Summer arrived and Boomer picked up some more hours at Burger Eddy’s. He worked opens, closes and sometimes lunch through dinner shifts. High turnover worked in his favor for additional hours so he closed on a Thursday night, and came in at 9:00 the next morning to finish opening and work the lunch rush. But something was strange this morning. He pulled in the parking lot and saw smoke. He drove all the way to the back where he normally parked and saw that there were big orange flames shooting out of the top of the dumpster, and plenty of smoke to go with it.
The good news was that the dumpster fire looked like it was not going to spread, there was nothing nearby that was going to catch, and it would just burn itself out. Boomer walked into the back door and headed for the time clock. Boomer and another employee were waiting for 9:00 am to clock in and the assistant manager said to just go ahead and clock in now.
The assistant manager working today at burger Eddy’s was Tom. Tom was just less than six feet tall with longer brown hair covering his ears. He sported a pencil-thin moustache and had green eyes. Tom was extremely intelligent, but had no common sense to put it to good use. Boomer once helped him bleed the brakes on his pick up truck in the parking lot. Problem was that the parking brake did not work either and Boomer had to keep the truck from rolling over him as he stuck the brake fluid hose into a wax cup while Tom pumped the brake pedal. Tom was also a little hyper. Sometimes he would get to talking so fast and repeating himself, you could not understand him. Tom signaled Boomer into the office.
The office was very cheap. The desk consisted of a door supported by stacked milk crates, and the chair was, in fact, an old toilet. The toilet used to be in a third bathroom accessible only from the office that now was used for storage of manuals, old files kept in milk crates, and a beta-type VCR attached to a beat up small TV for training videos. The door that served as the desk was originally the door to the old bathroom. On the desk sat a speakerphone and a printing calculator that operated loudly and needed a new ribbon. Between the calculator and phone was a large ashtray that really needed emptied. Most of the managers smoked in those days and the office reeked of cigarette smoke.
Tom was sitting on the “chair” and asked Boomer about how last night’s closing went. Boomer let Tom know that it was pretty uneventful. The restaurant closed at 10:00 PM on weeknights and the drive-though window closed at 1:00 AM every night, and everyone was clocked out and left by 1:30 AM. Boomer said he thought he didn’t miss anything.
Tom let Boomer know that something was missed. “Boomer, before I left last night after dinner rush, I asked you to make sure you topped off the shortening in the fryers, do you remember that?”
Boomer thought about it for a second, and said: “Yes, you did say that, and I am sorry I forgot to do that. Do you want me to get that right now?”
Tom looked at Boomer, and said not to bother, it was taken care of. Then he asked Boomer if he noticed anything unusual when he came in this morning.
Boomer told Tom about the dumpster being on fire and the flames and smoke that were coming out of it.
Tom told Boomer that the dumpster fire was caused by him failing to top off the fryers with shortening.
Boomer was infuriated. How could he have been responsible for a dumpster fire, he left at 1:30 AM and just arrived some 10 minutes ago to a dumpster that was fully engulfed and starting to burn-out for lack of fuel. “Tom, how do you figure this dumpster fire is my fault, I was not here to start it.”
Tom explained it this way: “I came in this morning and turned the fryers on. Since they were a little low I brought out a box of shortening so I could top them off, like you were supposed to. I sat the box on the edge of one of the fryers when the phone rang. While I was on the phone, the box slipped out of position and the corner of the box made contact with the top element of the fryer. This contact started the outside of the box to smolder and burn. I did not want to burn the restaurant down so I took the burning box out to the dumpster and it spread from there.” Tom continued, “This never would have happened if you just did your job and topped off the fryers in the first place!”
Immediately, Tom picked up the phone and started to call someone. Boomer was unsure of whom but he was a little scared he was in some deeper kind of trouble. When someone answered at the other end, the conversation went something like this:
“Hello, this is Tom, I am an assistant manager at the Burger Eddy’s on West Alexis Rd. You might want to get us a new dumpster, some vandals set a fire in there this morning, and you may want to clean it up.”
Boomer was still upset, but relieved he was not in any deeper trouble. Tom seemed to cover his own end in this too by blaming it on imaginary vandals.