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This is my entry for “On The Job” 2020. I decided to challenge myself after a conversation with an online acquaintance, and write a story completely devoid of the verb “to be” and any of its conjugates. As such, I only use this verb when characters speak or think, to keep dialect as accurate as possible.
This is a very long story with a lot of character and situation development. The women are BBWs, always my personal favorite, so if you don’t like them, you may not like the story.
Also, this, like all of my stories, took on a life of its own as I wrote it, so the way it came out, it does not all happen at a place of employment although said place, work, and multiple co-workers are central to the story. If that alone would make you down-vote it, I’d rather you not read it or at least not vote on it. HeyAll, who organized this challenge, said I should post it anyway, so here it is. Enjoy!
– – – – – – – – – – –
Jeff put on the freshly washed powder blue button-down short sleeve shirt, tucked it into his tan cargo shorts, and looked at himself in the mirror.
I should comb my hair and shave. Wish I had time for that, he thought.
“Jeff! You have to go to work!” his mom, Rhonda, yelled from the kitchen.
They always treat me like a fucking idiot. “I know! I’m not stupid!” he yelled back.
“Hey! Don’t give me that tone of voice!”
“Or else what?” he said softly, so that she couldn’t hear. I can’t wait until I go to college so that I can get the hell out of here.
He grabbed his comb, put on his shoes, and ran out the door to the white Buick Century station wagon that would take him to work.
Eight minutes later, it came into view – Apple Grove Market and Bakery, where Jeff’s parents claimed he would learn how to become an adult by working. He never quite understood why he had to bust his butt five days a week at school and then spend the other two days a week working for barely more than minimum wage, but his parents had insisted.
Jeff always believed that his parents wanted him to work at AG, as everyone called it, because his dad, Bill, worked at AG as a security guard for additional part-time income to supplement his main income which came from working as a bus driver for the local school district. This meant that Bill could keep watch on Jeff, to an extent anyway, while he worked.
Though he didn’t like the feel of that, still Jeff benefited from how enough people at AG liked Bill that he didn’t even have to fill out an application to get hired on the spot. No tiresome job hunt and an eight-minute one-way commute counterbalanced whatever scrutinizing presence Bill might have, and besides, he knew he’d get in no trouble while working.
He had graduated high school a month prior, and in the summer he worked full time – five days a week, always including weekends. He certainly liked having more money than he’d ever had before.
Jeff pulled into the gravel parking lot designated for employees, and looked at his watch after turning off the engine – 8:43.
Good, I’ll just make it, he thought as he slammed the car door. He ran toward the employee entrance, slightly messing up the hair he’d combed en route to work.
He slipped his time card into the old gray punch clock exactly on time, and with a metallic chunk, it marked him as having accomplished what every front end employee always wanted to do – arrive neither one unpaid minute early nor one hassle-inviting minute late.
“Punching in” even a minute late would subject any front-ender to the “Wrath of Kath”. Kathy, the front end manager, treated her employees decently when everything operated as she felt it should, but whenever anything went out of skew in her opinion, the “offender” learned about it as soon as possible. Kathy, large and in charge, had a piercing glare and a powerful voice, and word had it that she didn’t hesitate to fire people because she knew that a ready supply of teenagers and bored housewives waited in the wings to fill any jobs that opened up due to the expulsion of an employee.
“Mornin’, Jeff!” Kathy boomed with uncharacteristic boisterous positivity as Jeff walked into the front end office.
“Mornin’, Kathy. Where ya got me today?”
“You’re on 6 but you’re dead last,” said Kathy with a piercing gaze in her eyes and a devilish grin beneath.
“Okay, cool,” said Jeff as he took a black metal cash drawer insert.
The front end comprised sixteen cash registers in a straight horizontal line, and the location of a register relative to the main portal into the front end and the two exit doors determined how many customers tended to pass through that register in the course of a day. Assignment to 9 or 12 meant that the cashier would never get bored all day, and generally the first four registers and register 16 remained closed. Those registers only saw use during busy season, which arrived about two weeks in advance of Thanksgiving.
Saturdays in July required only eleven cashiers, and Jeff felt relieved to get one of the lighter-volume registers. Of illegal bahis course, the designation of “dead last” meant that he had to stick around until the very end to check out the very last customer after the store closed, but he rationalized that by recognizing that it’d mean an extra buck or two, and change, in his paycheck.
He had just passed his one-year mark working at AG, and he had all but mastered the job in that time. He counted the money in his drawer, turned on his light, and then looked around, hoping to see no other “lane open” lights illuminated.
Damn, Deb beat me again.
Deb always struck Jeff as one of the bored housewives, though he never understood why. Taller than average and with dirty blonde hair down to her shoulder blades, she always rated “I’d bang her” in Jeff’s 18-year-old mind. She wore what looked like a wedding ring on her left ring finger but always arrived early, apparently not bothered by the fact that no punch time before 8:45 counted toward any front-ender’s paycheck. Deb leaned back against the bagging area of register 11 with a book in her hand, unenthusiastically waiting for the beginning of the day.
Jeff kept his gaze on Deb, hoping she’d look his way. After about a minute, she did. Maybe she just knew I was looking at her.
“You gotta get here earlier than that to be first, Jeff!” Deb said, loudly enough for Jeff to hear her clearly over the noise of the other cashiers clinking their coins and scrunching their brand-new dollar bills so that they wouldn’t cling to each other.
“They don’t pay you for getting here early!”
“Yeah, I know that, but it does help me be ready first!”
She can’t possibly care that much about being first, at her age, thought Jeff. I wonder what the real reason is.
And then she came strolling toward Jeff’s register – Carolyn, the assistant bakery manager. Five foot eleven, mid-thirties, with brown hair down to her shoulders, big eyes, a set of breasts that jiggled slightly even underneath her work uniform jacket, and a wide butt that rounded out a package that had fueled many a late-night fantasy for Jeff. Her ample hips swayed from side to side as she walked, and he never knew if she did that intentionally or if it happened naturally because of the size of her butt.
Jeff didn’t know how many of the other walking testosterone factories at AG wanted to bone Carolyn, but he knew one – Pete, the maintenance department manager. Standing six-foot-four, three inches taller than Jeff, and far outweighing him at probably 250 pounds of mostly muscle, Pete seemed the kind of guy most people would never want to mess with. He acted jovial enough, but his attitude evinced just enough machismo to deter anyone from messing with Carolyn.
Without knowing it at the time, Carolyn put Pete in a position where Jeff would come to envy him, by saying, “I do” to him back in ’82. Pete must have known what a prize he’d landed, because he bought her a wedding ring big enough to anchor a canoe, and she wore it to work every day.
“Hey, Jeff! Mind ringing me up for these?” said Carolyn as she approached, with her ever-present smile that she must not have known or cared looked exactly like a come-hither grin.
“Not at all. Bring ’em over.”
Carolyn placed two bananas and two doughnuts on Jeff’s conveyor belt. Everything in balance, I guess.
One could set his watch by Carolyn’s daily breakfast purchase, though the food she bought differed from day to day. Jeff rang her up, applied the employee discount, and completed his first transaction of the day.
“Thanks, sweetie!” she said as she began walking off with her purchases.
Sweetie. Man, if only, thought Jeff as he watched Carolyn’s hips swing back and forth and silently cursed his luck for coming into the world too late to have snapped her up before Pete did. He knew that only four minutes remained before the doors opened and the customers started coming in.
Jeff thought about telling Kevin, who had just finished cleaning his conveyor belt on register 7, something along the lines of, “Fuck Pete, man”, because Kevin never mocked Jeff’s preference for large women, but Jeff decided against it because he suddenly noticed Angela, a new hire, setting up on register 5 to his right.
Though not quite as large and an inch or so shorter than Carolyn, Angela had caught Jeff’s eye on her first day at work earlier in the week. She looked evenly proportioned, with none of her measurements significantly differing from the others, but the dark blue casual jacket that all female employees had to wear at work made it difficult to determine much detail about any of their figures. As such, Jeff had no choice but to use his imagination when fantasizing about any of the ladies at work. Angela’s layered neck-length black hair and large expressive eyes made her face the most striking part of her body.
Jeff had talked with Angela a bit on her second day because she bagged for the cashier next to him and occasionally for him. He found her nice, and easy to talk to, so he illegal bahis siteleri decided to start conversation this time.
“They put you on register today?” he asked.
“Yeah. Should be interesting,” Angela responded. Like all new hires, she had spent her first two days on the job working as a bagger behind one of the more experienced cashiers, to get a feel for the job. Jeff remembered how it had begun for him, and how nervous he felt on his first day.
“My first day certainly was. But they get better. You need any help, just holler.”
Jeff grinned as he watched Angela struggle with the rolled coin, in his peripheral vision. He had picked at the rolls too, until someone clued him in to a quicker way.
“Take those and bang ’em on a partition in the drawer. The roll should break without spilling anything and then the coins will fall out when you split the roll, sort of like when you break an egg,” he finally said to Angela, as he heard the sound of the store’s main doors opening for the day.
“Really? Hmmm…” said Angela as she pondered the coin roll for a couple of seconds. Then, with a resolute crack, she slammed it down on the drawer and sent pennies flying. A couple of them dropped to the floor, ka-clinkety-clinky-clink.
Pfffppp! went Jeff as he failed to stifle a laugh completely. “Happened to me too, the first time I did that. Managed not to get any on the floor, though.”
“I must’ve hit it too hard,” said Angela as she picked up the pennies from the floor.
Jeff watched Angela pick up the coins so that he could stare at her ass. She came back up, put all of the pennies in their proper place, then tried the nickels. Tap, tap, tap. Tap tap tap tap tap. Her facial expression said, “What the hell?”
“It’s all about how hard you hit it,” said Jeff. “Not too softly, not too hard. You’ll get it eventually.”
“Yeah, maybe,” said Angela. One more hit – bang – and the roll broke without spilling.
“See, I told you,” said Jeff.
Angela had little trouble with her other coin rolls. Jeff noticed that she didn’t wear a wedding ring, even though she looked not far from 40. He wondered why a woman her age would get a job as a cashier at a food store, even a fancy one like AG, but maybe he’d figure that out by talking with her. To him it seemed like a “teenager’s job”, not a career track, but maybe he didn’t know everything. After all, Kathy probably started at the bottom, and she has to make at least decent money as a manager.
The first customer came to the front, starting the workday in earnest for the cashiers. Soon the front end bustled with activity and a steady flow of customers prevented frequent conversation between cashiers.
As usual, the customer flow tapered off as lunchtime approached, and Jeff finally got a break.
“You doin’ all right?” he asked Angela.
“Yeah, I guess. Going really slowly but haven’t messed up yet.”
“I’ve already made peace with the fact that there’s no way they could ever have those scan guns here. You just memorize a few codes at a time and eventually you speed up. What made you want to work here anyway?”
“I needed some quick money, and I saw the ‘now hiring’ sign by the road.”
“The money’s not that great here. I mean, I don’t see how anyone can live on it. It’s one thing for me, living with my parents, but nobody could afford rent and bills in this area, even sharing an apartment, on this pay.”
“My mom helps me with rent. I lived with her until recently as she recovered from some health issues, and came back here to be near my sister. She lives in a group home because she has severe cerebral palsy, but she’s my only sibling and my mom wanted me to be near her. So, she said she’d help out, but I had to get a job. This place hired me on the spot without making me wait for a call-back.”
“‘Came back here’; where’d you live before?”
“Never heard of that. Where is it?”
“It’s in the south, but kind of in the middle, near Lake Okeechobee. She wanted heat but not dry heat, and less risk of hurricanes.”
“I’m sure they still get hit occasionally.”
“Not as badly as the coasts.”
“But you came up here to snowy Pennsylvania? I thought everyone loves living in Florida!”
“It was nice, yeah. But not everyone loves living there. My family used to live here until my mom’s health made her have to move somewhere warmer. Something about her joints – she says she feels better when it’s warm. But my sister has been here all her life and put up a huge fight when my mom said she wanted to take her to Florida, so my mom really had no choice but to leave her here where she’s comfortable. She has aides at the home, and she’s not alone, but Mom still wanted me to be here. I’m kinda glad I can be here for my sister, even though we can’t do much together.”
“That’s an interesting story, but it looks like you’ll have to put it on pause,” said Jeff, as a customer approached his lane.
An hour later, registers 5 through 8 got their lunch break. canlı bahis siteleri Kathy came out to cover register 8 and the roving bagger, Jackie, covered register 7. Jeff grabbed his lunch bag, punched out, and headed straight for the bakery.
As luck would have it, Carolyn stood at the window area to take orders for items not already placed out on display in the immediate vicinity of the bakery.
“Hi, Jeff! What can I get you today?” she asked, cheerfully.
You don’t really want to know my honest answer to that question. You can get me laid. I’ve always wanted to see what that was like.
“What filled doughnuts do you have already made up?”
“Raspberry, strawberry, lemon, vanilla cream, chocolate cream, oh, and we just started a new variety with orange marmalade filling. Ever tried it?”
“No. I’ll take one of those, and a raspberry.”
“Coming right up!”
Coming right up. She had to say that.
Jeff watched Carolyn as she gingerly bagged up his two doughnuts. Her smock obscured her body but her face radiated happiness as much as it ever had. He took his doughnuts to Jackie’s open register, paid for them, and then headed for the break room.
The break room always struck Jeff as a small-scale model of a high school cafeteria, with long brown tables that had attached benches for seating. He looked around for a place to sit, and found that sitting at any of the open spots at the tables would have seemed like an invasion of someone’s personal space, except for the relatively large open spot near Angela. She had chosen to sit in a spot near the wall and appeared to have consumed half of her sandwich already when Jeff sat down across from her.
“Hey, Jeff,” she said after finishing her bite.
“Hope I’m not bothering you. Not many places to sit right now.”
“No, go ahead.”
“You haven’t gotten to know anyone around here yet?”
“It’s only my third day, but I guess not. Seems like the young people hang out with each other and everyone else has been here long enough to meet people.”
“I tried talking with the other people around my age for a while. Never really felt like I fit in. Kevin’s about the only one who’s cool.”
“How long have you worked here?”
“A year and a month. Started last June after finishing junior year.”
“So you just finished high school?”
“Yup. Off to college next month.”
“Where are you going for college?”
“Penn State main campus. It’ll get me out of here anyway. Going for engineering.”
“I guess that’s why you’re so fast on that register.”
“Well, that and I’ve been using computers for a long time. I can type 120 words a minute.”
“Wow! I could never top 75 in typing tests. That’s why I could never get a job as a secretary.”
Jeff and Angela continued talking over lunch and the half hour allotted for their break zoomed by like a NASCAR driver doing a qualifying lap. As he walked out of the break room, he passed by Pete, carrying a five-foot stepladder under his arm as easily as a high schooler would carry a biology textbook.
“Pete, what’s happening?”
“Oh, fixin’ lights today. Just another day in paradise,” said Pete as he and Jeff continued walking in opposite directions from each other.
Another day in paradise, is it? You suck, Pete.
Jeff didn’t dislike Pete as a person; he just disliked how Pete implicitly cockblocked him. Without Pete in the way, I could have Carolyn.
The rest of the day went by rather blandly. The store closed at 7:00 and Jeff checked out the final customer at 7:12.
“How ya feelin’, Jeff?” Kathy said as Jeff walked into the front end office to get his cash drawer counted.
“Feelin’ lucky. Count it up – everything’s all there.”
“I hope so. You and Angela were sure talking a lot today.”
“I think she was nervous. I was too, on my first day on register.”
“Just make sure you’re always ready for the customers.”
“Haven’t I always been?” Jeff asked with a carefree air in his voice, to disguise his displeasure at Kathy calling him onto the carpet for something that did not impact his work performance. I hope this drawer proves perfectly, otherwise I’ll get a bit more of the Wrath of Kath.
Fortunately, Jeff’s drawer proved correctly and he went home with no further negativity from Kathy, though he had hoped for a conciliatory response when his accurate drawer showed her that he could chat in his down time without affecting his accuracy.
– – – – – –
AG ran almost entirely on teenagers every Sunday. Adults wanted time with family, time to go to church, etc. Jeff went into work as usual, arriving one minute early this time although somewhat dejectedly because he knew Carolyn never worked Sundays, and found himself assigned to the busiest register – number 12.
Oh well, can’t always have a slow day.
With two minutes to go before the doors opened, Kathy came out and boomed in an echoing contralto across the whole front end, “Hey guys, remember, if you’re not busy and a nearby cashier has a customer, you can leave your register to help with bagging! I see a lot of you standing around when you have no customers, so keep your light on and go bag for someone! Just watch your lane to see if you get a customer!”
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