Difficult Customers

“Hi there, guys! My name is Patricia and I’ll be taking care of you this evening.” She flashed the artificial smile she had spent years honing (the key was to make sure you crinkled the corners of your eyes a little) and tried not to visibly flinch as the man and woman swiveled their heads around to glare at her.

“It’s about time,” said the man in the voice of middle management. She knew his type, remembered well from her years at the law firm. Such people lived in a world of hierarchies. There were a few people above them on the ladder – targets whose asses were to be kissed until a way could be found to overcome them – but anyone even one step below them on the ladder was viewed as little better than pond scum. And waitresses were always lower than businessmen.

Patricia did her best to push the image of her old boss out of her mind, the miserable work-a-holic who insisted on calling her Patrick and eventually fired her for “daring” to come to work with makeup on.

None of this showed on her face, still plastic and friendly as she shifted her eyes to the trophy wife. She was even more difficult to look at. Not only did she look just as miserable, she also had the sagging, spotted, slightly orange-tinted skin that came from years of tanning beds, and her bright pink lipstick and hideous blonde dye-job weren’t doing her face any favors.

“Can I start you folks off with something to drink?”

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