Anyone who has read about my late night adventures with Randy knows that he and I have a special connection. We work together, we laugh together, we eat and drink together. Randy and I like the same things and we hate together. Which is what this story is about. Most of the time Randy is very easy going, it's one of the reasons I like working with him. Every so often his girlfriend drops by just to say hi. I always let them have some alone time and when Randy comes back from break all the glittering green chips of ice in his eyes are warm, green and glowing. Randy and his girlfriend don’t abuse the privileges I give them so when another guy we worked with came back to tell Randy his girlfriend was waiting for him I knew something was up.
I followed the boys up front. There was a smirk on Damien’s face as Randy walked up to the counter. The woman in front of us was pretty. Her lips were full and lush. Her eyes were almond shaped, her hands were long and the nails on her fingers were freshly manicured. I can tell by his voice that Randy doesn’t like this woman and as soon as she opens her mouth I know why. Her voice is shrill and sharp, the money in her hand is crumpled and dirty. Randy and I are both clean freaks. We like things to be immaculate, organized and efficient.
Very gingerly Randy takes the money she offers him. All the woman wants is ice. Six cups of ice is the only thing up on the order screen. I watched Randy walk over to the ice dispenser. In the background the woman won’t stop talking. She wants to know if the ice is fresh. She reminds Randy to wash his hands. The cups should be handed to her as soon as he fills them. All of this is delivered in her shrill high-pitched screech, fingernails scraping on a blackboard are less violently disturbing. Randy’s normally crystal clear eyes are cloudy. I hate the woman standing across the counter so as soon as she leaves I pump the guys I work with for information.
It turns out that everyone knows who she is. Everyone hates her and they even have a name for her. They call her the fresh ice woman which to me is misleading because the most distinguishing feature about her is the way that she talks. If you can imagine the sound of glass in a blender that's infinitely preferable to the sound of her voice. Even my sweetheart of a boss can’t stand her. We doubled the price of of ice but the fresh ice lady keeps coming back. This went on for weeks. We suffered through more than twenty days of the fresh ice lady coming in only to buy six to eight cups of ice. One day we were out of large cups. Why? Because the previous day the fresh ice lady had taken the last of them. I raised the price of ice again.
The last straw came when the fresh ice lady complained that the ice wasn’t fresh enough. Something had to be done. I clean compulsively but I also clean attentively. I had seen the bottle of ice machine cleaner in the back. I called Randy to see if he was interested in a "special project". I told him the ice machine needed cleaning and he would earn a bonus if he could get all the ice out of the machine in under an hour. Taking all the ice out of a machine is a bitch but Randy did it. We cleaned the machine out and it went faster because we both worked together. When the machine was clean I smiled at him. At the end of the night I handed him an envelope. He smiled at me as he stuck it in the back pocket of his jeans. Neither of us said anything as we walked across the parking lot.
The other day at work someone remarked that the fresh ice woman hadn’t been around in a while. I made sure I didn’t look at Randy. Hopefully he didn’t look at me. The guys I work with aren’t dumb. One of them is going to be a radiologist. He notices people and things. I was working with him when he asked about the fresh ice woman. All I did was shrug. Randy was the one who turned glowing green eyes on him and said “She won’t be in again. She has all the fresh ice she’s ever going to need.”