A Real American Full Meal Deal

A Short Story

by Anders Blomgren

"I want a job," Lonnie demanded, his lips tight in the precise medium between a smile and frown. One could imagine his teeth grinding to splinters behind those taut lips. Lonnie’s hair was combed over his rather large forehead, arousing suspicion that he was losing his hair at a mere twenty-six years of age. In defiance of this fact, Lonnie had grown his rusty brown hair long in the back, nearly to his shoulders.

"We are not so sure about your qualifications," replied Billy, the short, overweight application advisor whose hair was also rapidly receding. "We received a call back from your former employer at Nalley’s and we have reason to believe that you are not an ideal candidate for employment here."

Lonnie McMulberry wanted a job at Dilly’s Pickle Factory. After spending his childhood in the valleys of Boise, Idaho, Lonnie’s most recent move came ten days ago from Honolulu, Hawaii to Joe, Montana. He vacationed in the blistering sunshine of the Hawaiian beaches after winning a free flight and accommodations courtesy of a Mad Magazine crossword puzzle contest. In the midst of his week-long excursion in Honolulu, Lonnie met Leilani and fell madly in love with her. She worked at the local video store where Lonnie rented Mad Magazine: The Movie. Noticing her long brown hair and butter smooth skin at the check-out stand, Lonnie was inspired to ask Leilani to join him that evening for ice cream and a movie. Leilani, never one to make spontaneous decisions, quit her job on the spot. "It was fate," they later said, and the two rarely separated from that night forth. Sixteen months later they exchanged vows in the local church. Leilani said she wanted to move to a "Real American Town," and Lonnie proposed that they move to Joe and he would work at Dilly’s.

"That was five years ago that I worked at Nalley’s," Lonnie continued. "I was just a child then and far less responsible than I am now. I accidentally slept in three or four times, and I was only half-an-hour late at most. Oh yeah, another problem was that they placed me in the Sour Cream and Chive department. Even my toes squirm in these here Caterpillar boots when I smell Sour Cream and Chive potato chips. Each morning I nearly gave up my cream of wheat and coffee as I poured sour cream and onion powder into the mixing vat. That’s one reason why I want to work at Dilly’s: I love pickles."

"You have to understand that all we have to base our decision on is your previous employment at Nalley’s," Billy from Dilly’s went on like a geometry professor reviewing a proof that he had already performed for his three previous classes. "And while working there you had a ‘tendency to be tardy’ according to this report."

"Like I said, that was five years ago and I’ve changed. I’m now married to Leilani and am a dedicated American worker. I promise on my wedding ring that I will show up early every day, with a smile on my face if that makes you happy. Aren’t you being a little harsh in your hiring procedure; how important is a job at a pickle factory, really?"

"Hold it right there Mr. McMulberry," Billy started in, his face changing from a pasty pale of indifference to crimson red. "I think you don’t understand the true extent to which our country is dependent on the flawless production of pickles here at Dilly’s. What do you think the Real American Meal is?"

"I don’t know. Hamburger and fries?"

"Yes, and some consider a hotdog and a Coke to be a close second. And what do you think the American public put on their hamburgers? They put pickles on their burgers. What do you think the citizens of our great country put on their hotdogs? They put relish, of course, and I pray to God that you knew that we also make relish here at Dilly’s."

"Uh, yeah, I did know that you make relish here, and that relish is basically just ground-up pickles. I also know that pickles are made of cucumbers and vinegar. What I don’t understand is why you still won’t give me a job. I mean, I told you I am a changed man. My wife doesn’t let me sleep in past six in the morning. I may soon have a family to take care of, and I really need a job, any job."

"It appears that you are not understanding my point," Billy went on. "This is not ‘any job,’ it’s an employment opportunity that one must treat with utter respect and with an attitude of extreme importance. You see, the President of the United States of America eats hamburgers and hotdogs, and our sources say that he also puts pickles on his burgers and relish on his hotdogs. Surely you understand that, in a sense, we here at Dilly’s are employees of the one and only President Clinton. We cannot treat our operations lightly. We have an industrial opportunity, or, rather, a duty to continue to feed Americans a crunch with their burgers and a salty smooth spice in their hotdog bun. I’m regretful to inform you, Mr. McMulberry, that in light of your remarks and seemingly carefree attitude toward employment at Dilly’s, we will not be able to offer you a position at this time."

"But, I can change, I will change, I’ve changed already!" Lonnie stammered frantically, his hands grasping at his freshly-combed hair.

"Yes, yes, feel free to apply again in the future. Before you leave, can I interest you in a Dilly’s baseball hat, or perhaps our new Dilly’s Pickle Syrup? It goes great with hotcakes."

Anders Blomgren, a handy man and substitute teacher in the Vashon Island (WA) School District, coaches wrestling and soccer.

See all articles by Anders Blomgren