There’s a dinky little food shack near where I work called House of Cards. Their gimmick is that instead of an order number, they hand you a playing card.
As a human being who requires calories to sustain my existence, one day I wander down there in my lunch break and order a coffee and a Reuben. I’m handed the four of hearts.
I try and find somewhere out of the wind.
“Four of hearts?” I hear called out.
I approach the counter to see the small box, indicating that the food, not the coffee, was ready.
“Four of hearts?” I ask as a courtesy.
“Yup. The pie.”
“Sorry?” I ask, thinking I had misheard.
“Four of hearts, mushroom pie.”
“It was a Reuben.”
The server shook his head as he looked at me like I was the special brand of idiot that people talk about on the internet.
“No, it’s a pie,” he said, just as I hear a ‘four of hearts?’.
He nods at the woman who has materialised behind me, holding a four of hearts that is unsurprisingly identical to mine, who grabs her food and leaves.
I am now standing there looking exactly like the special brand of idiot that people talk about on the internet.
Words failing me, I show the server my card.
He informs me, “Yeah, different four of hearts.”
My face asked the question for me.
“We have four decks on the go,” he offered, with the slightest of shrugs.
Just then my coffee was placed in front of me and I don’t know what it was about the innocent little 4H written on its side, like that even meant something, like that even had meaning to anyone, that annoyed me, but something in me snapped.
“Just to clarify.” I started, picking up my coffee. “Your shop’s claim to fame is a gimmick, which combined with your food, made you so popular that your quirky original system no longer works. So rather than thinking of something new and innovative, like new suits or backs, you just add more, identical cards to the mix, therefore reducing the effectiveness of the original system.” I picked up my sandwich. “And, to top it all off, when this system inevitably fails, and two people with different orders are given the same card at the same time, you look at the poor unsuspecting schmuck who was unfortunate to get caught up your web of ineptitude like they’re something you scraped off the bottom of your shoe, like they’re the idiot for not understanding an unscalable system that makes absolutely zero sense other than as a marketing gimmick.”
His manbun bristling, he managed a terse, “What’s your point.”
I was just about to quip something suitably dismissive, like whether he’d considered a career in politics. But then a stiff breeze blew past us again, and I thought I saw the whole shack sway as the serviettes fluttered in their holder.
Rebecca Fletcher is a freelance copywriter by day, frustrated humour writer/participant in the world at night. Her work has been published in Farrago, Defenestration and Misery Tourism, and she’s aiming for 100 rejections in 2021. You can follow her exploits at saltyturnip.com.