The New Guy






The New Guy

 

The old manager was moving on. As her last day approached, the news spread through the Bakery that her replacement would be a man. With the exception of the eighteen-year-old who unloaded and put away supplies, the Bakery was populated with women. They buzzed with the news of the new manager, and speculated on whether his managerial style would differ from a female.

Lindin had reached the breaking point in two of her relationships. The former manager ran her ragged with random requests: finish frosting thirty cakes for the front case in two hours, clean all six of the mobile carts before leaving, and "smile, you love your job." The former manager continually got the production guidelines wrong, and blamed the employees for excess shrink, product that passed its sell by date unsold. The current boyfriend was worse. He complained constantly: when men complimented her on Facebook, when she cooked unmarinated chicken breasts, when she left dirty clothes near -- but not quite in -- the laundry basket. They didn’t see eye to eye on marriage, family roles, and how interpersonal interactions should be conducted. They broke up three times within the last four months, and each time reunited within twenty-four hours. They had met at work. Lindin dreamed, if they broke up again, she could meet her next boyfriend at work too.

The new guy was all potential: maybe single, maybe attractive, maybe a better manager than the recently departed. Lindin imaged the next time she and her boyfriend split, she would hide in the cooler to cry over her weekend troubles, and he would come to get supplies. Seeing her distress, he would enfold her in his strong, masculine embrace. He would whisper, “It’s okay. You’re better than this. Your boyfriend is a tool.” Eventually they would make out. Lindin would stay broken up and definitely move out.

Finally, the new guy arrived. His name was Joshua. He was tall and rosy cheeked with a soft face. His managerial style was straightforward and direct. He was blonde. He seemed like a nice guy. When his hands were examined, they lacked a wedding band. As far as the Bakery girls were concerned, he was on the market.

During one of their first shifts together. Lindin was confronted by an elderly customer about an apple pie that had been set aside for her. Two days before, Lindin had talked to the customer on the phone herself, selected the pie, written the customer’s name on a sticky note and attached it to the lid. The pie and the sticky note had vanished. Lindin directed the customer to another, identical pie. The customer was not happy, and told Lindin so in no uncertain terms.

“What’s your name?” said the lady, squinting through her bifocals at Lindin’s name tag.

Lindin became nervous. That question always preceded a complaint to the store management. She imagined a trip to the front office with management and HR assembled to give her a reprimand, even though she had nothing to do with the disappearance of the pie. The situation was defused when Joshua stepped forward.

“We set aside a pie for you, but it was going to expire today. When you didn’t come we had to put it out. This one is baked off fresh this morning.”

Lindin backed up until Joshua’s shoulders were between her and the irate customer. She felt safe standing behind him. When the customer was dispatched, with pie in hand, Lindin thanked the new guy for his intervention.

“Sure,” he said, “Any time. I’m here to help.”

Lindin blushed as she went back to work. The other girls were right, he would be a great boyfriend to some lucky, single girl.

The day came when Lindin ended the weekend by becoming single. She was sure this would be the last breakup. After all that was said, she couldn’t forgive her ex. The fight had raged so hot, she left the house. She spent the night on a friend’s couch with blankets covered in dog hair. All the foul things he said during their fight replayed in her mind. She thought of vicious responses to return if given a chance. She dreamed of him, even though she’d tried not to, until the dog woke her by barking at neighborhood noises. Again, Lindin fell asleep and dreamed of work. Her ex came in to harass her and Joshua fought him. In the end the New Guy was kissing her with big wet kisses that made her feel a little gross. When she woke it was the dog licking her face.

By the time she got to work, Lindin was exhausted.

The Bakery was its usual Monday self. The breakfast club of retirees sat in the cafe area with coffee and donuts. The Monday customer called about having eight muffins reserved for her, while the employee on the phone grumbled about the customer’s lack of a standing order. No one brought down supplies the night before, so there was no pie packaging. A pool of dirty water, flecked with food sat in the bottom of the dishwasher, it was last cleaned on Thursday. The page of production guides waited on its clipboard for Lindin to fill it in for the day with just the right number of half-moon cookies and cannoli 4-packs. It was too familiar. Lindin couldn’t understand how her world had shattered into tiny irreparable pieces, but the store stayed the same. The same customer was on the phone about the same chocolate chip muffins. It was absurd.

The day fell apart when she got her breakfast out of the cooler. Breakfast was probiotic yogurt, stored in the personal bin. Her boyfriend had been grumpy about spending the extra money for ‘probiotic’, even though it was a value pack. Remembering their argument in front of the dairy display, left Lindin feeling like he never cared about her needs be it mental or physical. She turned the yogurt over in her hand while tears trickled freely down her cheeks. A sob shook her and then another.

“Hey, do we have any more garlic parmesan bagels? A customer was asking about them.”

Joshua had come into the cooler. He saw her face, tear streaked and puffy. His eyes widened a decimal. Their hot breaths hung on the air like steam. This was the moment Lindin had imagined. She looked boldly into his face, her expression pled with him to understand, to save her from the misery of her broken relationship.

Joshua’s left eyebrow rose, then the other followed its example. His face turned red. He took a step back and bumped into a shelf of jelly fillings. As he turned his foot caught on the leg of the shelf and he stumbled to the side. “That’s what I need,” he said, picking up a tube of blueberry filling. As he turned his back, he said by way of excuse, “Mary always moves the bagel trays.”

The cooler door closed behind him.

Lindin went on break.

 

 
Alexandra Faye Carcich

 

Alexandra Faye Carcich is a long-time hobby writer with a passion for myth retellings and a history with NaNoWriMo. Her folders of unfinished manuscripts are reminiscent of her refusal to write a singular sentence in the second grade. Recently, her work was featured in Timeless Tales Magazine and This Zine Will Change Your Life. You can read her poetry on Instagram.

 

Comments

Unknown said…
Thoroughly enjoyed this slice of life story. We all know a Lindin. ;)

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