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Thought It Would Be Soda-mn Easy

, , , , | Right | July 10, 2019

(I am a cashier at a burger place. For quite a while, we’ve had issues with kids from the local middle school here thinking they’re smart. They’ll come in and order a group order of fries and water cups. They’ll get their cups and their tracker and run upstairs where there is a soda machine that’s out of our line of sight; I suppose they think that because we can’t see it directly we don’t know it exists. I have a pretty good system, however, to really catch them off guard. A group of about six kids come in. Their order: a party fry with six water cups.)

Me: “All right! Here’s your tracker, folks. Just set it down on the mat in the center of your table and we’ll bring the food to you!”

(The group leaves swiftly, heading up the stairs and ignoring the two machines on the ground floor, which is my cue. I call a trainee over to cover my register and I mill about, checking trash cans and doing small floor-work until I feel about thirty seconds have passed, then proceed up the stairs. Of course, my eyes are greeted to a table of middle-schoolers, all but one sporting various colorful liquids in their cups. They have yet to notice me. I approach the table.)

Me: “Wow, guys! I didn’t know water came in red, green, orange, purple, and brown!”

(They all jump and turn to look in horror at my smirking visage.)

Kid #1: “I… I, uh… I mean…”

Me: “Here’s what I’ll do. I’m feeling nice, so everyone who has soda in their cup gets to dump it out in the machine’s drain and throw the cup away in this trash can here!”

Kid #2: “Hey! We paid for our food!”

Me: “You sure did, and you’re going to get that. But you didn’t pay for the soda, which you just stole, which I’m taking back.”

Kid #2: “Ha! You don’t scare me! You don’t have any proof! I’ve seen enough CSI! I know what you can and can’t do!”

Me: “I do, too, have proof.” *points up at a few black bubble cams, one that looks down the stairs, and one that covers the upstairs soda machine* “Furthermore, I’m being pretty chill, because I could be kicking you out without your food, barring all of you from eating here again, and sending this video surveillance footage to the local police station, your school, and possibly your parents if we get lucky. And how would you like to explain to your mom that you got in trouble stealing soda?”

(All the kids, save the one who has a clear liquid in his cup, get up without another word and proceed to dump their sodas and trash their cups. The final kid is grinning from ear to ear with an “I told you so” face. I take a closer look at his cup and then stare back at him.)

Final Kid: “What are you looking at?”

(I stare at him silently; he starts to freak out a little.)

Final Kid: “What?! What do you want?!”

Me: “You, too, kid. I know [Lemon Lime Soda] when I see it.”

Final Kid: “What are you talking about? I… It’s just water. Uh… I mean it’s carbonated water, but that counts, right?!”

(I lean in and take a sniff of his cup, and then I stand back up straight and stare him down again.)

Me: “Yeah, [Lemon Lime]. Oldest trick in the book, kid.”

Kid #1: “[Final Kid!] Let it go! You’re gonna get us in even more trouble!”

([Final Kid], dejected, took his cup and dumped it without a word and threw his cup in the trash, just as their giant order of fries arrived. They ate quietly, wiped up their mess, and left. The last few times I’ve seen their group, they’ve been the perfect customers.)

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