Mike and Chris worked at a D’Angelo’s sub shop. Since I lived with them I thought what the hell, an easy ride to work. Several of us lived together extending our youth into our mid-twenties. My $200 of rent should be easy to come by there, I thought. As it turned my fancy college degree didn’t hold much merit in this world, nor should it. Delivering sandwiches to the Merrimack Valley required a car, which I borrowed and a map which I continuously read wrong.
“Hey son, when I eat my sandwich there is never enough ham on it.” a customer told my friend Chris, who had been promoted to shift supervisor.
“Sir, we put three pieces of ham on every sandwich” he repeated to him. “Just put some ham on it!” The man demanded.
This was high stakes drama.
The problem remained, however I couldn’t save any money. I drank and partied away all of my proceeds like the responsible 25 year old I had become. Alas I decided to apply for another job at Hess gas station. I pictured it. I would sit behind the window and take money for the gas all the while reading Thoreau and Emerson, contemplate my next move and pocket a whopping $5.00 per hour. Opportunities like this didn’t grow on trees.
The summer continued exactly as planned until I woke up one morning, dastardly hung over and needed to be at D’Angelo’s for the day shift and then off to Hess for the night shift.I dragged myself in for 10:00 am for lunch prep. Lunch began at 11:00 am and my head throbbed. The entire lunch shift I dreamed of my bed. Then, Rob, our boss asked me to stay late passed the lunch shift.
“I can’t. I have to work at Hess tonight. Unless you want to call in sick for me?” I smirked.
“Ok,” he said. “I’ll call for you if you stay until five.” “Deal.” Leaving at five sounding infinitely better than 11:00 pm. I was dreaming of my bed.
“What are you gonna say?” I asked. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “Give me the phone number.”
Rob, our boss was just like us, except he was a real human. He had a full-time job, a wife, a child, a mortgage, the whole kit and Kaboodle. He liked to live vicariously through us and we pretended we wanted what he had. I guess most did want what he had, a beautiful wife and child and a manager position. It sounded like death to me, but I kept that to myself.
“Hi,” I hear Rob say. “Yeah, ah, John Salois can’t come into work today.” A long pause. I start to become a little nervous. “Well, because he’s ahh…well, he’s in Canada.”
“What the fuck, Rob?” I bark. “Canada?”
Mike and Chris howl in the background as they ready to leave their shifts at 3PM. I waive them away from the phone. He hangs up the phone, guilty.
“I panicked” he says. “I didn’t really think much beyond telling her you weren’t coming in.” “Did she buy it?” I asked. “I think so.” I shrug, “whatever.”
Fifteen minutes later, my boss at Hess comes streaming through the double doors of D’Angelo’s sub shop. Hess gas station is one mile down route 28 from D’Angelo’s. Same street, same town. This, somehow never occurred to me while hatching the perfect plan. Rob, Mike and Chris scramble to the back room . I have never seen three grown men run so fast. They ran scared from a tiny woman in a Hess uniform. Suddenly, I become indignant at the intrusion into my privacy.
“What are you doing here?!” I say in front of a shop full of customers. Everyone turns to look.
“What am I doing here?” she says as she cuts the line. “What are you doing here? I thought you were in Canada!” Voracious laughter from the back startles everyone.
“Listen, I have customers” I tell her.” Suddenly loyal to the job I have.
“What is going on? Are you coming into work tonight?”
I can’t believe my ears. She still wants me to work.
“Well, I am working here until five. You know, I-I can’t.”Describing the situation as if somehow by accident I can’t make the shift.
She looked at me, and then turned to look at the customers behind her, all of us staring at her. She turns back to me in anger with disdain covering her face and emphatically says:
I realize my post-college dream life needs some work.