Hail was falling in the mountains this weekend . It wasn’t a soft snow , not wind-swept drifting flakes dropping gently earthward . Hailstones clattered harshly on the metal chimney and vent covers on the roof .
I began thinking of the German lady who was my mean boss at the Town Talk Cafe .That’s how my mind works . Little bits from my memory percolate up from time to time . Anyway , that cafe job was my first real job , not counting mowing lawns and doing all sorts of odd jobs around the neighborhood . I mean , the Town Talk Cafe was a real live brick-and-mortar business .
I worked after school and Saturdays washing dishes . There were three or four tables in the place , but most of the customers sat at the counter and ordered coffee and donuts . On a good day a few people would order hamburgers or a bowl of chili .
The German lady would yell at me for any little thing . She yelled that the apron I wore had dirt on it , that I had bent the handle of the little brush used for cleaning water glasses , that I had put too much bleach in the rinse water . In a gutteral German accent . But I put up with it and did my work for $1.20/hour because it was a real job . I got a real paycheck every two weeks .
Meanwhile , overnight , the hail covered the mountaintop like a soft white snowy comforter . It looked soft and inviting and was beautiful , but it was hard and slippery and treacherous. I watched a white pickup truck race past and it never slid . That it didn’t slip or spin out didn’t make the driver any less of a fool , in my opinion .
One day the German lady brought a prospective customer back to the kitchen to show him around , a prospective customer to buy the place . He was a middle aged guy in a three-piece suit . The German lady walked him over to introduce him to me .
” And dis is my son Denny , ” she said to him . She meant the words to sift down like softly-settling snow , but they struck me hard , like hard-packed ice , slippery as could be .
The weeks of being chewed out for everything under the sun flashed before my eyes as I watched her now playing the role of Little Miss Sunshine in the hope of selling the joint . She was all smiles and tender tones . I slowly took off my apron , with its dirty front , and handed it to the boss . Then I turned to face the man .
” Sir , ” I said . ” I’m not her son and my name is not Denny .” The German lady didn’t know how to respond with the three-piece suit man standing there . ” And I don’t work here any more , ” I said . I then turned and went out the rear door of the Town Talk Cafe and walked home .
It was a Saturday morning . My father was surprised to see me . I told him I’d quit .
Up at the mountain cabin with Ada and me was a young woman from Lichtenstein . She had told the story of her brother having been fired from a job . Ada told her story of quitting a job . The German lady popped into my mind . I feel a little sorry for anyone who’s never been fired from a job .
Snow provokes responses that reach right back into childhood. —–Andy Goldsmith