Price Breaks and Heartaches
a journal of retail and failed romance
The Fries And The Fury
Autumn gave way to winter and winter brought Ranya.
Ranya had a figure that caused over a dozen accidents in the kitchen during her first day of work. She had reddish-blonde hair, candy-green eyes and a Greco-Serbian accent.
She was a college student working at Empire Burger to earn some extra money and by the end of the first day all the guys were hot for her and all the women hated her. Since I was still fixated on Lilly I was the only one of her co-workers not hitting on her or making catty comments. As a result she spent a lot of time talking to me. As we talked and she opened up more and more I came to realize something that I think no one else did.
Ranya was crazy.
Now I don’t mean lovably ditzy, or artistically eccentric, the girl was nuts.
“And that is why I carved my name in his arm.” Ranya whispered as we washed out the metal fry baskets. The store was closed and everyone was hurrying to be finished. Mr. Prowse was pacing around looking for someone to yell at, since he had forbidden employees to talk to each other while they were on the clock he had a lot of material to work with.
“Carved?” I asked, “You’re kidding.”
“No I carved. Carved. Carved. Carved. I used one of those big kitchen knives to do it. What else could I do? He gave me such a good orgasm.”
“I don’t know, a nice gift basket?”
Ranya shrugged, “I wanted him to do the same for me but he just ran out of the house. He broke up with me the next day but I showed him I rubbed one of my tampons under the door handle of his car. Isn’t that funny?"
“Well, it’s original.” I said trying not to stand too close.
Suddenly one of the twins barged in between us, “Hey Ranya, how’s it going?”
“Good.” She smiled toothily, “Great. How are you Stuart?”
“Uh, actually I’m Cyril.”
I piped up, “You know you guys should really wear your name tags.”
Cyril just gave me a glare, “Not wearing our name tags is how Stuart and I stick it to the man.”
“Oh really?” Ranya leaned forward until Cyril’s eyes started to bug out of his skull, “I like a rebel. You want to help me take the garbage out to the dumpster?”
He offered her the crook of his arm, “It would be my pleasure.”
I turned my attention back to my work, idly wondering if twenty years from now I would deal with my mid-life crisis by trying to turn these events into bad comedy.
Natalie sidled over to me, “You two seem chummy.”
“Chummy?” I said, “We were just talking. Well, she did most of the talking.”
“Oh and what about?”
“Apparently she is an existential Satanist,” I explained. “I’m not really sure what that means except for getting into fights and random nudity.”
“You don’t like her do you?” Natalie watched Ranya and Cyril bantering over bags of garbage.
“I like everyone, except for Skippy.”
“Rick took her out last weekend. He told me she bit off his St. Christopher medallion and swallowed it.”
I had to think about that one for a few moments, unsure if what Natalie was describing to me was blasphemy, foreplay or performance art. “How did Rick take that?”
“I think he bought her jewelry.”
I asked, “Was she still hungry?”
“I don’t know what guys see in her.” Natalie said.
“She’s pretty I guess.”
“I don’t think much of her personality.”
I laughed, “I don’t think any of the guys are thinking about her personality. I bet they don’t pay attention to any of the crazy things she says. You know the new guy, Pete?”
She nodded, “He’s that Born-Again Christian guy that works a split shift right?”
“Yeah. Anyway he was chatting up Ranya and she told him she was a Satanist? He told her he totally respected her decision.”
“Huh.” Natalie sat on the damp counter and crossed her arms, “Guys never seem to see what’s right under their noses.”
“Yeah.” I smiled in agreement, “Lilly is the same way, we were supposed to go out for lunch on Sunday but I guess she overslept.”
Mr. Prowse strode up to us. “You two lovebirds are being paid to work, not talk all night.”
Natalie got off the counter, “I finished up ten minutes ago.”
“And we are not lovebirds!” I said indignantly.
There were times in my youth when I wondered if the heartbreaks and humiliations that made up my love life were some kind of karmic payback. After rereading this story I’m now convinced of it.
I became as adept at navigating around my co-worker’s foibles as I did at dissembling a functioning broiler. They all thought of me as a friend and after my experiences at Nice Shopper it was like paradise with special sauce on top. December flew by, I had to work Christmas Eve but my father picked me up afterwards to take me to a family gathering. We were late to the party because he wasted an hour trying to get Ranya’s phone number. Trust me, the most dangerous place in the world is between my old man and a college aged hottie with daddy issues.