Work Related Stress

See the related blog post here.


Anton sawed savagely at the loaf of bread.

“Mayonnaise?” Lobotomy?

“Yes,” came the reply “But not too much, I’m on a diet.”

Looked like it must have been a fat, grease and salt-shake diet.

“Yes ma’am!” Die in a fire! he heard himself say in a sickly sweet voice. He slashed gobs of mayo across the bread.

“Oh, that’s way too much.”

Anton’s knuckles whitened as he scraped off the mayonnaise and flung it into the trash with fairly good accuracy, getting only a small splatter on the wall.

“Veggies?” Murder? he asked with a winning grin.

“Oh I’m going to want a new bun, that one is soaked through and through with fattening mayo!” The woman looked as if she were going to cry. Anton pitched the bread into the trash can full force, knocking it over. He grabbed a new one, slammed it to the counter and began to saw at it brutally.

Anton thought about his paycheck. He focused on it very hard, but the walls of the sub shop refused to melt away. His mouth strained in his efforts to keep it in the shape of a smile. The bread clenched in his hand became a fat stupid arm and he ripped the knife through it. That helped.

The woman’s sandwich was done. He wrapped it up and took her money.

“Thank you! Come again!” Go cut yourself open with something rusty and hang yourself with your own intestines!

It had taken some practice for Anton to be able to run both his inner voice along with his speaking one, but he hadn’t slipped up with a ‘cut you, bleed again!’ in a long while. It was the only way he had found to be able to steadily maintain a cheerful sounding voice.

She took her sub and left. Thank God. The second the door closed behind her, Anton’s face changed from shining happy-go-lucky to glowering disgust. He looked at the clock.

Christ, an hour and a half.

He went into the back room and found some empty boxes. He set them on top of each other and stabbed them repeatedly with a large kitchen knife. Why were there so many damn boxes back here anyway? All the other employees were lazy slobs. They only worked a couple days a week, leaving Anton with 12 hour shifts on Friday and Saturday, open to close. Today was Friday.


Anton kicked the boxes to the ground and stalked to the front, his face transforming as soon as he entered the view of the customer.

“Good evening sir! What can I get for you!” Shall I cut your face off with a machete?

“A foot-long meatball with everything.”

Good GOD this guy was fat. Disgusting, dripping fat hanging over sweat-pants that were certainly living up to their name. His shirt looked like it doubled as a bib.

“Right away sir!” I hope you choke on it!

A meatball sandwich with everything, huh? What a jerk. If he complained about the sub being messy when it was done, something bad was going to happen.

He scooped the meatballs on and began piling on the veggies.

“Wait, I don’t want lettuce.”

Anton stood very still for a moment, squeezing the handle of the kitchen knife.

“Is there anything else you don’t want on your meatball sandwich with everything?” The barest hint of sarcasm.

“Don’t get smart with me, boy. I want every thing else.” The man panted with the effort of speaking.

Anton picked off the lettuce, trying to avoid the other toppings he had already put on and getting meatball sauce everywhere in the process. He finished putting the remaining ingredients on the sandwich and was closing it up when it came:

“How the hell am I going to eat that, it’s falling out all over the place!”

Anton’s vision went red, then grey and he thought he was going to pass out. Then a funny thing happened, he felt fine! He wasn’t angry! He didn’t care what the fat sack of a customer thought, he would just give him his sandwich and he would go away.

He moved to cut the sub in half, but his knife was missing. Where did he put it? He looked about.

Ah! There it was, hanging out of the customer’s face. How had it gotten there? Never mind that, get back to work. He cut the sandwich, wrapped it and moved to the register.

Now where had the customer gotten off to? He looked about. There he was, taking a nap on the floor! Anton shook his head and laughed as he walked around the counter to wake the customer.

The customer had a large hole in his face.

Anton stared. The face. The blood. The fat slabs of meat hanging out of the shirt.

Fat slabs of meat.

Meat stunk if you left it out for too long, better get this into the freezer!

It took all his strength to get the meat into the freezer, but he did it! The freezer was a mess, being as he was the only one who ever entered it to restock anything, but he was able to clear a space.

He went back into the dining area and found a large red patch on the floor near the register. Some stupid customer must have dropped his meatball sandwich or something.

Anton laughed as he mopped it up, whistling along to the crappy oldies piped in on the stereo.

He glanced at the clock. Hey! Nine o’clock! Time to close!

He counted out his till, emptied the trash, locked up the store and went to his car.

He sat and stared at the steering wheel for a long time. Then he went back into the store.

The next morning Anton opened the store from the inside, letting in the first customer who was always waiting impatiently outside the door.

“Good morning Ma’am!” he said cheerfully “What can I get for you?”

“I’ll have a roast-beef sandwich,” said the woman.

“Would you care to try a turkey sub? Its a new organic turkey we just got in today! I must know what you think of it.”

“Oh, well, I don’t know.” The woman fretted and pulled at her sweater. “I’m supposed to get roast beef.”

Anton smiled his winning-est smile. “How bout I let you try it for free? Just so long as you eat it here so I can see how you like it.” Anton winked.

“Oh, well, I am hungry. I guess that would be alright.”

Anton made both sandwiches with a care he had never mustered before. Aligning the meat symmetrically, putting the veggies on in just the right proportions. He handed the woman the turkey sandwich.

“Please, try it now.”

The woman took a bite and chewed thoughtfully.

“Well now, this doesn’t taste like turkey at all! It’s something altogether different!” She took another bite, thinking on it again. “It is very good though! Well! I never thought that organic thing really made a difference! I will certainly come again for another one of these! Thank you young man!”

“Thank you!” Anton beamed. “Please, come again!” And for the first time, he meant it.


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