Pronghorn, Chapter 43: Running Again

Continued from the previous chapter, here.

Asa Pemewan followed Manny as the latter walked back into the restaurant. “Put the bag back on the rack and come over here, Newbie,” Manny said as he reached into his pocket. Asa complied quickly and quietly, joining Manny at one of the restaurant’s two cash registers.

“Normally, we use the one register,” and Manny pointed to one as he spoke, “for carry-out orders and dine-in. The other,” and he pointed at the one he stood before, “is usually reserved for delivery work. It gets really busy in here, we run both on both, depending on which one’s open at any given moment. But it’s not often that busy. Middle of the day like this, almost never.

“So, what you do is you come back from the run, and you come to a register and tell who’s running it that you need to cash in an order. That’ll usually be a manager, but I’ve got it, too. The order’ll get pulled up, and you’ll be told how much you owe. You pay it–and get change if you need it. First few orders, you’ll need change every time. Later, you can give the exact amount. Then you check and see if there’s another order ready. If there is, you take it and go. There ain’t, you see if they need help on make table–well, later for you. You go see if dishes need doing or something else needs cleaning. We’ll get you trained up on the make table, but that’ll happen later.”

Asa nodded along as Manny rattled off the things that would need doing. “Well, Newbie,” Manny added, “is there another order ready? Move your ass and check!”

Asa hurried over to the rack, seeing only empty bags on it. He then peered into the pizza oven, seeing two pies in it. He looked above the table where he had seen Felicia cut the pizza earlier and noted a tag hanging from it. “Delivery” appeared on it, and Asa said “We’ve got one coming out before long. I’ll check the address while it cooks.”

Manny nodded as Asa did so, running a finger over the map along a route from the restaurant south on 701 to just inside the marked delivery area. “It looks like we’re going to be out longer this time; the order’s south of town.”

“Got a name on it?”

Asa returned to the table and looked at the tag again. “Damn! It does.”

“You don’t seem pleased, Newbie.”

“It’s a guy I know, a guy named Richard. He’s not a friend.”

“Well, damn, I guess I’m not getting a tip this run. But you’re gonna run into folks you know, since you’re from here, and some of ’em ain’t gonna be your friends. Still got to make the run, deliver the pie. So you’ll have to suck it up, Newbie. But it’ll get easier the more you do it.”

“If you say so.”

“I do. What, you think I ain’t got folks who don’t like–pies’re comin’ out.” Manny pointed to the end of the oven, which was disgorging its steaming food. “Watch Felicia, now.”

Asa did so, noting once again how deftly the woman flipped the pies out of their metal plates and dropped the cutting tool across them over and over, separating one pie into eighths and the other into twelfths. She boxed them and handed them to Asa, her words to him again oozing disdainfully from her mouth. “Marginally better, Newbie. Try to do it yourself next time.”

“I will” said Asa as he pivoted with the boxed pizzas in hand and put them into one of the insulated sacks. He grabbed the ticket from atop them and waited for Manny to check out the order, then followed the senior driver out of the restaurant and to his car. Asa sat silently as they drove, and when Manny pulled up in front of Richard’s house, Asa got out of the car with the pizzas in hand and walked with his trainer to the door.

Arriving at it, Manny said “Check for a doorbell first. This one doesn’t look to have one, so knock.” Asa did, and they waited for a minute before the door opened. A scruffy face showed through the gap between door and frame. “Yeah?”

Manny stepped forward slightly. “Pizza’s here. You Richard?”

“Yeah.”

“It’ll be $21.73, sir.” Manny waved Asa over and began to take the pizzas from the bag.

“Why’s it take two of you to deliver some pizzas?”

“Training the new guy.”

“Huh. Well, looks like all his schooling did him good.”

Asa felt himself blush. Manny repeated the price of the pizzas, and Richard handed over the exact amount; four five-dollar bills, a one, seven dimes, and three pennies. He took the pizzas and shut the door forcefully.

As they walked back to the car, Asa asked Manny “Does that happen often?”

“What?” came the quick reply.

“Getting no tip and getting the door slammed in your face?”

“More of the first than the second.” They got back into Manny’s car. “Some folks are tight.” The car started. “Some’re just poor.” Manny pulled out, making a U-turn in the street. “They tend to apologize for not tipping. One guy, though, used to be a rep over in Austin kept trying to stiff me on the bill, which was an asshole move. I voted against him as often as I could.”

“And slammed doors?”

“It happens. Like I said, everybody’s got folks that hate ’em. Doin’ this, it puts you into a position where folks think they can act out. Sometimes, we’ve got it comin’. Most of the time, though, assholes is assholes. They’ve gotta be handled. No way around it.

“Most folks’re okay, though. Most of ’em.”

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