I’ve never written a sequel before, but this Jack in the Box is a rabbit hole that goes so deep. And the situation so impossibly odd, I had to write it down the moment I got home. If anything, to make sure it really happened.
Refresh yourself with the previous post if you haven’t already.
Wow, all right. Here we go.
I remembered the salads being pretty decent, and it’s a much more normal time of night, around 9:30pm. So I figure at the very least, I won’t get the same ambiguously gendered person messing up my order. But just in case, this time I opt to walk inside. I figure the possibility for error is much smaller this way.
Letting myself inside Jack in the Box, the room is quiet. I’m the only one here again, with Rick Astley (ha, I know!) playing just audibly overhead.
Eventually I’m noticed by a small Hispanic man. He’s thin, with a mustache, and his front teeth seem to be a home repair job.
I breathe a sigh of relief. At least I know he’s a man.
“Hi. Hi. Can, can I help… yoosir.”
“Yes I’d like a grilled chicken salad.”
He nods, then stares at his computer. He’s lost, finger dangling over the monitor.
His brow ruffles.
“Oh and the nuclear launch codes.”
He nods again, and keeps staring at his computer.
“No, no Pedro. Don’t worry I’ll get this,” I hear a feminine and yet masculine voice say.
It appears from the left. That same it from before. It’s here. It’s working again. And it’s just me and it.
Pedro thanks his lucky stars, bows to it and me, smiles and returns to making food in the back.
“Sup,” it says.
Same spiked and buzzed hair. Same everything from before.
“Hey… uh. I’d like a grilled chicken salad please.”
“Crispy or grilled.”
“Grilled, for here.”
“For here or to go.”
“Okay six twenny,” it says, glancing toward the drive thru window.
My hand goes to reach for my wallet, but I stop it. I have to know. I have to know now.
“Listen. Hey, I’m sorry. I just. I just really need to know if you’re a guy or a girl.”
“Actually. What’s your name?”
Crap. I look at its shirt, it just says ‘Sam’.
“Oh okay cool. So uh. Samuel… Samantha…?”
We stare at each other in silence. A duel, a standoff. If we were outside, surely a tumbleweed would have blown by.
“… It can’t be just Sam.”
It removes its headpiece, gives a nod to an unseen coworker in the back, and turns back to me.
“Why not? Dude, what does it matter if I’m a boy or a girl? What are you, a bigot?”
“Yes, and I need to put people into categories. Boy, girl, asian, rapist, war monger and so on.”
Sam scoffs at me, as I see a larger man approach from the side. He’s got a different colored shirt on; clearly he’s more powerful around here.
“Camera’s off,” he tells Sam, “We got a problem?”
Sam thumbs to me, “It’s that fuckin salad guy I was telling you about. He’s here and he’s being an asshole to me again.”
The supervisor nods with a stern grimace, then turns so he’s facing me.
“Oh! Wow…” escapes my mouth. I wasn’t expecting what I saw.
“Oh, so now you’re making fun of me too huh? Fuck’s your problem man? First you order salads, who the hell orders a salad here. Then you get off calling her names and laughing at me too, huh?”
I should have just apologized and left right there, but I didn’t. Instead, for some reason, that filter between my brain and my mouth completely vanished and this popped out:
“Well most the time when I see a lazy eye you know I gotta play that game where it’s like ‘okay pick an eye’ and I talk to that eye. But with you it’s like, shit man, one eye’s checking the back door and the other one is sizing me up. I mean I’ve seen my share of lazy eyes, but that one hasn’t worked a day in its life. That is the laziest lazy eye… I’ve ever seen. Lemme tell ya.”
That wasn’t the right thing to say.
His lip quivers, then he bites it. He’s angry now.
I make sure there’s enough distance to where he couldn’t lean forward and grab me over the counter.
“F…fffuck. You. Bro,” his lips overly enunciate each word. His good eye is wide open with rage.
“Okay I’ll make a deal with you two. Forget the salad. Forget salads for a while. Just tell me. What is that,” I point to Sam, “Is that a boy, or a girl.”
“Why does it even-” his hands turn to fists, but then he stops, “Sam’s a…a… Sam is… hmm.”
Now he’s confused. I’ve confused him. We’re both confused now, looking at Sam together.
“Sam es my seester!” Pedro yells from the back.
Me and the supervisor burst out laughing, as Pedro’s silly head pops out from behind the fryer with a huge smile.
Sam isn’t happy, which makes it even funnier.
“I knew it! Well I kinda did,” I holler, making the supervisor double over the counter. He’s laughing so hard, for a good minute or more.
“Oh man. Ohhh man,” supervisor wipes his eyes. “Dude I’ve wondered that for so long. So long, dude. You have no idea.”
“I hate all three of you!” Samantha says, crossing her arms and heading to the bathroom.
Me and supervisor laugh some more. Then finally, now apparently friends, supervisor puts his hand on the computer and asks me,
“All right. Whew. Okay. So what did you want?”
“A grilled chicken salad.”
“Crispy or grilled?”
“Grilled, to go.”
“Okay, for here or to go?”
“Okay six twenty.”