T to the I to the P and E-double-D-I-E

It’s your average Burger King on your average Wednesday, except for two fellows sitting at a nearby booth, enjoying their Whoppers. One is Trevor Irving Price, known to close friends as Tip, and the other is one Edward Close, known as Eddie. Tip, a slight man of twenty-seven, sits down to two Double Whoppers, with cheese, medium fries and a Coke. Edward, a larger bloke, tries to limit himself by getting one sandwich, a small fries, and a Coke of his own, although much smaller than Tip’s veritable soda bucket. As is the case, eating usually brings out the best in both of them.
“Man,” Tip said, laying down his heavily laden tray, “I have never seen anyone be so nice to the people at BK.”
“BK? Is that what you hip youngsters are saying now?”
“You’re younger than me, dippy,” Tip pulled a face.
“My my, aren’t we grumpy,” Eddie said as he picked up a fry.
“Blood sugar’s low. Didn’t have time for breakfast. Losing sentence structure. Must kill. No kill. Eat now.”
And he does so, throwing himself into the first sandwich with gusto. Eddie, now left to relative silence, decides to finally answer the question.
“I’m nice to people here because I used to work at a place like this, and I know how much it can suck, even without people being angry. This is the only time I meet these people, perhaps ever in my life, and I guess I just want to be as kind to them as I possibly can.”
“So they don’t spit in your food?” Tip mumbled as he reached for the Coke.
“Not exactly,” Eddie laid back, still munching thoughtfully, one by one, on his French fries, “You should be kind to people, right?”
“Usually,” Tip grunted with just a bit of malice.
“And people you only see once, I guess, should get more kindness, relatively. You know, just to leave a good impression.”
“You’re leaving good impressions with burger jockeys?”
“It’s hard to explain. I don’t know, I just want them to know I care that they bust their butt at a job they’d probably rather be not doing. I’m not expecting extra food or someone to pat me on the back, I just think you should be nice to people.”
“You’re not nice to everyone,” Tip said, dipping his fries in one of three paper ketchup cups, “You really laid a hit on that chick at the office earlier today.”
“I know Alyssa, though,” Eddie said, taking a bit of his burger, “I know that she needs to be told things or she won’t get them done. I know I have to be hard on her for her to succeed, because I care about her. I know this because I’ve spent five days a week in well over a hundred weeks with her.”
“So what you’re saying,” Tip wiped his mouth on a napkin, “Is that the longer you know someone, the less kind you get?”
“Not exactly,” Eddie replied, “It’s just that I know them more, and I know what to expect. These guys behind the counter, I don’t know what to expect, I don’t know anything about them, so it’s just a sort of faceless, cursory kindness. For example, there’s onions on my burger.”
“You don’t like onions.”
“I asked for no onions. But I’m not going to go back and ask for them to make a new burger, because I don’t know them and ergo don’t know what to expect from them. If I knew someone in the back who was just being lazy, I would make him or her change it, but I don’t, so I won’t.”
“That doesn’t make any damn sense, man,” Tip started on his second sandwich, “Why are you mean to people you know and like and nice to screw-ups at Burger King?”
“You didn’t say BK.”
“Just answer my question.”
“Kindness is relative. Over years, you’ll see that I was kind in the large sense, even though there were rough spots. If I only meet you once, you get all that kindness doled out in one whole big dollop. If I were to come here every day and see the same guy messing things up, I’d say something. But I don’t, so I won’t.”
“But you’ll rip on Alyssa.”
“I rip on Alyssa because I know she can do better. I know her. The niceness gets spread out more over a long period of relationship. When you know someone, you know good and bad, what works, and what doesn’t, and what needs to be poked or prodded along. And when you really know someone, even being mean can be kindness, even though it doesn’t seem like it at the time. I’m trying to help Alyssa, so I guess it’s a kind of protracted, backhanded kindness. I want to help Alyssa, and I could really care less about these guys here, so they get a kindness that basically means I don’t care. I care if I’m mean…that sounds kinda weird and messed-up, but that’s the way I work.”
There was no response. Tip’s mouth was full of Whopper. Eventually, he swallowed, finished his Coke, and headed back to the counter. Eddie’s jaw dropped.
“You can’t seriously still be hungry?” He gaped.
“No, I’m going to go buy you a pie,” Tip grinned, “You’ve known me seventeen years. By your estimate, you must be plotting to kill me by now.”
Eddie grinned back, happy that Tip at least understood him, even if he didn’t agree.
“Murderous intent has often been rectified by pie…” He ruminated, finishing his small fry and patting an angrily growling stomach, “it’s how they won the Cold War.”
“Yeah, if only Castro hadn’t sent us that lovely Dutch Apple.”
“For want of a pie, the war was lost…”
And the two friends dissolved into laughter on a brisk October afternoon.

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