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Grizzly bear stories: the impossible decision at Dunkin Donuts

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The gym where I work opens early enough that I’m usually the only person there when the Dunkin Donuts opens. But to my surprise, I wasn’t first today. There was a bearded man in his early forties and a grizzly bear in a blue polo in line in front of me and the following scene took place:

 

(I enter the store wiping sleep-boogies out of my eye and get in line behind the grizzly bear. He nods to me.)

BEAR: Hey, how ya doin’?

ME: Not too bad, yourself?

BEAR: Can’t complain.

ME: Chilly out there again, eh?

BEAR: (casually shrugs) Eh, ‘supposed to hit fifty a little later this week.

ME: Wish that was today. Just gotta bundle up I guess.

BEAR: Not me. I’m a grizzly bear.

ME: I see that.

(The man in front of the grizzly bear is handed his order and exits the store. The cashier returns to the counter. She appears to be the only one working. She is a short Indian woman with a gentle voice.)

INDIAN WOMAN: Welcome to Dunkin Donuts, sir, can I take your order?

(The grizzly bear places an order for a sausage, egg whites, and cheese sandwich and a Tropicana orange juice with no pulp. The cashier deftly types his order into the computer. One can tell she’s on her way up. A real go-getter.)

INDIAN WOMAN: That’ll be $4.95, sir.

(The grizzly bear hands her a ten and she hands him back a five and a nickel and goes back to make his order. He stands there for a moment, staring down at the change in his massive, furry paw.)

BEAR: God damn it.

ME: Wrong change?

BEAR: No. It’s these damn tip jars.

ME: Tip jars?

(The grizzly bear makes a nod to the bowl on the counter that reads: Gratuities Accepted for Exceptional Service. He looks down at his change again.)

BEAR: So what the hell am I supposed to do with this?

ME: How do you mean?

BEAR: A nickel and five bucks: there’s no way to win this one. I give her the nickel and she’s gonna be like, Oh wow thank you so much, sir. How can I ever repay you for your unprecedented generosity?

ME: So keep it.

BEAR: Yeah that’ll go over well. Oh thanks a lot fuzz-ball. We finally integrate you into society and you goddamn bears can’t even tip a nickel? She would have be Indian too. It’s damn near a hate crime now.

ME: Hmph. I see your dilemma.

(A few seconds pass. The bear thinks. Then he shakes his head. He thinks again. Then he looks up at me as if I’d said something.)

BEAR: I’m not giving her five dollars for making me a three-dollar sandwich.

ME: No one could expect you to.

BEAR: If she’d done something exceptional, that’d be one thing, but I’ve seen nothing prodigious here.

ME: Agreed. An average performance at best.

(He puts the five in his pocket. The Indian lady returns with his sandwich. The grizzly bear peeks in the bag, then turns and looks around the store for a few seconds.)

BEAR: (mumbling to himself) Ketchup, ketchup, ketchuuuuup…

INDIAN WOMAN: Oh I’ve got them right here, sir.

(She reaches under the counter and pulls out a handful of ketchups and holds them out to the grizzly bear. He stares at her for a second. She continues to hold the ketchups.)

BEAR: I suppose you think this qualifies as exceptional.

INDIAN WOMAN: Sir?

BEAR: (shoving his hand in his pocket) Here. You win, okay? Just take the five dollars. I don’t even want your goddamn ketchup!

(The grizzly bear slaps the five dollars down on the table and the nickel goes bouncing around the counter. He frantically tackles it with his other paw, picks it up, and holds it up to the cashier. She is understandably puzzled.)

BEAR: I’m keeping this.

(The grizzly bear turns and exits the store, defeated. The Indian woman blinks a few times, picks up the five dollars, and looks at me.)

INDIAN WOMAN: What a generous bear.

ME: Agreed.

F I N I S.

[This story was first published in The 33rd — An Anthology under the title: “An Incident Involving a Grizzly Bear.” The 33rd is produced by the Drexel Publishing Group and is available for a very affordable price at the Drexel bookstore on 33rd and Chestnut in Philadelphia. I receive no commission on the anthology’s sales, however, so even if you hate me, you may still purchase a copy without feeling as though you’re aiding the enemy.]

Ian Micir is associate editor of When Falls the Coliseum. He graduated from Drexel University with a BA in English in June of 2012. During his time at Drexel, he won ten awards for writing, including five in his final year. Micir’s work has appeared in The 33rd – An Anthology and The Classical.

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