Doug had his best ‘manager face’ on. “There aren’t enough orders in the middle of the day to keep everyone busy.”

“I know that.”

“You can’t work nights because of your class schedule this semester. So I need you to do something to pick up the slack.” Doug held out the Pizzazz the Parakeet costume and a sign advertising 6 pizzas for under $6! Pick-up only!

“Look, I appreciate the thought, Doug,” I said gingerly, “but I’d rather be fired than wear that thing in 100-degree heat waving at cars.” It was like being the ultimate pariah–cars virtually swerved into the other lane to avoid having to look at someone in a costume, and people on the sidewalk were about as polite with Pizzazz the Parakeet as they’d be with Hermann Goering.

Worst of all, the bird’s mouth was open, clearly revealing my face to all who cared to look.

“Fine, then, you’re fired,” Doug said. “Clean out your cubby.”

I tried calling his bluff by walking away, hoping to hear his voice from behind me like in the movies.

I made it about five steps.

“All right,” I said, snatching the costume. “I’ll do it.” The specter of unpaid loans, evictions, and–worse–moving back in with my parents were too horrific to ignore.