Potential New chapter 1Posted on 2013.04.27 at 08:40
There was no way Courtney was going to remember anything she told her so Georgia was talking as fast as possible to the new hire. She wanted to get back to what she was doing, weaseling Kevin out of his weekend so she could make a few extra dollars.
“Then at night they’ll probably have you clean the lobby, which I could show you but I’m sure you’ve cleaned before. Broom, mop and soap are in that closet by the lockers and don’t skimp on the corners because Craig always checks there first.”
Courtney had been nodding at everything Georgia said all day and the harder she was trying to keep up, the faster she nodded. She looked like a bobble head80 now. “Okay,” She said. “What time-”
“If you work with Dave, he’ll usually clean the bathrooms for you but if not, you’ll have to do that too. Ummmmm…” she looked around to make sure she hadn’t left out anything crucial. “I think that’s it. Tomorrow they’ll probably stick you on some random station and they might teach you register, but me and Kevin and Jane usually handle that for nights. Any questions?”
For a second, Courtney looked like she was actually going to ask one of the no doubt many questions she had, but a couple hours with Georgia had curbed that impulse. “No.”
“Okay, well, let’s drop you back off with Jordan and she’ll get you through the rest of the day, okay?”
Poor kid, Georgia thought as she led her back behind the counter. She was going to get eaten alive the first time she got a customer who showed up two minutes after the breakfast menu closed. If there was one thing Georgia had learned after a year working with the public it was that you had to present an immutable front. Not only could you not take any shit, you also had to shut down any attempts to let the customer present you with any shit to take. It took discipline but she was a pro now.
Craig intercepted them on their way back, clasping his hands together and using the too upbeat tone he used when he had something awful for them to do, “All done with the tour, ladies?”
“All right. Well, Courtney we need to get you set up on the computer so you can punch in and out. And Georgia?”
“You’re all done. We’ll put your last check in the mail so there’s no need to come back in.”
Her manager’s jokes were always terrible, but Georgia tried to laugh anyway, “Ha ha, good one. I’ll just go help Kev get ready for the lunch rush.”
Craig cringed but he persevered, “That wasn’t a joke, Georgia. You’re fired.”
“I’m what!” Her voice rose at least two octaves when she shrieked and Craig cringed again and actually put his hand up to his ear.
“If you really want to talk about it some more, we can go back to my office, but I don’t think there’s any more to say.”
“It sounds like there’s a lot more to say. What do you have to say?”
“Alright, calm down,” he said, taking a nervous glance at the elderly couple eating a late breakfast in one of the booths. “Come on back and we’ll-”
“No, we can talk about it here. What else do you have to say? Name one thing I don’t do ten times better than everybody else here.”
“You’re always late.”
“I have to walk here from school! You can’t discriminate against me because I don’t have a car.”
“Reliable transportation is one of the first things we asked you about. You said there’d be no problem. You’re rude to customers. I’ve had four complaints about you in the last month.”
“Only the ones that deserve it.”
“You have to argue about everything.”
“I do not!” In her peripheral vision, Georgia noticed Courtney getting closer and closer to the wall, looking like she was trying to decide if running away would get her fired. Georgia hated her.
“Listen, Georgia, your mom asked me to give you a shot so I did. But she hasn’t answered my calls since Labor Day and you are not cut out for this industry. Please leave or I will have the police escort you out. Courtney, I am so sorry you had to see that. Let’s go get you set up.”
Georgia managed not to scream even as her hands balled into fists at her side and almost started to shake with the pressure of not acting. When she looked up and saw the rest of the kitchen crew looking back at her she sneered and said, “Screw this place.” Then she knocked over a tower of freshly stacked paper cups and ran out.
“Stupid, short, stinking, loser, asshole,” Georgia shouted to herself as she stomped away from her first and only job. Did he think she was heartbroken because she didn’t have to work at some hot, greasy McJob anymore? Did he think he was some big shot executive guy because he got to manage a bunch of high school kids and down-on-their-luckers with no place else to go? Thank God she was done with that place. Georgia couldn’t stand to look at Craig’s stupid gap-toothed face one more day without punching it.
The part that burned was that he had only hired her as a “favor.” Never mind that she was twice as smart, three times as efficient, and had four times as much spine as everyone else who worked there. She’d known her mom knew about the job. It was how she had heard about it. Craig had been flavor of the week for a little while and had mentioned how much it sucked to deal with such high turnover in his employees and Jo had sent Georgia over the next afternoon to get an application.
God, the whole thing just sucked. It sucked balls actually since she hadn’t exactly kept to the savings plan she’d set for herself and now had next to no cash to get her through the rest of the year. Dammit.
Thankfully it was warm, well warm enough, if you were jogging which is how Georgia always covered distances of any length. She adjusted her glossy blonde ponytail and made sure her money was deep enough in her pockets that it wouldn’t slip out (a lesson she had learned the hard way) and started running. It was just over a mile home, not quite as far as it was from the school to work. Those three points made up the isosceles triangle of her life. She could go weeks and maybe break the perimeter two or three times. When she wasn’t too busy to think about it, Georgia felt like a zoo animal pacing in her cage. But that would change soon.
As she jogged past the post office, she wondered if the mail had been picked up yet. Probably not. It wasn’t even noon. She’d dropped her entire future in that little blue box that morning, her early-decision application to the University of Michigan. Her application said she was going there to study physical therapy, but really she was going to play softball. She’d spoken to the coach, spent a few weeks of paychecks to attend one of their day camps the previous summer. They didn’t have a formal agreement, but Georgia knew she was in. The team’s current starting catcher was allegedly dropping out to join the Peace Corps or something, leaving her position, and her scholarship, up for grabs. It was everything Georgia had wanted since she was thirteen and finally realized she’d never get to play for the Detroit Tigers.
Apart from the chafing from her jeans, running made Georgia feel better than she had in ages. As she turned the corner and her feet pounded the cracked and weedy sidewalks that marked her neighborhood, her breath echoed like surround sound in her ears and she felt herself enter “the zone.” The feeling of having sweat instead of fry grease built up on her skin was amazing and Georgia purposely missed the turn onto her street to make it last a little longer.
It wasn’t as good for jogging as her old neighborhood had been. It wasn’t as good for anything as her old neighborhood had been, really. It was old and cramped and overgrown. The cars were dirtier and one and three was a “work in progress” that would really be a “great ride” if someone could just find the time to get around to fixing it. They jutted over the sidewalks, forcing her to run in the streets where there were inevitably kids playing street hockey, knocking plastic balls between coffee cans and sending them flying past her head. It made a pretty good obstacle course but it was a crappy track.
Running until her tongue was dry and she couldn’t put off getting a drink any longer, Georgia circled the neighborhood, dodging kids, dogs, and cars, back to her own house. She took the front porch stairs in two long strides and bounced into the living room. She scratched Patches behind the ears almost before her dog realized she was there and was in the kitchen sucking down a glass of water before the screen door snapped shut and her mom came to see what all the noise was about.
“Georgia. What are you doing home so early?”
Holding up a finger, Georgia tipped her head back and swallowed the rest of her water. When she finished, she took a deep gasp of air and put the glass back under the tap before answering, “I quit.”
“You did what?”
Well it might as well have been true. What was she going to do? Ask if anyone needed extra napkins for the rest of her life? She would have quit anyway, in a week or two.
“Everyone there is a total moron. I can’t believe you dated Craig for so long.” Georgia drank until her stomach was full then poured what was left in the glass down the sink and set it on the counter. She was halfway out of the room when she added, “I’m taking Patches to the park. Do I have to be back for dinner or are we just doing whatever?”
“Hey wait a second, I want to talk about this. What are you going to do about money? Have you even started looking for another job?”
“I’ll look next week.” Georgia was down the hall then, only half listening to Jo as she ran down the list of reasons this was another terrible decision. “Why’d you quit your terrible job? Why did only apply to your dream school? Why don’t you spend more time studying for tests you’re gonna pass anyway? How come I never see any of the girls from the softball team who don’t like you any more than you like them?”
Her mom meant well, but she really had no idea. How effortless it all was. Georgia aced every test she ever took. She hit a home run every game. Maybe she didn’t have a flock of cronies around her all the time, but she could summon them if she wanted them. A new job would probably drop into her lap any day now. She didn’t have to get hung up on the things that didn’t work out, because something new would be along any minute.
Ugh. Her pants were damp with sweat and clung to her legs as she pulled them down then tripped her as she dug through her drawers for something cooler. She finally found an old pair of purple soccer shorts and a black and white Tigers tee that would work and tried to head back down the hall.
Jo was waiting outside her bedroom door. “Are you listening to me at all?” she asked. “I’m trying to talk to you about this.”
Sighing, Georgia slumped against the doorframe, “Mom, I told you. It’s fine, okay? I’ll get a new job next week.”
“Oh you will will you?”
“You think jobs for teenagers who have crazy schedules and history of quitting without notice are just a dime a dozen? I work these jobs, Georgia. I’ve worked them for years. It’s not as easy as you seem to think.”
“Maybe not for you.”
Crossing the line from annoyed but still trying to angry and discussion closed was all in the mouth for Joanna. Georgia had watched her mom’s lips press into a thin line more times than she could count and it never meant anything good.
“Well I’m sorry for interfering then. I didn’t realize you were so special that employers couldn’t resist you. My mistake. I’m sure next week you’ll have a glamorous new job and you can take over the mortgage. In the meantime, since you’re unemployed, I have a few jobs I’d like you to do around here.”
“No. Mom. I’m taking the dog to the park.”
“Oh were you? Too bad. Work comes first. Why don’t you go get the bathroom clean and I’ll have the rest of your to do list ready when you get done.”
“Bleach is in the laundry room,” Jo reminded her, waving as she left for the kitchen.
“Bitch,” Georgia muttered.
Six hours later after the bathroom, backyard, living room, car, and kitchen were clean, Georgia trudged back through the front door, thinking that if her mom thought she was actually going to hand over the $42.70 she’d gotten back at the bottle return, she had another thing coming. While she worked, the weather had seemed to remember that it was late September and adjusted the thermostat accordingly. The day was ruined.