Order Taking

The classy, 70-something white haired woman walked up to the counter to place her order
“Let’s see…I’ll have turkey…”
I wrote a “T” at the top of the bag.
“On…”
I looked off to the outside. Birds were flying about, playing with each other. Maybe mating. Maybe roughhousing. Making lots of sounds I couldn’t hear.
“…Multigrain wheat…”
I checked off “Multigrain Wheat”
“With…”
I looked toward the front door. Someone had just walked in and was moseying. Exploring the cheeses, the menu, the coffee, the atmosphere.
“Yellow mustard”
“Oh uh we don’t carry yellow. Just brown, champagne and Russian hot”
“No yellow?! Well okay then…Champagne mustard. And…”
I checked off “Mustard” and wrote in “Champ.” David Bowie’s Sound and Vision played in my head as I waited for the lady to decide. The guitar melody, the phat, gated snare, the descending vocal line. It was as clear as on a record player. What I would give to to hear the actual thing in that moment.
“No mayonnaise.”
I crossed off the “Mayonnaise” option on the bag.
“…And…”
She eyed the toppings. Entire civilizations rose to the peak of knowledge and technology and then crumbled to the ground as she contemplated her sandwich fixings.
“…Lettuce, tomato, cheese, uhm…Let’s see what kind…”
I checked off the “Lettuce, tomato” and “cheese” options.
Baby Jesus was born, crucified and named King and the entire western world became infatuated with Him and His teachings, then disenfranchised and turned their hearts and minds to reason and Bob Marley.
“Swiss is good. Maybe some other stuff, too…”
The walls shifted into plasticine tiles and began to sink below the dusty wooden paneling of the retail floor. The black, loose leaf teas, weightless and no lounger bound by their glass jars, floated up through the restaurant and expelled a pleasant, herbal scent. The hummingbirds, attracted to the commotion, poured in through the now-open windows like salmon up a river. The oven-sized coffee grinder began its buzzing of the Kona coffee bean and a merry-go-round circus waltz could be heard coming from inside of it. My coworkers paraded around the sandwich bar in joyous celebration of freedom from the customer. The entire shop and its inhabitants did the same. I stood there watching.
“…Avocado. And that’s it!”
I wrote “Avocado” on the bag, got her name and told her we’d call her when it was ready. She sauntered off and I began writing the next order.

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