Truth and Fries (6-27-18)

[WP] Survivors of the apocalypse are still fighting for their lives; Whataburger seems to be doing alright though. [Link to post.]

“And, why do you want to work at Whataburger?” Albert Guajardo, General Manager, asked the prospective employee, Rigo Reyes, while trying to size him up. The young man sat in the booth across from Albert, wearing his best protective gear. A set of high-school football pads, and heavily wrapped arms. His cracked football helmet rested on the table. 

“My girl’s pregnant. I can’t help rebuild humanity if I can’t provide for them,” Rigo said. It was not true, but it would be if he got the position. He did not have a girlfriend at the moment, but no Whataburger employee suffered loneliness for long. Even the perimeter guards that kept zombies out of the restaurant got paid enough food to support a family of four. 

“Can you start now?” Albert asked. Rigo nodded eagerly, but Albert explained the situation anyway. “Our cashier didn’t make it to work this morning, so we’re short-handed. To be clear, you can consider this a test. You’re not hired yet. You can work today, we’ll feed you of course, and if you do well enough I’ll hire you on full-time. Deal?” Alber offered a handshake, and Rigo shook it with vigor. 

“Deal!” he yelled. 

“Okay, c’mon to the back and I’ll show you the Barter list.” Albert slid out of the booth, then Rigo followed him behind the service counter. He pointed at a pictogram taped to the white counter, then to a scale next to it. “Use the scale to weigh their trade. 5 lbs of scrap is worth $10.00. Gas and water have their own values.” He pointed to a different pictogram taped behind the counter, out of customer view. “Those fluctuate.”

“What if they have money?” he asked. Albert shrugged and pointed the scale.

“5 lbs of scrap is worth $10.00,” he repeated. “But, I guess if they have money that means you can give them change,” he laughed. “There’s a gun under the counter, in case of trouble, but that’s unlikely.”

“You’re not kidding, those medics at the perimeter get,” Rigo coughed. “Thorough.” Albert nodded.

“You get used to it after a while,” Albert said. A buzzer rang, and a light over the entrance changed from red to green. “Customer. I’ll take care of them. Go introduce yourself to the other workers, and get a uniform on. Leah’s the shift leader, she’ll show you where they are.” Rigo walked towards to the kitchen to greet the cook standing by the flattop. A short, lean, balding man greeted Rigo with a smile.

“Hey, welcome aboard. I’m Chris,” he offered his hand. Rigo shook it and smiled in return.

“I’m Rigo, but I’m not sure I’m hired yet. Today’s just a test,” he explained. Chris dismissed the explanation with a wave of his hand.

“He says that to everyone. I’ve been testing for three months. Despite the glamour of the job,” Chris spread his arms wide and gave a slow twirl to show off his orange and white uniform to Rigo. “It’s still a hell of a commute. Some people are too scared,” Chris said. A beep drew their attention to a small rectangular box hovering over the fry pit. “Talk to you in a bit, man. I got an order.” He pointed to the back of the kitchen. “Leah’s in the office. She’ll get you set up with a uniform.” Chris turned his back to Rigo and threw two patties onto the flattop. He reached for fries while Rigo walked further back. 

He knocked on the office door, but the knock pushed it open further. He found an old woman with stringy silver hair sitting in a wheelchair. Her dark eyes lit up when she saw Rigo enter the office.

“A new face! Hello!” she said. “Need a uniform?” Rigo nodded.

“Yep. Hi, I’m Rigo. Albert said you could suit me up?” He asked. Leah backed her wheelchair up to go around the desk. Rigo realized the woman had neither of her legs below the thigh.

“Just need to take some measurements, and I’ll get started. It won’t be ready until tomorrow,” she pointed at a row of orange caps hanging from a line of hooks on the wall. “Just grab a cap for today.” She wheeled around Rigo while she spoke, pausing to use the measuring tape on his body at various points.

“Tomorrow?” Rigo asked.

“Yeah, I can’t sew a uniform in a few hours. I can, of course. But now that they need all that protective padding it takes longer,” she said while measuring his inseam. “Let me guess. He told you the first day is a test, right?” Leah asked. He nodded. “He says that to everyone,” she laughed. “Albert’s just a big ol’ softie. He’s big on humans helping each other. Oh, but don’t ever lie to him. About anything.  He takes that extra personally. Something about the world’s changed and we can only trust each other now,” Leah shrugged. “The last person he caught lying is definitely worse for it.”

“Oh. Yeah, totally. Perfect trust. That’s all we got,” Rigo said. As soon as he said that he felt a sharp slap on the center of his back.

“Doesn’t take that long to put a cap on,” Albert said loudly behind Rigo, but his booming voice also carried laughter. Albert walked into the office. “I’m just ridin’ you, it’s a slow day. Hey, did you tell Leah about your girl?”

“Oh, no. Not yet. She was just telling me that the uniform takes a day,” Rigo replied.

“Oh yeah. I always forget it takes that long, I guess you’re hired. No sense in making a uniform if you’re not. I just have one rule. Don’t ever lie to me,” Albert said. He placed a hand on Rigo’s shoulder. “To be 100% clear, I’m dead serious.” He smiled and pulled his hand from Rigo’s shoulder, then walked out the door. On the other side, he stopped and turned over his shoulder. “If you’re ever doubting it, ask Leah about her legs.”

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