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Black Contemporary Drama

Well, welcome on board… You here for the summer? Cool… I’ve been on for three years now and it ain’t so bad on the night shifts. You get people who are chilled out and there’s less to clean up. Actually the best time to be here; just don’t say anything to anyone about it. Keep that a secret. We don't want to let too many people know about it.

           So, this is it. The Palace. Don’t really know who thought of the name. Think it was a video arcade before we came along. Good thing is that we are the only ones selling Chinese on this street. All the other big places are off the highways or downtown. Used to work for one down there and it got nasty. They shut down because of a health code fuck up and the manager got fired. I heard about this place from a friend and got a job soon. Not a bad step up. Night shifts and weekends… That is the best.

You are going to be on my team for now. The others will be in later tonight and you will be set up for the rest of the seasons. I think that it is probably best if you start with me.

           Did you speak to the manager? Mr. Rho will tell you all about the time sheet and when to punch in. Also, should show you how to do it (thing never really accepts the card the first time). I’ll just show you where to put your stuff. Yeah, he’s all right. Better having him around than the wife. Such a hole, that one. Like she forgot that we have the right to breathe or something. We already lost two people this summer because she spread out too much shit for anyone to handle. Just watch out for him if she’s around. Always likes to see what we are up to. Such a pain…

           Yeah, here’s your locker. You have a lock? Good, they told you about that. Don’t ask for anything except a new shirt or hat unless you really need one. They try and watch what you get up to with the ones you have. Just don’t leave it here if it gets too dirty. Tonight’s a quiet one and you won’t get messed up. But just don’t leave it in there. It’ll stink. Some strange things can happen when you aren’t careful.

           Right… You bring out the plastic bowls and ice first and then add the food during the night. Told them that it would be easier having the food in the bowls, but there’s some shit about having things at the right temperature and not letting the cold stuff touch the hot stuff. But, it’s easy. Hot left; cold right. Never forget that, by the way. The dragon lady will cut you up for it.

           See? Not much to do once it is all out there. Just refill things every hour or when the people on the floor buzz (you’ll learn who’s who). They usually don’t bother because we are always running back and forth from the back to different stations to clean up and see if anything is going on. We have to pick up the used trays, clean up, and make sure nothing gets stolen. Wear some comfortable shoes and you’ll be fine. 

           Okay, that was the floor… I am supposed to talk about something that happened here whenever we have new staff. It was an incident… Well, just one night of fun, let’s say. The manager went on about some BS that I have to address or lose my job. It’s actually pretty funny; all the others laugh when I talk about it. And the sick thing is that it is all true. Okay…

           This happened one summer about five years ago. One night – not busy, really – we had some guys in here and they would not leave. No, they didn’t start anything. Not that they would have had the energy for it. There was no fighting or making anyone else uncomfortable (except the manager). Thing is, they would really not leave. And no one told them to, y’see. That’s the thing: they came in hungry and never got full. They kept eating and eating. And that’s it. Yeah, hand on my heart. They just kept on going. Place is all you can eat, but they ate more than anyone can.

           Well, I was on early, so I saw them come in. Not sure if I had seen them before. The manager pointed them out and asked if I recognized them. Guess he thought that return customers were the best. And, yup, I gotta say it: they were black. I could almost feel the sneer on Rho’s face as he looked out the windows of his office and grilled me on them. And yeah, say it: I’m black. So what? That doesn’t matter when you’re not a customer. The manager had my history on a resume and only care about me being here on time, not taking anything that wasn’t mine, and getting through the shift without any noise. I wasn’t the one out there eating through the profits. That mattered.

           All right… There you are. You can get in touch with us if there are any security issues or if there are any incidents with the patrons or other staff. Security is pretty good at night. And don’t let the story linger in your head. We just share it so that people are aware of the things that can happen here if we let anyone take advantage of…

           I didn’t finish the story? Oh, well, I can say that the police were involved but not much more than that. I was on and it was early so that things did not really do much damage to our reputation. At least the manager did not fire me when they were taken away. I hoped that I would be able to get through that summer without the drama. Always thought that my head was on the block…

           You’ll be fine, believe me. Being here with another black person is going to make it easy for you. Rho told me to show you around and he wouldn’t bother bringing you on if he thought that you would be a problem. He does not see us as a problem. He needs us. We all need this.

           And just think about it: you are going to begin your work in the summer when the really interesting stuff happens. We are going to be a great team.



June 25, 2021 16:32

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6 comments

Beth Connor
06:46 Jun 27, 2021

Brilliant second person- I really want to hear the full story from "that night" haha. Brought me back to my younger days, and just starting a new job.

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Kendall Defoe
16:48 Jul 01, 2021

If I told any of the true things that happened to me, I would need an entire book. A lot of weirdness over many jobs in my past...

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Beth Connor
17:23 Jul 01, 2021

I'd buy that book :-)

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Kendall Defoe
17:43 Jul 01, 2021

Actually, I wrote about three of them in longhand. Never wrote them out on a computer. I may give it a second look...

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Gip Roberts
20:16 Jun 25, 2021

An interesting use of the 2nd Person narrative. I just got off work about an hour ago, so I didn't really feel like going straight to another job, haha. But this story is clever and different. I felt like I really had started a new job, and was even nervous about the boss right before you wrote: "Yeah, he's all right."

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Kendall Defoe
20:56 Jun 25, 2021

Some of this gave me serious deja vu when I wrote it down. Felt right for the prompt. And thank you again...

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