Monster Madness – Integration at the Counter

The front door is still loose on the hinges like always when I push it open to head inside. Most of the tables along the windows are empty and the booths by the back wall look recently wiped down to prevent any residue build-up on the sleek cushions. My usual booth underneath the wall mounted TV is vacant, but I don’t really feel like having a cold one there today.

When I look towards the counter Nicholas is solo back there, drying off some glasses while talking to the only guy sitting at the counter. Nicholas looks up for a moment and gives a small wave when he notices me standing in the doorway. He points to the man sitting in front of him and motions for me to join their conversation. With a slight shrug, and no reason to refuse, I let the door close behind me as I walk up to the counter, taking a seat next to the man.

The man seems to be in the middle of telling some kind of story when Nicholas takes my drink order, “– and by the time the report was submitted for the day, still nobody noticed the error with the numbers and the final count. I mean, it made more work for me the next day, but the simple fact that nobody caught such a simple mistake just shows how incompetent the rest of the sales team is.”

“Why didn’t you call it out before you left for the day?” Nicholas calmly asks while he makes my drink.

“I showed up to work early that day, so I clocked out early to balance it out. And once I’m clocked out, I don’t do anymore work. I don’t care if there’s a mistake somebody else made, I’m not doing work for free.” Leaning back from the counter the man takes a deep breath to relax his nerves and takes a long chug from the icy pint of beer in front of him, “Fucking idiots for co-workers.”

He talked about fixing errors in a report. Probably works in a cube office.

Even though I caught the end of the man’s story, I’m interested in knowing a bit more about the struggles of his work. I look at him to give my attention in case he begins a new tale.

The man’s hair is neatly combed back, but a few rebellious blonde strands were resting forward in front of his face. His narrow, pointed ears are at least a foot long, one of them twitching every time a breeze goes through. Although he’s easily five-ten in height, his overall frame is a bit slim, making the bright blue businessman suit seem just a bit big on him.

Nicholas slides my bright blue drink across the counter and looks at me, “‘Sapphire Hitter.’ Starting off a bit light today, Dave?”

I take out the straw from the blue-filled mason jar and slip the extra alcohol around the time, “Yeah, just a bit. Don’t want to make it obvious I was here when my break ends.”

Nicholas chuckles as he points to a small jar at the closest end of the counter, “I started putting out peppermint hard candy in case somebody wanted to mask the smell of booze from their breath. I only do it between high noon and two o’clock.”

“So, during peoples’ lunch break?”

“Yup. Just in case they want to get a nice buzz before heading back to work. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?”

“Only on Tuesdays. That’s the only day the boss doesn’t do his weekly rounds.”

As soon as I finished my sentence the man next to me raises his class and laughs, “Same for me. My boss likes to walk around on Mondays to make sure everybody showed up from the weekend.”

I take another sip of my drink as I face the man, his light brown eyes already looking at me. He raises his glass at me with a big grin on his face, “Bosses are the worst part about working in an office, wouldn’t you agree?”

I can’t help but laugh and clink glasses with him, “That, and having to type up the monthly report for the new complaints.”

“You work in customer relations, too?”

“Thirty years of having to hear people bitch and moan on the phone about how their product was ‘defective’ and demanded a full refund. And then, as you’re on the phone with them giving step-by-step instruction on how to fix it–”

“They realize where they fucked up and hang up on you to prevent themselves from sounding any more stupid than they already are?”

“Sounds like you’ve had your share of idiot customers too, eh?”

“Yeah, but this is my first time dealing with human customers. At least, over the phone.” The man takes another chug of his beer before knocking on the counter, the usual sign of another drink.

I feel my eyebrow raise high when me mentioned human customers, “You’ve never had to deal with human customers?”

“My first Elven job was mainly customer support via email. I never had direct contact with them. I’m pretty sure I’ve had human customers browsing on the website I worked for. My current job is my first real time interacting with stupid human customers over the phone.”

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