I have a job. Papa used to say he’d be stuck with me forever on account of me going to special schools and that I’d never get a real job to support myself. He was wrong for two reasons:
1)Papa left before he could be stuck with me forever.
2)I have a job.
Every morning my alarm clock beeps like a car horn at 7:02 AM. I press the sleep button one time and get up at 7:07. I like the number seven since Mama told me God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. And I like to rest. She went to rest in heaven ten years ago when she had the cancer problem. That’s why I live here in this yellow house with green shutters and three floors for nine people and a back apartment for Gary and Melissa to live and manage us.
I share my room with Jason who smells like hot dogs since that’s all he eats.
It’s 7:28, a multiple of seven, so I am tying my tie in the mirror. I always wear the green tie with gold triangles and sing the tie rhyme Mama taught me...bunny runs around the tree, jumps through the hole and looks at me.
Jason doesn’t go to work. He goes to school to put shapes together. He likes the triangles on my tie. I work at Madison’s cafeteria. A yellow mini-bus picks me up at 8:25 AM. Ernie, the driver with long braids, says, “How’s my man Steve doin this fine mornin?”
I say, “Good.” Unless he’s late. Then I don’t answer.
At Madison’s Cafeteria, I roll silverware into napkins for three hours and seven minutes. Thirty-five minutes for lunch. And sixty-three minutes sorting the clean silverware.
My stomach starts to growl at 11:30. I eat my Skippy peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread cut in triangles at 12:07 and drink chocolate milk with a bendy straw.
I like rolling silverware. They clink together like the butterfly wind chimes Mama hung back home.
I can see my reflection upside down on the spoon...I see Walter’s face too, so I swing my elbow into his stomach.
“Ugh! What was that for?”
“Don’t sneak up on me. That’s rude.”
“True, but elbowing a guy’s stomach wouldn’t be called polite neither.” Walter is the janitor at the cafeteria. We are alike in three ways:
1)He says his dad left when he was little.
2)He works at Madison’s cafeteria.
3)He believes in God.
We are different in three ways:
1)I don’t eat fish.
2)He doesn’t eat Skippy peanut butter.
3)He doesn’t like working at the cafeteria. He’s saving to buy his own restaurant someday.
Walter sings while he mops the floors so that he doesn’t think about mopping floors. He tells me God has a plan for our lives. I try to picture His plan like the instructions for my model cars, but I don’t see it.
I don’t understand people sometimes, but Walter says God always understands me.
It’s 8:32. The bus is not here. I bang my head against the window until it hurts. The glass is cold on my cheek as I strain to see the end of Washington Street.
Melissa’s slippers swoosh as she shuffles closer. “Steve, what are you doing?”
“I’m waiting for the bus. Got to go to work now. ”
“Remember what I told you last Friday?”
“You said they cut back. I can’t work anymore. But I want to work. I’m wearing my green tie, my belt and deodorant.”
“I know, they laid off other workers too.”
“Who’s going to roll the silverware?”
“I don’t know. You could go back to bed.”
“No, I’ll wait. They might change their minds.”
For six days, I dress in my tie and wait for the bus. I rest on the seventh day and give up. I don’t like staying at the home during the day, so when Melissa says I can go to the center to work, I say okay.
I stick labels on pickle jars. The center smells like dirty diapers. Is this the plan Walter meant?
After five years at the center, I sing my tie rhyme and hear the phone ring. Melissa’s slippers swoosh down the hall.
“Steve, Walter’s on the phone...wants to offer you a job.”
“Hello? Yes, I would.”
I’m going to work at Walter’s Main Street Cafe. He says I can roll silverware.
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