Short Story – The Break Room

No matter where you are bathroom time is the best moment to question the existence of God. You think God must have felt like shitting on you, since you hate your co-workers: Kiss Ass Dave, Never Do Shit Derek and Big Booty Felicia – who runs game on you but probably does more than flirt with the managers.

You go to the last stole in the bathroom because customers find the first is ripe for a quick response. You don’t get upset after the toilet flushes the sink never runs. Shaking hands with customers only happens at an office. You shrug your shoulders when you notice there is no toilet tissue. Wiping your ass is secondary to hiding it.

Staring at the schedule that crinkled in your pocket does nothing for your enthusiasm. It disappeared weeks ago ever since you learned that Big Booty Felicia always gets the schedule she wants. You think about flushing the schedule down the toilet. But showing up for the wrong shift can only be pulled off once.

Your last fifteen-minute break was your only. Being scheduled just enough hours not to have lunch is Jerk Jake, your supervisor’s way of managing hours. “Keith, time is money,” he said an hour ago when he handed you a copy of the weekly schedule. Yet he assigns you a full shift of tasks on a four-hour shift. Your smile hides your disdain. To add further deception, you crack a joke, “I’ll get it done quicker than an express line can check out.” But he doesn’t laugh. His back has been turned since he stopped giving directions. The last time he spoke to you and not at you was the first day you started.

According to the five customers that have come in and out the bathroom only ten minutes has gone by, the bathroom door opens and closes about a customer every other minute. You’re glad a Dad with a crying baby hasn’t entered (they always throw your timing off). And instead of counting customers to guestimate time, you hope the dirty diaper doesn’t force you to leave.

You reach for your cell phone only to remember it’s in your locker. The Assistant Store Manager, Jamel, has a hard about having cell phones on the sales floor. You let it go because calling corporate over the hypocrisy isn’t big enough. Ever since he showed up you can’t claim the managers’ actions are racially motivated. But how they operate still makes your stomach turn.

You wonder how close you can get to the end of your shift without getting caught. February 9th will forever be the standard – three hours on a five-hour shift!  All the previous fucks-ups were one long learning curve. But you never forget the close call the day Jerk Jake claimed you abandoned your job since he couldn’t find you for over an hour. But your excuse, going to the maintenance closet to pick up a caution sign saved your job. You crossed your chest and kissed the sky for the spilled milk in diary.

You remember Kiss Ass Dave had wanted you to help him take out boxes from the compressor at one. He won’t waste a minute looking for you and page your name again and again and again over the loudspeaker until you appear. It’s five minutes to one and you decide to flush the toilet before your cover is blown. You pour water on your face and back to advertise the journey.

Rashaun J. Allen (@rashaunjallen) received his MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from SUNY Stony Brook. He’s eyeing agents to help publish his coming of age story, Christine’s Dream – A Memoir of Love, Loss & Life. He is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment and has been published in TSR: The South Hampton Review, Rigorous, Tishman Review and is forthcoming in Fourth GenreT. When not writing he runs for the thrill of crossing the finish line. Find more of his work at www.rashaunjallen.com.

Rashaunjallen.com is not an official Fulbright Program site. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of its author and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.”

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