“Do you want fries with that?” I asked the guy in front of the cash register.
“Do you want fries with your burger?” I repeated, contorting my face into a smile.
The gentleman proceeded to think long and hard. His thick eyebrows furrowed as his brain processed the many variables required to solve the riddle I had thrust upon him.
I wished I’d given so much thought into choosing my college major.
In hindsight, a degree in Fijian Art History with a minor in Shakespearean Sonnet Appreciation did not exactly set me up well for the world of employment. But hey, you know how it is. I was a young, cocky, generally unbathed, upstart of a man, fresh out of college, armed with an unfinished draft of my ground-breaking fantasy, sci-fi, gothic romance novella. The world was supposed to be my oyster.
Thirty five generic template rejections from publishers, followed by an attempt at self-publishing that was widely panned by the two people who read it, followed by the refusal of unemployment benefits by my now ex-girlfriend, I found myself in the exciting world of flipping burgers.
I still remember my first day at the job – you never forget these things, do you? I stood in a circle with seven fellow aspiring gourmands, in the mechanised underbelly of the McWendy’s kitchen, at the ungodly hour of 5 AM. In the centre, stood a rotund young man in his late-twenties, dressed in the McWendy’s standard-issue ensemble – a shower cap, t-shirt and apron adorned with an image of the iconic McWendy’s smiling burger, and a badge that had the words, ‘Steve – Shift Manager and Trainer’ written on it.
We were surrounded by a cornucopia of cooking paraphernalia – an aluminium fryer that bubbled like something out of Macbeth’s opening scene, a large burger assembly station holding stacks of buns and toppings, an ice-cream machine with spigots for the four standard flavours, a large refrigerator, and myriad other contraptions that beeped and burped moodily.
For the next 3 hours, Steve trained us in the dark arts of fast-food production.
“You’re doing it wrong,” Steve said pointing at me.
“Am I?” I replied, picking up the unfortunate burger patty from the floor with my spatula.
“It’s easy – it’s all in the wrist. Here, let me show you.”
The burger patty leaped in the air, performed a triple somersault, and nailed a perfect ten-point landing on an awaiting bun.
I won’t lie. I was quite impressed with the man.