I Was The Burger King

Tom Stewart
5 min readFeb 1, 2022

I was at the mighty BK until the day I left Seattle, having been accepted to The Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. The restaurant was a place full of desperate characters, fun people, oddballs, and a few that seemed to have a chip on their shoulder big as the decorative boulder that sat by the parking lot entrance. Oh, and sex, there seemed to be a lot of sex going on, or so I was told. I remember a lot of people who would be super friendly to each other for weeks or a few months at a time, and then… they couldn’t be on the same shifts together. One manager told me she could write a soap opera based around a fast-food restaurant. This, I did not doubt.

This was the uniform in the ’80s, fake corduroy vest with the collar sewn onto it, and the yellow/red/orange plaid sleeves. Stylish.

Okay, to be honest, during a few months there I was one of those that had to be shifted, from day to night, mostly because I had started community college, but part of it was to escape a relationship that had gone bad… really bad.

I have never been particularly smart about women, meaning if they hit on me I would just write it off as them being ‘nice’ to me. I mean, who would be interested in dating me, right? They would get frustrated and after a while, they just moved on.

It was usually a long time between girlfriends.

But Connie was persistent until I finally caught on. She actually had to just grab and kiss me before I figured it all out. She worked the front counter, I worked the line in the back as ‘Production Leader’ (basically kitchen manager). She would tell me she liked my singing (yes, I would sing to myself as I worked), how handsome I looked in my BK uniform (really?), and would hang around until I was off, so she could walk home with me. See? Totally clueless.

But, she kissed me, I figured it out and we dated for about 6 months. She was upset when I told her I was starting school and would have to shift to the night crew, fearing me meeting ‘college girls’. Didn’t she remember I was clueless? We started growing apart, not on my side, but on hers. She was annoyed I didn’t have a car like previous boyfriends, that I was either working, at school, or performing in shows, and I was pretty much always broke. Well. I was a poor college student, but at least I had my own place, she did like that.

It came to a head around New Year’s Eve. I had to work as I was in charge of the kitchen, and she was really pissed. She stopped by with a group of fellow BK’ers and was kinda snotty to me., and headed off with the crew to a planned party. I finished my shift and went home, took a shower, and went to bed.

And then got up.

I felt really bad about Connie. At 2 am, I walked over to her apartment house (she lived with her family) and did the cliche of throwing pebbles at her window. It started to rain, a little at first, then and downpour. She answered sleepy and with a bit of justified annoyance.

“What are you doing?”

“Happy New Year! I came to see you!”

“It’s like, 2 am!”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there at the party tonight.”

“Whatever’s more important to you. Go home.”

“Connie, all I can offer you is myself and my love. That’s all I have.”

(I swear on a stack of Whoppers (TM) I said this exact corny sentence)

“I don’t care, go home.”

She shut the window. I was shocked, and by now, soaked. I walked the ten or so blocks back home, crying all the way. I was just broken. I was under a hell of a lot of stress, working nearly full time, going to school full time, and rehearsing and doing shows in between. It all just fell on me, standing under Connie’s window, rain seeping into my skin, being rejected in the most casual manner. I considered it over and cruelly. Later I discovered she’d been making out with what would be her next boyfriend at that party.

Of course, I would have to see her around. Turns out I was more popular with the staff than she was, and as word got out, Connie’s popularity fell hard. Yes, I did take creepy solace in this, because I was young, she was only my second girlfriend, and I was (am) human. Connie left Burger King a month or so later, moving on to McDonald’s I think. I never saw her again after that.

I did hear she broke up with the new boyfriend. He was way too horny is what she complained to her friends.

Like the manager said, a soap opera. There was a new one starting every other day, if you missed one drama, stand by, there’s be another one coming in a few minutes. I know, I was there another two years or so until my audition got me into an acting program and I left town.

The day I quit Burger King to move to Seattle, I ripped my uniform shirt off (it was actually a pullover with fake buttons so that wasn’t easy) threw it on the ground next to the dumpster, and set it on fire. It didn’t burn, it just melted into a lump.

It is late now, quiet, dark, a Diet Pepsi is in place of cocoa, an old Mac book instead of a stack of balance sheets and schedules. Law and Order stands in for Court St. traffic. I type this post instead of figuring out why till #3 is $1.50 off. Things change, furniture moves around, years leave scars but I still love the night, still am up too late, still staring into the darkness.

I have given up tearing off my clothes and burning them though.

Originally published at http://www.tompstewart.com on February 1, 2022.

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Tom Stewart

Actor, writer, artist living in Seattle WA. I write plays, articles on comic book history or any other odd thing that crosses my mind. More to come!