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Summer Job: Chapter 35

Dov Haller

When Shia Langsam had yawned the night before, complaining about being up for the early morning milk delivery, Chaim had been quick to offer his help.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

C haim had always been an early riser, but the last few months, with no real schedule, had thrown him off. He’d find himself out-of-sorts at four in the afternoon, because he’d woken up too late.

When Shia Langsam had yawned the night before, complaining about being up for the early morning milk delivery, Chaim had been quick to offer his help.

“Why do you have to be the first one up every morning? Let me do it, Shia.”

“No, chas v’shalom, you work hard all day, it’s no big deal.” “Shia, tell me the truth. Whose job is it really?”

Langsam shrugged, clearly uncomfortable. “Look, it’s just a job. Whoever does it, does it.” “Did my shver used to do it? Isn’t it his responsibility?” “Maybe once upon a time, I don’t know.”

“Okay, so I’m doing it tomorrow. Shluff gezunt. It’s my problem from now on.”

Langsam opened his mouth to protest, then changed his mind. “Thanks, Chaim. You have to unlock the back door to the kitchen at 5:25, then sign the paper when the truck comes. Labkin should be there a few minutes later.”

Now, Chaim stood in the empty kitchen, the milk cartons stacked in the large fridge. He desperately wanted a coffee, but wasn’t sure if the cook would appreciate his starting the machine. Mr. Labkin didn’t like him. That much was clear.

Chaim had asked for a formal meeting with him on the second day of camp, but the cook had laughed and said he didn’t do meetings. Undaunted, Chaim walked in during the quiet time after lunch and suggested that maybe they could run through the menu, figure out expenses and create a meal plan for the summer. “You know, maybe we can find a way to save money and also have delicious meals,” Chaim said.

The cook had been in the middle of tossing chicken bottoms into a huge pan. He’d looked past Chaim and asked a thin Polish worker to pass him the paprika, as if Chaim wasn’t there. Mr. Labkin, an unsmiling man with heavy jowls and bleary eyes, kept working, so Chaim had grown bold. “Also, it seems like lots of food ends up on the table when the meals are over. Could it be that you’re preparing too much? Or maybe the boys would prefer something else?”

Mr. Labkin reacted by gently nudging Chaim to the side, like he was a piece of furniture blocking him from accessing the oil, and grunted an apology. Irritated, Chaim asked, “Does any kid on earth even like chicken on the bone?”

Labkin had taken off his apron and handed it to Chaim. “You want this job?” Chaim had recoiled, caught off guard. “No, not at all, I just want to maximize the—” “Good, if you don’t want to do it, then let me work, please, okay?”

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