“Anytime.” Mingan taps his heart and shoulder claps the shelter’s kitchen coordinator, Ned, who was thanking him. Mingan’s phone buzzes again as he carries in the last of the of assorted loaves and rolls from Ginette’s bakery.
“Stay for soup and sandwich?” Ned asks.
Glancing at his phone Mingan sees Trudy’s number. The fourth missed call. She never did like waiting.
“What’s the soup?”
“Cream of broccoli.”
“Yeah, ok.” Ned chuckles. “And a bunch of vegetables that grocery store was going to chuck in the garbage. Pureed into the base. And some potatoes.”
Mingan shrugs then nods. He didn’t want Ned to think he’d been spoiled by Leo. They lean against the stainless steel counter dipping ripped chunks of dinner rolls into their steaming bowls. No spoons required.
“Leo out of town?”
“For a couple days,” Mingan says. “Dropped him at the airport tram this morning.”
Mingan’s phone buzzes again.
“Should you get that?”
“Nah, probably Trudy.”
Ned raises his eyebrows and a smile teases his lips.
“It’s not like that.” He plays voicemail. The last message: Where are you? I’m at the donut shop across the street. Her voice loud enough for Ned to hear, and strained as she tried to contain her impatience.
“Didn’t your shift start an hour ago.” Mingan says when she answers on the first ring.
“Two.” She corrects, even though he wasn’t asking.
“You can’t get fired again.”
“I’m not fired!” She yells.
“But I lost my next three shifts.”
Mingan sighs. “I’ll come by when I’m done my soup.”
“Mr. Cawley, good to see you.” The greeter says to Leo at the international arrival gate in Toulouse. “Trust you had a pleasant flight, sir.” Leo nods as he’s escorted to a waiting cart and sped, along with his luggage, to the nearby helipad.
“Beverage?” The helicopter co-pilot asks Leo as the greeter loads his luggage.
“Wouldn’t mind a beer.” Leo says, running his hand through his graying hair.
The co-pilot nods and places a bottle of Utopias and a chilled glass on the tray next to Leo.
“Conditions are favorable this evening,” says the pilot. “We’ll have you in La Massana in 27 minutes. Sit back, relax, and let us know should you require anything.”
Leo scrolls through his email and one pings in from the manager of the fulfillment center where he arranged Trudy’s latest job. Subject: For your review and response. Leo takes a long pull of the Utopias and clicks the attached audio file. One of Trudy’s customer care calls, presumably.
Customer: I need to return the sweater I just bought.
Trudy: What reason?
Customer: It’s defective.
Customer: There’s a pull in the cable knit.
Trudy: Did you do that?
Customer: If you’re going to give me attitude I’ll talk to your supervisor!
Trudy: You know what will happen to the eleven year old at that factory?
Customer: What are you talking about?
Trudy: The bar code will be traced back to her. She’ll end up begging for rice on the streets.
Trudy, cutting off the customer: But that’s better than you fixing the pull and wearing the sweater twice before you get bored with it and buy three more while the sale is on.
Customer: [Incoherent, possible cursing.]
Customer ends call.
Leo feels a small surge of pride before he sighs, and invites the co-pilot to join him in another Utopias.
Your call is very important to us.
Please enjoy this 40 minute flute solo.
~Call center motto
See previous installment of this story here.
See next installment of this story here.