"Thank you for coming. I hope you visit us soon with your whole family," I said to the elderly couple with a huge grin on my face. They have been coming here for so long. The grin on my face turned even bigger when I looked at their satisfied smiles playing on their lips. We work hard to get that satisfied smile on their face. My dad always says if the customer is satisfied he will more likely come back to find that satisfaction. His wise words rang in my ears to enlighten my mind. It was the motto of our Kings and I never dare to forget that.
"We will," they said with a polite smile on their face as they stood up after paying the bill. They are one of the regular customers of our restaurant. I kept looking at their retiring back with that same grin still playing on my lips. I only turned my eyes away from the back when they were near the exit door. I started cleaning the table when the bell rang stating that the elderly couple had exited out of the door of our restaurant. I collected their paid money and went to the cashier counter where my mother was going through some bills.
"Mom" I called her to get her attention away from her big account book.
"Yes honey," she said while adjusting her black frame reading glasses on her nose, and still looking at her big account book. Dad always trusted her with this because she is the only king in the family who is so good at managing these things.
"Bill of the table number nine," I said, handing her the money with a printed receipt of the customer bill of the elderly couple. She took it and started counting it. As I turned to go and take the order of other customers, my mother called me.
"Sage." I stopped in my tracks and turned to face her.
"Yes," I asked, turning to look at her while fixing my apron on my waist so it won't stain my clothes.
"The couple left you a generous amount of tip like always. I'm keeping it in the left drawer with your all-morning tip don't forget to take it while leaving" she said in her strict voice with a serious look on her face. I know why she is saying it like that.
"Mom, I don't want it after all. I'm just filling the place of our part-timer," I refused her with a small smile on my face before she could say anything and force me to take the money. I went and took the order of a bunch of friends who entered the restaurant just now.
"What would you like to have," I asked with a polite smile on my face. They looked at the menu and ordered what they wanted. With a new order slip, I went to the kitchen with hurried steps as more people were coming. More people equals too many orders. I saw our head chef plating the very delicious-looking food on the plate with full concentration. He didn't even notice that I had entered the kitchen and I was now standing beside him.
"Dad is table number seven's order ready," I asked him, causing him to break his attention towards the love of his life. Yes, making food and feeding it to the people with a big smile on his face is his only favorite thing in this world. He always says he finds happiness when his handmade food satisfies someone's hunger. Listening to my voice he looked at me with a questioning gaze.
"Yes it is," he said while still looking at me with the same expression. "What are you still doing here Sage. Don't you have an interview today?" dad asked while knitting his eyebrows in question.
"Yes, I do. I have still two hours before it starts. I will help you guys until Elijah comes and then I will leave for my interview" I said while taking the order of table number six for the counter.
"Sage," dad said in his calm voice while taking away the plate from my hand and keeping it on the counter. "You don't have to do it, you have already done so much. So now you go and get fresh to leave for the company you are interviewing for," dad said with a polite smile.
"I did nothing compared to what you guys did for me. And after all, I'm just filling our part-timer place until Elijah comes then I will leave. I still have time" I said in my assuring voice while taking the plate and getting out of the kitchen not before yelling from my back that new orders of customers are kept on the counter. I could picture the dad moving his head in incredulity.
"Don't get your clothes stained" he yelled back making me move my head in amusement. To save my time, I was already dressed in the clothes which I was going to wear for my interview today. Balancing two plates in my hand while not trying to ruin my iron clothes I placed the order food on table number six. More than half an hour went into serving and taking orders from people as today is Friday and on Friday there is a rush in Kings as it's a well-known restaurant in this area.
"Is there no one to take a damn order in this restaurant?" a yelling male voice coughs my attention as I was serving a couple. I turned my head to look at the source of a voice. It was a group of teenage jocks whom I saw entering the restaurant a few moments ago from the corner of my eyes.
"Enjoy your meal," I said to the couple with a smile and went near the Jocks to take their order before they complained more. From their jersey, I could make out that they went to the same high school as Elijah.
"Are you ready to order?" I asked with the same polite smile while taking out the pen and notepad from the pocket of my apron. A guy from a group with a small buildup grin while moving his eyes up and down throughout all my body length. It made me clench the notepad tightly and roll my eyes.
Kids these days.
"You don't even have a damn menu here. How are we supposed to order out of air?" one of the teenagers with short hair said rudely, making me avert my eyes from the buildup boys grinning face to that rude boy. All the guys started laughing at his lame attempt at insulting me.
"Not out of the air but from the menu on which you have your hands instead of your eyes," I said with a forced pointy smile while pointing with a pen towards the menu card which was just under his elbow which was lazy resting on the table. It made boys stop laughing. With arrogance dripping out of his face he took the menu and started looking at it.
"We will call you when we are ready to order before that send some water for us" he aging said rudely while waving his hands to shoo me away with a smirk playing on his stupid face.
Be cool, be cool.
I repented in my head and was about to turn.
"Are you on the menu too?" that small buildup guy asked me, making all the boys wheeze in admiration at his comment. I saw people sitting on the table beside them looking from me to them and moving their heads in disbelief. I ignored his comment.
"Always be nice to the customer" I whisper under my breath while closing my eyes and taking a breath. "Call me once you are ready to order," I said with a forced polite smile and turned to leave but before I could move that boy tugged a strand of my long hair making me wince at the pulling sensation. With a set jaw, I turned to look at him. He smirked looking at my face.
"You didn't answer my question sweetheart," he said arrogantly as his ego was bruised by my rejection. I glared at him causing his smirk to widen. "Are you asking for some spanking by not answering me?" he said with a big boyish smirk on his face like he did something so big after those poor attempts of lame pick-up lines. His every word was getting on my nerves.
I can't take it anymore.
"Enough is enough. Get out of here now," I said while burning in anger. I was still trying to control my anger and being nice to these stupid teenagers. Listing to my warning they started laughing. That small build-up guy looked at my name tag on my apron.
"Sage'' he tried to say in a husky voice which sounded like he was choking on the air he breathed. With the same arrogant smirk playing on his stupid face he said in his mocking tone "Make us baby." It was the last straw of my patience. From the corner of my eyes, I saw mom looking at me listening to all the fuses. I didn't look at her but glared at these jocks.
"You asked for it," I said, keeping my pen and notepad back in the pocket of my apron. They laugh loudly listening to my words, probably not believing that a girl with short height like mine will make them get out of here. I moved my hands so fast that he didn't even know when I pinned his head down the table with force making him wince in pain. All the guys stopped laughing and looked at us with wide shocked eyes. The whole restaurant became quiet. All of them were looking at us now in utter silence.
"I'm warning you again to get out of here till I'm being nice to you," I said in my fake polite voice with a small nice smile playing on my tight lips while still pressing that build up guy's face on the table with more pressure so he couldn't get up. "You bitch" the rude guy with short hair said while trying to swing his fist towards me to save his friend. But I caught his swinging hand before it even could reach me and made it land back on his face. Before he could even come out of the force of that hard-hit I pinned his head too on the table. He groaned in pain as the hard surface of the table touched his not so handsome face with force. With sharp eyes, l looked at two other boys. the color from their face was completely drained out looking at the condition of their two friends.
"Do you want something special like them?" I said in a mocking angry tone making them move their head in denial with fear in their eyes. I took the hold of the ears of both guys and dragged them out.
"Ouch" "ouch," both cry as I throw them out by their ear followed by their two minions. I folded my hands around my chest while glaring at them.
"Next time you come here keep that attitude of yours out here," I said in anger while pointing at my feet. They nodded with their head low.
As I was turning around to go inside I saw a homeless man standing near the glass wall and looking inside at the people eating food with gleaming eyes. I went near him and took him inside with me and told one of our waiters to give him some food. We here in King's diner feed the people who are hungry even if they don't have money in their pockets. As I was about to resume my work all the people were still looking at me with wide eyes not believing that I just kicked those guys out. My cheeks turned red under their curious gaze.
"Sorry for the disruption please continue eating your food," I said with a sheepish smile on my face. Listening to me they all went back to eating and talking on the other hand mom was moving her head in amusement while looking at me. I saw Elijah entering the restaurant from the back door with his bag. He came straight here after his score team training.
"What did I miss," he asked looking from me to mom by sensing a changed atmosphere.
"Four boys from your school tried to mess with your sister," she said in amusement while still looking at some bills.
"Wow did they go out of here with all body parts intact," he asked with a big grin.
"Yes, they did now go and take my place. I'm leaving," I said with narrowed eyes.
"Yes sir," he said and went to the changing room to find his apron.
"Mom I'm leaving I will come back when my interview is done," I said while removing my apron.
"Wait! Darling, the corner of your sleeves has a ketchup mark on it," she said while looking at the stain.
"I must have got it while throwing those boys out," I said looking at the stain which was not getting out of my white shirt.
"You should go home first to change it. You can't go to an interview like this. Take this money and go there by taxi" she said in a concerned voice while putting more money in the envelope of my morning tip.
"Mom," I said in my firm voice.
"Don't waste your time in arguing with me and get going or else you will be late" she said while keeping the envelope in my hand. She was right but I won't use the money from this.
"Best of luck I know you will get that job," she said with a bright happy smile passing her positive energy to me. With a small nod, I left.
I went home as it's just ten minutes walk away from our restaurant. I ironed another white shirt and changed into it. After that, I left for the company, and only forty-five minutes were left for the interview to start. Taking the cab I reached the company in less than fifteen minutes as it was not that far away. After paying for the ride I stepped out of the cab and looked at the tall building in front of me. This is the biggest and well-known company in this suburban area. Maybe from tomorrow, it will be my workplace. Then I will be able to support my parents. I thought with a smile on my face.
"Best of luck Sage King" I whispered, wishing luck to myself. With these positive thoughts, I went inside the building receptionist. She was busy typing on her laptop. "Hey I'm Sage king, I'm here for an interview. May I know on which floor the management interviews are going n?," I asked her with a small smile. Listening to my voice she lifted her head and looked at me.
"You are a girl," she said with a confused look on her face.
"Yes, I'm so what. May I know where the are interviews going on or else I will get late?" I repeated my question in my little frantic voice.
"Sorry ma'am but you are not eligible for these interviews as this post is available for the male candied only," she said with a faint smile.
"What! But nothing like that was mentioned in the job Ad and when I called to fix my appointment at that time you didn't say anything" I said in incredulity.
"I fixed the appointment as you gave me the name Sage King and it's a male name," she said with the same expression on her face. My jaw set the listing to comment about my name. It was not the first time I heard something like that.
"It's unisex! Why this job is only for male candidates," I asked in anger.
"Sorry ma'am I don't know the actual reason but on higher posts always only male candidates are hired," she said apologetically.
"Which world are we leaving in? Forget it I don't want to work in a company where there is no gender equality" I said and turned as I knew the fact that it was of no use to argue with the receptionist she was doing her job. Sitting at the bus stop I kept looking at the tall building where I was dreaming to work a few minutes ago.
"Another failed interview" I mumbled under my breath still looking at the building. The only difference between all my previous failed interviews and today's interview was that this time I didn't even get the fair chance to compete with others because of my gender.
The World is such an unfair place. If you want a job they ask you for the experience even if you just passed out of the university. If you have bad grades but your talent but they want to see your talent on paper in this situation you don't even have a chance to stand in the job market. Even if you have good grades they don't hire you because of your gender.
How more unfair this world can get.
People say this world is full of opportunities but there are none. Every hope of me getting a job comes with a message that you are not eligible for this post. These thoughts made me sad and angry at the same time. I took a deep breath and looked at my shoes.
What will I do now?
If I don't get a job, how am I supposed to help my family?
Dad took a loan to pay tuition fees for my higher studies. I too had some money but it was less so they helped me in achieving my dream to study management. One day I want to help in making our king's diner big as dad always dreamed. They help me achieve my dream and I want to help them achieve theirs. Next year Elijah will be a senior in high school and we need money for his business school.
But how am I supposed to do that without a good job in my hand?
I sigh deeply in disappointment in myself. The weight on my shoulder was big but I don't know how to make it less with all doors closed on my face. Sitting at the bus stop I kept thinking about what I'm going to do next in my life and what I'm going to tell mom and dad after going home. After like ten minutes the bus came with my head hanging low. I went and took a seat near the window. I don't know how time passed and soon my stop came. As soon as I stepped out of the bus it started raining.
Could this day become any worse?
Holding my big handbag above my head I started running in the direction of our diner as it was near the bus stop. I was trying my best to not get my body wet in the rain as I catch a cold very fast. This caused me to run at a fast pace as I was running towards it a black car with a trident on it started coming in my direction from nowhere with speed. The driver honked loudly while making me flinch as I got out of his path with a racing heart. That car passed from beside me just missing a few inches away from me while splashing all the dirty water on me. Now I was completely drenched in dirty rainwater.
"Damn him who the hells drives like this in the rain. Ugh, I hate this day" I whispered yell in annoyance. "God could this day get any worse," I said while looking up at the heavy poring angry black sky. Listening to my complaint, a thunder breaker in the angry black sky to mock me. I huffed in irritation and continued to run towards the diner but this time without my bag over my head as my clothes were completely soaked in rain.
I tried to gather my courage to tell them I didn't get the job. With a heavy heart, I moved towards it. As I reached near the door my eyes furrowed in doubt. It had a closed sign hanging on it. Strange they never close it this time it's not even closing time. I opened the door and walked inside to find mom crying with dad comforting her with an anxious expression on his always jolly face and on the other hand, Elijah was sitting with his head low.
What's the matter?
Like sensing my presence mom looked at me with teary eyes. "Sage" she came running to me with red puffy eyes and hugged me. It made my heart sink.
"What's the matter? Why are you crying mom and why is there a closed sign on the door? Why are you all looking so worried" I asked in my eager voice while looking at all of their twitched faces. It was giving me a bad feeling with each passing second. Hearing my questions mom started sobbing even more.
"That sign will permanently be there from now onwards," dad said with a heavy heart. It was so hard for him to say that. I could tell it by looking at his face.
"What are you trying to say?" I asked as I couldn't get what exactly he was trying to say. And the next words from his mouth pulled the ground under my feet.
"Our king's diner is sold," Dad said with a heavy heart. I felt the thunder from the angry sky was straight falling on me, shattering everything in my life.