Below is an excerpt from my book — a mostly true story about my days as a strip club bartender in Austin, Texas where I mostly broke shit, drank a ton of booze, sometimes poured drinks, and always hit on my favorite manager
“Forest? Is that you?” Ernie’s voice spoke to me from the black box.
“Wassup Ernie! Lemme get a bacon egg and cheese biscuit and a sausage and egg biscuit.” I didn’t have to reiterate ‘no cheese’ because Ernie was competent.
As expected, the screen read the exact order that had come out of my mouth. After telling Ernie that he is flawless, I advanced onward to his money collecting fort only to discover NORMA was in his spot! She collected my money and then dropped all of my change onto the ground instead of in the palm of my hand.
“My bad! I’ll get it!” she said before leaning out of the window, bending at her waist and trying to reach the coins on the ground.
The lady was about to fall out of the damn window. I watched in amusement for a moment before shouting, “Norma!” She jumped and I was almost certain she was about to crumble to the ground. “You wildin’ out! Don’t worry about it. Get back inside to safety.” I advanced forward in my car after her head wasn’t inches away from my tires.
“Who the hell put Norma in the tank?” I greeted Ernie.
“Oh no. What’d she do?” He nonchalantly handed me a free Oreo McFlurry.
“She just dropped all my change on the ground and then tried to climb out the window and grab it. I mean, I appreciate her dedication but who the hell put her in charge of handling money? Did they take you out of the tank for good? What the hell is happening? Are you in trouble? Oh, fuck!” I lowered my voice to a whisper, “Did they find out about the ice cream?”
Ernie chuckled as he handed me the brown bag containing my breakfast. “Nah, they’re just, like, trying to move people around a little bit so they can do every job just in case they gotta fill in, you know?” he explained.
“She’s not even competent at taking orders.”
“You know what she is competent at though?” He paused, giving me a moment to ponder. I genuinely had no idea what Norma could possibly be good at. “Stinking up the employee bathroom!”
I stared at him blankly for a moment before saying, “Ernie, I just threw up in my mouth.”
“Hey, what happened to your friend who always rode with you to work? Lupita, right?” he asked.
“Well, Ernie, she went home for a weekend to visit family and decided not to come back.” I shrugged.
Like I’ve said before, girls come and go at the club. Admittedly, I was pretty bummed by Lupita’s sudden decision but she was a grown woman and could make her own choices in life. It wasn’t like something sketchy happened where she was kidnapped and sold into sex trafficking. She was still on Facebook and shit.
“Damn, that’s wild.” Ernie darted his eyes around. “Take some hotcakes.” He shoved the bag of food into my hands.
“Thanks, Ernie. Could you throw this away for me?” I handed him some marijuana nuggets.
“No problem, Boss.”
“Later, Ernie!” I sped off.
Upon arrival to work, I discovered Ernie hooked me up with more than a McFlurry and some hotcakes. There were three extra biscuits in the bag and two of them were with no cheese for Thomas. Ernie deserved a goddam raise.
“Thomas,” I poked my head in the office and handed him three biscuits. “Ernie hooked it up today.”
“Are you sure Norma didn’t just throw a bunch of random shit in the bag again?”
“I’m positive because Norma didn’t take my order today, Ernie did. Norma was in the tank because they want everybody to move around and not stay complacent in one position. I understand their thought process but Norma really should only be responsible for greeting people. You know how at Walmart they have a greeter at the front of the store? That’s what she should do at McDonald’s — nothing else. She is not capable.” I blabbed away. “She tries,” I gave her some credit, nodding my head, “but fails at everything. She must know the owner or something.”
“Forest,” he paused, shaking his head as he took a bite from his biscuit. “You’re somethin’ else, you know that?” Thomas could say whatever the hell he wanted to about it but my relationship with fast food employees benefited him as well.