They Came For Munchies
I’ve never understood why everyone wants Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. In the store, it’s always been pretty mild on Christmas Day and even Christmas Eve despite the increased business. Even with a little chaos, it’s always a nice time and with the added benefit of a bit of extra money. Still, they want these days and New Year’s Eve off, so I usually clean up with the extra pay.
I’ve nothing against people who enjoy partying, but it can be weird on New Year’s Eve. The holiday pay is worth it. After the first few unusual costumes, it’s hard to be surprised by anything; unless you work at Paul’s Eats, Smokes, and More like me.
This year didn’t disappoint, though I hoped it would, as I punch in at five in the evening. Nothing holiday related appears until around eight p.m. Even then, it’s only a guy dressed up like a snowman wearing glasses for 2023. I smile until a little while later when I realize he is the opening of the floodgate. The line is stretching to the back of the store.
On a normal day, people would be grumpy when I had a line, never mind the multiple lines. These customers would treat the counter staff like they’re subhuman. Yet somehow, on New Year’s Eve, they always seem extra cheerful and patient, and this year is no exception. It makes it easier and more pleasant to deal with the line. I wish the customers realized how they act on nights like these. It makes the line go quicker. My money will always go to betting against them learning it and changing the other 364 days of the year.
I get some reprieve about an hour later and think it might be a fairly smooth night, but I have jinxed myself. An octopus on spider legs and a broccoli stalk with roots for legs walks in the front door. I keep my jaw from dropping.
The two seem to sense they are the center of attention as everyone stares at them. That the broccoli is sweating, and the octopus looks like it has been under a heat lamp too long doesn’t help. I almost want to make a joke about stir fry. Like any other customer, they walk to the counter.
The stalk of broccoli leans over the counter and politely says, “We come in peace and in search of munchies.”
I half want to laugh and half hope he doesn’t keel over at almost seven feet tall as I reply calmly, “We have plenty of munchies, but you have money, right?”
Broc pulls out a stack of hundreds asking, “Will this be enough?”
I can only reply by saying, “Yes, but I don’t have any change.”
“We’re only here for the night. Keep whatever is left.” Octopus chimes in with a deep, gurgling voice.
I stare at the cash. It’s enough to buy everything in the store for munchies and still leave me a nice bonus. Cha-Ching! I take a few breaths to center myself before nodding. I walk over to the door and flip the lock so people can only exit. My heart is racing a thousand miles a minute. I thank whatever deity is watching over me for not having my usual coffee energy drink since I’d probably be dead now.
I look at them and say, “Octopus, you definitely need some hydration. We have plenty of water over there in the cooler section. Broc, my friend, you need to cool down. There are plenty of frozen munchies in the freezer behind you.”
Customers are still stunned. They aren’t moving at all. The only thing I can do is go back to the register and get the line moving again. I text my boss in between customers. He needs to be there in the next hour. The only reply is a ‘laugh out loud’ emoji, but he is on his way. I only have a few customers afterward, and somehow Broc and Octopus have disappeared without me noticing them emptying the coolers of everything non-alcoholic and frozen. I finish locking the door as Ted comes walking in from the back.
He notices the empty shelves and me locking the door before asking, “What happened? We get robbed?”
I pull out the money, replying, “No, it was all paid for by an octopus and a stalk of broccoli.”
Something falls out in a black box out of the corner of my eye. I see Ted smile as he understands and clues me in. “I told those two to keep a low profile.”
“Well, I have a funny feeling they ran into someone selling some extra strong weed,” I add so that he might picture what I had gone through.
He picks up the black box handing it to me, explaining as he does calculations, “They seem to like you. They gave you a copy of the next major smartphone with a few perks.”
“Wait. do you mean this is the next-gen in mobile, and what perks?” I ask, looking at the black box.
“Relax, I think they know you are new. Looks like they gave you the one due out next year. Those two have done more obtuse things for gifts before,” Ted answers. He chuckles as he hands me what’s left of the money.
“How are you not a billionaire?” I ask, a bit confused.
He laughs. “You may have done this job a while, but you’ve only seen a handful of the perks. There are other ways to be rich. Plus, you now have no cell phone bill with that new phone. Have a happy New Year, and spend it with someone special.”
I smile as I realize he is right and punch out. Heading out the door, I think to myself, I know exactly where I want to be for the ball dropping. The door closes behind me. This job will only get weirder, but I am richer for it. Ted is right. It isn’t in the money. There are different ways to be rich.