Well, what do you know…It feels like I was just here.
Ah yes, the familiar morning mall smell of burnt cinnibuns and stale crushed dreams.
I think Qui-Gon was up the whole night baking. Sure, he’s a force ghost but I’m sure he needs to rest sometime. Me? I think I got four hours of sleep before I had to turn around and do it all again.
I knew this wasn’t gonna be a pretty day when I saw our evil boss, Bif S’Naus Ages at the counter waiting for me.
“Ah, there you are J.J.. You’re late two minutes, but don’t worry, I won’t dock you any pay…this time.” He said with a smile as if he were making a joke.
“Yeah, you’re all heart, boss. Whatcha doing here this early?”
”I had to drop off the coupons before the doors opened.”
“Coupons? For what?” My hands began to sweat.
“Why for the new flavors of Uncle Jinn & J.J.’s brownies, of course. We would have had them out for the public yesterday but the printers weren’t finished with these here coupons.”
I forgot about all the new flavors Qui was making prior to our first day.
Bif continued. “Now these coupons are good for one free brownie if they buy any two of the new flavors. Ulp. Looks like the line is starting. Put on your aprons, I’ll open up the doors. Smiles everyone, smiles.”
Qui-Gon drifted out of the kitchen and gave me a tired nod. We then stood there behind the counter, bracing for the worst.
“Hey, I’m the first one!” Yelled an overly exuberant (for that time in the morning) child. “What do I get for free?”
“A swift kick in the pants?” I offered back. The mother gave me an indignant look and Mr. S’Naus Ages folded his arms and shook his head at me. “Eh…I mean….you get a free brownie bite, little cute girl…”
“I don’t want one of those stale brownie bites. They’re from yesterday. I want a fresh brownie right out of the oven.” She stamped her feet down and gave me a petulant look that mirrored her mom’s.
“Hey Qui,” I leaned over to whisper. “Ya got any fresh Yatta Wasabi brownies for the little tike?”
Qui-Gon’s eyes smoldered back to life and a smile crept into his face. “I think so, J.J.. I think so…"
“I’ll take three Super Fudgy brownies; I got here this coupon for the third one free.”
”Uh….yes but is says the two you do buy have to be one of the four new flavors to get the third one free, sir.”
“Well that shouldn’t matter, should it? They’re all brownies, right?”
“Well yes, but…”
“What’s the matter? I just want to use this coupon. Is there a problem?”
“No sir. It’s just the coupon says you need to buy one of the four new…”
“I don’t believe this. Can I speak to your supervisor?”
“Um….well he’s not in right now.”
“Well then can I speak to someone in charge?”
“I guess that would be me.”
“Well then, here’s my coupon…why don’t you give me my brownies and I’ll go.”
“Uh sir….it doesn’t work like that. You…”
“Hey! Would you just hurry it up, buddy?” Yelled a man from the line. “I’ve been waiting here for almost an hour.”
“Yeah, me too.” Piped in another. “Just give him his brownies. What are you? A moron? It’s not that difficult a job.”
My eyes started to twitch uncontrollably as I handed the smug customer in front of me his brownies. I think Qui-Gon had to restrain my hands from lashing out…but I don’t remember much after that.
Lunch time. Qui and I wandered off to the closest food court where we had a meager meal of Toxic Bell while Mr. S’Naus Ages surprisingly covered for us. We ate in silence. Or almost silence. The Mall music echoed throughout with the dulcet sounds of Barry Mon Calamari and Helen Reddy Whiphid. It was enough to almost make me lose my lunch…literally.
When we returned, the place was a shambles. Gift sets and boxes were tossed on the floor, napkins were all strewn about, the back counter was like a war zone and there was Mr. S’Naus Ages grinning away like an idiot. “Ah, good. You two are back from your lunch. Well, I got to go. You can take over now.”
“What happened to the place?” I asked.
He looked around then looked at me. “Oh yeah, well it was busy. Clean this place up before you go.”
“Where’s I-SUC? Isn’t he supposed to be cleaning?”
“Oh yes. He is. He’s in the back room right now cleaning the kitchen. There was a small accident with the batter bowl. I’m sure you guys can take care of it.”
He then walked out like there was nothing wrong. I looked at the store in amazement. “We were only gone twenty minutes…”
“Excuse me…this brownie is bad. I wan’t another one.” Some old sour faced woman stated.
“Of course. Do you have a receipt?” Surprisingly she did. ….from yesterday. She then handed me the brownie wrapper void of any brownie except a few crumbs. “Um…First off, this was from yesterday and second….you ate it all.”
“Well I was hungry.”
“So it was good enough to eat.”
“Oh no. It was so stale it hurt my jaws. And it tasted like soap. I want another one.”
“But you ate it….”
“But it was bad.”
And so it went. For eight hours straight until Qui-Gon gave me the bad news. “Uh dude, I think we’re out of Super Fudgy flavor.”
”What!?! That’s our most popular flavor!!! And we still got another hour to go. And look at that damn line!!! I swear we’re gonna be here for another two hours after we close the doors.” But word started to leak out that we were running out of our most popular flavors and customers in line began to push and shove their way inside, desperate to grab their brownies before we ran out. Arguments broke out and fists almost started to fly. It was getting bad until…
Yes, it was the Mall Troopers. Not quite Clone Troopers, the Mall Troopers had fake plastic guns and almost no real authority beyond the walls of the mall, but they did break up the crowd well. In fact so well, it looked like we were going to get out of here on time. My eyes started to beam a little brighter at the prospect. When we closed the doors exactly at closing, I was smiling from ear to ear. That was, until the Mall Troopers looked at us with hunger in their eyes. “Okay, we got the crowd away for ya, now…can ya fix us up with some brownies?”
“But…it’s closing time….” I stammered.
“You want us to come back tomorrow and break up the crowd before closing again, don’t ya?”
I looked at the two dozen Mall Troopers in the store and my heart sank. Slowly I put back on my apron and steadied myself by the cash register.
“Eh…..what will it be….sir….”
“I’d like three Super Fudgy brownies. Oh, and I got a coupon.”