Sitting at a local coffee shop enjoying a sandwich when I notice a guy walking in. He was with a group of three other people. Something about how he was staring at me caught my eye. At first, I could not put my finger on it but I knew something was off.
He orders and heads to the other end of the counter to wait for his drink. After a few seconds, he looks my way and says “Guess you caught all the criminals.”
I ignored him. Acted like I was not looking or hearing him. Just took another bite from my sandwich.
“Must be nice to sit around drinking coffee paid for by hard-working taxpayers.”
Without even thinking, I said, “excuse me?”
“I pay your salary and don’t enjoy seeing you sitting here wasting time when there are murderers and rapists out there to put in jail.”
Looking closer at the group, I notice they all have on polo shirts with the same insurance company logo. That company has offices down the block from where we sit. With a neutral tone of voice, I reply. “Guess you are caught up on paying out all the insurance claims.”
He looked dumbfounded. “Da’ fuck is that suppose to mean?”
“I am a customer of [the insurance company]. Back in May my home sustained hail damage, and I have yet to get the claim check. I pay your salary when I pay my insurance premiums and don’t appreciate seeing you sitting here wasting time when there are customers needing claims processed.”
For a fraction of a second, I felt our little verbal sparring was done. But no he opens his mouth and says, “Federal labor laws require employees be allowed access to meal and rest breaks. This is our afternoon rest break”.
“Interesting,” I said, “I work a twelve-hour shift from seven to seven. It is three in the afternoon and I am just now getting my meal break. Oh, and I have no guarantee of finishing this meal because this little radio on my hip could announce an emergency requiring me to respond. But I guess you think labor laws only apply to people working in an air-conditioned cubicle for a short little eight-hour shift.”
I knew he had no comeback when he walked straight out the door before the clerk could finish making his iced mocha latte with soy milk. The best part was when one of his co-workers asked if they should grab his coffee and a different one said, “fuck that Jerry is an asshole and deserves to lose his coffee.”