Clocking Out

I can make it. I can make it,” Tony glanced at his watch as he pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot. 7:59 a.m. He hoped the manager would give him a minute or two of leeway even though it was his first day on the job. He parked, pulled the key from the ignition, and got out of the car in a rush. Halfway to the back entrance, he realized he left his nametag hanging on the rear-view mirror.

Tony grunted in frustration and ran back to his car. Once he shut the car door again, he jogged toward the restaurant. He checked the time on the way. 7:60 a.m.

Huh?” He watched the number changed to 7:61 a.m. “Huh.” Tony shrugged mentally. “Must be a software glitch.” He decided. With that matter settled his eyes widened. “I’m late!” He remembered he was standing in the parking lot and ran in through the back door. He made it to the timeclock without running into anyone and manage to relax slightly once he clocked in. He checked his time to see how late he was and the system showed 7:59 a.m. “Wait…” Tony checked his watch. 7:59 a.m.

“Great. Right on time,” his manager’s voice boomed behind him. “C’mon Tony,” he patted the young man on the back. “Let’s teach you how to open.” The manager kept Tony busy for the next few hours by teaching him their opening procedures. Tony checked his watch often but did not catch any more strange times.

At 11:30 a.m. he sat down with a burger for his lunch break. He enjoyed watching the customers while he ate. Tony was new to town and wanted to get a feel for the people in the city. This was his first time out on his own and he felt very proud about that. So proud that he got a tattoo the day before to celebrate his job and the start of his own life.  At 11:55 a.m. his stomach gurgled while he washed his hands. He checked his watch and decided he had time to step into a stall.

Five minutes later, Tony’s stomach was still gurgling as he sat in the stall. He stared at his watch as it turned over from 11:59 a.m. to 11:60 a.m. He relaxed slightly.

Again? Wait, that’s a good thing.” He remembered the incident from that morning. He made it to work on time when he shouldn’t have. “Okay. Let’s try this out.” He kept his focus on the watch as much as he could while he finished his business. Finally, at 11:64 a.m. he washed his hands as best he could while still keeping an eye on the watch. He walked out of the bathroom focused on the watch.  He made it as far as the kitchen before he realized how quiet everything was. The usual restaurant din of conversations was gone.

Tony looked up and found everyone still as a statue. One of the cooks stood by the sin, filling a pot, but the water was not flowing. A solid strand of water connected the tap to the pot. He checked his watch. 11:65 a.m.

I should clock in.” he decided to do that before anything else. He moved towards the timeclock, but the manager’s office door opened. The short, stout manager stepped out and smirked at Tony.

“Hey, I don’t mind if you’re running a bit late here and there and want to catch up. That’s fine with me and all, but try not to overdo it, okay?” he asked. Tony whipped around to check the cook by the sink. He was still frozen and the water was not moving. He looked back at his boss.

“What’s going on??” A loud belly laugh came from his boss.

“You don’t know? Ah, that’s so great.” The older man clapped his hands together to focus. “Alright, this is gonna be fun. Real easy, did you get a tattoo recently?”  Tony nodded but did not say anything. How could he have known? The tattoo was on the back of his calf, there was no way for his boss to see it through Tony’s black slacks.

“With the number 14?” he asked. Again, Tony nodded. Speechless.

“Go clock in, time will start again. Finish your shift, we’ll talk after.”

“Yes, Sir,” Tony said and walked to the timeclock.

“Man, I told you all morning. Call me, Mundo,” his boss replied.

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