Saturday, April 11, 2009
Roland Rumf and Small Fortunes Won and Lost
Roland Rumf works at the Food City in Cloverdale. He arrives every morning at 7:00 A.M. exactly. Not one minute before and not one minute after. He parks in the same place, lot 24, as he has for the last twelve years. His routine is unblemished. He walks through the store stopping at the same ice cream freezer just before entering the swinging doors leading to the loading dock and staff room. He looks at his reflection in the window and adjusts his hair. He cannot control the wind so he must reposition his locks to highlight his plump round face. He checks his tie, his teeth and finally his smile. Once satisfied his appearance represents the textbook definition of ‘male’ he grunts in satisfaction and continues through the doors. His first stop is the staff bulletin board to see if anyone has pulled one of the eight tabs with his phone number extending below the 4X6 card advertising his vocal lessons. Roland sings in the First Baptist Church Choir. It has been mentioned by many people in the congregation that Roland’s voice is ‘unearthly’. He feels by offering vocal lessons he can use his God given talent to help those who seek to praise the Lord in song. He grunts again out of frustration. No tabs missing. He pulls the thumb tack and repositions the advertisement closer to the time clock. After six months he wonders why no one has called.
He positions his rotund frame in front of the time clock and waits with time card in hand for 7:15 A.M. The second hand clicks, he grunts, pushes in the card, waits for the time stamp and retrieves it for inspection. Once satisfied his correct time is logged, he returns the card to the rack, turns and grunts again. He proceeds out of the staff room and through the double swinging doors. The water cooler is his last stop before he assumes his place at checkout number 4. He stops, glances side to side to be sure he is alone and with another grunt, sweetens the air. Even Roland’s gas is proper. A true credit to proper breeding. Once his passageway is deflated he struts down the isle toward the front of the store.
Roland is greeting every morning at his check stand by the cashiers, produce, bakery and meats associates. He refers to them as His Team. They hush as he rounds the bulk candy bonanza. He sees them and strains to stand a bit taller. He attempts to reduce the size of his walrus waist with another grunt. The effort has no effect on its measurement but does result in another sweetening of the air. He waves his hand behind him to dissipate the order and readies himself for several high 5’s and various forms of “How Ya Doing Rolands?”
After the exchanging of pleasantries his team walks off together, huddled and secretly exchanging one dollar bills. Roland takes no notice. He is positioned on his “Walking On Air” pad, issued to all check stand clerks. He glances at his watch. It is time. With a grunt of sublime satisfaction he switches on the light illuminating a large red 4 over his cash register and waves the first customer forward. Roland’s day has begun.
For eight years Roland’s Team has met him at his register for one reason only - to settle bets placed the day before at the end of their shift. Let me explain. Roland is as careful in his dressing as he is with every other aspect of his life except for one thing. Roland struggles to see the top of his pants over his pumpkin belly. This causes him to miss a different belt loop every day. His dressing misfortune was notice eight years ago. Once the morning shift saw that he missed a different belt loop each day they saw an opportunity for fun and profit. From that day on, five days a week, the morning shift bets on which loop he will miss in that morning’s dressing. The top limit is one dollar. The bets are made, a record is kept and everyone goes home to await the results the next morning upon Roland’s arrival. Small fortunes have been won and lost over the last eight years.
Roland is none the wiser. His days are measured moment by moment and grunt by grunt. Routine is Roland’s drug of choice.