It was 2004 and I’d just moved the kids and I to a high rise complex. Then I got a job at the doughnut store across the street. It was almost perfect. There was a daycare in our building so I just took the kids downstairs and walked across the street. I could be there in under five minutes. The only problem was my boss. He was beyond weird. One day, or even one moment, he’d be jubilant, praising me to the skies for something that was perfectly normal, like mopping a slushy floor.
“You’re my best employee,” he’d exclaim, “The best employee ever.”
Then he’d flip and he’d start literally offering me to his customers.
“She’s useless, absolutely useless! Take her… take her!!!”
The customers would shuffle awkwardly then hurry for the door as soon as their order was complete.
Then one day I came in for my shift and went to work at the cash only to be told he didn’t want me to work there, which was my usual spot. So I moved to the bagel counter and was told the same thing. So I asked where he wanted me to work.
“Nowhere,” he retorted, “you’re fired!”
A short while later I went in to get my last paycheque. I found it lying on the floor under the shelf they usually sat, marred with foot prints. He’d literally stomped all over it. He asked if I had a job yet, even though it had only been a week, and smiled when I told him no.
A year went by and I found work at a call centre representing a major internet provider. It wasn’t the best job but I was making $12/hr and was only a few months away from getting benefits. The kids and I were going out shopping one morning and just missed the bus. We could have gone home to wait but the kids wanted bagels so we walked across the street and went inside. The boss’s wife was behind the counter. She was quiet but polite, as usual. We ate our bagels then the kids asked for doughnuts. And that was when the boss came in.
He pushed his wife aside without a word and took our order. His face was like sunshine and his grin beamed.
“So, do you have a job yet?” he asked. His grin said he expected the answer to be no.
My smile widened until it was almost as big as his. “Yes, I have,” I replied and his smile disappeared.
“I’ve got a full time job with major internet service provider,” I continued. “I make $12 an hour and I’ll have benefits in a couple more months.”
He didn’t even say a word. He spun around and stalked into the back of the store. I figured he was going to his office. His wife took over the order and quickly completed it. Then she looked up and said, “Oh!” in surprise before running out of the store. I looked up too in order to see him in his partly backed out car while she urgently talked through the window.
He was so mad at me that I’d moved on in my life and got a better job than the one he’d offered that he had stormed out of the building. Even though he’d just arrived. Even though he hadn’t so much as said “hi” to his wife.
We walked out the door in silence then Kait looked up from her doughnut and said, “Mom, that man’s really weird!”
I laughed. “You don’t even know the half of it.”