A condom, a cash register, and a whole lot of blood

matthew's picture

Back in the day, I promised you this story. Well, I ran across my posting, and I figured it was time.

I was working at Wendy's. Yeah. That Wendy's. The one across the street from Quince Orchard High School.

I had arrived a the grand old age of 14 in the spring, and had faced a choice of what summer job I wanted: a cush position babysitting the two darling children of a pair of rich doctors in my neighborhood for $25.00 a day, or working at Wendy's for $3.25 an hour, with a maximum of twenty hours a week due to my age.

I was a moron.

It was hard, dull work. Other than getting to work with the redoubtable Skye Hassan--the previous year's elected president of my junior high school--there was little redeeming value to the position. I worked under the young, tyrannical manager Jenny, who had as an assisant manager a thickly-accented, extremely portly manager named Mamet.

Jenny made a big deal out of being the youngest full manager of a Wendy's in the entire chain. Nineteen years old, and she ran her own place. She ended up getting sacked a year later for violating workplace safety regulations.

Believe it or not, this ties in.

So we were short-staffed today. It was only Mamet and me, him in his grease-stained white shirt and tie, and I in my grease-stained apron and manky blue pants.

You know, it's pretty amazing how polyester transforms when constantly exposed to rancid, spattered beef grease and animal fats from the deep-fryer. You can never really get all the grease out, and so, over time, the pants begin a life of their own. You see, they warm up when you wear them, and become pliable. Then you take the pants off at night and toss them in the cold closet. The next day, you fish them out (because, although you are expected to work 5 days a week, they only issue you a single pair of pants) of the bottom of the closet, and they don't unfold. They remain shaped in the same form where they'd lain all night: left leg curled up behind, right leg straight down, with a deep crease where they'd folded.

So I unfolded the pants each day. Eventually, I'd actually hear a faint crackle as the embedded grease detached from itself. When it became a struggle to force the pants to resume their leg-shaped forms, it was time to wash them.

Anyway, Mamet and I were staffing the store. I needed to put a fresh batch of fries into the fryer, so I reached down to grab the handle of the metal door which concealed the freezer under the fryer, and pulled, hard.

I missed.

I managed, however, to catch the edge of the folded sheet-metal frying basin with the inside knuckle of my right forefinger and middle finger. With that hard pull, I felt a sharp, stinging sensation. I pulled my hand away, and looked at the damage.

Cut to the bone. Blood flowing freely down my arm from my hand held in front of my face, trickling to the elbow and drip-drip-dripping on the floor. It was a bad cut.

I walked in a fog back to the manager's office: a tiny cubby nestled between the washroom and the drive-thru. "Mamet," I began.

Mamet was on the phone. He vaguely shushed me, his concentration intent on the conversation. I waited politely and dripped more blood onto the floor.

A few minutes later, he finished his conversation. "Mamet, I hurt myself," I said, "I think I may have to go home."

I held up my hand.

Mamet's eyes grew wide. "A-let-a me get-a de first-aid kit," he said in thick Puerto Rican overtones. He opened the cabinet, and we set to work fixing me up a bit and wiping up the blood. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough: blood was soaking through the gauze.

"Maybe I should go home?" I offered hopefully.

"I need you here, Matt," Mamet said. "I can't a-hope to a-hold down de store wit a-no help." He thought furiously for a moment. "I might a-be having somethin' a-could help," he began, as he started rummaging through an unusual box next to the manager's desk.

He pulled out a small, square, flat foil package with the impression of a ring inside. "What's that?" I asked naively.

"A-this?" Mamet replied. He thought for a second. "A-this..." he said grandly, "is a blood-a-stopper."

I looked at my hand. "Wow," I said, seeing the blood soaking through the thick gauze on my fingers, "I cold sure use one of those!"

"You bet!" Mamet replied enthusiastically. He ripped open the package, and pulled out the thin rubber ring. "A-hold up-a your two fingers," he commanded. I obeyed.

He unrolled the funny-looking, clear, rubber, ribbed blood-stopper onto my fingers. I admired it for a few moments, as the narrow tube of latex tightly cinched together my two fingers and held back the blood. "Looks like it's going to work!" I said brightly, happy to stay at work and make more money. "But the tip looks funny," I said. "What's this little knob for?"

"Ahh," says Mamet, "That's a-de brilliant ting! If you a-start to bleed a-more, the reservoir tip will a-collect de blood!"

"Brilliant," I said.

"You bet!" he said.

The phrase "you bet" was on of Mamet's favorite phrases.

So Mamet made the executive decision that I was to run the cash register for the rest of my shift, as I shouldn't be handling foods with my fingers in such a condition, and he would handle the food preparation and grilling. I manned the cash-register brightly, as was usual, waiting expectantly for the next customers to arrive. Within a few minutes, a pair of beautiful juniors from the high-scool walked in to order.

They ordered, and I began entering their request into the register, clumsily whacking at the keys with my blood-stoppered finger.

The girls giggled.

"Dude," said one, "why are you wearing a condom on your hand?"

"It's not a condom!" I replied, not knowing what a condom was, "it's a blood-stopper!"

Matthew P. Barnson
- - - -
Thought for the moment:
damn, the autonomous mouse movement starts usually after I use a
mouse button
don't use a mouse button then :)
yeah, right :)


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Bryan's picture

Not sure which is worse...

The fact that the events happened or that i'm not suprised by the details at all. Since that Wendy's was my first job also the story fits with the managers. I worked with Mamet and the person that replaced Jenny.


Timpane's picture

Ketchup Available Upon Request....

heh.. there was that sign outside the pickup window..

"Ketchup Available upon request"

I must have stolen 3 of them in my years in that area.

Hee hee.

NVZ: NINJAS VS ZOMBIES - THE MOVIE - www.nvzmovie.com

JB's picture

Not such a great place....

I remember stories from you of when they would ask you to start work early or work late, but still not be "punched" in because they didn't want to pay for overtime....

matthew's picture

Yeah, I did it

Yep, I did clock in late and clock out early, still working.

You gotta understand, I was fifteen. Jenny was a psychotic slave-driver, but she was hot, and nineteen...

'nuff said.

Matthew P. Barnson

Matthew P. Barnson


Hello Matthew... I had friends who worked there too. Do you know whatever happened to Skye?

matthew's picture

Lost touch...

Skye and I lost touch after she started hanging out with her boyfriend with the candy-apple-red 1970's Camaro. Beautiful car, nice guy, but we just stopped hanging out together and never got back in touch.

Matthew P. Barnson

Matthew P. Barnson


Me too... it's like she just disappeared. She went to G-burg High, right? I don't think Q.O. was open yet. Also, do you remember Aubrey from that Wendy's?