The Manager

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t was late. I was somewhere between Milton and Crestview when I stopped at a Mexican restaurant. It was a rundown place, with two cars in the parking lot.My waitress was a Mexican sweetheart. A woman in her sixties, only twenty-six inches high. She looked tired, like she’d worked long hours – for years.

Somehow, she was cheerful.

The two loud men at the table behind me gave the waitress a hard time. They’d worked up a good beer-glow. You could’ve blind folded them with a piece of yarn.

They didn’t want to pay their bill. The waitress was having difficulty understanding their logic. And their English.

So was I.

“I ain’t paying for this,” the young man insisted. “I wanna talk to the manager.”

“Como?” she said. “No entiendo.”

“Your man-a-ger.”

I had all I could stand. I walked over to the table and stood beside the munchkin waitress.

“I’m the manager here,” I said.

The men exchanged looks. “You? You’re the manager?”

“That’s right. What seems to be the problem today?”

I’ve always wanted to say that.

They didn’t answer me. They removed cash from their pockets, slammed it down, then left. I watched their car speed away through the window.

She thanked me, and I answered with a line from a John Wayne movie.

When I moseyed to my truck, she waved goodbye. And if I’d had a hat, I would’ve tipped it to her.

That’s when I stumbled on the curb and busted my lip open.



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