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The Kid Was A Brat
“I want it right NOW!” I was working an early morning shift at our local Toys ‘R’ Us on a foggy Tuesday. I had opened the front, turned on all the lights, and swept the floor of the employee waiting room. I had been filling the coffee machine (for those who actually drank it) when I heard the first ruckus of the day. Every morning, some impatient child would drag their mother out of bed and make it a goal to see everything in the store before kindergarten started.
“Morning, Carmen.” I spun around to see my shift partner, Alex, arriving.
“Hey, I said, turning back to the machine as it started to heat up. I heard the rustle of his jacket as he took it off and laid it on the back of a chair by the door, like he always did. “Did you sweep already?” He asked, reaching for the broom.
“Oh yeah, I cleaned it really well.” I said smiling. Alex frowned back, obviously disappointed. We had an agreement that whoever showed up first to their shift and remembered to clean the floor would be exempted from facing the early birds, which usually included a spoiled five year old, screaming like its arm had just been hacked off. None of the employees enjoyed facing the demon’s wrath.
Alex searched the floor, trying to find a flaw in my work. The coffee machine beeped, telling me it was ready. I put a foam cup underneath and sniggered as I listened to Alex frantically looking for any speck of dust that he could hold against me. He stopped moving. Success, I thought. I turned around holding a cup of steaming coffee.
“For you.” I said, holding it towards him as a peace offering. He took a sip, still scanning the tiles. He stopped drinking, eyeing a spot in the left-hand corner of the room.
“I think I see some dirt over there.” I leveled up my line of sight with his, seeing nothing.
“No, there isn’t.”
“Yes, there definitely is something there.”
“Alex, stop being a baby.”
“Hmph.” He put his cup down on the folding stable in the middle of the room, walked over to behind the door and began to put his apron on.
I crossed my arms, watching him pout.
“Tell you what: I will do it next time as a freebee.”
“That still doesn’t make me feel any better.”
Ok, then I’ll be on standby if anything goes amiss.”
Suddenly, he and I heard a call coming from the main floor.
“Hello? Anyone? We’re ready to check out!”, promptly followed by the screech of a banshee.
“...Fine.” He opened the door and began walking down the brick hallway into the the warehouse. I quickly grabbed my apron and followed him down. There they were, Check-out number seven, awaiting our depressed parade. I stood by like I promised and watched him work with the customer. He was always polite, but sometimes, the child had other ideas. This was one of those times.
“ Mommy, I WANT IT! I never get anything!” The little boy yelled. Alex was frantically scanning the toys, not wanting to be there when the child blew his roof. The kid was about six from what I could see. He had vibrant red hair and an impressive collection of freckles. He wore overalls and a green t-shirt underneath. It was obvious that his mother had given up trying to reason with her imp of a son.
“Now, Mommy, NOW! Why not, huh? GIVE it to me-yuh!” The mother ignored him. That’s when the boy lost control. He screamed bloody murder, to the high heavens, making it echo through the storehouse. He was having a huge fit, like he was possessed. As if to confirm my guess, the boy stopped abruptly, and stared at Alex like he was a very interesting specimen.
“Oh no…” I said, under my breath. I began to move towards Alex, but I was too late. The boy jumped across the counter and grabbed Alex’s hair, screaming as he now hung from my fellow employee’s head. The mother suddenly awoke from her stupor and yelled at the boy to stop and let go. I ran over to Alex who was strangely taking rather well, with the occasional ‘ouch’. I pried the little punk’s chubby fingers out of Alex’s hair, picked him up, put him on the counter, and showed him how to scan the box Alex had been working on. The kid was enthralled. After I put the box in the cart, the mother thanked me and apologized. I could have slapped her, but resisted like a trooper. As they went out the door, Alex appeared next to me with an icepack on his head.
“I hate you.” He grumbled.
“Ha, even I didn’t see that coming.” Alex sighed.
“Ah well, back to work.”
“Yep.” I said.