It’s finally Friday!
That had been everyone’s mood today. No one did much of anything except the occasional shuffling of random objects from one spot to the next to appear busy. They were riding out the clock, keeping an eye on the time while doing as little as they could without getting reprimanded.
I, on the other hand, sorted my papers at a fold-up table in a dark and dusty corner behind Darlene’s desk. Blue Tie had found the table shoved in a long forgotten supply closet. I had to sweep off the cob webs before he would touch the damned thing. A wobbly table was better than sitting in the floor.
The door bell chimed and I didn’t bother turning around, thinking Darlene would do her job, for once.
“Excuse me, I need change for this,” called a woman’s voice. I looked back to see a frazzled mother of three: an infant strapped in a harness to her front, a toddler perched on her hip, and another child clinging to her leg. She smelled strongly of baby powder and dirty diapers, and a red sucker was glued to her pants with sugary spit.
She waved a crisp one hundred dollar bill in front of her. Darlene never acknowledged the woman and vise versa. I crossed over to her and took the bill.
“Darlene, I need change for this–”
Darlene hit a button on her keyboard and a money drawer popped out from under the counter, ramming into my knee caps. I pulled out five twenty-dollar bills and held them out to the woman.
“What good does this do me?” she spat. The woman looked at the twenties like they had been fished from a toilet bowl. “I need money for the quarter machines. Are you stupid? You’re job is not that hard.” Two of the three children began to cry while the third suddenly started running in circles.
After counting out her one hundred dollars worth of quarters, she slammed her hand onto the counter. “How dare you try to steal my babies’ money! I saw you put that money in your pocket!”
Before I could defend myself, a coworker –the petite girl with the foul mouth– marched in to join the drama-fueled screaming match. Darlene pulled her phone out from between a sweaty fat roll and began filming the entire show.
I just want to go home. I walked away to return to my monotonous work.
The door chimed again, barely audible over the commotion, and Mr. Acetone walked in. His face immediately stretched into a ferocious smile and his eyes grew wide. The man looked as if he had just won the lottery. He scanned both women up and down several times as he approached the counter beside them.
“Excuse me ladies, how are we today?” He didn’t seem to notice he was being ignored by everyone present. He walked around to the mother, almost colliding with her child still twirling in circles. “That is a lovely perfume you’re wearing, ma’am.”
“Thanks,” she said without looking at him. “I’m a little busy at the moment,” then continued with her shouting, that had dissolved into nonsensical blather.
I glanced at the time on Darlene’s computer. Our shift ended in five minutes. I wasn’t planning on staying to see if this drama-fest ever resolved, so I pretended to sort papers when the door chimed again.
“Give me all the money!” a muffled voice bellowed.
A man in a ski mask had a gun held in his outstretched hand, pointing it snakingly at the mob of dysfunctional adults. The twirling child peeled his sucker off his mother’s pants and gave it to the robber.
The door chimed, again. A male police officer, who appeared to be thirteen months pregnant, walked in. He held a large doughnut box in one hand and a pizza box in the other. He didn’t seem to be in a rush. “What’s all this about?” he asked the group, powdered sugar cascading from his neatly trimmed mustache.
Never taking his attention from the women, Mr. Acetone took a hundred dollar bill from his pocket and handed it to the robber. “So, about those drinks, ladies? I’m buying.”
Offering a smirk to the police officer, the robber pocketed the money and shoved his gun down his pants.
“Sorry to interrupt.” The police officer belched. “I’m here for the weekly pick-up. Everything ready to go?”
“It’s probably in the back,” Mr. Acetone said. “Look for the fella with the tie.”
The officer offered the group, robber included, his left over pizza and doughnuts before departing.
I declined as politely as I could and looked at the time. On the dot. “Mr. Acetone, can I go?” But I didn’t wait for an answer.
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