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Short Play - The Gatekeepers  Rate Topic 
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 Posted: Tue Feb 14th, 2012 04:25 am
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dlmusic55
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Mana: 
Dated looking fast food restaurant. Victor, a 30 something man, is wiping down the counter in search of something to do. He picks up a sign on the counter. It's a very crude sign that reads "Buy two get one three!" He shrugs and puts it back. Edward is a middle aged man who looks a little too serious to be working at a fast food restaurant. He is wearing a headset for the drive-thru and standing next to the drive-thru window.

EDWARD

(on headset)

Your total comes to $15.23 at the second window. Thank you.


Edwards leans out the window to receive the money, he picks it up and looks at it.


EDWARD

(talking to patron outside)

This is $15.10. Not it's not $15.25. You gave me a dime not a quarter. Yes a dime. No a dime is not worth 25 cents. Yes it's always been that way.

Martha walks out from her office and walks over to Edward. Victor glances over in obvious disgust from her presence.

EDWARD

(talking to patron outside)

At least since 1792. I know it's only a thirteen cent difference but-

MARTHA

(talking to patron outside)

I am so incredibly sorry 'bout that. You know what? I'm feeling very generous today. You just have a fabulous day. Bye bye, come again!

Martha waves the customer goodbye then gives Edward a death glare.

MARTHA

This is Chappy Chuck's Chuckburgers. Not Guantanamo!

She then storms back into the office and slams the door. Victor and Edward give each other a knowing look.

EDWARD

(to Victor)

Ugh! You're given a job to do. One simple, moronic job. Collect the right amount. And she won't even let me do that.

VICTOR

I hear ya.

Edward pulls out a notebook from his pocket.

EDWARD

And I've been counting. Would you believe that's the fifth time she's pulled those shenanigans today? Assuming this day as an average continuing will equal $237.25 in annual lost revenue for me alone. Times that by the 35 cashiers we have here and you have 8,300-

VICTOR

Woah, woah. You care 'bout this why?

EDWARD

(defensively)

I don't care. It's-I don't know-I imagine it's a reflex at this point.

VICTOR

You like a bean counter or somethin'?

Edward shoots Victor a nasty glare and walks over towards him.

EDWARD

I was an accountant.

VICTOR

Must've been real boring.

EDWARD

As scintillating as flipping beef-flavored "meat" is, I'd take crunching numbers any day.

VICTOR

Down-sized?

EDWARD

Yep. Corporate cuts. Heh. I've gone from down-sizing to up-sizing.

Edward attempts to laugh at his bad joke but fails miserably.

VICTOR

Tell me about it.

EDWARD

What?

VICTOR

Just got kicked out too. Had a nice cushy job too. Used to head up a marketing department.

EDWARD

(laughing under his breath)

Marketing.

VICTOR

'Scuse me?

EDWARD

Sorry, it's nothing.

VICTOR

It's not nothing. You laughed.

EDWARD

No I didn't.

VICTOR

What so funny 'bout marketing?

EDWARD

Sorry. It's just. Well. Marketing is what people who can't handle a real business degree go for. It's the communications degree of science.

VICTOR

'Scuse me. There's nothing easy about dupin' people to buy your crap. And my company sure didn't mind when I added 85% to their profits last quarter.

EDWARD

So what happened?

VICTOR

Turns out some dude in Bombay works twice as long for half the dough.

EDWARD

Sorry.

VICTOR

Eh. Life moves on. Somehow I am supposed to be here. Sigh. I'm supposed to be here stuck staring at those stupid signs in that unreadable font.

EDWARD

You really think we're meant to be here?

VICTOR

That font. Those stupid signs. I mean, look at this!

Victor pulls out a sign from the wall.

Chappy Chuck is capitalized here, but not here. They use green as the background. Green. Red is the color of hunger, people. And the image of the product should be at least 60% of the sign. It's awful.

EDWARD

The font is rather difficult to-

VICTOR

The other day I brought in a new sign I made on my own time, just so we could remove this hideous sign management made in publisher in about 10 seconds. Look at that word art, professional looking huh?

Victor picks up sign on counter. It's a very crude sign that reads "Buy two get one three!"
It doesn't even make any sense!

EDWARD

"Buy two get one three?"

VICTOR

Yeah. It's get one free one. But the free one is the third one so they thought it was sooo clever to put it that way.

EDWARD

Ohhh. Get one "three." I get it. Now.

VICTOR

Lucky them. They don't have to deal with the customers who can't understand their stupid language. Like I learned back at school, the message must be-
Victor starts laughing.

EDWARD

What?

VICTOR

Look at ourselves. We just can't stop can we. Eddie. We gotta wake up. We aren't accountants or marketers anymore. We are. (pause) We are. (pause) Chappy Chuck's Cheerful Chef's.

EDWARD

Don't remind me.

VICTOR

No we are. This is our job now. We should just suck it up and like what we do.

EDWARD

Adding to the growing obesity epidemic?

Edward perks his head up as somebody unheard talks to him over the earpiece from the drive thru window. He signals to victor that he is listening to someone and walks over to the window.

EDWARD

Chappy Chuck's Chuckburgers, go ahead with your order. Two milkshakes. Four Cheesy Chuckburgers. Oh, and a diet coke.  Will that complete your order? Ok, $19.45 at the window.
Edward leans out window, grabs money and hands customer bag.

EDWARD

(talking out of the window)

Here you are sir.

EDWARD

(talking to Victor)

As if 2000 calories will be neutralized by a diet coke. Heh. Do you ever get the feeling we are watching an endless mass of human muck drift by?

VICTOR

Night owls.

EDWARD

You mean night loonies.

VICTOR

Maybe in a year you'll have enough seniority to get a day shift. There's a tranquil feeling 'bout the dead of night though. Starlit sky, gentle glow of the moon-

EDWARD

The endless flickering from these awful fluorescent lights, the smell of smoldering flesh from who knows what-

A loud snoring fills the room.

VICTOR

Martha. Sleepin' again.

EDWARD

Being a night shift manager sure is hard work.
The snoring continues

EDWARD

So add the sound of snoring to the list.

VICTOR

You keep thinking 'bout the negative.

EDWARD

Why sugarcoat it? We're finished. Done. Stuck in this idiotic non-franchised store hawking heartburn on a plate.

VICTOR

The last equalizers on earth.

EDWARD

Huh?

VICTOR

Don't you see? It doesn't matter who you are. The mayor's son, a movie star, joe schmoe, everyone eats here. Everyone pays the same price. Follows the same rules. You're an accountant. How often does that happen?

EDWARD

Well-uh-

VICTOR

Like the other day when Will Westington came in, you know the guy from those action flicks? Anyway, he comes in and asks for a refill on his chili. And you know what I do? I treat him like he's a regular bum and make him buy another one. For a brief moment, I was the one in power. I was telling him what to do. Will Westington!

EDWARD

Right.

VICTOR

And then a rich kid came in peacocking with his ivy league letters. Hate those guys. I got him good. Made sure he didn't get more than two crackers just like everyone else.

EDWARD

Victor-

VICTOR

And there was this lady, let me tell you 'bout-

EDWARD

VICTOR! Listen, you may get a kick out of this so called power. But let me put you into perspective. We are what accountants call tissue workers. We can replaced at the drop of the hat. Does that sound important to you?

VICTOR

No one has to tell me I'm important to prove it to myself.

Edward signals to Victor that he is listening to someone and walks over to the window.

EDWARD

Chappy Chuck's Chuckburgers, go ahead with your order. Ok, two #1s with coffee. Can you substitute the fries? Usually we don't but-

Edward looks up at video screen.

EDWARD

Hey, is your name Mark? Yeah no. Sorry no substitutes. That'll be $14.23

Edward walks over to window and hands bag of food.

EDWARD

(leaning out window)

Enjoy your fries. Thanks. Here's your change.

VICTOR

Who was that?

EDWARD

Oh no one.

VICTOR

You knew his name.

EDWARD

Yes I did.

VICTOR

And?

EDWARD

If you must know. He. He. He stole my girlfriend from me 10 years ago.

VICTOR

See what I mean? Equalizers. We are bringers of karma.

EDWARD

Karma would have been spiking his drink. That was merely a potshot.

VICTOR

Still made you feel better, didn't it?

Loud snoring from Martha is heard.

EDWARD

It's a good thing Martha is sleeping back there.

VICTOR

Leavin' us as the gatekeepers. The only thing between the rats of this world and their cheese.

EDWARD

I'm not going to pretend I'm some cosmic crusader setting things right.

Edward signals to Victor that he is listening to someone and walks over to the window.

EDWARD

Chappy Chuck's Chuckburger, go ahead with your order. Ok. Ok. Yeah I know we raised the price of our value burger $.50. No I can't give you the lower price. Yeah ok. I'm the price Nazi. I would suggest you go home and start a budget.

Martha steps out of her office. Edward looks up at the video screen and does not see her.

Judging by that mammoth car you're driving you could save about 15% by switching to a compact. Have a good night.

Edward laughs and then turns around to see Martha standing there.

MARTHA

Just what you think you're doing?

EDWARD

Being a gatekeeper.

MARTHA

What?

EDWARD

I mean, uh-just doing my job.

MARTHA

And how you gonna keep it scarin' the customers away with that attitude?

EDWARD

Martha. We need to have a talk. Now I may be here for a long time, at least longer than either of us want. What I suggest is a simple business proposition. You continue to let me do my job, and I'll continue to not tell the manager about your snoring. It's a golden opportunity. Sleep away your life in your office and still continue to make double what we make.

MARTHA

Well-I

EDWARD

We don't need babysitting. 

MARTHA

I-I

EDWARD

Go to sleep Martha.

Martha leaves.

VICTOR

Now that's karma.

EDWARD

I don't know. I think this florescent lighting has messed with my brain. You're beginning to make sense to me.

VICTOR

Nah. You're just adapting quick. You either adapt or die. The last guy I worked with was a Human Resources rep. He couldn't cope. Couldn't handle not being touchy feeling and comin' right out with it. This ain't an office.

EDWARD

No it's not. So what happened to him?

VICTOR

He became a consultant. Now he makes twice as much money as when he left. (sigh) I hate him.

EDWARD

Yeah.

VICTOR

But every time he comes in he asks me to give him an extra ranch dressing and I always charge him the $.50. It's the least I can do.
They both laugh.

EDWARD

It's all in your perspective.

VICTOR

Uh-huh

EDWARD

For a marketing major, you aren't too bad.

VICTOR

Thanks.

EDWARD

I think-I think I'm going to like it here.

VICTOR

Good. Nothin' else quite the same. (Sigh) Watchers of the night.

EDWARD

I like the sound of that.

VICTOR

Yeah.

Edward signals again to Victor that he is listening to someone on his drive-thru headset and walks over to the window.

EDWARD

Chappy Chuck's Chuckburgers, go ahead with your order.

Victor pulls a book out. It's labeled, "How to Survive Underemployment."

VICTOR

The most important thing is to convince yourself of your importance. Even if it takes overselling yourself on the job. (Sigh). Why is it so easy for everyone else?

Victor continues to study his book in frustration while Edward, with a new resolve takes an order from the drive-thru.


Lights off

Written by Daniel Kaplan. No portion of this play may be reproduced whatsoever without the express permission of the author.

Last edited on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 04:28 am by dlmusic55

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 Posted: Tue Feb 14th, 2012 06:29 pm
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comped
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Joined: Sun Feb 12th, 2012
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Mana: 
Very good. I like it. It's funny.

Although I will say- the language almost sounds odd. It just doesn't sound like the typical fast-food worker.

Last edited on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 06:30 pm by comped

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 Posted: Thu Feb 16th, 2012 12:44 am
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dlmusic55
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Mana: 
That's the whole idea. They aren't fast food workers, they are professionals. They haven't been at this for very long.

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 Posted: Thu Feb 16th, 2012 03:45 am
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QuixotesGhost
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Mana: 
I'm kind of curious how you picture this being staged:

Edwards leans out the window to receive the money, he picks it up and looks at it.

Is this being mimed or is the "window" off-stage? If the window is off-stage, I'm worried about the action clumping up at stage-right or stage-left. I suppose that's the director's concern, but it's often the case that with shorts or one acts the playwright will self-direct.

Liked this line:
EDWARD
(talking to patron outside)
This is $15.10. Not it's not $15.25. You gave me a dime not a quarter. Yes a dime. No a dime is not worth 25 cents. Yes it's always been that way.


I'd like to hear more halves of absurd or nonsensical conversations with the unseen customers.

However,

And I've been counting. Would you believe that's the fifth time she's pulled those shenanigans today? Assuming this day as an average continuing will equal $237.25 in annual lost revenue for me alone. Times that by the 35 cashiers we have here and you have 8,300-

I don't buy that this is common occurrence. In fact I don't really like the presence of Martha at all, I think the piece would be stronger with just Edward and Victor.

Sorry. It's just. Well. Marketing is what people who can't handle a real business degree go for. It's the communications degree of science.

This analogy is confusing to me - communications degree of science? Neither marketing, business, or communications relate to science - perhaps I'm just not getting it, perhaps you could elaborate.

VICTOR! Listen, you may get a kick out of this so called power. But let me put you into perspective. We are what accountants call tissue workers. We can replaced at the drop of the hat. Does that sound important to you?

Feels a little too spelled out, maybe imply this.

-----
Like the premise, like the characters, also relevant to current events.

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 Posted: Thu Feb 16th, 2012 02:59 pm
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RTurco
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Mana: 
Really enjoyed this! Funny and thoughtful. I didn't feel put off by the language, I felt it was right for the characters. Banter is one of my favorite things so I guess I'd like to see more of it. But a good piece all around.

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