New Winslow S7E31
The fact that she wouldn’t need to drive an hour to get home after a delivery shift made going out this afternoon far more bearable for Cleo. Even after a week and a half in the new apartment, the shine hadn’t worn off of that fact that she was back in Boston. It was a small place, that second bedroom more of a closet than anything else. But it was all hers and Edie’s. And depending on where she ended her night, it would take anywhere from still an hour (though not tacking on another hour on the highway afterward) to fifteen minutes to go from her last delivery to her own bed.
Right now she was taking said last delivery, and it was going from Chinatown to Back Bay. Not a big deal, especially now that rush hour was done. Probably fifteen minutes to get there, then fifteen minutes home. She got out of the restaurant with two bags full of fragrant food, then slid into her car, noticing the parking ticket as she was buckling her seatbelt. Swearing, she got out again, grabbed it out from under the windshield wiper, and tossed it on the passenger seat, where it immediately disappeared under the bags of takeout. There went about two deliveries’ worth of income right there.
She drove up to Back Bay, noting the address as a block of brownstones she’d delivered to fairly regularly. No idea if it was the same family or not, but the range of tips in this neighborhood meant she’d either make back that ticket right now or it was going to take a bite out of her existing pay for the night. She wished the company would cover the tickets, since it wasn’t like there was anywhere to park to go in and get customers their food. But it didn’t matter much, since that would never happen.
Almost done, she told herself. She’d keep applying for jobs. Now that she was settled in here, maybe she could get something in customer service temporarily to have more sustainable work than this. She’d done food service for years before moving into the corporate building of Newport Seafoods. And in high school, she’d worked at the little corner store that no longer existed on the edge of downtown in New Winslow. Between that and years of food service while at Berklee, she’d just have to update her resume again to showcase that.
The idea of working in customer service again wasn’t exactly a great one, but it beat this. She had gotten used to not getting parking tickets all the time, so having already gotten one during work and one for forgetting to move her car during street sweeping the other night stung.
But still, she was back in Boston.
It was evening, but the sun was still fairly bright as she pulled up outside the building, a metered spot miraculously open just before the unit she wanted. As she got out and opened the passenger door to get the food, the parking ticket fell out, blowing halfway down the sidewalk as Cleo chased after it, finally rescuing it with a stomp of her worn out boot. She wrangled it back into the passenger seat, swearing as she pinned it in place with her wallet. The door of the apartment swung open as Cleo was getting the food out of the car, and an irritated looking twenty-something man stood there.
“Where have you been?” he snapped. “I’ve been watching the app, and it says you pulled up three minutes ago.”
Cleo stared at him as he glared over his glasses at her. “Here’s your food,” she said, plastering on the smile instead of kicking him off the stoop and into the lethally sharp palm plant below.
He motioned for her to wait as he opened the bag and began looking through, carefully inspecting the food. Then he glared at her again. “Where are the egg rolls?”
The chef had read off everything in the bag to Cleo as she checked the order at the shop, something that didn’t always happen. There had been no egg rolls, but the order was all there. “I don’t have egg rolls on the order I was given,” she said.
“I called back ten minutes ago and asked them to put egg rolls on,” the man said.
“I left the shop fifteen minutes ago.”
She probably couldn’t afford to be arguing, but one bad review from one customer wouldn’t get her kicked off the app. At least not yet. The man rolled his eyes.
“Call me when you get back with them,” he said.
“They haven’t sent me a new order.”
“That’s because it’s part of this order,” the man said. “So go on back, get my egg rolls, then call me.”
He made a little phone motion beside his ear. Don’t shove him, Cleo thought. You need this job. Think of the apartment. Think of Mom.
“If you placed the egg rolls as a separate order after the fact, then another driver will be assigned that order,” she said, as patiently as she could.
“I didn’t, I called and added them to this one.”
“That you put in through the app?”
“Obviously, you’re here aren’t you?”
“Then that’s between you and the restaurant,” Cleo said. “I have to go, I’ve got more orders.”
“You’re not done with mine yet,” the man said.
“Yes, I am,” Cleo said, finally letting some of the heat out into her voice. “I was told to bring this order. This order is here. Have a good night.”
“You don’t talk to me that way,” the man said, moving to block her from leaving. Cleo’s hand went straight into her pocket, wrapping around a small knife she hadn’t mentioned to Edie at any point. This had been Noah’s suggestion, the night they had dinner together after he came home. She’d told him about driving delivery and at first, she thought he’d been a little paranoid when he told her he always carried one and so should she. But now she was grateful for the weight of it.
“Leave me alone,” Cleo snapped, keeping her hand in her pocket. “If you have a problem, take it up with the app. Goodbye.”
She hurried down the stairs and straight to her car, feeling his eyes on her the whole way and not taking her hand off the knife until the doors were locked. As the car started, she dared to look up to where the man was still on his stoop, clearly taking note of her license plate.
That was it, she was done. Tonight she was going to apply for whatever customer service job she came across, even if it paid less than this. If she had to gradually work her way out of delivering, then fine. But this wasn’t going to keep happening. She wasn’t going to let it.
Cleo was back, she should be happy. And she was happy. So why did she feel so trapped?