Matt and Margie rolled into the Shopaminit at four minutes after four –an hour and four minutes late.
Two customers were in the store. One was at the register, but Margie started in the second she stepped through the door.
“This place is a mess,” she said, loudly. “The floor needs to be swept and mopped. Rose get a bucket. Matt you take the register.”
Matt looked over at Rose, but Rose didn’t budge.
“Is there something wrong with your hearing?” Margie demanded.
“You’re late,” Rose said, simply. “One hour and four minutes. You said you’d be back at three. You’re an hour late –and by the way, Greg’s wife called. The doctor wants to keep him out for at least another week.”
“We got held up,” Matt said, quickly.
Margie bulldozed past him and said to Rose, “You’re skating on thin ice.”
The other customer, hovering toward the end of the chips and crackers aisle, decided he could get something elsewhere with less drama.
“You owe me $500,” Rose said, flatly.
“We do not,” she said, predictably.
Rose didn’t hold back. “You were supposed to be back at three, but that was renegotiated from when Matt said you’d be back by noon. I am nearly eight months pregnant and I covered your entire weekend, so you could get away for the weekend. It wasn’t even a real vacation. It was a sales pitch for a time share condo.”
Margie stood there stonily.
“Matt lied to me and you lied to me,” she said. “Now, pay me what you owe me and let me go home and put my feet up.”
Matt put his hand, gently on Margie’s shoulder and said, “Let’s talk this over,” but Margie shrugged his hand off. Apparently, she’d been fuming for hours.
“There is nothing stopping you from leaving,” she said. “You are free to walk out that door, but if you do before this floor is cleaned and this store is straightened up, you’re out of a job. We put you in charge because we believed you could handle the responsibility, but all I see that we’re getting from you is disrespect.”
Rose nodded and then stepped around the counter.
She stood in front of Margie and said, “Your pepperoni rolls really aren’t that good. They taste cheap.”
Then she left the store.
Matt began calling her an hour after she left, asking where things were and apologizing for Margie’s temper tantrum. The trip, it turned out, hadn’t been as restful as either of them had hoped. Even the in-room cable television was loaded with sales pitches for the time share units.
“And she got a burned waffle this morning at breakfast,” he said. “It really set her on the wrong path.”
Matt promised that if Rose would just let things blow over for a couple of days, he’d see about getting Rose her job back. He’d even try to get the money they owed her, but then suggested they could maybe do that in trade.
“You could help yourself to the coolers for drinks and snacks until we were square.”
She told him she’d think about it then hung up.
At nine o’clock Margie called to apologize, which turned into another round of accusations and insults after Rose told them she didn’t intend to come in to open the store in the morning. She also told them she didn’t know where the key to the pumps was.
Matt had, apparently, lost his.
When they called again at 11, Rose just didn’t pick up. They could figure it out or not. She really didn’t care that much.
Instead, she took out the phone number she got from Skip. He was resting at a bed at the Cleveland Clinic. They were going to run some tests and keep him for a couple of days, but he said he’d be OK.
“Just got to cut out the smoking,” he said.
Then he asked her what it was she wanted of him.
“Skip, I need a job,” she said.
On the other end of the line, Skip McAllister paused for just a second and then asked her, “Rose, what are your politics like?”
Honestly, she hadn’t thought much about it, she said. She voted more with her gut than with her heart.
She said, “I don’t vote for anybody who promises to make everything bad go away because all they end up doing is raising my taxes. I don’t vote for people who tell me how I ought to think or what I ought to do with my life.”
“What do you think of the president?” He asked.
“I think he’s a raging jerk of a man,” she said. “I think he’s cruel and bad to the people around him. I think he lies almost as much as he breathes. He scares people, he’s a bully, but I’d vote for him again.”
Skip laughed and said, “You’re hired. I know some people. We’ll get you working.”