Faculty member Robert Cohen’s story “Renaissance Man” appears online at Five Chapters.

No sooner does he put on the uniform than the banal truth announces itself: he feels like a new person. It’s a loss and a gain. Gidi stands before the mirror in the employee bathroom, adjusting the fit of his flaming red work shirt, his pointy paper hat with the garish font. At seventeen, it’s his first job, and not a particularly good one either. Still, he has his reasons for being there, a few of which he even understands. Now he pats the new person’s face with cold water, wipes it on a towel, and begins to fiddle with the drawstrings of his apron, tying and untying and then retying them for the rest of the afternoon, while Kevin, the day manager, puts him through the paces of his training, shuffling him along from station to station — grill, prep, fries, drinks – like an aspirant touring some provincial third-tier college.

“Let’s figure out what you’re good at,” Kevin says. “Then we’ll decide where to put you.”  …[Keep Reading]…

Robert is the author of Amateur Barbarians (Scibner, 2009) and The Varieties of Romantic Experience (Vintage, 2003).

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