Saturday arrived after a long week of school ended. Boomer arrived at 7:00 am at Burger Eddy’s. Boomer got most of his hours during the school year on Saturday and Sunday. As a high school senior he worked about 25 hours a week to keep his car full of gas and insured. School would be out soon and Boomer looked forward to picking up some more hours. Boomer was not paid spectacular, but it was a little bit more than the minimum wage of $3.35 an hour that prevailed then, five cents an hour more. Boomer lined up his manila colored the time card with the slot on the time clock and shoved it down until he heard a mechanical clang indicating it was time to get started.
Boomer first headed into the walk-in cooler. The cooler was probably 12 feet square with racks on two walls for the storage of leftover food products. The other two walls contained stacks of ground meat to be made into hamburgers and bags of a mix used to make soft-serve chocolate ice cream. One of the racks had yesterday’s chili. Boomer took the day-old chili and brought it out into the warmer on the front line. After he stirred it up and it began to warm Dale came around the corner looking concerned.
Dale was over six feet tall, about 30, sported a moustache, and he was a very straight up and down man. That is, he had no butt, his legs seemed to start at the floor and end at the bottom of his back. Dale was one of the assistant managers. Dale was actually one of Boomer’s favorite managers to work with. He was very realistic about what had to be done, and not a slave to the procedure manual. Boomer did not do everything by the book, he had his own shortcuts, and he figured if the food quality and cleanliness is not compromised, the shortcut was ok. Dale was also task-oriented, but he never made you feel like an indentured servant, that was one of his qualities.
Boomer made eye contact with Dale and asked him what was the matter. Dale told Boomer about the note he read on the desk left by the closing manager. “Boomer, we need to do an extra good job of making this place presentable. We are going to have a rare weekend visit by the District Manager for our lunch rush.”
Dale took the lid off the chili that was slowly warming up. After stirring it a few strokes, he determined that it was a little iffy, “Boomer, go ahead a make up 2 new pots of chili. This leftover chili is not up to par. I can add tomato sauce and water to doctor it up, but we would play it safer if we just dumped this old batch.”
Boomer turned the warmer off and headed to the back room, turning the chili stove on while passing it. He assembled the double boiler pots and stacked the ingredients on a prep table. Boomer was a master at making the chili. Not that is was a difficult task, but some of his co-workers did not rinse the beans enough and the chili suffered because of it. Boomer took the industrial can opener mounted to the prep table and proceeded to open 4 cans of beans. He rinsed them thoroughly, dumped them into the inner chili pot, and added water. He grabbed the frozen onions and dumped them in. He added the meat, tomato sauce, and the seasoning and stirred it all. With a grunt, Boomer carried the double boilers to the chili stove and the new chili was cooking.
Now that that was done, boomer could get the old, inferior, leftover chili and empty it into the dumpster. A minute later the old chili was on the prep table and Boomer was pondering the best way to dispose of the chili. He saw a corrugated cardboard box on the floor with the top flaps open. He had an idea. He could get all the garbage out in one trip if he put it in that box. The dumpster was over 100 feet from the back door so boomer always tried to consolidate his daily trips to the dumpster.
Boomer tidied up the back room and placed the scraps and empty containers into the box. Next he emptied the pan of the old chili on top the rest of the garbage. He figured that if he took it back to the dumpster right away the chili would not leak out the bottom. Just as the last of the old chili was in the box he heard Dale’s voice coming from the front of the restaurant.
“Can you give me a hand here Boomer?”
Boomer rushed to the front line to see Dale on the floor wrestling with an unopened 5-gallon bucket of pickles, and the tool used to open it.
“Dale, you have been here longer than I have” Boomer smiled “So you never had to open a new bucket of pickles?”
Boomer grabbed a knife and began to make a series of cuts along the lid’s rim in regular intervals. Then he asked Dale for the aluminum tool he was struggling with earlier. Boomer placed the tool between the cuts and started to pry open the lid, one section at a time until it was off.
Dale looked embarrassed “I thought the tool alone was all you needed”, he said. Dale waved to Boomer to go back to whatever he was doing.
Meanwhile the cardboard box was still on the floor and the chili had started to soak into the bottom. Boomer figured he could still get everything out there in one trip, but he heard Dales calls for help once more.
“Boomer! Come to the ladies rest room!” Dale yelled.
Boomer rushed across the front line, down the hallway, and to his horror was a disgusting mess. The toilet was backed up and had overflowed all over the floor.
Dale shook his head and told Boomer to go ahead and clean it up, while he called the manager that closed last night to let him know he missed something.
Soon, Dale was on the phone and Boomer was on the plunger. Boomer was always the one to fix the toilet. For some reason you could have twenty people working or just three and if something went wrong in either restroom, Boomer was the one chosen to fix it.
After Boomer started to do some plunging, moping, and disinfecting, the rest of the opening crew started to clock-in. and even though it was only 9:00 am, the whole crew area was buzzing with activity to prepare for opening the doors at 10:00 am. Amy was slicing onions, and Norma was prepping lettuce for the salad bar, and Boomer finally was able to grab his soggy box of bad chili and other scraps and begin his run to the dumpster.
He lifted the box up and kicked open the back door. Then he ran at a fast pack toward the dumpster at the back of the parking lot. He thought he would make it and all would be well. About ten feet short of the dumpster, disaster struck. The bottom of the box could not take it anymore. Boomer felt the now room temperature chili run down the front of his apron and pants and he could hear it splattering on the parking lot. Then it got worse. The chili made it so slippery that he fell backwards into the chili and the momentum carried him right into the side of the dumpster.
Boomer was on his back, soaking in chili with one leg on each side of the corner of the dumpster. The box landed on his head and was dripping even more chili on his face and chest. The scraping action of the sliding had left him sore, but his pride was more injured. Boomer struggled to get up and limped back to the back room. Amy who was slicing onions looked at Boomer and was crying, but it was the onions that made her cry because she immediately began laughing.
One thing that Boomer did not realize is that the District Manager arrived while he was out at the dumpster. Boomer knew he would arrive soon, so he figured out the fastest way to get cleaned up. Boomer climbed up on a couple milk crates and stood up in the three-compartment sink. He had his left foot in the middle compartment and his right foot in the left compartment. He grabbed the sprayer and started to wash off all the chili, garbage, blood, and grime he acquired in the parking lot.
He did not get very far when the District manager and Dale came around the corner and they got an eyeful of Boomer spraying himself down, fully clothed, standing in a sink.
The District Manager was Mike Lucas. Mike was about six feet tall, blond hair, and a face that looked like the moon. He worked his way up at Burger Eddy’s since he was a pimple-faced teen. His face still bears those scars. Mike was stunned by the sight of Boomer, but just chuckled a bit and shook his head. Dale looked like he was sweating razor blades. Boomer was obviously concerned that he might have blown the inspection.
In the end, the inspection was good. The store did above average in all counts except for one. The parking lot was give a low rating because of a bunch of garbage and spilled chili right next to the dumpster.