"Uh... let me check on that," stammered the young waiter as he stepped hurriedly away, nearly tripping over his feet.
Murray almost laughed, but held back. The young waiter was nervous enough, after all. He hadn't come out and said it, but it sure seemed like it was the kids first night. Having been there himself on a few occasions, he decided not to make things tougher than they had to be. All he'd asked, though, was if they had a desert menu.
The kid returned in a hurry, "Sorry, no menu, but I can tell you what we have..."
Murray resisted a sigh, "No, that's okay. I shouldn't have anything anyway. Can I just get the check?" The kid somehow looked crushed and elated at the same time and hurried off to add it up. It was the danger of full employment, mused Murray, everyone gets a job and everyone needs training.
He paid his check at the front, leaving a healthy tip despite the hesitant service, and headed out to his car. Starting it, Murray noticed that the fuel light was on so he drove over to the closest station full serve station. "Fill it up with regular, please," he asked the greasy young man at the pump. The guy dropped his cigarette to the ground and pushed the high octane button. "Wait, I said..." The man looked at him with the vacant eyes of someone who simply was not home, "Never mind."
He paid in cash, exact change to make things easier, and drove off. He stopped at the driveway, got out, and retrieved his gas cap from the pavement and screwed it in. He glanced back in time to get a look of I knew I forgot something from the attendant, then drove off. "Is everyone new today?" he muttered.
Murray made a quick stop at the supermarket, and was checked out by a kindly woman with a thick Australian accent who was trying to figure out how to operate the scanner. The woman at the bank kiosk in the market had a manager hovering over her shoulder to make sure she didn't turn his small deposit into enough funds to buy a small nation, and the teenager gathering carts in the parking lot was learning that it was hard to steer forty shopping carts stacked on each other. It was like everyone was fresh and new at their jobs, and didn't have a clue.
Driving into his driveway, the lights flashed across a strange image. A large raccoon was standing at the base of the barrel next to the garage and pushing with all his might. The critter was so intent that he didn't notice Murray drive up, nor did he seem to realize that the barrel wasn't going to tip anytime soon: it was full of sand for the driveway when it snowed. Murray couldn't tip it over right now. "What the hell are you doing?" he muttered quietly.
The raccoon stopped, startled, and looked back at the man in the driveway. "Oh! I'm sorry! This is my first night, and I'm supposed to knock over your trashcans. What do you throw away? Lead?"
Murray stared at the critter, seeing the fear of someone on their first night solo in a new job etched into his eyes. "That's a sand barrel," he said when he found his voice. "The trashcans are in the back."
The raccoon looked stunned, then slapped his paw to the top of his head, "Damn!! I should have taken the lid off! Damn! Damn! I'm so sorry!" He watched the critter scamper around the corner into the darkness, followed a few moments later by the dull thump of his plastic trashcan hitting the patio and a victory whoop.
Murray pondered only a moment how good things had to be if the raccoons were looking for fill ins, took the paper from the bird bath where the new paperboy had thrown it, and went inside.