(NEWSPOETRY ERRATUM 12 February 1996.
In yesterday's editorial certain details were omitted. The conversation the employee had had not been about literature but about marijuana. Both the employee and the friend seemed to be of high school age. The friend he was addressing had made fun of him for working at Hardees, and so the employee made fun of him for not having a job but instead sitting around and smoking bowls all day. Quite well: I was amused and the friend became very paranoid and shut up. At the moment when the manager, and then the security guards, arrived at the booth, a woman stood up to complain to the manager that the employee had discussed "smoking bowls" loudly in front of her innocent daughters. She considered that inappropriate. As a Mom, she accepted her authority without reservation. She was trying to get the employee in trouble with his own manager by angering the manager by undermining his authority at the exact moment he was attempting to wield it in a power struggle against the men who were wielding their authority as customers to antagonize the restaurant. I rapidly concluded that the manager probably smoked marijuana, and it was not implausible that the manager and employee smoked together and discussed it openly. Most of my managers did. In a few minutes, one of these men would turn to one of the security guards who was asking him to leave, and tell him that the employee had been talking about "smoking bongs" trying to reestablish his authority as a law-abiding and naive citizen. This was shortly after he said to the security guard: "Look at the condition of this restaurant" appealing to the security guards as service police. The security guards, who spoke very little and got no satisfaction out of any of this, claimed the final authority by sole virtue of their bulk and uniforms, and what dramatic effect was achieved by being called in to resolve the situation. Their performance, as opposed to those of the customers, was quite subdued.
This was all incredible. It had begun with three horrible men who were displeased with the vacuuming. During the course of the exchange, the men refused to relinquish authority and instead changed the nature of that authority from customer to competitor to agents of a virtuous and impeccable greater Hardees code to business owners defending the virtues of service. As the ugliest one left followed by the guards, he was saying "We don't treat our families like this" using, I think, the metaphor CUSTOMER = FAMILY MEMBER. Guess what sir, your whole family is stoned, so were the security guards, and so was the tall wiry guy with the insane hair sitting on the other side of the nonsmoking section making no effort to hide the fact that he's laughing at you.)
Newspoetry at Spineless Books