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Joe Evans

Creative Writing


Idiot Tax

Help with essay on its like wow

By Joe Evans

Last summer I got a job at the Cinema Savers ten, working the concession counter alongside a guy named Toby. He was , about my age with dark eyes and a self-assured smile he was a big kid. He played on the football team as did I. The kid was a real pimp, when you went out with him you’d know itd be a great time. His only problem was he had a hard time suffering fools..

I’d like a large soda please, said an overweight, middle-aged man.

Certainly, Sir. What kind of soda would you like? Toby asked, wearing his most winning smile. He called it his game face.

Can you mix Sprite and Pepsi? the man asked.

You mean like half Sprite, and half Pepsi? Toby said, seeking clarification.

Yeah, the man confirmed.

I’m not sure. Let me consult the beverage alchemist, Toby said, turning to me.

Tommy, can we mix Sprite and Pepsi? he asked me in a hushed tone with a very serious expression on his face.

I don’t see why not... I replied. Toby nodded slowly, and then turned back to the man.

I’m sorry, Sir. There are complications in that procedure. There is a possibility, however small, that the mixture of Sprite and Pepsi could result in the formation of a dangerous toxin that would be extremely harmful to your nervous system. Toby said, his voice full of sincerity.

Huh? the man replied dumbly.

Do you have a hearing impediment? Toby asked.

Me? No. the man said.

I see. So your problem is with comprehension. I recommend you purchase a tape recorder, and whenever someone speaks to you, record what they are saying. That way you can play back their statement, several times if necessary, without bothering them to repeat themselves, Toby said.

Uh...so can I have my Sprite and Pepsi mix please? the man asked, becoming extremely confused.

I’ll tell you what, Toby said, pulling out three large cups with movie advertisements printed on their sides. I heard him say that phrase quite often over the course of the summer.

I’ll fill this one with Pepsi for three ninety-nine, I’ll fill this one with Sprite for three ninety-nine, and I’ll give you this empty cup for twenty-five cents. Then you can perform this mysterious scientific experiment in the safety and seclusion of your own home, where you are only a danger to yourself, Toby said, leaning on the countertop with the three cups in front of him.

But... the man said, clearly laboring with the mathematics of Toby’s proposition in his head.

That’s my offer, Toby said firmly. Take it or leave it.

The man left.

Toby, I said. You’re an ass.

Better that than a moron, Toby replied, clearing the empty cups and putting on his game face for the next customer. The funny thing is sprite is owned by Coke. which would make the combination of Sprite and Pepsi immpossible.

I learned a lot that summer. For example, although it’s expensive, the best value in Megaplex drinks is the large. The jumbo is too much and strains the bladder during the course of your movie, and the medium and small are so pathetically tiny that you finish them before the previews are over.

I’d like a medium Frozen Coke, a lady said.

Would you like a large Frozen Coke for just a quarter more? Toby asked, drawing from his seemingly endless well of sympathy for humanity as a whole.

No, I’d just like a medium, the lady replied.

I see we have a stubborn one. Toby said, squinting at her.

Excuse me? the lady asked indignantly.

I said I think you should just pay that quarter and get a large, Toby suggested.

They pay you to say that, the woman pointed out.

Toby leaned way over the counter, putting his hand up to his mouth as if he was about to divulge an important secret to the woman.

I really think you should buy the large, Toby whispered into her ear.

Just give me a medium! the woman cried.

As you wish, Toby said sadly, pulling out a medium drink cup and filling it with the frozen beverage. That’ll be three fifty.

What is this? the woman asked, pointing to her drink.

That is a medium Frozen Coke, Toby said, putting her money into the register. Enjoy your film.

This can’t be a medium! the woman insisted, holding it up. For three bucks and fifty cents? This is tiny!

You should have paid a quarter more for the large, Toby said.

All right, I’ll take a large, the woman said, reaching into her purse for a quarter.

Too late, Toby said. Next!

Toby had his own peculiar brand of economic policies. Behind us, printed in large lettering on an illuminated sign, were the listed prices for each item we sold. Inevitably, whether they were too stupid or too lazy to read, some people would always ask us how much something costs. Toby would tell them.

Excuse me, Son, said a tall man with glasses. How much for a large popcorn?

Only five dollars, Toby replied, grinning. His game face.

Hmm, said the man, clearly deeply contemplating the going rate of popcorn. That sign behind you lists a large popcorn as costing four fifty.

Why, so it does, Toby said, craning his neck to look.

Whatever. I’ll take a large popcorn, the man said, checking his watch. I filled the bag, and handed it to Toby, who placed it on the counter.

That’ll be five-fifty, Sir, Toby says. The man took out his wallet, but stopped for a moment, looking first at Toby, then at the board, and then back to Toby.

But... the man begins.

Sir, there are other people in line. Could you please be kind and hurry this up? Toby insisted, crossing his arms.

The man paid for the popcorn and left.

You know, I said. That isn’t exactly legal.

No, but it’s a fair transaction, Toby said.

What do you mean? I asked. You just ripped that guy off.

Not in the least. I charged him idiot tax. He wastes my time with his idiocy, and I get paid for it, Toby said, pocketing the difference between his price and the listed one before putting the money in the register.

Over the course of the summer Toby’s idiot tax generated revenues in the thousands of dollars. In time, Toby even began to recirculate the money. When a reasonable customer came forward who knew exactly what they wanted and already had the money ready to pay for it, the price had a way of going down a bit.

All of these people, Toby told me while we were serving a long line of customers. Are either wealthy, or stupid.

I don’t understand what you have against morons, I told him. Most of the theater’s profit comes from concessions rather than ticket sales. Besides, if people stopped buying drinks and popcorn, we’d be out of the job.

True enough, Toby agreed. But most reasonable people just buy their drinks and candy from the gas station around the corner for a fraction of the cost, such as those two boys with the coke bottles under their coats.

So what’s your point? I asked, noticing the two young men as they walked towards the ticket counter.

Well, I typically let those people go, unless they act stupid, Toby said.

Like hiding drinks under your jacket in the middle of summer? I asked.

Exactly, Toby said. That registers pretty high on the stupid-o-meter.

Sure enough, the two boys in question were grinning at one another, furtively looking around while trying to hide the obvious bulge beneath their jackets. Never mind the fact that it was eighty degrees outside. Occasionally one of them would whisper something, and both would burst out laughing. Finally the point was reached where Toby could stand it no longer.

Cover for me, Toby said, leaping over the countertop and sprinting towards the two delinquents. There was a muffled gasp from the line of patiently waiting customers, and many people turned to watch as Toby caught up to the kids.

Excuse me, boys, Toby said, pulling at their jackets and taking the Coke bottles. We have a no outside food or beverage policy in the Megaplex. If you’re thirsty, feel free to purchase drinks at our concession stand for ridiculously inflated prices. Have a nice day.

The two boys watched, entirely dumb struck, as Toby strolled away with their Cokes. Leaping back over the counter, he resumed his transaction with a customer as if nothing had happened. Shortly thereafter the two boys appeared at the concession counter.

Hey! one of them shouted. We want our drinks back!

I told you, Toby said, speaking slowly as he often did when talking with people he perceived to be intellectually challenged. No outside food or beverages allowed. Enjoy your film.

You stole from us! the other boy observed. We’re calling the cops!

I will calmly explain to the officers that we have a no outside food or beverage policy, and these drinks were confiscated in accordance to that policy. Should they feel the need to arrest me for the theft of two drinks, so be it, Toby said.

Just give them back! one of the boys pleaded.

I’ll tell you what, you can have your Coke back... Toby said, putting the two bottles up on the counter. For two dollars each.

What? cried both boys at once. But they’re ours! We already paid for them!

I typically charge four bucks for large sodas, Toby pointed out. I’m giving you a big discount.

Bewildered, both boys forked over the money and Toby returned their drinks.

More idiot tax? I asked.

Absolutely, Toby said. Slipping me a dollar.

Toby never got along well with the janitorial staff at the Megaplex. Some customers went above and beyond the previously perceived limits of idiocy, and surprised us with their new records. Toby had special surprises for them.

I’ll take a large popcorn, one especially boisterous man said.

Which one? Toby asked.

A large! I just asked for a large, are you hard of hearing Son? the man said, his chubby face becoming slightly reddened.

There are over eleven thousand individual pieces of popcorn in this machine, Sir, Toby said, pointing to the popcorn maker. I would like to know, specifically, which one you want to purchase. Furthermore, should you really be having popcorn? The butter is awfully high in cholesterol...

What? the fat man cried rather loudly, his chubby little hands balling into fists.

Now it appears you are the one who is hard of hearing, Toby said, filling a large popcorn bag.

Hey! the man yelled. I saw you! I saw what you just did! You poked a hole in the bottom of my popcorn bag!

How astute of you to notice, Toby said, handing him the bag.

Why the hell did you do that? the man demanded, watching the popcorn dribble out of the hole one piece at a time.

Sir, I am personally concerned for your well being, Toby said gravely. Should you have an accident, say choking on your popcorn or suffering from a heart attack, the paramedic staff will easily be able to trace the fallen trail of popcorn and rush to your aid. It is for your own safety.

Speechless, the man paid for his snack and left, a distinct trail of popcorn marking his obese passing.

Being prominent figures in the theater, Toby and I were often singled out as sources of advice, complaints, or answers to important questions. On one particular occasion, a balding middle-aged man in a business suit was dragging a small boy behind him, sweating profusely in the poorly air-conditioned interior of the theater.

Excuse me! he cried, stepping up to the counter with pouting child in tow. Which screen is the new Disney movie playing on?

Screen eleven, Sir, Toby said. The Megaplex only has ten screens.

Thank you! the man said, rushing off.

Wait! Sir! Toby cried.

Yes? The man asked, nervously checking his watch.

Watch out for pungee sticks back there, Toby said.

What the hell are those? the man asked nervously.

Pungee sticks? They’re sharpened sticks of bamboo, laced with deadly poison. You don’t want to step on them, Toby replied.

What the hell are they doing in a theater? the man demanded, his voice filled with concern.

All I’m saying, Toby said. Is watch your step back there. It’s pretty dark.

The man went back to search for the elusive screen eleven, carrying his child and nervously scanning the carpet for hazardous spikes.

Inevitably, Toby was fired in the middle of August. I still occasionally go around cruising the streets for hotties with him. It’s rather dull around here without him.

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