March Author’s Gallery Piece

Getting The Boot

By Jamie Stewart


At the height of the lunch rush, Charlie used her booted leg to punch open the swinging kitchen door and maneuver her way across the filthy tile floor. Littered in the crooked rows of dingy grout were the grooves of fossilized French fries and other fast food crumbs that had fallen off a finished plate and been ground into the floor by the feet of a dozen servers, all begrudgingly dressed in the uniform of thick black slacks and non-slip shoes.

But today, Charlie had the right to complain about her outfit. In the mid-July heat, the stiff black boot secured tightly around the bottom two thirds of her leg was trapping sweat like a thermos and forcing it to craw back up her pant leg, all the while collecting the forgotten remains of cheeseburger sliders and congealed macaroni that had fallen to the floor. With every step, she ground the food deeper into the scuffs that lined the plastic underside of her boot and trailed the mush out onto the dining room’s brightly patterned carpet.

Charlie had always preferred hardwood to carpet, and the number of flattened crusts she had smushed into the deep blue speckled carpet that morning alone had only reinforced that preference in her mind. Hardwood was easy to clean and you could always spot dirt on it. With carpet, the remains of a roast beef road kill could be lurking there for days before a vacuum collected them.

The mere thought of it made her squirm.

“Table Four just got sat, Char,” the hostess called out, waking Charlie from her putrid revere and alerting that she had a new customer to attend to.

With a brief sigh and the farce of a smile affixed on her face, Charlie deposited her armload of dirty dishes on the metal counter beside the kitchen’s industrial sink and listened to the clang. She drug her Velcro-clad burden of a leg back out onto the floor, trying not to search the carpet for the hash browns she had squashed by Table Two.

Determined to make it through the end of her shift without gagging, Charlie kept her chin up on the walk over, forcing herself to scan the faces of her happy and blind customers instead of the flattened bits of their food that littered the floor.

And that’s when she saw him. The health inspector. Seated at her table, ready to order.


Check out the interview with Jamie here!

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