We cooked 100 burgers at a time then used a big metal blade to scrape all the fat and gristle into a trough that ran along the side of a grill called the grease trap.
The real grease trap was my uniform. The hat was paper, but everything else was as plastic as the name tag. We’re talking 100% polyester, a perfect tent for capturing all the oily particles floating off the grill and the fryers overflowing with French fries and Filet-o-Fish and McNuggets.
Everyone bitched about the uniforms, except for Scott, which is why Scott was employee of the month every month, a shoo-in for Grill Chief. But maybe Scott was wise (as well as a kiss-ass).
There was nothing that could be done to change the situation. These synthetic clown outfits were designed by corporate and approved by Ronald himself.
At least our franchise owner wasn’t a total dick, and even if he had been, no one would have said that to his face, partly because there was a bullet hole in it.
Mike, I’ll call him, because I’m still afraid to say his real name. The rumor was the bullet hole was from his wife, not ex-wife, mind you, but his actual current wife.
Supposedly, she caught him in their bed with another woman and shot him through the head at point blank range.
Somehow, he lived, and after that, he was so grateful, or so regretful, or maybe just so brain damaged that he refused to press charges.
That meant his wife didn’t spend a single day in jail. But that wasn’t the craziest part. The craziest part was that Mike actually stayed married to this woman!
Okay, I know, the story is probably bullshit, but I still liked to believe it. It meant that despite his hard ass, narrow-eyed, pinched-lip demeanor, Mike was not entirely unreasonable.
This is what I would tell myself each night when me and the other grill man were hauling the grease trap out back and pouring it into a big metal drum next to the dumpster.
We rolled thin, anaemic joints and blew ditch weed into the cool night air. The drops of hot grease under our polyester uniforms turned into thin, head-to-toe sheaths of sticky white film.
I liked to think that if Mike were to wander out and catch us, he would show mercy and refrain from firing us.
In fact, he might even join in, just amble over, take a puff or two and tell us the real story about how he got that hole in his fucked-up face.
Bradford Gyori is an American expat writer and teacher based in Winchester, England. His writing has appeared in Interactive Storytelling and Flow. He has written for television networks such as FX, MTV, VH1 and E! and was the head writer of the Emmy winning series Talk Soup. He leads the MA in Creative Writing and Publishing at Bournemouth University.