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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Question of the Week

At the bottom of the "Things We Desperately Need" chalkboard at work is the "Question of the Week." It used to simply pit two characters against each other, who wouldn't normally be in a dueling situation, so to speak. Like Elmer Fudd vs Fred Flinstone. Old School Ozzy Osbourne vs Old School Alice Cooper. A buffalo with a shark tied to its back vs an eagle clutching a crocodile. At least, there used to be a question of the week, back when there used to be a manager who invented the concept and devised the questions. In recent weeks, the Question of the Day has remained blank.

The owner's mother now works at the new store. She is the one whom all us old-school employees trained with. Somehow, she manages to instill the strictest sense of loyalty and discipline just by being present. You address her as Mrs. K——. You do what she says. I've actually bowed to her on occasion. Seriously, bowed; subtly, yet undeniably. She sometimes struggles with English, but if you even think about sneaking a look to a coworker for a little translation aid, you're doomed. I love her to bits.

I was cutting up a baguette the other day, after being enlisted to do so by Mrs. K——, except we don't refer to her as Mrs. K—— unless we're actually talking to her. Let's pretend her name is Judy. There is one other fulltime employee who, along with me, is the last surviving member of our particular training group. Work is terribly dull, long, and tiresome when he's not there, but an endless series of jokes (practical and otherwise) and laughing when he is. "Do you understand the desire to break things into the smallest possible pieces and stuff them into cups?" he asked, glancing over from where he stood rinsing dishes two feet away. Actually, I do. Luther. I replied in the negative. "What are you doing?" "I was told to do this," I replied. There was no need to specify who had told me to do so. "If someone told you to... eat whatever's in this sink drain," he said, fitting gestures to words, "would you do it?" That's an easy question. "If Judy told you to eat it, would you?" I hesitated for a full 10 seconds before honestly saying, "I don't know."

It's not written on the chalkboard, nor is likely to ever be. But, the best question of the week to date is, "What wouldn't you do for Judy?"

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