Fired from the Donut Shop

Teddy Zelnick was feeling like two pounds of manure in a one pound bag. He had worked for Rutherford Plumbing for twenty seven years. He had been their most experienced plumber and handled all kinds of difficult backed up toilets. When Lester Rutherford took over the company he vowed changes and he was making them. Teddy was his first target, Lester didn’t care about loyalty or the number of times Teddy had dealt with almost impossible plumbing issues.

The fact that Lester fired him was no big surprise. Teddy had been Lester’s mentor when he wanted to be a plumber and Teddy knew that the kid didn’t have what it took to solve plumbing issues. He was missing the common sense element. As an example, one morning they received a call to go to the Medwell Estate. There was a faucet leaking and it was bothering Mrs. Medwell. Big Jim, who owned Rutherford's told Teddy to let Lester fix the problem and just observe. It was time his son gained experience and a leaky faucet would be a great way to start. When they got to the bathroom, Lester saw the tap was leaking and instead of examining the situation, he just put on a new washer, he never looked at a possible bigger problem. It was a lazy solution. Teddy kept telling him to check the pipes and the connection to the taps, but Lester or as Teddy called him Lesser refused to listen. When they left the house, Teddy felt uneasy. He would have spent a few extra minutes and done a deep dive into the leak, just to make sure he had resolved the issue properly. Lester was more impetuous which was not a good way for a plumber to act.

The next day Rutherford Plumbing received a hysterical call from Mrs. Medwell. The tap had blown off during the night and the water had built up in intensity and their bathroom was now completely flooded. Big Jim took the details and said he’d send Teddy over to take a look. Mrs. Medwell refused and said she had hired their rival Bilonsky Plumbing and they would deal with the problem. After all the years she was done with Rutherford. She then slammed the phone down. Big Jim called Teddy and Lesser into his office and lambasted Teddy for ten minutes for doing a shitty job. When Teddy tried to defend himself, Big Jim threatened to fire him. He didn’t but it was the first time in all the years that he worked there that Teddy felt job uncertainty.

Over the next few months, whenever he and Lester the Idiot were on a call, Teddy let Lester try to fix something and then he’d actually do it. In plumbing vernacular Lester was as useless as an Allen Key trying to disassemble galvanized pipes.

Lester left the business after his apprenticeship and didn’t reappear for five years. He had moved to Alaska where he went looking for gold. When that didn’t pan out he returned. He never qualified as a plumber, so his Father decided to turn the business over to him and retire to his cottage on Lake Moose. Lester would run the business and he decided he wanted to modernize. The first step was getting rid of his only qualified experienced plumber and hire new ones.

Lesser called Teddy into the office and announced that he was now in charge, and his first act was cutting Teddy from the team. Teddy was officially fired. It was hard for Teddy to accept, but he really didn’t want to work for the jerk anyway, so he took his tools and left.

Teddy’s best friend Art had opened a donut shop and was constantly looking for help. Teddy told him about being axed at Rutherford after all the years he worked there, and Art invited him to join him in his business. He could become a partner in ‘’Donut Art’’, and they would have fun.

After a couple of days of trying to decide what to do, he called his friend and accepted the invitation and invested twenty five thousand dollars for a twenty five percent interest, which seemed like a lot of dough.

Teddy enjoyed the donut business, he learned how to bake a wide variety of different donuts and he met a lot of people. Old friends heard that he and Art had started the shop and started visiting regularly and things took off. They were busy and were hiring people for different shifts. They hired bakers and people at the cash. It was fun and they were making money. They knew they were doing really well when coffee companies were offering them bribes to stock and sell their coffee.

One day Big Jim Rutherford came in to Donut Art and he looked miserable. His face was white and he had no fire or joy in his eyes. It had been six months since he had turned the business over to Lester and word on the street was that Rutherford Plumbing was limping along and was in big trouble.

‘’Hi Teddy, I’ll have a Boston Cream donut and a Hawaiian Coffee. I hear you and Art are doing really well with this shop. I’m not surprised. You know Teddy, you were the Best plumber I ever had. My son Lester has let me down. I didn’t know it, but business after you left got really bad. He hired these reject plumbers and they messed up wherever they went, killing the Rutherford reputation. He’s went and mortgaged my building and didn’t tell me he was planning to do it. He came to see me this morning and said he didn’t know if he could make the mortgage payments. I might have to sell my Cottage on Moose Lake. It’s a big mess, and I think there’s only one solution. It all revolves around you.’’

Teddy put Big Jim’s order on a tray and walked with him over to an empty table. They sat down and Big Jim took a bite out of the Boston Cream and let the filling slide down the sides of his mouth. ‘’Damn, that’s a good donut. So here’s my offer. You come back to Rutherford’s and I make you a partner. You don’t take on any of the debt, I’ll get a contract drawn up. I’ll look after getting out of the hole that Lester put me in, but I need you to help rebuild the business. I talked to Barry Medwell and was honest with him. I explained that Lester screwed things up and you were a victim of his mistakes. I even told him that Lester was the one responsible for flooding his bathroom, not you. I should have done that long ago. Anyways, Medwell is building a new subdivision and letting us bid on the plumbing contract. If we get it, you can hire the plumbers and oversee everything. It will catapult us back to where we should have always been. As far as Lester goes, he’s decided he wants to get a job in the government or become a teacher, he doesn’t want to be a plumber or run the business. What do you think?’’

Teddy took a minute before answering, ‘’I don’t know, I was with you for twenty seven years and you didn’t say one word when Lester fired me. Now you’re in trouble and you want me back. I don’t know Big Jim. I was loyal all the years but you weren’t loyal to me. I now have a sweet thing happening and I’m happy. I don’t know.’’ Big Jim again looked disconsolate. ‘’I’m sorry Teddy, I underestimated how valuable you were to my business, I took you for granted. I thought my son knew what he was doing but he didn’t. I didn’t interfere because he had told me he had plans to expand the business. What he did was almost kill me. This is my chance to get things back on track, but I can’t do it without you. I understand if you don’t want to get back into plumbing. I understand that you’re pissed off. I also know you make a great donut.’’

After listening to Big Jim, Teddy stood up. ‘’I have to think about this.’’ Teddy walked back to the kitchen where Art was having a conversation with the baker about trying to make a Chocolate Fudge and Cherry Donut.

‘’So Big Jim wants me to get back into the plumbing game. His son Lesser screwed everything up and is leaving. He left the business in a mess and now Big Jim is in trouble. I don’t want to leave you and I have a stake in this business. I don’t know what to do.’’

Art responded with a belly laugh. Donut Art isn’t going anywhere. We have a good crew here and only one of us needs to be around. I think if you come in a couple of times a week at night, just to check things out, we’ll be fine. You have always had the love of plumbing in your bones.’’ Teddy reached over and grabbed an Apple Fritter off a tray. ‘’I have to be honest I’ve missed snaking toilets and connecting dishwashers. If you don’t mind, maybe I’ll give Rutherford’s one more try. I’’ll be around for Donut Art if you need me.’’ Art grabbed a Honey Crueller. ‘’Good you’re fired, now go and install some ice machines in fridges.’’ The two men hugged and Teddy walked back out into the restaurant and over to Big Jim. ‘’You’ve got a deal, draw up the papers and let’s get busy.’’

Big Jim was elated. ‘’That’s fantastic news, let’s go give Bilonsky a run for their money, they’ve been getting our business and bad mouthing us along the way. I know we can get it all back and I know we will be kicking ass. Thanks Teddy for coming to the rescue, I’m glad I’m going to be calling you partner.’’ Teddy shook his hand ‘’Big Jim, tell the truth, the real reason you wanted me back is you know every morning I’ll be bringing the donuts to work.’’ They both laughed and headed out the door to deal with a shower drain that was clogged. Teddy Zelnick was going back to where he belonged.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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