Dan Rafter is a freelance writer and editor. He's also the author of GEARZ, a new comicbook mini-series to be published in early 2008 by BlueWater Comics.View all articles by Dan Rafter
Twists and turns.
That’s what life is all about. Especially if you’re not careful.
Me? I was careful, for a long time. But just one slip-up and – Pow! – your entire life changes, and not necessarily for the better.
Consider this story, and how innocently it starts: I was waiting to order a beef-and-cheese sandwich. That’s all. And the two morons in front of me were screwing that up.
Here’s how it happened: The two guys were in their early ‘20s, probably just out of college. That’s trouble already. Who’s more useless than a 20-year-old guy who’s just gotten his first apartment? Who’s more obnoxious?
These guys had all the signs. They looked way too happy with their casual Friday polo shirts and Dockers. Their shoes were slip-ons, for God’s sake. Their haircuts bugged me, too. They were identical, for one thing. Put them in a room with only the backs of their heads facing you? You’d have no chance of telling these two schmucks apart. And they had those long, long sideburns that I can not stand to look at.
It’s my mission to find guys like this, and teach them some humility.
And here’s the clincher: What really ticked me off about these guys was the way they were goofing on the poor girl behind the counter. What kind of asshole takes on a counter girl at a fast-food joint?
Look, this girl had to wear a greasy red apron and shiny black slacks. Her hourly salary was somewhere between a French dip sandwich and a chicken-and-almond salad. She was working at Mr. Chubby’s. I could barely stand it and I was usually in and out in 15 minutes, tops. But this poor kid, man, who knows how many hours she’d been standing behind that sick-red counter pushing cardboard chicken and spatula-shaped beef?
Now these two frat guys – I know, I had no idea if they actually were in frats. But they sure seemed fratty to me, and I’ve never trusted anyone with “brothers” and “sisters” and Greek letters typed on their asses – were acting like dicks. The first guy -- he had a tiny little shamrock tattoo at the base of his neck -- changed his order three times. And these weren’t big-time changes. These were nitpickers. First he wanted curly fries, then he changed it to regular ones. Then he asked for extra cheese on his beef-and-cheese.
I was gearing up, getting ready to teach this guy some manners. I’m the pro.
Then his buddy started up. When the girl handed the goofs their soda cups, this other guy asked for a new one. Why? “This one’s lip is dented,” he said. That made his buddy snicker.
Then when the girl gave him a new cup, without one complaint, the guy pretended like he was gonna’ drop it back over the counter, only to catch it at the last minute. His buddy snickered some more.
Bastards. That’s what they were.
Then this is what the first one, the shamrock kid, had the nerve to say: “Thank you, miss, you’re doing a fine job here.”
Doesn’t sound bad all written out like that, right? Well, you should’ve heard the way this guy said it, all mock sincere and goofballing. I decided then, one more chance. They do one more thing, they were gonna’ get it.
I hate swagger in a 20-year-old guy.
What about me? I’m in my early ‘20s, too. But I sure don’t have swagger. And I actually have reason to have it, sorta’. I mean, sure, I work the counter at a miniature golf course for my “full-time job.” And sure, I live in Chicago where the golf course is closed six months out of the year. And, yeah, I do live in the basement of my parents’ house, and I did drop out of college after one semester.
But I do pay “rent.” When I have it.
I’m losing track of my story here. I was getting at the fact that I have superpowers. Yes, that’s right. They’re cool ones, too. And you won’t see me acting like some jerk in front of the Mr. Chubby’s girl.
So, here I am, hungry for a beef-and-cheese, maybe some twisty fries, and these mopes are clowning around and slowing up the whole ordering process. You remember that Uncle Ben thing, right? You remember what the old coot told Spider-Man right before he died in Spidey’s origin story? He said to ol’ Peter Parker this little nugget: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Well, I’ve always taken that motto to heart. Now here I was, facing my own responsibility to use my own great power.
The guys made sure that’d happen when one of them asked for extra ketchup and the second asked for extra relish.