Chester said she was a Fish, and that wasn’t good. She was sure to say no before she said yes. She had these clear, gray eyes, watery, like two little pools of clam broth. I didn’t notice them at first because I was too busy wiping tomato sauce off my mouth, and popping breath mints to get rid of the garlic, and trying to remember to SCAN, which is almost like second nature to me now, but I guess my defenses go down when I’m eating. When I think about it, this has a lot to do with my mother, and I don’t mean that how it sounds. It’s just that when this woman, Miranda, walked in, she wasn’t my up. It wasn’t my turn on the rotation. But all the other guys were out at the lunch truck and I was at my desk eating the ravioli my mother had packed for me. It sounds funny, thirty-three years old, and your mother packs you a lunch—and the guys rib me about it—but I figure I’d be crazy to be spending five bucks a day on the greasy slop that Carcady makes in the back of his truck when my mother’s begging me to let her do it. She enjoys it. She packs it all up every morning in those aluminum pie plates, which she’s got a stack of under the sink, and there’s always more than I can eat: salad, grilled sausage, fruit, and the almond cookies she and my aunt make every Wednesday. And it’s not like I’m the only one she’s making lunch for. She puts a bag together every day for my father, who claims he never eats any of it, and my uncle, who’s got the moods and only works on his good days, running errands for the tailor, but she packs it for him anyway, and if he’s not in a bad time, he goes over to the pond in the cemetery and eats it there.
Anyway, I was crossing the showroom to meet her, shoving the paper napkin into my pocket, and trying to remember to SCAN. That’s my little method. Works like a charm. S-C-A-N: Shake, Cough, Amputate and the seven Nos. Use it right and the SCAN gets you inside and out your customer in five minutes.