Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pay It Forward

She almost dropped the dish she was carrying. What did he mean “fired”? She looked around at the restaurant full of people and then back at her manager. “What do you mean I’m fired?” she asked, in a not-so-quiet voice. “You’re doing this now?” He gave her a look of what was that, pity? Mercy?  “I’m sorry Ash, it’s just not working out. We’re going to have to let you go.” Ashley slowly turned and placed the container of tortillas on a table, then turned and walked over to the servers’ stand. She stood at the POS for a moment then turned to face the manager. “So what now Tom?” she asked, “Would you like me to finish my shift or what? It’s your call here, you’re the manager.” “Ricky’s all ready to take over your tables, so if you would transfer them over to him, and clock out, we can continue this discussion in the office.”

Fifteen minutes later Ashley Morgan found herself standing outside on the streets of Austin, Texas, jobless for the first time in her 27 years. She stood there for a moment, looking up at the front of the restaurant she had helped open five years before. Then with a sigh, she started off down the street towards her Jeep Cherokee. As she juggled to unlock the door, her phone began to ring obnoxiously.  “Hi Mom!” she said with a fake smile plastered on her face. “Hi honey! I thought you were working; I was going to just leave a message! Is everything all right? You’re not hurt are you?”  “No, no, everything’s fine Mom! I was working tonight, but it was slow, so I got cut early. I actually just got out! What’s up?”  “Well Grandma’s going to be in town tomorrow and she wanted to have brunch with you and your sister. I told her I would give you a call and see what your plans are. I told her you might have to work, but I would check.”  “Actually my schedule is wide open tomorrow, but I don’t know what Alexa’s plans are. She might have something.”  “Oh apparently this is something that your grandmother and Alexa set up for tomorrow, so she will be attending.  Great! Then I will call your grandmother and tell her that you will be there too! You’re meeting at the Driskill at 10:30 sharp, and PLEASE remember to dress up. You know how she is.”  “I will, Mom, thanks.”  “Okay darling, then I will talk to you later! Have a lovely time. And tell that wonderful man I said hello, won’t you?” “Sure Mom, I’ll tell Jordan you said hello, and I will! Love you bye!” 

Hanging up the phone, Ashley slid into the front seat of her car and dropped her head on the steering wheel. “Brunch with Grandma? And Alexa planned it? And I got FIRED?! What is going on here?!” From the passenger seat her phone began to play “Time of Your Life.”  “Hi babe.”  She held the phone away from her ear as her best friend’s voice came booming out of the phone.  “Darling! What happened? I just got a call from Margie who was eating at your restaurant and SHE said that you got sacked by that creepy looking manager with the long face. What happened? Is this because you gave Neil and I free appetizers the last two times we were there? Because we can go back and pay!” “Did you rigged my phone so it automatically goes on speaker when you call?”  “Of course darling, I did the same thing to Neily’s. I don’t want my two favorite people to die because they’re driving and talking to me on the phone. But that’s beside the point, tell me what happened!”  Ashley rolled her eyes and smiled at her best friend Jordan’s exuberance of watching out for her and his boyfriend of three years safety.   “I don’t really know what happened  Jojo, one minute I was waiting tables and getting ready for a busy Saturday night, and the next I was fired by Tom.” “The creepy one with the long face, yeah?” “Yeah that’s him, creepy and long.”  “Did he give you a reason or anything? Or was it just ‘peace!’?”  “Well he SAID that it was because they were going in a different direction and it wasn’t working out with me anymore, but I think it was ACTUALLY because he came on to me in the freezer last week and I shut him down.”  “Wait, WHAT?!”  Ashley sighed “It’s a long story, but if you meet me at the loft, I’ll tell you the whole thing.” “Excellent, be there in ten with our favorite men!”
Ashley pulled into the garage of the downtown loft she shared with her sister, and smiled as Jordan waved at her from his car. She parked in her parking spot next to her sister’s shiny red Lexus convertible and got out, shuffling her bag, phone and apron. “Darling!” Jordon wrapped his arms around her and squeezed. He pulled back and eyed her critically. “You look like crap. Did you stop for a drink on your way home?”   “No Jordan, I did NOT stop for a drink on my way home. I got fired. That’s enough to make any girl look like crap, thank you very much.” She jerked away and stomped over to the elevator. Stooping to grab the paper sack by the back tire of his car, Jordan followed her. “Sorry darling, just usually when you go to work, you look precious, and well today…” “Yeah, yeah I know, I look like crap.” The elevator dinged, the doors opened, and they stepped inside. Pushing the floor button, Jordan turned and smiled at her. “That’s all right darling, I brought all we’ll need to make you feel much better.” Ashley laughed. “There better be more alcohol than a cat can shake a stick at in that bag mister.”  “Oh honey, don’t you worry your pretty little head about that! Take a look in here.” He pushed the open bag towards her. “Oooo  Jose, Johnny, and Jim! Looks like a great pick-me-up night to me!!”

Ashley bolted up in bed, knocking Jordan’s arm off her body. “Oh my god.” She scrambled for her phone. “Oh my god.”  Jordan groaned. “Girl it is the middle of the night, what are you ‘Oh my god’ing about?!” Ashley threw back the covers and jumped out of bed. “It is NOT the middle of the night mister, it’s ten o’clock in the morning and I have to look presentable and nice and be AT the Driskill for brunch in thirty minutes!” She whirled around then groaned as the hangover hit her. Jordan picked his head up from between the pillows. “What do you mean, you have to be at the Driskill in thirty minutes?” he asked. From the bathroom, Ashley called “Apparently I’m having brunch with Alex and our grandmother this morning at the Driskill!” Jordan began to laugh. “Oh honey, at least you’ll get good mimosas!”

Thirty-five minutes, Ashley screeched to a stop outside the Driskill hotel. Throwing her keys to the valet, she ran into the lobby, where her younger sister and her grandmother sat, looking prim and like they had waited for an hour rather than five, oops, six extra minutes. She smoothed down the skirt of her royal blues fifties style dress, walked over and kissed her grandmother on the cheek. “Good morning Grandma.” “How nice of you to grace us with your presence, Ashley. You couldn’t have ridden with your sister this morning? Then you could have not only saved gas, but more importantly have both been on time.” Behind her grandmother’s head, Alexa made a face. “I told you, Grandma, Ashley wasn’t ready when I left. But she’s here now, so why don’t we have a seat?” Mrs. Morgan sighed heavily. “I suppose we could.” She snapped her fingers and a tuxedoed matire d’ hurried over. “We are ready to be seated now Francoise. My granddaughter has finally arrived.”

“Bye Grandma! Thank you so much for brunch!” “Bye Grandma, thanks!” Ashley and Alexa waved as their grandmother’s town car pulled away. Alexa turned to Ashley. “Thanks for not ratting me out to Grandma about where I was last night. Jim had a late show and then I just stayed the night.” Ashley waved away the comment. “Not a problem. Thanks for not ratting me out about being hungover.” Alexa laughed. “I think she bought the food poisoning bit, don’t you?” Ashley laughed back. “As much as Grandma buys anything you throw at her, so yeah!” The valet drove up with Alexa’s car. “What’s your plan for the rest of the day, huh?” she asked as she rummaged in her purse for cash. “Oh I don’t know, maybe I’ll go over to Fado’s and get some real food. Would you like to join me?”  “Thanks, but I think I’m going to give Jim a call and see what he’s up to.” Ashley shook her head. “Is that man ever going to ask you to marry him?” Alexa smiled as she got into her car. “Who knows? But he’s worth the waiting!” She blew her sister a kiss and drove off.  The valet drove up with Ashley’s car and she tried to hand him a ten dollar bill as he held the door open for her. “Thanks miss. But for you, it’s on the house.” She looked at him confusedly. “On the house? What are you talking about?” He winked and shut the door. She rolled down her window and said “Why is it on the house?” He leaned down and whispered “Take it as a hint to pay it forward.” 

No comments:

Post a Comment