I smile as the McDonald's cashier hands me a paper bag of food, reaching over the drive-through window glass. I cringe as I see his dirty fingers crinkle the red and yellow smiling M, but then just remind myself to apply hand sanitizing lotion. Placing three dollars in his hand, I start up the Prius I borrowed from my Mom to get food. He tips his jersey fabric visor at me, and dumps the cash into the register.
I pull up to the green light of main street, and take out my burger. In aggravation, I slap my head, they put ketchup on it. "Of course, McDonald's wouldn't care about a freaking allergy!" I mutter. No tomatoes for me, a strict allergy that will make my face puff with sweat and my throat close up from swelling.
Still muttering, I take the fries and eat with aggravation of having to show up for my part time job hungry. At Radio Shack, I stack the shelves for a few pay checks. It's enough for a seventeen year old to buy her own clothes, but not enough to have my own car.
After the fries are done, I lick my lips, relishing the taste of salt and oil. At least McDonald's can make one thing taste good. Looking down at the fry carton, I feel my eyebrows knit together. A scrap of greasy paper sticks on the striped bottom, crunched with bits of salt and fry crust. I shrug, revving into the parking lot of Stop and Shop, in the plaza where Radio Shack is two stores away.
The piece of paper comes out of the carton easily, and I realize on the back their is writing. In smoky gray pencil graphite, there are words, a few of which almost unreadable in the dingy car light and through the transparent grease. The words wink in the sunshine, and finally I make out what it says.
'Don't give up just yet, hold onto your dreams a little longer.'
I almost toss the strange note out onto the parking lot tar, but then remind myself no littering, and close the car door as I shove the paper into my jean pocket. It's probably something a McDonald worker wrote to themselves, lost in desperation and depression they weren't making a bunch of money, and working in a sad room full of heat and steaming fryer grills. Nothing meant for me, just something that coincidentally fell to my bag while it was being prepared.
Dropping the thought of the note, I walk across the pathway to the sidewalk under the canopy of the plaza. In the Radio Shack main window is a large, green print picture of a net book, and next to it a Verizon Blackberry. I look away, knowing I will have to stick with my two year old go-phone.
In the store, my friend Yanni grins as I walk in. "Hey Kara!" She says in her slang-like tone. She adjusts her pair of geek glasses with thick plastic lenses (probably with no prescription because Yanni doesn't need glasses-she just wants them for a style reason).
"Hi Yanni! Ready for who-can-shelve-the-shelves-faster contest?!" I blink at Yanni's eyes, golden and almost teary.
"Actually, I don't know Kara. I might,I might be quitting." She looks down, observing the juice stained floor of Radio Shack.
"But Yanni, when am I going to see you?" I take an i-phone box from behind the counter and place it onto a rack of Apple products. She shrugs, her hands quirkily twiddling with embarrassment.
"Well, the thing is, I gotta make money for college Kara. I know your family, they got more money than mine, and we ain't down below the poverty line but, not enough for some great scholarship to even help us halfway. I can't help my family working here, even you know that. I have to find another place, I gotta go to college Kara. You be in my mind at my next work."
I look at her, as she enters the back room, possibly to talk to our manager. "Wait Yanni! Just," I stutter, "Don't give up yet, hold on to your dreams, a little longer." Yanni freezes, and for a second I can see the lights in her eyes, shining as she nods, understanding. I don't know why I said it, maybe some REM part of my mind, pushing me to make her feel better.
"I won't." Yanni says, and makes her way into the office.
I call for an early break and walk outside into the parking lot.The sun is burning in my eyes, filling the world with golden and orange. I take the note, and remember that it may not be for me, it may not be for anyone.
The note can inspire, can fill with desire. I know it will never be something quite so important, but maybe it helped Yanni, maybe she'll decide to come back, or maybe she'll work even harder, and eventually get enough money for college.
I look at the words, appearing fine and thin. The wind blows harder, and with that I toss it into the wind, let it wait for a new person to catch it. Maybe they'll be waiting for something to happen. Maybe they'll just want a friend.
Whoever it is, they'll find it, and know that they must trust it.
Don't up just yet.
Hold onto your dreams,
Just a little longer.