John stood with his back to Donna and Logan, towards the back of the truck, where he wasn’t easily seen from the order window. He’d been in the food prep zone for a while, coping with the orders that came from Donna and Logan as the interns crowded around. There were new oil burns on his hands and forearms from making cheese puffs, and he couldn’t tell if (but suspected) the bread knife had left a blister on his thumb.
On one level, he’d expected the feeding frenzy, but living through it was still tough. The element of the event that never occurred to him was the level of press coverage. There were photographers everywhere, and where there weren’t photographers, there were video cameras.
A reporter, acting on inspiration, had flung open the back door of the truck to get an interview, or better action shots. It shocked him badly, and he nearly dropped a fresh batch of Political Puffs back into the fryer. Donna saved him from resorting to violence by shouting at the interloper.
“You! Don’t open that door unless you’re getting in to help us feed the masses. I will put your tiny little behind to work!”
The door closed almost instantly.
“John, can you hand me four sets of Twisto Azteco, and a parfait?” Donna continued, without skipping a beat.
Logan, who was to his left, making sandwiches, chuckled.
“I knew we’d be getting a lot of press for doing this, but I had no idea it would be this much.” He said. “My phone has been chirping non-stop for the past hour.”
“Is that what the noise is?” John asked. “I was worried we had a bird caught in the vents.”
“No, no. Each chirp is a new email, or contact of some kind. We’ve got a horde of people interested in our business right now!”
Logan sounded excited, but John and Donna were aware that the excitement would turn to concern by the end of the day. He would probably press them both into service for fielding comments, Twitter updates, queries, and the like, once his angst took over.
A bit later, John heard Donna and Logan having a conversation with someone outside the window.
“…The First Lady is really, really, looking forward to trying your dishes fresh from the truck.”
The moment he heard the new voice, a chill ran from the heel of his right foot, all the way up to the crown of his head. He turned around for just a second, to see if he could glimpse the face of the person who spoke. Donna and Logan were crowded in the order window, so he wasn’t able to get a clear look.
He couldn’t put a finger on it, but something about the person outside the truck was making him very nervous, almost to the point of nausea. It took him a few minutes of quiet introspection to calm himself down, and control the shivers before they grew into actual tremors. Had anyone been able to watch his thought processes, they would have been stunned at his Olympic-level skill at compartmentalizing his feelings.
During the time he’d been performing feats of strength between his ears, he was unaware of the events going on around him, until the back door of the truck opened for a second time. Instead of an eager reporter, John found himself staring at three, identically dressed, Secret Service agents.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Frost. Ms. Abrams. Mr. Manleigh” The lead agent said. “The President and First Lady are on their way. Please, pay no attention to us. We’re just added security.”
John felt blindsided, and turned back to the fryer. Once again, relying on his ability to compartmentalize his thoughts, he pushed aside everything else, and started a few more orders of Political Puffs. He couldn’t imagine that the President and First Lady wouldn’t want some, and it was always better to be safe than sorry.