I’m at work the other day, and my cell phone rings. I was just pulling my truck in after a delivery, so I figured what the heck—I got a few minutes. I answer it, and end up hearing Rik telling me all about how she had big news. After about four minutes of buildup, she finally says, “I wish I knew how to quit you.” Apparently this is a quote from the movie Brokeback Mountain. I haven’t seen this movie since I almost never get to go to the movies. You know those old ads that used to run, “If you only see one movie this year…?” That’s me. I’m an entire demographic. I’m the only-sees-one-movie-a-year-guy, and they all want my business.
Anyways, Brokeback Mountain wasn’t it, so I’m left with no choice but to believe Rik when she tells me that these words are from the movie. For some reason, this one sentence, “I wish I knew how to quit you,” has really…I don’t know, man: tickled her fancy, touched a nerve, molested a kidney. Something. I’m not sure if she likes it or hates it, but she sure does talk about it a lot. She says that she hates this particular expression, but then she calls me up out of the blue and tells it to me. She does the accent and everything.
“I wish I knew how to quit you.”
“Please never say that to me again.”
“But listen to it: ‘I wish I knew how to quit you.’”
“Rik! Never say those words to me again!”
While in the midst of this enlightening conversation, I open the back of my truck up and realize that chemicals have spilled all over the inside of it. The great thing about my job is, I have no idea which chemicals they are until I go in and read the bottle, and I don’t feel too safe going in to check out the bottle, because some of the shit I work with will kill you if you breathe it in confined spaces. You know, like the back of a delivery truck.
“Hey, I think I’m going to have to go.”
“Chemicals spilled all over in the back of my truck. I need to find out if it’s going to kill me right now.”
“Wow, it must suck to be you.”
“Ehh, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it sucks to be me, really. It’s a little disturbing.”
“Wow, it must really be mildly unnerving to be you. Mildly unnerving and slightly unsettling.”
“Yes. Yes, it is.”
“I don’t think it would read as well on a t-shirt.”
And for some reason, that just cracked me up. I don’t know why, man, but I just pictured seeing some guy walking around in a mall or maybe Six Flags or something, wearing this shirt full of words. “It must be mildly unnerving to be you.” In my head, he passed someone wearing one of the shirts that said “It must suck to be you.” And they stop and they stare at each other, read each other’s shirts, and then they both turn and start walking together, saying absolutely nothing to each other.
One thing about friends, is sometimes they’re really cool for making you laugh until you can barely breathe. Other times, they’re just shitheads for it. Like when you’re standing in the back of a truck examining spilled who-knows-what and trying to take shallow breaths, and next thing you know, you’re just bellowing laughter, breathing in everything and anything that might be in the back of said truck.
It wasn’t poisonous, I don’t think—not any more poisonous than all of the other shit I breathe for hours and hours day after day. Although one guy I occasionally work with says that everything we come in contact with is extremely terrible.
“This shit is the worst,” he said to me the other day. “The worst.”
“Hell, yeah—make you grow an extra testicle.”
“Really? ‘Cause that would be kinda good—I lost one of my testicles at my last job.”
“Are you serious? Where’d you work?”
“I see how that could happen. Those things they make Blizzards in—I’ve always wanted to stick my nuts in there.”
I didn’t lose a testicle at Dairy Queen, actually, but I really did work at Dairy Queen.
In all of my life, I don’t think I have ever been as socially ungraceful as I was at that place. I mean, I’m surprised I didn’t get banned from Dairy Queen forever. It’s not that I wanted to be a total miscreant, it’s just that I was an obnoxious high school kid working at a fast food joint, you know? Oh, wait—not fast food…good food, fast. That was on one of the signs in the window when I worked there.
Like there was this lady one time, she comes in, her hair is all crazy and whacked out, just a complete batch of insanity. I thought she was the mother of a girl I went to school with, so while I’m standing at the counter, taking this one lady’s order, I’m talking to Rik about it. Yeah, Rik worked at freakin’ Dairy Queen, too. She acts all high and mighty now that she’s a big shot drug dealer/pimp/gun runner, but she started at the bottom just like the rest of us.
“Holy smokes, look at what Kristy’s mom did to her hair!”
“Ray, be quiet.”
“Why did she do that? I mean, what would possess a person to walk into a place and be like, ‘Hey could just wreck my head, please? Just make it to where I can never go out again without getting snickered at behind my back, okay?’ I mean, because unless you said that, how could you possibly end up with that hair style?”
I don’t remember everything I said, but it went on like that for quite some time. I got the lady in front of me her food, ignoring her astounded smile, and went to get something to drink. A few minutes later Rik came up to me.
“Do you, like, hate Kristy’s mom or something?”
“No, I just don’t like her hair.”
“I didn’t think it looked so bad.”
“Are you crazy? It was purple, did you see that?”
And then Rik just starts laughing. “Dude, that wasn’t Kristy’s mom.”
“Oh. Well, all right, then.”
“Kristy’s mom was the one that was standing right in front of you, listening to you say all that horrible stuff.”
It’s one of those stories that you might find amusing, and it’s one of those that you could maybe look back and go, “Yeah, looking back, that was pretty funny.” But looking back, that shit still isn’t funny. I mean, damn. What are the odds, you know? Things like this, that’s why I have the motto, “Don’t say anything about a person that you wouldn’t mind them finding out about.”
Which is why I’m such a dick, just telling people what a bunch of jerkoffs they are all the time.
Another time at the ole DQ, I was working the drive thru. No “o” no “g” and no “h.” Drive thru, that’s what the big sign said, so that’s what I call it. So this moron shitkicker pulls up in his gigantic diesel pickup with his eight thousand foot horse trailer, right? It was rodeo season, so you had all kinds of cowboys (a.k.a. shitkickers) coming in all damn day long. And this guy, he just can’t figure how to get his enormous vehicle pulled up to the window. And the thing is, his setup has about a million tires, and they’re all hitting the drive thru hose over and over again. This was back in the day, mind you, when you still had to run over a little hose that would set off a beeping signal, and then the window worker would come over and take your order.
So this guy runs over the hose, BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Until I hit the button, then it stops. And then he runs over it again. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Hit the button, stops. You get the idea. This went on for several minutes. Finally, I decide to just stand there and hold the button, instead of listening to that beeping until the dumbass shitkicker figures out how to drive his truck.
This girl I worked with, she comes out form the kitchen, “What’s with all the beeping? Who’s supposed to be working drive thru?”
“I’m working it, but this dumbass cowpoke keeps running over the bell.”
“What’s wrong with him?”
“I don’t know—years of inbreeding, is my best guess. Probably a little cow DNA tossed in there, too.” Again, this goes on for at least three minutes. The girl from the kitchen, she’s laughing her ass off, which just encourages me to get worse. And then the guy finally makes it to the window.
“Hi, welcome to Dairy Queen, may I take your order?”
“Yeah, but, uh. You should know, I could hear everything you just said.”
“Really? Sorry ‘bout that. Would you care to try our new blizzard flavor today?”
I took the guy’s order, but I made the chick from the kitchen take him his food while I went and cowered in the back room, smoking.
“He says he’s going to get you fired,” she told me, after she was done.
“Are you serious? I can’t get fired from fuckin’ Dairy Queen! How embarrassing. I’m gonna have to quit before anyone finds out.”
She was just playing with me, but she let me worry about it for a few minutes. “Nah, he thought it was pretty funny.”
Which is why I’m able to tolerate cowfolk to this very day.
One thing about DQ was that it didn’t open until ten in the morning, so an early day meant coming in at nine. Usually, the counter help didn’t come in until ten, though, which also counted as an early morning. So one morning, I have to be the guy that comes in at nine and gets shit ready, right? About ten minutes before we open, this lady comes in—the cook forgot to lock the door after letting me in, which is how the lady got in. It was against policy to turn away customers who made it through the door (or lock the door just as they were arriving, which I always felt was a little unfair—if you don’t make it into the building before I get the door locked, I shouldn't have to serve you shit).
So she comes in and asks, “Are ya’ll open?”
“Actually, we don’t open for another ten minutes or so.”
“Well could I go ahead and get a Blizzard?”
Because customers are assholes. Someday I’m going to have my very own business, and when I arrive, I’m not going to lock the door. When people come in and ask if I’m open, I’ll tell them no, and then when they ask if they can get service anyway, I’ll pull out a giant shotgun and say something smooth, maybe like, “Well, Old Blasty here always likes to help folks who come in when we’re closed—why don’t you step up so he can serve you better?” And if they step up, I’ll shoot them. Maybe I’ll even shoot them as they turn to run out the door, because that’s the kind of psychotic lunatic killer entrepreneur that I’ll be—the money-making, shotgun-wielding, customer-blasting kind. Which I think is key to success in this day and age.
But my bosses at DQ were much like all my other bosses in that they absolutely did not permit me to bring firearms to work and point them at customers. No matter what. Jerks. So instead of scaring this lady out the door with a gun, I have to take her order.
She wants a Blizzard. I’m not sure just how regional Dairy Queen is, but I’m guessing they don’t have them all over. I’m guessing that Blizzards exist pretty much everywhere, though, under different names. Basically, it’s candy (usually frozen candy) all stirred into your ice cream. Ta-daa!
At DQ, you would dump in whatever crap the customer wanted in there, and then dump in some ice cream, and then you would hold it under the ice cream…stirrer? I don’t know what the official name of that thing was—we always just called it the Blizzard maker, because I was using up all my originality trying to get laid, and couldn’t be bothered to think up cool names for the damn thing. It mixed everything together. Certain candy, though, you had to double cup, because when it gets frozen and broken into pieces, it gets pretty jagged.
For example, M&Ms. You freeze those little babies, break them apart, they’re like tiny tasty shrapnel that won’t melt in your hand, but will for sure rip your shit apart if you aren’t careful.
I was just beginning my life as a drunk, so I was pretty hung over, and because I’ve always had a general dislike for people who want something from me, and because I’ve never been too good at social niceties, I wasn’t the most cheerful person that morning.
One more important detail to the story—the uniform at DQ consisted of a white t-shirt, and jeans. And a red apron. I always folded the apron down and tied it at the waste, so that it just looked like I was wearing a skirt instead of a full dress. It was against the store dress code to wear it like that, but what the hell, right? If they were going to fire me, I knew that they would have done it long before then.
So I’m being less that cheerful when I answer, “Yeah, what kind?”
And she’s being kind of a bitch when she answers, “I want M&M’s.” She’s one of those customers that act like their time is very important. Like, come on, chick, if you were so busy, what are you doing stopping in for ice cream anyway?
—Friday 8:00 am
Meet the Pope for pancakes—discuss plans for replacing Oprah with some other sort of robot…perhaps one that isn’t so annoying to males.
— Friday 10:00 am
Get some ice cream…enjoy it immensely, think about childhood (NOTE: skip over all those years where “Uncle” David came over NOTE: call shrink, reschedule appointment)
—Friday 10:03 am
VERY important meeting at the Women Who Won’t Laugh conference
Oh, so that’s why it’s so important.
It’s early, and I don’t give a damn, so I don’t bother getting an extra cup for her. Plus, I’ve never believed the rumors about how candy will come shooting out the side and lacerate you. Even it the stories are true, how is one extra cup going to help you, you know?
I’m sure you can guess what happened next, but just in case you can’t, I’ll tell you.
There was a loud pop, and I felt something hit me dead-on in the stomach. I looked down, and there was half an M&M stuck to the front of my shirt. It hadn’t killed me, or even pierced skin, but it was a red M&M, so it made huge red dot on my shirt.
Without even thinking about it, I spun around to face her. “They…they got me!” I cried, giving her enough time to see the big red stain on my stomach, and then I crumbled to the floor, dead. It was a spectacular scene, in my opinion, except for while I was sitting there dead, I started laughing. I opened one eye to see if she had enjoyed the performance.
She stared at me. “Can I have my ice cream now?”
I stood up, finished making her delicious frozen treat, and sent her on her way, I guess to get to that conference she was in such a hurry to get to.
I just stood there, looking at the stain on my shirt, and being a little more embittered with the world and the lame-ass, no-sense-of-humor bastards that inhabit it.
It was an interesting summer job, and a pretty good time, if you want to know the truth. Working with friends, not taking anything too seriously, having fun.
Ah, life, you tricked me good.