Monday, February 01, 2010

Harter Union: Part Two, Chapter 1

“About time you people did your job,” I said to the Facilities worker in my office who was putting up my shelf on the wall. “I only asked you to do this five months ago.”

“Well, we do everything by importance and priority and installing a shelf and hanging a picture of New York City isn’t really that important,” said the guy, stepping off the ladder and putting his drill into a holster on his belt.

“So you couldn’t get one of your Facilities cronies down here for five minutes any time during the last five months?”

“There are a lot more places on campus more important than the university kitchen,” the man pushed past me and left out the back door.

I looked at the shelf and the picture and placed the armadillo, Green Lantern, and Buddy Christ on the shelf and stared at everything. I turned off the light and left the office, shutting and locking the door. I went to the cafeteria and took a yellow cup from the cup rack. I filled it with Pibb and went over to the table where the staff was sitting. “Well, guys, I’m heading out. I have this evening off and since I got my Jimmy fixed, I’m heading to Lawrence for some shopping.”

“Glad you got your car fixed. Are you doing anything else special besides shopping?” asked Alyson.

“Nope, I have a few CDs I want to pick up and I’ll probably eat at McDonald’s since I haven’t for the last six months and then I’m coming home and going to bed,” I explained. “Darrell will be here for another half hour or so and then you’re on your own so I expect you all to be on your best behavior. I’ll see you guys tomorrow,” I got up and started heading toward the kitchen but Darrell caught me between the Lines.

“Jeff, before you leave I want you to be trained on Beverage.”

“What, now?” I groaned.

“No, no, tomorrow I’m gonna have Aaron train you,” Aaron was over at the soft serve machine trying to fix it and quickly looked over when he heard his name.

“Why do I have to be trained on Beverage?” I asked, whining.

“Because Aaron is currently our only Beverage person and we need to be prepared in case he’s ever off or sick.”

“Aaron doesn’t get sick…” I tried to explain.

“And I also want you to be able to do every job in this place. All right, Jeff?” I made a weird movement with my head that soon turned into a nod. “Great, I’ll see you tomorrow, Jeff,” Darrell left and went back to his office.

I shrugged, sighed, and waved good-bye to the staff and went outside. I got in my car and started her up. It felt good to be back inside her. I shifted gears and pulled out of the parking lot. It felt good to be driving again and I drove around Baldwin for a while before heading into Lawrence.

Back at Baker, Darrell had just left and everything was running smoothly. Nathan, Jason, Chrissy, and Phil were in the Dish Room and Alyson and Maggie on Line. In the Dish Room, Jason was working Pots & Pans while Nathan was working both belt and sprayer. Jason quickly sprayed off a knife and turned toward the Belt/Sprayer area. “Hey, Nathan heads up!” Jason tossed the knife over toward Nathan who heard his brother’s warning but didn’t know what it pertained to. The knife sailed through the air and landed point first, in Nathan’s skull. Nathan quickly smacked the knife away from his head.

“Aah! What the hell are you doing?” he screamed.

“I said ‘head’s up’” Jason exclaimed.

“Well, I didn’t know you hurled a knife at me!”

“Not at you, I threw it at the sprayer, you just happened to get in the way,” Jason explained.

“Yeah, I feel so much better…” Nathan said. “In the future, just hand the dishes to me. It saves a lot of trouble on the blood shed.”

Out on Line, Maggie and Alyson had just finished serving a long line of people. They began talking and invited Aaron in on their conversation. “He’s been here for six months which is now the longest-staying supervisor since Johnny. I don’t know about you but it feels weird not purposely trying to get a supervisor to quit or get fired,” Alyson said.

“I really like Jeff because for once, a supervisor trusts us. When’s the last time a supervisor left us alone to supervise ourselves?” Aaron asked.

“I like him, too. He’s funny and smart and, honestly, not bad to look at,” Maggie giggled.

“Do I smell you hooking up with another supervisor, Mags?” asked Alyson.

“Oh God, no, I learned my lesson after dating Kelly but I do think it would be different if I dated Jeff,” Maggie said. “Besides, I think he kind of likes Wendy.”

“What about me?” asked Wendy coming around the corner from the kitchen.

“We were talking about Jeff and how he kind of shows an interest in you,” Alyson revealed.

“What? No he doesn’t!” Wendy defended.

“Come on, Wendy, all of us have noticed how you two stay late in his office and talk…” Alyson began.

“And Lord only knows what you two do when you leave this place,” Maggie insinuated.

“Nothing happens. We go home to our separate apartments. Our relationship is purely work-related,” Wendy argued. “Why am I even discussing this with you? Whatever would happen between me and Jeff is our business and no one else’s.”

“So if Jeff asked you out, what would you say?” Alyson asked sincerely.

“I don’t think that really matters since he’s not going to ask me out,” Wendy said and turned back around and went back into the kitchen.

Alyson and Maggie looked at each other in confusion. “Watch the Line for me, I’ll be right back.” Alyson followed Wendy into the kitchen where she was sitting on a stool at the counter in front of the grill. “What’s wrong? What do you mean he’s never going to ask you out? You two seemed to be hitting it off.”

“Can you keep this quiet?”

“Of course, I’m your best friend.”

“I do like Jeff but he likes me in a strictly friendly-co-worker way. I’m cool with that but who Jeff really likes is Maggie.”

“Maggie? Then why hasn’t he asked her out? I’m sure she would go,” Alyson inquired.

“He wants to but ever since his fiancee left him, he has a hard time trusting any girl and he now has a fear of falling in love,” Wendy started explaining. “I’ve told him Maggie wouldn’t do that and that he should take a chance but he doesn’t because he doesn’t want to get hurt, he doesn’t want to hurt her and he doesn’t want to ruin their friendship if the relationship goes south.”

“It makes sense, I guess.” Alyson looked at Wendy who was continuously circling a freckle on her arm with her thumb. “You want to date him, don’t you?”

“Let’s just say that if the opportunity came up, I definitely would not say ‘no.’” Wendy smiled.

“You’re so cute, Wendy. Come on, I gotta get back to the Line,” Alyson softly rubbed Wendy’s wrist and both got up and went back out to the front.

Dinner was over and Jason was washing the remaining dishes in the Pots & Pans area. Every so often some water would get on the nearby electrical outlet that had one of the fans plugged into it. Jason worked quietly until he noticed some smoke. He looked up at the outlet and noticed it smoking. “Oh, my God!” Jason shouted and pulled the fan plug out of the outlet and backed away. Nathan, Phil and Chrissy all looked toward Jason as the outlet burst into flames then slowly extinguished itself.

“What the hell happened?” Nathan asked.

“I don’t know. I was just washing dishes and the outlet spontaneously combusted,” Jason explained.

“Well, did you do anything different?” Phil went over to the outlet and looked at it, like he knew what he was doing.

“No, I treated the outlet like I always have. When I get bored over here I pour soap on it or maybe some Comet and tonight I splashed some bleach on it but I sprayed it all off almost immediately after.” Nathan, Chrissy and Phil all looked at Jason. “What?”

“The bleach probably corroded the wires inside the outlet. Be careful with these electrical things, we are all standing on a wet floor you know,” Nathan complained.

“I didn’t take this job to die, Jason,” Phil stated.

“Come on, let’s get back to work. We’ll tell Jeff tomorrow so he can have someone come out here to fix this,” Nathan shook off the excitement and everyone went back to work.

Jeff has to deal with the aftermath of the night before and learns how to do beverage. Also, Maggie approaches Jeff.