Okay. So this can’t be too bad. Qui-Gon and myself have to man the new Uncle Jinn & J.J. Olde Brownie Shoppe in the Coruscant Mall for a whole week to get our permanent spice permit. No problem, right?
First off, I forgot how huge that freakin’ mall is. Fourteen levels, six food courts, and a few thousand shops all crammed together. Not only that but we couldn’t even park anywhere nearby. Those spots were for “paying customers” as we were told so we have to hike five miles just to get inside.
Not like we needed extra customers. It seems word leaked out that our brownies were going to be made available to the public once again but only at this one location to start with. Needless to say, our loyal fan base was out in droves. Before we even opened our doors the line snaked through the mall all the way to the Alderaan Eagle and the Max Rebo Shack. It was gonna be a long day.
But Qui and I put on our smocks and our best game faces and prepared to meet our wonderful, adoring public. I took on the register and greeting duties while Qui, who worked tirelessly through the night baking our goodies, was now behind the counter packaging up the orders as they came. Even I-SUC helped out cleaning up the place.
* * *
“So what flavors do you have?” A Twi’lik woman asked.
“Our regular Super Fudgy or Green Riddle Chunky-Monkey.” I answered back.
“Oh….What’s the difference?”
“One has nuts, the other doesn’t.”
“Oh….hmmm….well….I wonder which one I should get.”
“Why don’t you get both?”
“Oh, I can’t afford both. Hmmm….Do you have any with caramel in them?”
“Uh…no. Just with and without nuts.”
“How about with marshmallows?”
“No. Just those two.”
“NO. Just those two right there in your hand. Now which one do you want, lady?”
The woman stood there in line for over twenty minutes sighing and muttering to herself. I mean, come on! It’s only two different flavors. Grow a spine and make a decision! She was about to take the Green Riddle Chunky Monkey when she muttered something about wishing we had some caramel fudge brownies when Qui-Gon chimed in. “Oh you know that Corellia Caramel shop two level up might have something like that.”
“Oh you think?” She beamed, and then she was gone, and so were those twenty minutes of my life – never to come back again.
* * *
It was like that all day.
“Hey buddy,” a man yelled at me from out of line. “How much are these brownie gift boxes over here?”
”What does the price tag say?”
“Eh…twenty credits.” He then stood there waiting for me to answer.
* * *
Or…”I’ll have three Super Fudgys, one Green Riddle Chunky Monkey and two orange sodas.”
“Um…we don’t serve any drinks here. Just brownies?”
“What? But we’re thirsty.”
“There’s a water fountain just around the corner or a food court just above us on the next level.”
He then folded his arms and looked squarely at me. “Well then, hurry up and get me two orange sodas from upstairs.”
“That’s…not our job, sir.”
“Hey, I’m a paying customer here, and the customer is always right. Now why don’t you just run along and get me those sodas.”
I was about run his ass out of here when our boss, Inspector Bif S’Naus Ages, sauntered in. “What seems to be the trouble here?”
“This gentleman wants me to go up to the food court and grab him two sodas. I told him n-…”
“Of course we can, sir. Anything for the customer. J.J., run up there and get him what he wants. Be quick about it.”
My fists balled up…my toes balled up. My gut balled up. I couldn’t believe it. But there I was, pushing my way past the crowd to get this jerk his freaking soda, all the while I wanted to stuff those damn hair knobs down Bif’s throat.
When word spread of the free samples, half the mall was waiting outside our door. And they were getting ugly too. Shouts of hurry up in there, ya bums, and other disparaging remarks echoed just outside. Some waited so long that they, of course, took it out on us when they got up to order.
“I think you should let us have some brownies for free for the amount of time we wasted waiting in your line.”
“You can have a free sample.” I offered.
He took a handful and stuffed it in his mouth.
“Uh…Qui….we need another sample plate.”
Poor Qui was like a whirling dervish, running back and forth filling orders in-between making new batches to keep up with demand.
* * *
And another… “That will be 18.65.” I told a customer.
“But I only bought fifteen credits worth.”
“uh…there’s tax too.”
“Well…I’m from Bespin. We don’t have tax there.”
“That’s nice. We do on Coruscant. That will be 18.65.”
“Well I don’t think I should have to pay it…” and so it went. The day was a blur. I vaguely remember our two five minute breaks and half hour lunch. Me and Qui sat huddled quietly together, our eyes glazed and our hands shook as we ate our stale McDooku burgers. This was harder than I thought. And this was just the first day.
By the time the mall closed we still had two dozen people waiting in line. Even though the clock said we were closed we still had to serve them before we could leave. It wasn’t until forty five minutes after we officially “closed” that I got the last customer of the day. Some old lady from Ord Mantell. All she got was one Super Fudgy brownie.
“That will be 1.75.”
She then took out her change purse and dumped it on the counter and started counting out coins. “Let’s see….five…ten….twenty…twenty-five…fifty…oh wait. That’s one of those new twenty-five cent coins. I can’t give you that. I collect those.”
“Of course you do…”
“Now where was I? Five….ten….twenty….thirty seven…”
“Uh…that’s a Geonosis seventeen cent piece. We don’t take those here…unfortunately.”
“Oh…okay then. Five… fifteen….twenty….thirty….thirty-five…forty….forty-five…oh my….that’s the same age as my grandson. Did you know that?”
“I do now. Um…look can I help you with that.”
”No, I can do it. I ain’t dead yet, young man. Let’s see…..five….ten……twenty….”
“It’s just that…we’ve been closed for almost an hour and I really do want to go home.”
”I’m going as fast as I can, young man. Oh…now you made me forget where I was….sigh…five….ten…..twenty…..twenty-five….twenty-six…twenty-seven…oh…you do take pennies, don’t you?”
“……I…….I…….I’m afraid….we do….”
“That’s nice….they’re still good money, you know. Five……ten……fifteen….twenty-five…
Forty five minutes later… “One dollar seventy-three…One dollar seventy-four….one dollar seventy-five. There you go.”
I scooped up the change and dumped it in the register. “Thank you come again,” I said in a weak voice ready to crack.
“Aren’t you going to count it?”
Finally. The doors were locked. Our ten hour day of hell was at an end. All I wanted to do was go home and get in the Jacuzzi with a cigar in one hand and a stiff drink in the other.
Just as we were walking out the door, Inspecter S’Naus Ages came up to us. “Well, we did a great first day, didn’t we?”
“oh…yes WE did.” I spoke back, never once meeting his eye.
“Uh…where are you two going?” he asked perplexed.
“But you still have to count out the register and write up the receipts and deposits and Master Jinn, we need to bake some more brownies. Our supply is almost all gone and we’re expecting twice as many customers tomorrow. I put out a full page add in the Coruscant Chronicle. Now come along you two. A little extra work never hurt anyone.”
With a heavy sign that sounded more like a whimper, we turned around and re-entered our prison.
This was gonna be a loooooong week.