Too Tasty

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What's Right Doesn't Always Make Us Happy

---Saturday---

I whistled in appreciation as I took in the new appearance of the diner. Cute, mini chandeliers were suspended from the ceiling which illuminated the room with a beautiful yellow glow. Gone were the outdated Italian paintings and the grey rimmed wall borders.

I strode into the kitchen and gasped in shock as I looked at the new equipment. Every single item was stainless steel and there was even a new fridge. The counter where I used to chop vegetables used to be a standard color of grey but it was now a radiant white marble countertop.

Damn, Quinton must've spent mad cash.

I squinted at the fridge and saw that there was a note.

Max,

Don't burn down this kitchen. Learn from Karina.

Quinton

I snorted at his short message and shook my head as I walked to the small shelf behind the front counter to place my bag down.

It was only 7 a.m. and most of the customers started pouring in around 8:30 a.m. so I had plenty of time to do my standard meal prep routine.

---

"Hey Max, let's get this show on the road," I called out to him as he sauntered into the diner. For once, he was on time for the lunch rush. Today, I'd teach him how to use a cash register and be polite to the customers.

This should be interesting.

"Ayy, Kari. What's good sista?" asked Max in an odd voice. I looked him up and down to find that he was wearing the Too Tasty diner outfit but in neon orange and black. He looked like a Halloween pumpkin so, I tried to suppress a chortle at his apparel. I'm not even going to bother how he managed to custom print the logo.

"Everything, now come here before we're bombarded with a bunch of customers," I said as I reached for his arm.

"I can walk sis. Sheesh, I'm not a mannequin...although I'd be a stunning one," Max said. I sighed and resorted to bribing him so that he'd focus.

"See that?" I asked. My hand gestured to the showcase full of dark fudge caramel brownies. His eyes widened in happiness as he saw the goodies waiting for him.

He nodded vigorously and I hid a grin. "If you behave yourself and learn what I teach you, I'll give you not one, but three brownies. Deal?" I said as I stuck out a hand.

"Deal!" Max responded.

I showed him how to program the prices of each item into the register based on the menu. So far so good. He paid close attention to what I needed him to learn and retain the information when I asked him to show me by himself. I even showed him how to do the basic tasks of cutting veggies, sweeping, mopping, and wiping down tables.

This was going well. Too well.

What's the catch?

"Max, you can help me out. I need to go cook these orders. Just follow my instructions, okay? Holler if you need help," I said and Max nodded eagerly.

I proceeded to the kitchen and went into my zone as I crunched out my recipes for the customers.

Smooth sailing until an hour before 7 p.m.

"What do you mean I overcharged you? That's so fugly and stupid of you to say," Max screeched. I could already imagine the scene he was making.

I lowered the flame on the stove as I rushed outside to the cashier's station.

I yanked on his arm and dragged him aside. "What are you doing Max?" He was doing so well. I wonder what he did now.

"He said I charged him extra for the mac and cheese. He's lying. The menu said $4.50 and tax. That's what I did. See for yourself," Max whined and I huffed as I plodded over to the menu to check.

Wow, he was right. I shouldn't be so quick to judge him.

"Okay, fine Max. You are. But golden rule number one is that the customer is always right," I said. I impatiently waited for Max to respond as I glanced over at the old man who glared at me.

"But he's obviously wrong," said Max. His indignance rolled off of him and his face contorted in annoyance.

"Even if you're right and he's wrong, you let him off the hook. Watch and learn," I said. I walked over to the customer and said, "I'm sorry about that. How about a dessert of your choice on the house?" I ask with a polite tone. I glance over at Max who rolls his eyes and continues to watch.

"Who even hired that young man? He's such a fool," the old man grumbled. I frowned as I saw Max walk off dejectedly into the kitchen.

"Listen sir, please pick your free pastry. But don't say a word to Max. He's still learning and unlike some people, he hasn't had it easy. Let him live and learn," I said with a respectful tone.

The old man flushed and pointed at the blueberry muffin I'd made earlier this morning as his freebie.

"Have a good day sir," I said with a smile. I released a breath as he walked out without causing a scene.

The diner was slowly emptying out and I realized that it was almost time to start wrapping up everything.

Finally, I just want some ice cream and my fluffy pillow so I can sleep in peace.

But first, I needed to check on Max.

I walked back into the kitchen and saw Max crying as he drew sad faces all over Quinton's note from the fridge. Max looked up at me and then looked away again.

I put my hand on his shoulder and said, "It was an honest mistake Max. It happens and what that customer did was wrong. Just because he said you suck doesn't mean that he's right. That's up to you. Whether you choose to learn and grow up a little bit is all on you. Sometimes we do what we think is right."

Max continued to doodle on the note without acknowledging my words.

"But what's right doesn't always make us happy," Max completed and I gaped at him.

"Who told you that?" I asked in surprise.

Max looked up at me with a red nose and teary eyes. "My mommy did before she gave me up to an adoption place. Even my daddy left her. And then they both left me," Max said.

My heart broke and I struggled to suck in air. I felt his pain but couldn't imagine what that could do to someone.

It was all a facade. He acted all macho and exciting because he wanted somebody to notice him and actually give a shit.

I hugged him and he cried into my shoulder. It was awkward because I was a petite 5-foot woman and he was a foot taller than me.

"I think I want you to meet two people close to me," I said with a smile. I wiped his tears with a clean white kitchen towel and he looked down at me.

"Who?" he asked. I could already see that I'd distracted him from his pain.

Perfect.

"You'll see Max. Just walk home with me and I'll let you meet them," I said with a smirk.

"Really?" Max said as he jumped up and down in excitement.

"Yes Max. Now, go grab your treats. You earned them bro," I answered.

I was surprised he didn't comment on the fact that I'd just called him bro.

I grinned as he hopped off to the dessert showcase like a little rabbit. Cleaning up wouldn't take very long so I wasn't worried about getting home in time before dark.

"Let's go Max," I said as I locked up the diner. It was slightly chilly out so I shrugged on my trench coat as we walked out together.

"If radishes are pink, why are they white on the inside?" Max asked. I snorted at his silly question and realized that I'd be answering many questions on my short walk home.

"You peel the pink skin Max. You peel the skin," I said as I coughed. Looks like I still needed to take those antibiotics.

"Oh," he said and we fell into a comfortable silence for less than a minute.

"But why can't it be just one color? Like a carrot," he asked moments later and I snickered.

"Google it Max," I retorted with a grin.

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