Monday, February 29, 2016


When I was a teenager my parents told me I had to get a job. They weren't expecting me to make a killing or help support the family, they just knew it would be good for me to understand what having a job was all about. It was a smart decision as I was far more interested in drinking SoCo and finding girls interested in also drinking SoCo, if you're picking up what I'm putting down. 

So I figured I'd apply at the local grocery stores and fast food joints, hoping to get hired quickly and get my parents off my back. The first stop on my job search was McDonald's because I had a serious addiction back then. So really I just wanted to get something to eat. My addiction was so bad that when I walked in and got in line the person running the register would see me, nod, and by the time I made it up to the counter they'd already have my "#2, plain with extra cheese" ready to go. Always supersized, and always with a Coke. 

Upon filling out an application I was immediately asked if I could stick around for an interview. I said yes, proved I wasn't a moron, and was offered the job on the spot. Knowing I mostly just needed to satisfy my parents, I accepted. The discount on food didn't hurt.

I watched the videos, kept my new uniform looking toight as a tiger, and quickly learned each work station in the place. I had fun working there, enjoying the time I spent with the rest of the staff, but I was never meant to be a lifer. 

After working my way through the bun station, burgers, eggs, pancakes, fries, drive-thru, and nuggets, I found myself working the counter. This was where the best of the best worked. Sure, it took a little practice to crack two eggs at once and rock out the egg station. Extra concentration helped the drive-thru team maintain a good pace and keep things rolling. Hell, there was even a talent to crushing the fry station during peak hours. But the counter? That's when you knew you'd arrived. You could officially look down on your coworkers without remorse. Everyone wanted to work counter but very few were capable or qualified. You were the shit and you needed to act like it. Tip of the spear, if you will.

One random day of employment I happened to be absolutely crushing it on the counter when a middle-aged woman came in with her special needs daughter. She was probably on the wrong side of the autistic scale but back then Autism wasn't a thing. She was "retarded". Yeah, yeah, I know. You live and you learn. 

In this particular encounter she was asked by her mother to order for herself. Clearly it was important to the mother that she attempt to be normal. She clearly wasn't, but I respected her mother's efforts and worked very hard to understand what she was ordering. In the end her mother usually had to help out but we all gave it our best shot and it felt good. 

Then, once we got the order in, the girl started excitedly saying, "BAG! BAG! BAG!".

Her mother clued me in and explained that her daughter really loved paper bags. So that day I decided I would give the girl a paper bag and, hopefully, make her as happy as it appeared she'd be. I turned toward the spot just below the sandwich queue for a small paper bag and when I spun around to give it to her, saying "BAG???" she excitedly shrieked "BAAAAAGGG!!!" and ran to her favorite booth, bag clutched in her sausage fingers.

(Kidding. She probably had normal fingers. Cheap shot.)

This happened a couple times a month. The mom would always select my line and attempt to let her daughter order before helping her out. The "BAG! BAG! BAG!" excitement never ended and when she showed up a couple days after we'd just received grocery sized paper bags I knew it was my chance to blow her mind.

She tried to order and it failed miserably like normal, mom jumping in to order the correct food on cue. When it was time for the girl to start chanting for a bag she didn't disappoint. I felt like she may have anticipated how amazing the bag was going to be this time. I may have been more excited than her.

I turned around, heading for the spot where these large bags were kept, thinking how ridiculously awesome this was going to be. I mean, this girl would be forever changed. Hell, maybe one day she would also tell the story of the big bag, describing to her mentally challenged acquaintances all about the kindhearted counter kid who changed her life one large bag at a time.

I milked it as much as I could, spinning around to her chants of "BAG! BAG! BAG!" and held up the gigantic paper, grinning wide as I said "BAG???" hoping to make her so excited she'd pee herself. Not that I actually wanted her to pee herself, I just wanted her to be that excited.

Turns out my grand plan backfired and upon seeing the big bag I presented she screamed "BAAAAAGGGG!!!" and sprinted over to her favorite seat. Bagless. I never did see her again but I like to think that's because I helped her get over her bag obsession and not because I forever traumatized her. Somewhere there's either a fully functioning autistic woman or a man-child incapable of transporting anything more than what her two hands can carry.


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