“How do you tell someone they smell so bad that no one wants to work with them?”
Dewey leaned against the host station, his chin in his hand, and looked outside to his restaurant’s empty parking lot.
“I have no idea,” Sarah answered. She paid more attention to her clipboard than Dewey, wanting to be sure her seating diagram matched the dining room in time for the dinner rush.
He turned to look at Sarah, using his hand as a pivot for his chin. “You have to know who I’m talking about.”
“That’d be Beau,” she said. “I used to be a server, you know.”
People complained they could smell him over the food he served them from the grill.
“It is awful hot in the kitchen,” Dewey offered. He resumed checking the empty parking lot.
This time she put down her clipboard. “You’re kidding me, right?”
“We cook with fire, Sarah.”
“He smells like a dumpster fire, Dewey.”
He sighed. “Yeah. He kinda does.”
She went back to work. “He’s at his prep station now.”
He turned sharply. “How do you know?”
She pinched the bridge of her nose lightly. “Just go into the kitchen, Dewey.”
The tendons of Beau’s forearm went taut as he slammed the cleaver through the side of beef just as Dewey came through the swinging double doors into the kitchen. Dewey stopped wrinkling his nose when he saw Beau smiling brightly at him. Dewey saw the big knife, took a deep breath and cursed his timing.
“You got a minute, Beau?”
“Sure! You want to meet in your office.”
“No!” Dewey said quickly. “Let’s go into the kitchen. By the grill. It’s more private there.”
“I got a problem, Beau,” Dewey said loudly. He stood with his back to the grill, under the exhaust hood that whooshed the smoke from the grill out of the kitchen. “The servers are having a hard time coming into the kitchen.”
Beau frowned. “I keep it clean, Boss. You know that. I come in early. On my own time.”
“Oh, yeah. I know that. But still. They are complaining.”
It was Beau’s turn to smile. He crossed his arms and stood on one foot, with the opposite one supporting him by the toe. “I don’t blame them. I kinda smell.”
“I’ve had the problem my whole life,” he said. “You know it’s bad when you can smell yourself.”
He went on to explain that he knew everyone knew about it but no one ever came out and said anything. So he went with it.
“I shower three times a day, Boss,” he finished. “But I stopped wearing deodourant years ago.”
“What do you think should be done?” Dewey asked. He took a step towards Beau, out from under the roar of the exhaust hood.
A few minutes later, Sarah watched Dewey walk Beau out the front door. She smacked Dewey on the back as he watched Beau go off down the street.
“You fired him for smelling? That’s cold, Dewey.”
He looked over his shoulder at her. “Frewer’s is open,” he said. Frewer’s was the drugstore down the street. “They have stronger deodourant than what Beau was used to using. I gave him some extra cash to go buy a few and see which one works best.”
“You told him?”
“Turns out the best way to tell someone they smell is just tell them they smell,” Dewey said, watching three cars pull into spaces.
“You take care of the customers,” he said, pointing to the two couples and ones family that headed towards the door. “I’ll get the kitchen going.”