Monday, August 02, 2010

Harter Union: Part Six, Chapters 1 & 2

My fourth year at Baker was the biggest change that had ever happened. After school let out in May, the Union closed for two months for some rebuilding. Baker had approved construction for the Wildcat Café, which was the replacement for the long-defunct Grill. Heather, Melissa, Aaron and I all walked into the dining room, shielded our eyes and groaned in pain. “What is that horrible burning glow?” I yelled.

“I think it’s the fluorescent lights,” Aaron replied.

“Why are they so freakin’ bright?” I asked, grabbing a yellow cup from the rack.

“They must’ve rewired them or something,” he continued.

“They could warn a person or supply sunglasses,” I said filling the cup with grape juice.

“Wow, new carpet and tablecloths,” Melissa pointed out.

I looked at the tablecloths, which used to be a ratty pale pink and are now white with multi-colored lines on them. The carpet, which was an ugly puke gray-green, was now bright blue with small red dots scattered around on it. Clean white linoleum led from the still old and scuffed red tile to the doors of the Café. The walls were a brighter off-yellow and the pictures on the wall were replaced with professional paintings of campus buildings and the stadium. I loved it. I thought they were finally treating us with respect even though I knew it was just for the Café.

I noticed Darrell sitting in the Café with someone else and followed the linoleum to the door. I entered the Café which smelled like fresh-cut wood and plastic. “Hey, Darrell, I love what they did with the place.”

“Glad you like it, Jeff. This is Pat McCollough; she is going to be the Café supervisor from three in the afternoon to eleven at night. You’ll be supervisor from eleven in the morning with the Café opens until Pat gets here at three. I am also going to hire an assistant supervisor to cover the morning and the time you are over here since Wendy has more than enough work to do.”

“So who are you gonna have train back here?” I asked.

“You and Aaron start tonight.”

“Why Aaron?”

“Besides you, he’ll be back here the least but I want everyone trained to work back here in case of an emergency. We open tonight at five so be prepared,” Darrell said.

Aaron and I stood behind the counter in the Café in bright orange long sleeve shirts, khaki pants and blue aprons. We watched Darrell and Pat program the cash register. I looked down at my clothes and then looked at Aaron. “We look like dorks,” I said. “I feel like punching myself.”

“At least it’s standard attire,” Aaron replied.

“There!” said Darrell slamming the register down on the counter. “It should be all set up. We’ll get labels for the keys tomorrow but you can use this sheet in the meantime,” Darrell held up a printout of the cash register keys.

“Are you all set?” Pat asked, grabbing my elbow and shaking it.

It was actually pretty fun and easy working in the Café. We didn’t have that many people come in and we mostly made hamburgers, a few pizzas and a couple grilled cheese. I did, however, miss the Dish Room antics. At about 11:30, we finished cleaning up the Café and went back to the kitchen to remove the gaudy clothes.

“I’m gonna go look at the Dish Room and make sure it’s clean,” I went to the Dish Room and everything was clean. “Man, they don’t even need a supervisor anymore,” I said to Aaron.

“After four years, you’ve finally earned their respect and now it will all be usurped by a new assistant supervisor,” Aaron smiled.

“Darrell is also moving my office into his. The new supervisor will have this one,” I said in a sentimental tone.

“Wow, moving on up.”

“I know. I’m gonna miss you guys,” I said and shut the door to my office.

Chapter Two
“Everybody meet Sam Perry. He is the new assistant supervisor and as of today he will be taking over my office as I move into the new one,” I introduced. Sam was a big guy. He was about two inches taller than me with long curly hair. He already had some beard stubble and it was only 10 a.m. Sam was just a bigger guy. “He will be observing for about a week or so as I ease myself into doing more behind-the-scene stuff so try to treat him with at least half the respect you treated me.”

“So why is Darrell cutting some of your duties?” asked Emily.

“He’s not. Since I am now going to be supervisor to both the kitchen and the Café, it’s twice as much work plus I’m going to be Wendy’s right-hand man for specials and Sam will alleviate some of my extra duties,” I explained.

“We’re gonna miss you, Jeff,” said Stephanie.

“I’m not dying, Steph. Heather, Pussycat, go to the Café and suit up. I need to go over a couple things before you get started. I’ll meet you over there.”

Everybody started dispersing and Wanda came up to me. “Jeff? Is there anyway I could get a cooking assistant?” she asked.

“I am looking into it but it’s too early to tell. Sorry.”

At the time clock, Stephanie pulled Nathan close to her. “Are we still on for tonight?” she asked.

“Yep. Alyson works until eleven and will probably not be done until midnight so she’ll just go home which will leave us at my place all alone, by ourselves,” Nathan smiled.

“Hey, Jeff!” shouted Emily, chasing after me as I headed to the Café. I turned around toward her. “Here,” she handed me a piece of paper.

I glanced at it and then looked back at her. “Your two week notice?”

“I got a new job in Lawrence and I’m also going to be moving in with my boyfriend.”

“Well, congrats. We’ll miss you.”

“I know you will. No more dates with my friends, no more getting locked in freezer, no more back-stabbing.”

“Well, I think we can do without the back-stabbing.”

“Good luck on your new position,” Emily said.

“You, too. I’ll miss you,” we looked at each other for a few seconds. “This feels like a traveler’s ad,” and we parted ways.

Sam, Wendy, Melissa and I were in Sam’s office programming the new freezer alarm. “So what’s this thing supposed to do?” asked Wendy.

“If, for some reason, the temperature in one of the coolers or freezers drop below a certain degree, an alarm goes off to alert us if we’re here and it also sounds over in the maintenance and security building if we’re not here,” I explained. I pressed a few more numbers and closed the front cover. It started making a constant beeping noise.

“What’s it doing?” asked Wendy.

“I don’t know. It’s either adjusting itself or we’re about to level Tokyo.” Suddenly, the alarm went off nearly deafening everyone. I punched in the off-code and the alarm went silent. “Okay, now we’ve leveled Tokyo.”

Alyson thinks she's pregnant and Sam officially becomes part of the staff after yelling at Nathan for cheating on Alyson.