Craig had ten minutes before he’d be introducing himself as the keynote speaker in a conference that included fifteen of the country’s richest CEOs. He was across the street from the building, and just about to pull in, when he made a last minute decision to yank the steering wheel left, and take his rented Mercedes over to Burger King.
If he didn’t eat now, he’d be speaking on an empty stomach for the next five hours. And Craig knew all too well that this was his last chance to impress the right people and find a way to save his house from foreclosure. Hell, if it went really well, he might even be able to lease a decent car!
“What you want?” came the voice through the drive-thru menu.
“Yea, just give me a minute, I need to order something healthy. Sorry, I just can’t afford to feel like crap today.”
Craig looked sharp – freshly pressed suit, striped tie, polished shoes. He checked himself in the rear-view mirror, then brushed the little bit of hair he had left over his bald spot. Craig frowned.
“Go get food somewhere else then.” Said the drive-through speaker.
“Sorry? What was that?”
“If our food’s so crappy, order somewhere else.”
“No, I didn’t mean that,” said Craig. He smeared his forehead with his hand. “I just said, I said I can’t afford to feel crappy today. I’d like to order a-”
“Oh,” said the drive-thru employee. There was a sudden static sound, like a hand had grabbed onto the microphone. “He said he doesn’t want to feel crappy today.”
Craig heard a second employee say: “So our food makes people feel like crap, now?”
“No, just this asshole. Look at him. Sitting in his Mercedez, new suit, thinks he’s better than us. You’re bald asshole, why don’t you just go kill yourself!”
“Uh, excuse me,” said Craig.
“What you want?”
“Just forget it. I’m not going to order anything, just let me pass through and I’ll-”
“OH!” said the employee through the speaker. “Couldn’t find the non-crap menu, is that it?”
“No, it’s not that. I just have a really important conference that I need to get to.”
The same crumpled static sound returned. Craig shut his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose as he overheard another private conversation.
“What’d that bald asshole say?”
“He says he’s got a important conference to go to. Says our foods not that crappy.”
“He says it’s not that crappy?”
“Yea! You believe that?”
“Tell him he gets a free meal, on us.”
“So we can spit in it.”
Craig crossed his arms and waited for the employee to return to him.
“Sir,” came the voice.
“Yea?” said Craig.
“We at the Burger King have decided to offer you a free meal to make up for our crappy service.”
“It’s really ok. I’m just going to pass through once this guy in front of me gets his meal.” He checked his watch – five minutes before he needed to be on stage.
“Oh. Don’t worry, we got a speedy delivery service.”
Craig scratched his temple, then muttered to himself. “Speedy delivery?”
The customer ahead of him completed their purchase. The employee in the drive-thru window stuck his head out, then pointed at Craig. He had eyes as narrow as a falcons, and a long mullet in the back. He held an Xtra large fountain soda in one hand, and pointed at Craig with the other.
“Oh no,” said Craig.
He slammed down the gas pedal, and burned rubber as he tore through the drive-thru lane. Right as he was passing the window, both employees hurled coca-cola and french fries into the rental Mercedez. The food and drink splashed and stuck to Craig’s clean suit.
“Shit!” Craig yelled, screeching to a halt. He got out from his Mercedez and brushed the fries off. He shook his head, then shut his eyes and took a deep breath.
“Can’t afford to be upset today,” he told himself. “The wife and kids are counting on you.”
Craig opened his eyes to find the fast food manager standing by the doorway outside.
“Buford, Marlon! Get out here, some suit driving a Mercedez just poured his french fries out. Come pick it up.”
“Oh no,” said Craig. He rushed back into the rental car, sped straight across the street, then pulled into the parking lot. He took another deep breath, then spoke to himself again. “You can do this. Just calm down, that’s all behind you now.”
Craig exited his Mercedez, straightened his coca-cola stained suit, then checked his watch – he still had three minutes. “Punctuation is key to peak performance,” he said then adjusted his striped tie and smiled.
Craig slowly turned and looked in the direction of the yell. Running across the street was Buford and Marlon.
Buford pointed with his mop. “You think you can desecrate the BK lounge and get away with it!”
“Dear… God,” said Craig.
To be continued…
- Thomas M. Watt