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Sandwiches - a Short Story

Unemployed

Patty Collins, wearing a surgical mask, assembles sandwiches at her station. About half the stations are empty, mask wearing workers occupy the other stations. Patty is about twice the age of her co-workers but she works twice as fast. A voice over the intercom tells her to report to human resources. Patty knows that can’t be good.

She is upset when she comes home. Her mother, Ruth, is sleeping in a reclining chair, an old movie is on the television. Her adult son, Brandon, is watching something on his tablet, and wearing ear buds, in the solarium. John, her husband, greets her.

“Something wrong?”

“They laid me off.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I don’t believe it! I work harder than anyone there, and I get laid off. ‘Last hired first fired’. What was I paying union dues for?”

“Because they can get you last hired first fired.”

“What about the last time I got laid off?”

“You priced yourself out of the market.”

“Priced myself out by working hard and getting good performance reports?”

“You got it.”

Ruth screams, “Is anybody here!”

“We’re here Mom!”

Patty and John hurry to her mother.

“I woke up and everyone was gone.”

“I just came home from work, but John was working in the den.”

Ruth turns to John.

“Are you John?”

“Yes, I’m John, your son-in-law.”

“Patty, you got married?”

“We’ve been married.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“You were at the wedding.”

“I’m tired.”

The Job Hunt

Patty is at her laptop and scrolls through a job site. Advertisements on the browser have Memorial Day sales. Ruth screams “Where is everybody?”

“We’re here mom!” On the way to her mother Patty gives a disappointed glance at Brandon, who is watching his tablet oblivious to anything else.

*

Patty is job searching on her laptop. She’s in the living room next to her mother. There’s an old movie on the television. Ruth is sleeping. John comes home and steps to the living room.

“Hi Pat. How’s your mother doing?”

“The same, she sleeps, she wakes up, lost track of how many times I had to tell her it was October.”

“You’ve been job searching all day?”

“You know the rules, if you don’t have a job finding a job is your job.”

“Pat, you’re 63 years old, unemployment is generous, we don’t need the money. When it runs out apply for social security.”

“What are you saying?”

“Don’t look so hard. Just the two required applications per week.”

“I don’t want to just sit around watching movies with dead actors.”

“I’m not going to fall for that trap Pat.”

“What trap.”

“I say there’s housework and you give me a lecture.”

Ruth wakes up. “Patty, who’s he.”

“I’m John mom, you’re son-in-law.”

“You two got married? Why didn’t you tell me?”

Patty smiles, “You were at the wedding and paid for the reception. Thank you very much.”

Patty’s cellphone rings, “Hello”.

Patty mouths to John, “watch this.”

“1975.” The other party hangs up.

“They give their spiel then ask what year I graduated high school. When I tell them they click off.”

*

Patty answers her cellphone, “Hello.”

“May I speak to Ms. Patty Collins?”

“This is she.”

“I’m Karel Svoboda, I’ve got a job opening.”

“Is this a sales job?”

“No, It’s in a restaurant.”

The Jobs

Patty is in a booth inside a restaurant, “Torpedoes and Buns”, across from her is Karel Svoboda. The restaurant is closed. A couple of employees are getting the restaurant ready for the opening. Karel is about 40 and he speaks with a slight Eastern European accent.

“We don’t have any openings for sandwich makers right now. We have some server positions.”

Patty hesitates, “Alright.”

“Would you have any problem with wearing our uniform?”

Patty senses Karel is withholding something. “What do the uniforms look like?”

Karel points to a picture on the wall. It’s a picture of the serving staff. They are wearing shorts. The men have T-shirts with a torpedo sandwich design on them. The women have low cut shirts with a pair of bun sandwiches on them.

“No, no problem.”

*

Patty parades into the living room with a big smile. John is on the couch next to Ruth.

“I got the job.”

“Congratulations! What is the job?”

“A waitress.”

“You, a server?”

“A yearlong search, I can’t be choosy.”

John yells, “You hear that Bandon! Mom got a job!”

Brandon is in the dining room wearing a set of earplugs and watching his tablet.

“Hi Mom.”

“Have you finished the paperwork?”

John shouts, “We finished and filed the paperwork. It’s on the table.”

Patty opens the folder. She looks through the paperwork.

“Attendant care. Sitting around the house doing next to nothing. You’ll be making more than me.”

John steps in, “Welcome to America in the 21st century.”

*

Patty carries a sandwich tray to a table. Karel is with a man in a suit about his age.

“Karel, what were you thinking hiring her?”

“I was thinking someone who wanted a job, not a paycheck.”

“She doesn’t exactly fit our image.”

“Fast, friendly, and flawless service. If that’s not our image it should be.”

A plaque on the wall reads “Employee of the Month” and has a picture of Patty in her server’s uniform.

The End

© 2022 Robert Sacchi