Yoharie (part seven)
The manager’s name was Dawkins. They called him Donk, not clever, but somehow supernaturally right. Donk’s habit was to give Val the eye from hair to shoes…
The rape-threatening eye. Val and Sasha liked using this term, laughing over it. Donk always said Valentine in full, because he was saying, you got a girly name.
“It feels like violence,” Val said, low-voiced.
“Valentine.” Donk on the intercom. “Get some green beans out to sides, Red Shirt just went for three.”
In the ceiling, in dummy sprinkler heads over sides, over meats, over desserts, over exits and the bathroom alcove (“C’mon, bet me Donk hasn’t got em over the stalls”) were little eyes, spying. Customers brought baggies, some gallon-sized ziplocks, a few pros shopping bags stacked with snap-lid containers. They got ID’d by Donk: Red Shirt, Skinhead, Fat Fuck, Bin Laden, Oprah, Cheeto Bandito.
These were not, maybe, Plenty House Buffet’s most valued patrons, but Val saw sense in arguments offered by the nabbed. It was supposed to be all you could eat. You already paid for it. The restaurant threw a lot out.
And how come $10.99? This is shit cafeteria food…
Besides all that, the racism. Here was a whole lawsuit waiting to happen. Sasha had a couple vids on his phone. “Yeah, Donk is toast, any time.”
Val didn’t even think, factoring the given day’s chicken legs down the pants, it was so much the money, as a kind of…state of mind. Though Donk liked to say Plenty House lost thousands.
“But they got their ten bucks. And if people are happy, they come back. I mean it can’t be just like, a chicken leg costs a dime…”
“They pay me to dump it in the fryer, so that’s chump change divided by a chicken leg. Or multiplied? You get the idea.”
“So if you’re full time, and you get health care…”
“Right. More crumbs on the bird. Pretty soon, a leg costs a dollar.”
“Isn’t there some kind of thing where you spend money to make money?”
“That’s not Donkanomics, bud.”
“Yoharie! What’s wrong with you? Move it!”
Val pulled on a pair of plastic gloves. The green bean recipe was only a gallon-sized can with a jar of pearl onions dumped on, the whole thing stuck in the steamer, carted out and dumped in a chafing bin. The beans were cooked already; it took five minutes to heat them to death ray, the temp they were served at. The gloves were for nothing, since Val didn’t really touch anything, but customers saw you working out there, and it made them happy.
(2019, Stephanie Foster)