“Jesus, Thomas, you smell like a fucking cheeseburger!”
The coterie of sweaty faces stops its dribbling, shooting its layups and penalty free throws for the ones missed during last night’s game, and erupts in a single laugh that echoes off the bleachers lining the field house. No matter who the butt is, everyone laughs when the coach makes a joke.
I’m late for practice again. Wasn’t there to help set up the drills, fill up the water bottles, dry mop the freshly-lacquered floor or break into my own sweat tossing the medicine ball to Wilbon Perry, our six-foot-four-inch all-conference shooting guard. As a manager for my high school basketball team, these are my duties. My job, they tell me. But these things don’t pay for trips to the mall or putt-putt with the gang.
Working at McDonald’s does.
I start flipping burgers in the fall of 2004. Right after my baby blue Huffy gets lifted. Right off my front porch. I need something cooler anyway.
Suddenly the literal fat of the land lay at my fingertips.
Super Size meals are cheap and my employee discount makes ordering up a no-brainer. If the dickhead manager is around I stick to the usual fare. But if cute-and-blonde little Stacy is around, parked at the back desk counting money with her headphones on listening to Stairway to Heaven, then the options are as limitless as my imagination. On those night, the freedom of having free reign of a kitchen and walk-in freezer filled with a menagerie of fixings meshes with the “Oooh it’s so good!” culinary fancy of Mr. Food to make for some seriously inventive binging: Big Macs made my way using 4:1 patties instead of the flimsy 10:1s normally used; Chicken McNugget and pickle sandwiches wrapped in cheese and dipped in mustard; donuts fashioned from leftover biscuit dough and cooked golden brown in the French fry vat; apple pies stuffed with cheese or blended with soft serve and those cute little chocolate chip cookies that come in a cardboard box. Add a mound of salty fries and wash it all down with a bottomless cup of suicide and, no matter how much shit you have to put up with, the world is a happy place.
I learn how to stuff it all down in Super Sized style at McDonalds.
But there is just no amount of scrubbing a lazy teenage idiot will endure to get rid of the stink, so what doesn’t wear off between the time clock and the car door will just have to stay embedded in my fingernails. And It doesn’t help that my shoes are dappled with ketchup and onion juice either. Or that I’m always running late for Saturday practice.
And end up walking in smelling like a fucking cheeseburger . . . laughing at my own expense once again.