something wrong with it, but I didn’t know what. I had to use it. It wasn’t until after the order was served that Derrick walked over.

“I was just suckin on that rib Robert. You served that? Man, you screwed up!”

Of course, he had watched me use it, package it and send it out, and he said nothing. I knew he did it on purpose. It was obvious.

“ Employee of the month? Man, you ain’t nothin',” he said again as I headed back to the grill.
It was 10:30 now. Derrick finally started back with his duties and things were going smoothly for awhile. Of course, Derrick spared no time in telling me how it was because of him we were going faster, and that the reason things were slow was my fault.

“Ya see, you’re just slow. Just slow in the body and in the head, you’re retarded, Robert. That’s the problem.”

It was nearing the end of my shift now, and I was ready to get out of there. Employees were starting to go home now, and it was just me, him and a few managers left. He came up behind me again, and started to breathe.

“You ain’t nothin' man. You ain’t nothin'. That’s right! Robert ain’t nothin', Robert ain’t nothin'… You hear that Robert? You ain’t nothin'!”

He continued on like that for a few moments. My simmering blood had now upgraded to a hard boil. My hands were starting to shake, and I was clasping my fists together.
“Hit me.” He said. “Go ahead and punch me.”

I was seriously contemplating it at this point. However, that would have been so predictable. No, my style was more to put the spatula down against the grill for as long as possible, to get a nice good dry heat, and then turn around and slap him across the face with it. 

I decided against it. It wasn’t worth it. My shift was almost over. I had endured this almost two hours now, what was another few moments?

“Oh, you shouldn’t let all that rage build up, Robert,” he said. “You might do something crazy. Like blow up the McDonalds. You’re not right in the head, ya know. You seem to have anger management issues, Robert. You crazy man? Are you crazy? Do you want to hurt me?”

He went on like this for what seemed like fifteen minutes, and then, finally, I heard the manger.
“We’re closed! Time to go home!”

I thought for sure this would be the moment that Derrick would do something really unspeakable, but he didn’t. He just stopped.

“Time to go home. I’ll see you tomorrow, jerk”.

So, I punched out. I considered quitting. I thought about it for ten minutes straight before I made my decision. I decided I would not quit. I wouldn’t let him get to me. As I passed the office on the way out, I heard the loud voice of Derrick.

“I’m outta here. I quit!”

I never saw him again.


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