I looked down and noticed my pants were unzipped, which explained the draft. "It won't happen again," I said, waiting until Spatz returned his attention to his clipboard before reaching for my open fly.
"Each time I have been assured that it will not happen again. This is your fourth tardy in two months. Look, Mister Jenkins, I'm not here to give you a hard time. I want you to succeed. I want you to have a long, happy employment here at Peachy Burroughs." Mr. Spatz flashed me his trademarked unctuous smile as he handed me the clipboard. "Please sign here."
I'd been accused of being late, of forgetting my employee identification card, of having a dirty uniform, and of improper hygiene (not shaving completely). I informed Mr. Spatz that I was growing a mustache. The employee handbook stated that mustaches were the only facial hair employees were allowed to cultivate. Goatees, beards, sideburns lower than the earlobe, or any other creative types of facial hair were strictly verboten, as were visible tattoos, piercings, and unnatural hair colors, but the employee handbook said I could have a mustache.
Mr. Spatz looked even more disappointed than usual. "I don't know if I would call that a mustache, but very well. I'll strike that comment from the record." I signed the form. He handed me my pink copy that saidFor Employees Records at the bottom. "Now, chop chop," Spatz said, clapping his hands. "Clean your face off and get your vest on. There is a dining room to set up." Mr. Spatz turned to leave but paused a moment. "I will be studying your performance closely this afternoon, Mister Jenkins. Any more mess ups and you'll be no longer employed here at Peachy Burroughs." Then he was gone.
I went into the employee bathroom and washed my face but my cut still bled. I grabbed the vest from my locker and went down to the first aid kit in the kitchen for a Band-Aid. The only bandages were the size of a large butterfly. I had no choice. My little black and gold vest almost but not quite covered the blood on my shirt.