“All of your fried foods are back here,” Sandy says as she leads me to the dry storage room. The freezer she shows me reminds me of the girls that frequent this place: big, white, on its back. “Most of the time you have got to dig around for what you need. Charlie just throws stuff in here after he goes shopping so it is all kinds of disorganized.” She lifts the lid so that I can see bags of French fries and an assortment of battered or breaded foods (chicken, fish, pickles, cheese, etc.) then lets its drop with a slam. “Soups are over here.” She points at a shelf with cans of clam chowder and chicken noodle. “We just open it and throw it in the microwave.”

“What is with the crackers?” I ask. Next to the soup, a basket of saltine crackers, their wrappers labeled in a variety of different logos. “Are those from Wendy’s?”

Sandy laughs, “Yup. Charlie’s too cheap to buy crackers so he collects them instead.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.”

“Nope,” she smiles. “He used to try to get us to bring in crackers. If I mentioned that I went out to eat he’d be all ‘Hey did you get me any crackers?’ He always sounded like it was some kind of operation too, like a big drug deal or something. I finally convinced him that I don’t go out for soup all that often. He might try it on you though, I don’t know.”

This is one of those moments where I think: What the hell did I get myself into?

“Now he just gets crackers whenever he goes out, no matter what he is eating. Steak… can I have crackers with that? Pizza… can I have crackers with that?”

“And we give those to customers like that? With other restaurants’ logos on them?”

She nods and laughs and moves on to another shelf with more baskets. “He also asks for a lot of ketchup and mustard packets.”

McDonalds. Burger King. Carl’s Jr. “We give them McDonald’s ketchup?”

“They don’t know it.” She picks up a worn plastic bottle. The faded label reads Heinz 57. It is coming off in chunks and pieces from being touched by too many wet greasy hands. “When it’s slow we squeeze the packets into these.”

That ‘What the hell?’ moment, I don’t think it is going to be over any time soon.


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