Casey Fullman Jr. tucked in his shirt, zipped his slacks, and knotted his tie. If he wanted success, he had to act the part, and forget that he still lived with Grandma. He had money in the bank, and he was no gambler. After scraping a pimple off his nose, he looked himself squarely in the eyes.
“You are one handsome mofo,” he said. “Go down to that map store and tell ’em who’s boss.”
Casey had long wanted to buy himself a Life Map. But the cost for the latest model was so high that he’d made do with Life Map apps for his non-contract phone. Yeah, those kinda sucked. They gave him useless tidbits of advice meant for losers, rather than success-oriented types like himself: Don’t jump into offers that look too good to be true. Apply for warehouse position at Thing 4 Everything. Never mind that he’d just lost his job at Thing 4 Everything.
Nope, he was done with all that. He was going to buy his Life Map. With his bankcard and a few bucks for lunch and bus fare tucked into his money clip, he kissed Grandma and stepped onto her broken front stoop, nearly tripping over the weeds growing through the cracks.
His Life Map would direct him out of this trash heap. He took the bus to the midtown Carto store. He never could pronounce the whole word–I mean, really, a five-syllable word for a store name? Who thought of that? He swaggered in and looked at the ads pasted all over the place. He had $501.99 left from his last paycheck, and all the really good map models cost about $1000. There were a few subsidized maps, though, that sold for $350. Corporations who supported Life Maps for Education bought ad space on them.
He took the plunge and bought the $350 model. He wasn’t a gambler and didn’t believe in debt. Proud of his wise decision, he carried his newly-programmed map to an empty map booth and unfolded it. This basic model didn’t have multiple life path choices, so he pushed the button on his singular path, and his first step lit up: Pizza Palace is waiting for you.
A surge of excitement swept through him. He bundled up the map in its cheap cardboard case. What could be better than lunch and a possible career at the same time? In his wildest dreams, he imagined himself as CEO of the lucrative pizza franchise. After all, he was oriented for success and dressed for it, too.
He marched inside the nearest Pizza Palace as though he owned the place. “Are you hiring?” he asked the girl at the counter. That was a real flub. He didn’t want to work for minimum wage. He needed to talk to the current manager mofo.
“We’re always hiring drivers,” she said.
That wasn’t a bad idea. While he trained for management, he could use some spare cash. “Do I have to have a car?”
“Um, yes. That’s why they’re called drivers.”
“Can I speak to the manager?”
“He’s not in, and he’d tell you the same thing. Do you want to order something? If not, could you not block the line?”
“I’ll have a small pepperoni pizza and large Coke.”
The next morning, he ate his leftover pizza with the last Toaster Taco™ he found in the freezer.
“Grandma, I’m eating the last Toaster Taco™!” he shouted because Grandma was nearly deaf.
“Buy more!” she shouted back.
Didn’t he have better things to do? He pressed the next step on his map to find out. Pizza Palace is waiting for you. Excitement trilled in his veins again. He was destined to be management–he knew it.
But when he entered Pizza Palace, the same girl stood behind the counter, and he could find no notices, no signs or slogans suggesting they were training for management positions. Frustrated, he ordered another small pepperoni pizza because the trip there had increased his appetite. He would have to watch his spending, though. Grandma expected Toaster Tacos™, and he owed her for utilities.
The following day, the same pattern occurred. Pizza Palace is waiting for you. Who did they think he was, some stupid mofo? Somebody was holding out on his destiny. The girl at the counter must have known this. She must have seen his managerial qualities when he walked in the door.
He went back. And the next day, he went again. After two weeks, he was fed up–literally. He had gained ten pounds, and he was scraping at new pimples every morning. Finally, he had to confront the girl. He was not cut out to be a pizza-eating fool.
He burst through the door. “I’m here about the management position,” he told her, looking squarely in her dupe-dupicitious eyes.
“We’re not hiring management positions. Would you like another small pepperoni?”
“No, I wouldn’t,” he said. “I’ve gained ten pounds. I want what’s coming to me. My Life Map told me to come here, which means you’re holding out.”
She batted her eyelashes at him. “Have you looked at the backs of your receipts recently?”
“No, why should I? Do you have a prize-winning game going? Is that why my map told me to come here, so I could win?” Maybe he was a gambling man, despite appearances. Maybe he would win and take Grandma for a vacation somewhere tropical, or buy her a house in the burbs.
The girl punched her fingers on the cash register, a little too violently, Casey thought. She knocked open the register drawer, then tore off the receipt that shot out the top of the machine.
“Here,” she said.
He took the receipt and searched it for answers. There it was: Pizza Palace is a proud sponsor of Life Maps for Education.
“Would you like a pepperoni pizza?” she asked, not unkindly. “We have a free one from a cancelled order.”
“Um, I guess?” he said, his voice steady. He’d never noticed how pretty the girl was, not until this moment, when her large dark eyes lit into his soul. “Do you wanna share it with me?”
“Whatever,” she said, and she filled two large cups with ice and Coke.
If his slacks didn’t smell too strongly of pizza, he would head over to Thing 4 Everything tomorrow and apply for the warehouse position.