During the summer before I started college, I worked as a laborer for a lawn-cutting service. There were five guys on the crew — including me — and my boss was a guy named Crew Leader Carl. He had hair down to his shoulders and always had a cigarette sticking out the corner of his mouth.
This is a story from one of my many lawn-cutting crew adventures:
It was almost lunchtime. We had just wrapped up a job and were cruising down the highway.
Crew Leader Carl was driving. I tapped his shoulder. “Are you stopping at McDonald’s today?”
“Not today,” he said, grinning. He motioned to the lunchbox wedged beside him in the seat. “My sweetie got up early this morning and packed me a nutritious lunch.”
“You brought a lunch from home?” I asked. “That’s a first.”
“Yeah, well, I’ve been getting a gut from eating fast food all the time,” Carl said, patting his considerable stomach. “My girlfriend wants us to start eating healthier. I get plenty of physical exercise as it is, so I imagine if I simply change my diet, I’ll lose the extra weight in no time.”
“So she’s going to start making you lunches?” I asked.
Carl nodded. “Yep. Today’s the first day. She got up really early before work to pack it, too. She’s so sweet. I’m really lucky.”
“What do you got?” I asked. “A nice sandwich? Maybe some carrot sticks?”
“I’m not quite sure,” he said. “I was in the shower when she packed it. Let’s see.”
We came to a stoplight. Carl heaved the lunchbox onto his lap and popped off the lid.
Inside were an ice pack and a Slim Fast.
I craned my neck. “That’s it?”
Carl didn’t say a word. Instead, he chucked the Slim Fast out the window. It slammed onto the highway and exploded. A car honked.
When the light turned, Carl punched the gas, flying past the other cars like a deranged maniac. The rest of us exchanged glances, biting our lips.
A block later, he barreled into the McDonald’s parking lot and came to a violent stop in the drive-through.
“Apparently, the diet’s been postponed for a while,” I said.