An Inner City Store

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I’ll never forget Art and Shortie.   I used to work in the inner city for a pizza delivery company.  Arthur and Shortie, as he liked to be called, which I never figured out since he was five foot ten, were African-American kids who worked at the store.


And I can say, I never saw two young men who worked harder or craved work time like these two did.  They also moved at the speed of light and seemed to always be on top of what needed to be done.  Also, if I had a task for them to do, they always did it cheerfully in rain, sun or snow.


They also had fun.  Sometimes, when we had no customers they would do a dance, that was popular then, in the foyer of the restaurant.  Steve, my boss who was also an African-American and I would just shake our heads and laugh as we looked at each other, “Kids.”


What Shortie really liked to do in the store was work the cash register.  I could see in my mind he was already putting a resume together.  What he really wanted to do, however, was to go to college, as did Arthur.  And I bet they did because both of them were smart and had drive.


All was not well in the store though.  There were gangs at night.  Non-gang members would walk up the sidewalks at night, sometimes with machetes for their protection.  They were peaceful enough, but it was unnerving.


Because of the fact it was the inner city, also, we could not hire American drivers, or any Americans like Arthur and Shortie.  Most of them were very hard working, others were not.  The ones that were hard working came from cultures of hard work.  They also respected authority.  But the troublesome employees all came from one country that was communist and they would not work and deeply resented any authority.  Consequently, if a chore needed to be done, they would feign work.  If you asked them to wash dishes, they all had skin rashes, or so they said.  What they wanted was to be paid and not work.  And the problem was that you couldn’t fire them because we could not replace them.  At least they worked when pizza had to be made.  It was very frustrating.


Steve, my boss and friend, would confide in me about his frustration with this too.  But he was sticking around because he had plans.  He was going to take the knowledge he was being taught, save his money and open up a doughnut shop.  He would often lay out his plans to me.  He and Mike, the assistant manager who was an immigrant also. were going to run the store together.


At any rate, I got a job offer one day when a friend I knew said there was a job opening up where he worked.  I still liked my job, but  the career ladder called.  Later, I found out that Steve did open his doughnut shop with Mike. 


As for Art and Shortie, I hope they pursued their dreams.  I know I truly grew to love and respect them.


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