The Millionaire Next Door
Copyright© 2020 by Lazlo Zalezac
Pleased with his adventure in Las Vegas, Dan walked into the restaurant ready to work. Rob walked into the back and studied Dan with a slight frown. He asked, “What did you do in Las Vegas?”
“I went to the trade show I told you about,” Dan answered with a smile.
“You must have done something more than that,” Rob said with a frown.
“No. I flew in on the red-eye, took a nap, went to the trade show, ate dinner, slept, and then flew back. I didn’t even make it to a casino,” Dan said. He had spent every penny that he had taken with him. The sport coat and tie had really eaten into his budget, but he had decided when he bought it that when it was time to get a loan he would need the coat anyway. It had become a matter of when he bought it rather than if he should buy it.
“Well, I got a telephone call at home from personnel asking questions about you,” Rob said. The caller had been the Vice- President of Human Resources and he had been grilled for almost an hour about Dan’s character and work habits.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Dan said looking at Rob with a puzzled expression on his face.
Rob believed him, although he wouldn’t have believed many other people. Dan was just too transparent to lie effectively. He said, “It might not have anything to do with your trip to Vegas. Better check the bathroom, and then head out on the floor.”
“Yes, Sir,” Dan said heading out the door.
Rob went into his office and noticed that there was a note for him. He picked it up and read that he was supposed to call someone at the corporate office the next morning. He hated it when they did that. They always expected him to call in the middle of his sleep time. Frowning, he said, “When in the hell am I supposed to get any sleep?”
Dan went over to clear a table in Sue’s area. While he was deftly loading the gray bin with dirty plates, she came over and asked, “How was Las Vegas?”
“It was good. I learned a lot while I was there,” Dan said. He noticed that she didn’t seem nearly as nervous around him over the past month or so.
“That’s great,” Sue said.
Dan wiped off the table, making sure that all of the crumbs landed in the gray bin rather than on the floor. He was almost done with busing the table. He said, “I didn’t make it to any of the casinos though.”
“That’s just a quick way to lose your money,” she said. Seeing that he was done with the table, she said, “I’ll talk to you during your break.”
“Okay,” Dan said.
He went over to a table in Mary’s area and started busing it. Mary came over and asked, “How was Vegas?”
“It was good. I learned a lot while I was there,” Dan said.
“Did you get laid?” Mary asked winking at him.
“Nope,” Dan answered.
“Pity, but I guess Sue will be pleased to hear that,” Mary said as she walked away.
Dan shook his head at the suggestion that he was sleeping with Sue. Every waitress was absolutely convinced that he and Sue were an item. He had quit fighting the rumors, and just shook his head every time it was brought up. Sue thought it was funny that the more they denied it, the more people believed it.
The new busboy was in that night. Eduardo was clearly gay, and the two Hispanic dishwashers disliked him tremendously. Their machismo would not allow them to admit that gay Hispanics even existed. Dan didn’t care one way or another. He wasn’t about to make judgments about something driven by biology. He just knew that when Eduardo was on duty, that he’d get to help Jimmy out in the kitchen.
Dan had just about finished busing the table when Rob came over. He said, “Dan, I just got a call from Sandy. She’s not feeling well. Can you watch the counter tonight?”
“Sure,” Dan said. He picked up the gray bin and headed towards the back. He made it a rule never to make a trip to the back or to the front without carrying something.
After dropping off the bin at the dishwasher, he put on a waiter’s apron and headed to the front of the store. He reached the counter just in time to see someone he knew taking a seat. He walked over and said, “Hello, Mr. Foreman.”
“Hey, Dan. Have they got you waiting tables?” Mr. Foreman asked noticing the order pad in Dan’s hand.
“I’m still the busboy, but they were short a waitress so I’m filling in for her,” Dan answered with a smile.
Seeing that Dan still smiled, regardless of the job given him, Mr. Foreman said, “I bet they have you washing dishes, cooking, and managing the place at times.”
“They do have me cooking on occasion, but they haven’t turned the restaurant over to me yet,” Dan said with a wink.
Mr. Foreman laughed. He asked, “Are you still planning on starting that pizzeria?”
“You bet, Sir” Dan answered.
“Have you got your business plan together? I promised that I’d look at it and help you with it,” Mr. Foreman said.
“I can e-mail it to you, sir,” Dan answered. He hadn’t really believed Mr. Foreman had been that serious about his offer. After all, Mr. Foreman was too busy of a man to fool around looking at a business plan for a small pizzeria.
“I’d like that,” Mr. Foreman said noticing that Dan still addressed him with well-mannered respect.
“I’ve been working on it with Mr. Harrison, over at the Small Business Administration office,” Dan said.
Impressed that Dan had taken that step, Mr. Foreman said, “I’d have probably saved myself quite a few headaches if I had gone there when I was starting up my business.”
“It’s not easy starting a business,” Dan said. He and Richard Harrison were arguing over a few minor points. Richard thought that the targeted growth should be a little higher than Dan was willing to accept. Dan wanted the targeted growth to be realistic.
“You can say that again,” Mr. Foreman said. He hadn’t really taken the time necessary to put together a good business plan. After six months of money troubles, he had been convinced to go back and revise his plan. That had been a major turning point in his business.
“Oops, I’ve got another customer. I’ll be right back, Mr. Foreman,” Dan said before heading off to the other end of the counter. He reached the customer just as he had finished sitting down.
Dan moved around the counter taking orders, delivering orders, refilling drinks, and busing the counter. He paused to talk with Mr. Foreman before delivering his food, and after Mr. Foreman had finished eating. His former boss watched him, thinking that Dan made it look easy.
When Dan stopped by to refill his coffee, Mr. Foreman said, “I’ll take the bill, now.”
“Don’t worry about that. It’s covered. You have a nice evening,” Dan said.
Shaking his head at the idea of a busboy buying him dinner, Mr. Foreman said, “I’ll be starting up the crews again. You’ve got a job if you want it.”
“I appreciate the thought; but I need to be here, for now,” Dan said gesturing at the restaurant around him.
“I tell you what. I doubt they are going to train you on how to do payroll. Why don’t you work in my office a couple of hours a week?” Mr. Foreman said.
Dan froze and thought about the offer. Mr. Foreman was right that he wouldn’t learn how to do payroll at the restaurant. That was done at the corporate level. Nodding his head, he said, “Okay. I’ll do that, Mr. Foreman.”
“Good,” Mr. Foreman said. He rose from his chair and said, “Send me that business plan first thing in the morning.”
“I’ll do that, Sir,” Dan said. He pulled out a little notebook and added a note to himself about sending out the business plan.
“I’ll let you know when I need you to work for me,” Mr. Foreman said noticing that Dan had written a note to remind himself to e-mail the business plan, and was reminded of his own black notebook that he filled with to-do items every day.
“Thanks, Mr. Foreman,” Dan said. He noticed a customer looking in his direction and hurried over to find out what they needed.
On his way out of the restaurant, Mr. Foreman stopped by where Rob was waiting for customers. He asked, “Are you the manager?”
“I tried to hire Dan Parker away from you,” Mr. Foreman said looking at the other man in the eye.
“How did it go?” Rob asked, picking up on the fact that the man had indicated that he had tried to hire Dan. The key thing was that he had tried.
“I got him for a couple of hours a week,” Mr. Foreman answered with a smile.
Surprised that Dan would moonlight on top of his job there, Rob asked, “What did you offer him?”
“The chance to learn payroll,” Mr. Foreman answered.
“I can see why he would go for that,” Rob said. He looked over at Dan half afraid that he’d lose him soon and asked, “Do you think he’ll ask to work for me part-time?”
Mr. Foreman looked at Dan and answered, “No. He’ll stay full time until you cut back his hours or he leaves to open his pizzeria.”
“I think you’re right,” Rob said. He remembered the night that Dan had worked despite feeling ill. He would have worked all night if he hadn’t sent the young man home.
Mr. Foreman handed Rob his card and said, “There’s no sense fighting over his time. Let me know when his days off are.”
“Right,” Rob said putting the card in his pocket. He appreciated the consideration the other man was showing.
The man sat down and introduced himself as Michael Swan. With a grin, he said, “I’m your new boss.”
“What happened to John Dent?” Rob asked thinking it was odd that his new boss would want to meet in a hotel room rather than at the restaurant.
“He is being let go even as we speak,” Michael answered with a rather ugly smile.
“Oh,” Rob said with a frown. There had been no rumors that his boss had done anything that would justify terminating him.
“It has come to my attention that you have a James Duncan working for you,” Michael said.
“Yes. Jimmy is our cook,” Rob said wondering what that had to do with John being let go.
“Are you aware that he served time for armed robbery?” Michael asked. He sounded like a district attorney interviewing a witness in a courtroom.
“Do you know what he robbed?”
Rob shook his head and answered, “No.”
“It was a Derkins restaurant,” Michael said.
“If you say so,” Rob replied. If Jimmy had been in jail, it had to be years ago. He had worked for Derkins for a long time.
“He’s black,” Michael said looking at Rob.
“Yes, I had noticed that,” Rob said fighting off the temptation to say, “Really, I hadn’t noticed that.”
“I want him fired.”
“Good luck, he’s one of our best employees. He trains our new cooks,” Rob said bristling immediately. He was of the basic opinion that he didn’t like Michael Swan.
“Find a reason to fire him,” Michael said.
“Because I told you to do it.”
Rob nodded his head as he considered his options. There weren’t many, and none of them were much to his liking. He decided not to quit until he had heard all that this joker had to say. Rob said, “I understand.”
Smiling at Rob, Michael said, “Do you know a Sue Adams?”
“Yes, she’s one of my waitresses,” Rob answered. Michael’s smile reminded him of a shark about to strike.
“Did you know that she’s a lesbian?” Michael asked.
“No, I didn’t,” Rob answered rather surprised by that particular piece of information. He added, “It’s my understanding that she is dating a young man.”
“Your understanding is wrong. I want her fired,” Michael Swan said.
It seemed to him that the new manager was too eager to fire everyone in sight. He wondered if Sandy was next because she was too old. Rob asked, “When is it my turn to get fired?”
“Now ... that is, if you don’t agree to provide me with reasons that would justify letting them go,” Michael Swan said sitting back in his chair. He grinned at Rob as if daring him to quit.
“Oh,” Rob said. He considered his options and didn’t like them. There was one thing that he could do that might serve everyone involved with the exception of Michael Swan. Frowning, he said, “You will have my letter of resignation in an hour.”
“I already have one written out for you,” Michael Swan said holding up a sheet of paper.
“I told you that you will get my letter of resignation in an hour,” Rob said emphasizing the word, ‘my.’
“You would really rather resign than to fire a nigger and a cunt lapping dyke?” Michael Swan said in a tone of voice that clearly indicated that Rob was an extremely stupid man.
“That’s right,” Rob said deciding that he’d send a copy of his letter of resignation to the founder of the chain. Giving voice to some of the anger he was feeling, he said, “I won’t fire anyone who doesn’t deserve it. They are both good hard workers, and have done nothing to deserve getting fired. You, on the other hand, are despicable.”
There was clapping behind him. Rob turned around in time to hear a man say, “Very well said, Mr. Rendell. The description of your character that Dan Parker gave us, was very accurate.”
Rob had not heard the door to the connecting room open. He hadn’t even noticed that there had been a door. Caught completely unaware that anyone else had been in the room, Rob asked, “Who are you?”
“I am Harold Derkins, the founder of this chain.”
That killed the idea of sending a copy of his letter of resignation to the founder. Rob asked, “Why are you trying to get rid of Jimmy and Sue?”
“Their jobs were never in jeopardy, Mr. Rendell. The only job at jeopardy was yours,” Harold answered. He looked over at the man who had been talking to Dan and said, “I do think that our hired actor went a little over the line with the racial slur and the sexual slander.”