The Box's Pandora part 15

The Corner Diner was located at the intersection of Main Street and 1st Avenue, right in the center of town. It was only open from breakfast through lunch, but was considered something of a local fixture.

For the last two days, I’d been working here as a waitress, and I was starting to get the hang of my new job. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the uniform, or with the way some of the guys stared at my breasts or butt, but that all seemed to be part of the job. I just kept reminding myself that the pay and tips would be useful, especially when Jake and I were so low on cash.

We were in what I’d been told was the slow period, right between brunch and lunch. I finished cleaning off one table, and looked around the diner. There were only three remaining customers, sitting at two separate tables. If today was anything like yesterday, then within an hour, everything would be picking up again, and soon we’d be packed.

One of our customers was an old man, who was sitting by himself and nursing a cup of coffee. The other two customers were sitting with each other, talking excitedly. Or at least, one of the two men was talking, while the pretended to pay attention.

“Two women last night,” the talkative one was saying, holding up two fingers. “I had two women at the same time last night, so let me tell you…I am tired…”

With a fake smile, I went up to their table and asked, “Would either of you like a refill?” I held up the coffee pot.

“Sure thing, honey,” the talkative one said, giving me a suggestive look that really made me want to punch him. However, I held my fake smile and poured his coffee instead. The other one put a hand over his cup to show that he didn’t want any, though he never actually said anything. While I was doing this, the talkative one stared at my chest, more than a little too long, and smirked. “If you play your cards right, you might earn a BIG tip…” Then he burst out laughing.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” I responded, trying to stay pleasant and polite, like I’d been told. It wasn’t easy.

Once I was well away from the table, and out of hearing, I was approached by the other waitress on shift. Danielle was young and pretty, with bleached blonde hair, a couple visible tattoos, and a fondness for the color pink, as her lipstick and nails attested. She was also the one who’d been training me for this job.

“And now you’ve met Tom Adams,” Danielle told me, giving a dark look towards the man I’d just been talking to. “Unfortunately, he’s a regular…”

“Great,” I said with a sigh, realizing that this meant I’d have to deal with him again, if I worked here for any length of time. “I take it that he has a reputation…”

“Oh, definitely,” Danielle told me with a wry smile. “He comes in about once or twice a week, usually bragging about his latest conquests, and hitting on anything with breasts.”

I glanced back at Tom, while trying not to look as though I was doing so. He was middle-aged, a bit on the hefty side, and not especially attractive. It was hard to think of him as a ‘ladies man’.

“I take it most of those conquests are all in his mind,” I commented wryly.

Danielle laughed at that. “You’d think. But somehow, he really does have a way of getting women into his bed.” She shuddered at that. “I can’t imagine why any woman would want to, though.”

“Me either,” I agreed, feeling nauseated at the very thought.

“Oh,” Danielle said, giving me a thoughtful look, especially at my chest. However, instead of leering like Tom had been doing, her look was more appraising. “You’ve got some nice assets. If you showed the girls off a little more, it would really help with the tips. At least, from the guys…”

“Um…thanks,” I responded self-consciously.

“And if you lose all that goth war paint, that would help too,” she added.

I gave a forced smile, and politely said, “I’ll think about it…”

Just then, another man came into the diner, and Danielle put on a bright smile and told me, “I’ve got this one…” From her smile and the way she hurried to the customer, I figured that she either liked this guy, or he was a big tipper. Maybe both.

About this time, Astrid came out from the kitchen and returned to her usual spot behind the counter, and next to the register. From what I’d seen, she spent most of the day going back and forth between the counter and the kitchen, keeping an eye on both the front and back of the house, while helping wherever she was needed.

“Pan,” Astrid said to get my attention. She gave me a pleasant smile. “Why don’t you take your break now, before it gets too busy.”

“All right,” I responded eagerly, looking forward to getting off my feat for a bit. I’d never realized that being a waitress could be so tiring.

A minute later, I was in the back room of the diner, the small one that served as both a break room, and a place for employees to store their personal belongings while working. I poured myself a cup of coffee from the pot that was bubbling away, then sat back to drink it, and simply enjoy not being on my feet. I still wasn’t a huge fan of the flavor, but after the last two days, I was definitely starting to appreciate the power of caffeine.

My eyes went over to the cabinet where my jacket was hanging, with the gun hidden in the inside pocket. Astrid knew that I had the gun, just like she knew why I had it. All that she asked, was that I keep it put away and out of sight, unless I absolutely needed it. If that did happen, then she’d probably pull out that shotgun hidden beneath the counter.

“So, this is what it’s like,” I said, taking a small sip of my coffee and scowling. “Being an adult and having to go to work.”

I couldn’t imagine having to do this five days a week, for decades on end. I shuddered at the thought, already missing my childhood and wishing that I could go back to being a kid. Of course, there were other things I wished for even more, but none of them were going to happen. After all, the dead couldn’t just come back to life, no matter how much I wanted it.

When my break was over, I went back out to the main part of the diner and immediately saw that Tom and his buddy were gone. At the same time, an elderly couple had come in and were waiting. Danielle nodded towards them, indicating that I could have that table, so with a forced smile, I went to take their orders.

A short time later, I carried a tray of food to the elderly couple, gritting my teeth and trying to keep a friendly smile on my face while Danielle snickered from the other side of the restaurant. As soon as I’d approached the table to take their order, the old woman had given me a look of disgust, then launched into a vicious lecture about my appearance. Obviously, she wasn’t a fan of my look.

“Here you go,” I announced, trying to sound polite as I set the food in front of them. “Chicken fried steak and the chef’s special…”

“Thank you,” the old man said politely, however, his wife gave me another dirty look.

“Why would they hire someone who looks like this?” the old woman demanded her of her husband again, not seeming to care that I was standing right there. “She has so much makeup on, she looks like a raccoon… And all those piercings… It’s disgraceful is what it is…” Her husband gave me an apologetic look but didn’t say anything.

“Is there anything else I can do for you?” I asked, trying to keep to the script that Astrid and Danielle had given me.

“See,” the woman, added, “When you drop out of school, this is the only kind of job you can get…”

I bit my tongue on that one, since unlike most of her insults, that one hit a tender spot. It wasn’t until that moment, that I realized that I actually was a high school dropout. With the way I looked now, there was absolutely no way I could go back to school.

“Don’t mind Mrs. Lawton,” Astrid told me a minute later. “That woman has had a stick up her ass for as long as I can remember. She never has a good word for anyone, but she is a regular, so we have to deal with her.”

“I can bite my tongue,” I said with a touch of bitterness in my tone.

Astrid chuckled. “I’d appreciate that.”

Somehow, I managed to keep avoid saying anything back to that rude woman, though it was quite a challenge. Eventually, she and her husband left, and I let out a sigh of relief. Then, I discovered that Mrs. Lawton left one final insult, by not leaving so much as a nickel for a tip.

“Being an adult sucks,” I muttered to myself as I went to work cleaning the table.

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