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Fortune Cookies

1 Mar

I need money. I need need need money. I need money because whiskey and tight white t-shirts aren’t free.

I have a part time job as a tutor at a local high school, but I still find my bank account lacking every month. To remedy this, I got a second job.

I didn’t want just any job, though. I didn’t want to flip burgers or bag groceries–I wanted to use my unique skill set. I wanted to write.

I got a job writing the fortunes in fortune cookies.

The offices of Quin Tan’s Fortune Cookies is in a small office park in North Dallas. My job interview went very smoothly.

“Can you read English?” the salty Asian gentleman asked me.

“Why yes, it’s one of my f–”

“–Can you use a keyboard?”

“Yes, I can.”

“You have the job. Be here tomorrow at 8 am.”

He begins flipping through some documents on his desk, ignoring me completely. I stand up slowly and, with great care, hand him my resumé along with a twenty-three page writing sample; both he quietly slides off his desk and into an adjacent waste basket. I clear my throat, consider getting my resumé and writing sample out of the trash, then turn away and leave, afraid that digging in another man’s garbage would be some big cultural insult to the interviewer–he was Asian, remember, and for whatever reason, I have a penchant for offending people from the Orient.

On my first day, I pull into the staff parking lot and walk to the building.

“Hello, building!” I yell, waving with child-like excitement. The building didn’t say anything back. It was busy not collapsing.

From the lobby, I’m directed to a small cubicle in a bull-pen of writers. The sound of thousands of keys being pressed sounds like rain on rooftops.

“Here is your station,” the attendant tells me. “When you write ten or fifteen fortunes, e-mail them to the editing department. We’ll let you know if there are any problems.”

Below are my first submissions.

  • Can you handle a gun? If not, try to learn–fast.
  • You are well-liked, but people are starting to think you’re gay. Maybe stop smiling so much.
  • Want a sandwich? Buy a sandwich.
  • A storm’s coming. A terrible storm. Ah, I’m just kidding. Everything’s fine. Go put some shorts on.
  • You should probably start stocking up on canned goods and bottled water.
  • Be wary of foreigners. They love to make fun of you behind the safety of their native tongue.
  • You should probably start saying goodbye to mom.
  • Life will look up for you when you discover the wonders of putting melted cheese on practically every meal.
  • Wine is fine, and liquor is quicker, but heroin is the quickest.
  • Cocaine is cheap and makes you feel like Al Pacino.
  • Hookers are cheap and make you feel like a NBA superstar.
  • You will finish the final season of LOST. SPOILER: It ends with a shot of the writers in a poorly-lit room masturbating to someone reading their work back to them.
  • What do you know about heart failure?

I click “send” on the e-mail and get started on my next batch of fortunes. Before I finish, however, a small scream is heard from the editing department’s small office at the north east end of the bull pen.

“Mr. Irion!” Beatrice Jackson, head of editing, calls as she approaches my desk. She’s not very cute. That’s why it’s hard for me to tolerate all her yelling.

“Yes ma’am?” I ask.

“You can’t advise people to used narcotics. You can’t tell people that their mothers are dying. That LOST fortune is about 300 characters too long, and what kind of fortune is ‘Want a sandwich? Buy a sandwich’?”

“A good fortune. Do you want a sandwich?” I ask.

“Well,” her tone drops for a moment. “I suppose I could–”

“Buy a sandwich.” I say, leaning back in my seat, hands folded across my waste. “Feel better?”

“Hm.” Beatrice seems taken aback. “Well, I guess that one can stay, but you have to cut the others. We need some replacements. Get started, please.”

Here’s my second round.

  • Duck!
  • There’s a man behind you. It’s me.
  • You’ve been working very hard. Reward yourself with another fortune cookie.
  • You’ve forgotten something terribly, terribly important.
  • Grandpa wants me to tell you to stop praying for him. It’s too late. He’s in Hell.
  • Did you turn the oven off?
  • Don’t stress so much this year. You don’t have many more left.
  • Seat belts don’t protect you from driving into a light pole, so don’t even bother with ’em.

I once again click “send” and wait for my Pulitzer. I’m really loving this job. I turn to the guy behind me, striking up a loose, light-hearted conversation. A few moments later, I hear the voice of Beatrice in the distance.

“NO!” she screams. “No, no, no!” All of a sudden, she’s back at my desk. It’s kind of like how Davy Jones magically teleports onto the Black Pearl to mess with Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.

“Have you ever seen Pirates of the Caribbean?” I ask Beatrice.

“What? No–yes. That doesn’t matter. Kyle, you can’t write like this. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave. You’re fired.

“What?! I gave you gold!”

“You gave me trash.”

“Fine, but I have one more fortune for you, lady.” I type one more fortune on my computer and send it to editing. “I’m out.”

I gather my things, put on my coat and walk out. I make a brief stop in the break room to get my lunch, then I pass through the building’s exit and go home.

Beatrice returns to the editing station and is greeted by my final fortune:

  • I poured an entire jar of mayonnaise out in the break room refrigerator.
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