My junior year in high school was memorable for several reasons. First and foremost, I got my driver’s license, followed closely by discovering the wonderful world of alcohol. (Kids, please keep in mind that combination is never good.) The next significant happening was being hired at the Burger King on 75th street across from the Ace Hardware store.
Although it was 38 years ago it still brings back many memories, some good and others not so good. One of those recollections was of Rhonda’s panties.
Even though Burger King was your basic fast-food restaurant, it still had some corporate aspects. Like the management team. When I first started there, the people calling the shots were the manager, George, his assistant, Mike and swing managers, Tony and Rhonda.
I’m not quite sure why they were called swing managers. Maybe Rhonda’s panties had something to do with it.
George was a high-energy type, running around the restaurant worrying about everything. Passionate about his job, he lived and breathed Burger King to the point of being neurotic. George often confided in me. I liked George.
Mike was just the opposite of George and nothing seemed to rattle him. He cared about his job; it just wasn’t the most important thing in his life. It took a while to get to know Mike, but once you did he was very cool and had a dry sense of humor. I liked Mike.
Tony was one year older than me, a senior at Tremper. The most important thing to him about his job was acting suave while flirting with the female employees. He also loved to sit in the manager’s office and make sure the paper money didn’t have any corners that were folded over. Despite this peculiar idiosyncrasy, I liked Tony.
Then there was Rhonda. She was easily the bossiest of the management team. Maybe it was because she was the only female manager and was trying to prove a point. All I know is that many people didn’t look forward to being assigned to working on Rhonda’s shift. I can’t say I liked Rhonda, but I did like the challenge of working with her.
Back in 1973 the uniforms at Burger King consisted of a bright orange shirt with an even brighter yellow panel in the front. Girls had matching orange pants and guys were required to wear black trousers. Add to the equation that everything was double-knit polyester and I think you get the picture. It was classic.
Being somewhat corpulent, the uniform tops were usually a bit snug for me, so I always made sure to wear an undershirt. This prevented any nasty chafing.
One Saturday night I was assigned to work from 4 to 8 with Rhonda. On that particular evening, my undergarment of choice was a teal t-shirt with the number 39 printed on the front and back. That shirt proved to be the springboard for quite an interesting series of events.
Rhonda was in rare form that night, nitpicking at everyone’s performance, trying to find someone doing anything the least bit wrong. Despite her tenacious efforts, she came up empty; everyone was doing his or her job properly.
She was frustrated and just about ready to give up when she spotted me filling drinks. A devilish smile came across her face as she called out my name.
Loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear, she bellowed, “Hey Paul, I can see that 39 through your uniform top! Don’t you know better than that?” She then admonished me, letting me know that in no uncertain terms was I never to wear anything under my uniform that would show through.
She turned away with a huge grin on her face, proud that she had successfully emasculated me in front of the rest of the crew and several customers. Her night was now a triumph.
Or was it?
While she still had her back to me, I said, as humbly as possible, “You are right, I shouldn’t have worn this shirt and I will never do it again. I apologize.”
Then it happened.
I quickly added, rather boisterously, “Oh, by the way, Rhonda, you better not wear those panties anymore. Those flowers are real cute, but everyone can see them.”
It was true; you could see a lovely pattern of bright whimsical flowers through the orange uniform material that was stretched across her ample derrière.
Just like that Rhonda’s moment of glory was spoiled. Her jaw dropped as her face turned a lovely shade of red as the rest of the crew burst into laughter. Embarrassed, she had no choice but to feign a giggle and tell us all to get back to work.
That wouldn’t be the last of the confrontations between the feisty Rhonda and me. There were several more, to be sure. Nevertheless, to this day, I can’t get the memory of Rhonda’s panties out of my mind. I’m just not sure if it’s a good or a not so good memory.
If this blog looks familiar, it's because I am busy working on my book and didn't want to neglect my blog, so I thought that I would repost my "Burger King Trilogy" from last year. Come back tomorrow for chapter two. Until then…from the booth.