James Cook: Guest Post for the Summer of Zombies Blog Tour!

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 For today’s blog entry, I’m rather proud to give my proverbial podium to a guest author for the Summer of Zombies Blog Tour.  That would be James N. Cook, whose pic is below, followed by a brief introduction from James and a free excerpt from the new zombie novel which he co-wrote with another esteemed fellow horror author, Joshua Guess. Take it away, dude!

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Hello everyone, and thanks for having me. For this post, I decided not to bore you to death with a bunch of anecdotes, un-funny jokes, and observations that no one cares to hear. I am not here to tell you all about how awesome of a writer I am, and why you should buy my books, and how hard I’ve struggled, and blah, blah, blah. Rather, I’d like to simply show you. This is an actual chapter from an upcoming novel I am co-authoring with Living With the Dead creator Joshua Guess. Its title is The Passenger, and we expect to publish it sometime in mid-to-late July. I hope you like it. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Excerpt from the upcoming novel The Passenger, by James N. Cook and Joshua Guess.

 

 

The trouble started, as it usually did, with the crack of a rifle.

A high-powered one by the sound of it, Ethan thought. The bullet smashed into the operator’s compartment on the u-trac, and if not for the four inches of ballistic glass between Gus and the rest of the world, his head would have burst like a melon. As it was, the grizzled engineer barely flinched.

“Looks like we got company.”

Ethan looked at Jones to find him grinning broadly. The handsome man’s smile faltered, however, when more rifles fired and nearly a dozen rounds broke themselves against the armor of their passenger car. Ethan snatched up his rifle and leapt to his feet.

“Backs to the wall!” he shouted.

Delta squad surged up from the bench and fanned out against the two-inch thick steel walls standing between them and whoever it was firing on the u-trac. Ethan peered out the narrow window and looked across the tall grass separating the tracks from the treeline less than a hundred yards away. As he watched, the branches parted and swirled, and over a dozen horsemen broke cover and began driving their mounts hard toward the slow-moving transport. The riders stood up in their saddles, knees bent with boots locked into stirrups, leveled their mismatched rifles, and began firing.

“Goddamn, how’d they know we were coming?”

Ethan turned his head to look at Jones who stood pressed against the wall beside him. “You see they have horses, right? Probably a patrol spotted us and then rode back to get his friends. This shit-heap we’re riding only goes about ten miles an hour.”

Jones nodded understanding just as another volley of gunfire peppered the wall.

“Fuck,” Ethan swore. It was only a matter of time until one of those rounds found its way through a firing port, and when that happened, the ricochet would rip them to pieces. Gotta make these assholes back off.

“Jones, get that SAW up the ladder,” Ethan said. “Schmidt, Holland, Cormier, lay down cover fire until he can get the hatch open. Fuller, Page, Hicks, cover the other side. Shoot anything that fucking moves. Smith, make sure Jones doesn’t run out of ammo.”

Private Smith stood ashen-faced against the wall, sweating bullets in spite of the cold and clutching his rifle with trembling hands. Looking at him, Ethan remembered his own first taste of combat. The lurching in his stomach, the pounding of his heart, the rasp of his own rapid, panicky breath grating in his ears. There was only one cure for that ailment, and that was to get into the fight.

“Smith! You fucking deaf?”

He jerked and looked at Ethan, the whites of his eyes round and bulging. “Yeah. I mean no. I mean … I hear you, sergeant. I got it.” He shuffled over to dull metal case mounted against the wall, flipped the latch, opened it, and took out a green box of belted 5.56mm NATO ammunition. As he did so, Jones hefted his M-240 Squad Automatic Weapon—or just SAW, as it was more commonly known—and stepped up the short ladder that led to the roof of the passenger car. He turned the handle to unlock it, but stayed bent beneath the hatch.

“All right, open fire!” Ethan shouted. He leveled his rifle through the narrow firing port and began squeezing off rounds. The riders were approaching fast and firing as quickly as they could. Try as he might, Ethan couldn’t get a good shot at any of them. Behind him, he heard Justin, Cormier, and Holland open fire as well.

“Got one!” Holland shouted. As Ethan watched, one of their pursuers slumped over and fell from his saddle. His boot remained lodged in the stirrup, and his horse continued to gallop along, dragging his limp, flailing body along with it. The riders behind the dead man saw what happened to him, and began to back off. The ones in front, oblivious to their cohort’s fate, continued their pursuit. One of them came level with the rear car, reached into a saddlebag behind him, and produced some kind of improvised explosive. A very large one. Where the hell did he get that? Ethan couldn’t get the man in his sights, so he shifted his aim lower and squeezed off a short burst. The man’s mount screamed as several rounds tore into its lower chest and the thick muscles of its legs. The animal pitched forward, rolling and thrashing and crushing his hapless rider. As he fell, the explosive went flying through the air and detonated several yards behind the u-trac’s rear wheels.

“They’ve got some kind of fucking grenades!” Ethan shouted. “Isaac, time to earn your paycheck!”

Jones’ teeth stood out sharp and white as he smiled. “Hell to the yeah, baby.”

He pushed the hatch open with one meaty hand, surged up through the opening, and leveled his SAW.

“WHOOOOO YEAH MOTHERFUCKER!”

Short, staccato bursts of fire poured from the heavy weapon, tearing into the approaching riders and sending them tumbling to the ground in screaming, bloody heaps. Some of the rounds went low and caught the horses, but there wasn’t much Jones could do about that. The SAW wasn’t the most accurate weapon in the world.

At the same time, the squads riding in the other passenger cars finally got it together and began adding their rifles to the fray. Whatever the raiders had been expecting when they set out to pursue the u-trac, it hadn’t been hardened soldiers cutting them to ribbons with a withering hail of hot lead. Panicked, the ones still alive veered their mounts around and pounded away back toward the cover of the trees.

“Aw, come on now. Get back here bitches, you know you LOOOOOVE this shit!”

The big gunner fired a final burst at the retreating marauders before stepping down and closing the hatch behind him. Jones’ face glowed with excitement. Ethan shook his head.

“Nice work, gentlemen. You too, Smith.”

The young private was still standing by the ladder clutching his box of ammo. “Me? I didn’t even do anything.”

Ethan stepped forward and clapped him on the arm. “Sure you did. I gave you an order and you followed it. You didn’t freeze up, or panic.” He leaned forward with a conspiratorial whisper. “You didn’t shit yourself, did you?”

Smith let out a nervous laugh. “No, I didn’t.”

Ethan stood up straight and grinned at the younger man. “Then you did just fine. Maybe next time I’ll even let you do some of the fighting.”

Smith’s smile grew sickly, then disappeared altogether.

The door at the far end of the car opened, and Lieutenant Jonas stepped through the narrow opening, careful not to step into the short length of empty space separating the command car from Delta’s passenger carriage. “Everyone all right in here? Anybody hurt?”

“No sir,” Ethan replied. “We’re all good.” He turned to Smith. “Check the other cars for me, private. Find out if there are any casualties.”

Smith nodded. “I’m on it.”

As the private hustled to the next adjoining car, Jonas stepped closer to Ethan. “Did my eyes deceive me, or were those raiders on horseback?”

“Yes sir, they were.”

The lieutenant ran a hand over the back of his neck, his mouth forming a thin, hard line. “Well ain’t that just fucking wonderful. How much you want to bet those sons of bitches are from Hamlet?”

“I’m not a betting man sir, but I’d say your odds are pretty good.”

“And now they have bombs.” Jonas shuffled over to a window and planted a hand against the wall as he stared out. “We’re the first u-trac to come out this way, Thompson. And now they’ve seen us. I guaran-damn-tee you that by tomorrow these tracks are going to be lousy with IED’s. Fucking Hamlet. Place is a goddamn den of thieves, and slavers, and insurgent scum. I’ve got half a mind to radio for permission to go root those fuckers out.”

Ethan watched the older man move to the bench and sit down, back straight. He looked incongruous with just a single bar on his collar. Most of the officers his age had oak leaves or eagles with wings spread wide. It was easy to forget that Jonas had spent most of his career in the Army as an enlisted man, working his way up the through the ranks the hard way. He’d seen more than his share of combat, and wasn’t afraid to take up arms and get in the thick of things when the situation required it. Because of this, and his deep understanding of the needs and concerns of his soldiers, the trust and respect he got from his men was absolute. Nevertheless, the idea of walking blindly into hostile territory—and going off-mission to do it—struck Ethan as not being the best of ideas.

“What about Pope? Maybe they could send out a drone to recon the place, find out what we’re up against. I’m not afraid of a fight sir, but I don’t like the idea of going in blind. Not if we can help it, at least. There’s no sense in getting ourselves killed needlessly.”

A less experienced officer may have bristled at Ethan’s suggestion, if not his tone. Jonas, however, nodded calmly. He knew good advice when he heard it, and he wasn’t arrogant enough to think that his experience precluded him from making mistakes. The Army had NCO’s for a reason, after all.

“You’re right sergeant, as usual. Still, knowing those fuckers are out there…”

Holland spoke up, “If you want LT, I can take a couple of guys and go scout it out. See what I can find. Maybe make some trouble for ‘em.”

Jonas thought about it for a moment, but shook his head. “No. I appreciate your courage Holland, but I can’t spare you. Besides, we’re behind schedule as it is, we can’t afford the delay.”

The door to the car opened, and Private Smith stepped back through. “No casualties, sir. Everybody’s okay.”

Jonas stood up. “Good, good. Any fight you survive is a good one, right men?”

Delta Squad nodded in agreement, their faces grim as they remembered fights that not all of them had walked away from. Fights where they had lost friends, men who were so familiar, who had shared so much terror and hardship, that they were like family. Brothers, all of them. Private Smith shuffled his feet and remained silent. He had been assigned to Delta after his predecessor was killed in the line of duty. He didn’t know the circumstances of the man’s death, but he knew the other soldiers of First Platoon had taken the loss hard. And none harder than the men around him.

“You all did well today,” Jonas said. “That was a good, fast response. Especially you, Jones, you’re a goddamn nightmare with that SAW.”

The gunner grinned. “You know what they say, sir. Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Jonas barked a short laugh. “Damn right. All right then, looks like we’re squared away.” He gestured at Ethan. “Staff sergeant, round up the other squad leaders and get reports from them. Command is going to want to know what we just expended valuable ammunition on.”

“Yes sir.”

“The rest of you keep your eyes peeled for trouble. Holland, put that scope of yours to use and watch our back trail. Those raiders might find their spines and decide to pay us another visit. If they do, I want warning well ahead of time.”

Holland nodded. “Want me to get the other DM’s to do the same, sir?”

“No, just you and Sergeant Kelly for now. Rotate out with the other two in a couple of hours.”

“Will do.”

Ethan watched the Lieutenant open the door and step back into the command car. He caught a glimpse of the cot along the wall, and the chair bolted to the floor in front of a small desk. It would have been mean accommodations under other circumstances, but standing there in the bare passenger car, he felt like some character from a Dickens novel wandering through the cold and staring through a window at Christmas dinner. The door shut, and the room was lost to view. He sighed, his shoulders slumping.

Time to round up the other squad leaders. Time to write a report.

Goddamn I hate paperwork.

*****

 

 

Hamlet passed by to the north of the u-trac much the same as any other town.

Ethan watched the outlines of buildings in the distance as they slowly drifted from left to right, little more than grey and brown husks against the blue morning haze. Even from this far away, he could see the empty, yawning holes staring out from behind shattered windows, the black scorch marks left behind by long ago fires, and the sharp, stabbing fingers of I-beams, support struts, and shattered concrete pillars where office complexes and government buildings had once stood — all collapsed now. All reduced to great, mountainous heaps of forgotten rubble.

Across the depressing expanse between the town and the tracks, littered like corpses on a battlefield, lay houses, businesses, long-dead industrial facilities, and sagging structures that seemed to have no identifiable purpose at all. Every visible wall was crowded with vines and creepers that swarmed over rooftops in choking, skeletal tangles. Autumn’s chill had turned everything brown and dead, and blanketed the landscape in an ocean of endless beige beneath a cloudy, pewter-colored sky. All seemed still out there. Abandoned. Quiet.

Ethan knew better.

There were eyes out there. Many eyes, and none of them friendly. They watched the tracks, he knew. They watched, and they would remember. He would not have been surprised if word of the brief, bloody firefight had already reached the ears of the other marauders holed up in that shattered ruin of a town. Nor would it have surprised him to learn that their plans for retaliation were already in motion. That was what they did, these marauder bands. They fought. They killed. They took from others. And if they were attacked, their response was never proportional, never just an eye for an eye. They were vicious, savage people, with no regard for anyone’s lives other than their own. Often, they even fought amongst each other, robbing, raping and stealing.

It was a well-known fact in the Army that you didn’t go after marauders with half measures. You didn’t just hit them and hope they would learn their lesson. These were people who didn’t back down from a fight. Didn’t run away. Didn’t get intimidated by the occasional strafing run or mortar bombardment. If a platoon was sent to take down known marauders, it wasn’t just a police action. It wasn’t just an effort to bring them to heel.

It was total annihilation.

Kill them all, root and branch, or die in the attempt. And dying wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. More than once, entire platoons had limped back to Fort Bragg decimated and in shambles, most of their men dead or dying of wounds or infection. Contrary to what all the strategists had predicted, the marauders were becoming increasingly well-armed. Unexplainably, alarmingly so. They were determined, these insurgents and raiders, and they were getting better at their craft. And out there, across that cracked veneer of dead civilization, was an unknown number of them.

Waiting. Plotting. 

Ethan stood near the wall, his face close to the chill, gently blowing air outside, and stared out the narrow window as the u-trac slowly rattled along. He searched rooftops for movement, eyes narrowed, jaw constantly working. He searched the tall grass for the telltale streaks of lighter brown that would indicate someone having passed through recently. He breathed in deeply through his nose, trying to catch the acrid odor of wood smoke born on the wind. He listened for the crack of distant rifles echoing across the low, gently rolling hills. But mostly he simply watched, gaze unfocused, never letting his eyes rest on one spot for too long, determined to spot trouble if it was out there. He rested his head against one thick forearm, and for long into the morning, he watched.

He watched, and he worried.

 

 

**************************************

 

 

I sincerely hope that you liked this excerpt, and if you want to check out more of my work, or Josh’s, just click the links below:

 

James N. Cook on Amazon 

Josh Guess on Amazon

 

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BELLOWS OF THE BONE BOX — the newest horror anthology to feature a short story by yours truly — is now available

Bellows of the Bone Box is a new horror anthology by Sirens Call Publications that combines the horror and steampunk genres. I am pleased to announce that one of the 12 stories featured in this anthology is from yours truly. It was a major honor to get my story accepted for this anthology by the great crew at Sirens Call, and to share the book with the bylines of many great writers. The other writers in this anthology are:

Brad Bass, Paul Boulet, Laura Brown, Vivian Caethe, Alex Chase, Megan Dorei, O.M. Grey, Tarl Hoch, Gavin Ireland, Kirk Jones, and Kate Monroe.

This is my first foray into the growing popularity of steam punk sci-fi – though combined with strong horror elements – so I’m rather stoked. My own short story, “Rip Me a New One, Jack!”, features an alternate reality London circa 1880s where the computer revolution took place in the 19th century based upon the cultural design aesthetics and steam-powered technology of that era, and where the notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper operates (and I do mean operates) within that particular milieu. Here the horrific murderer makes use of technology the real Jack the Ripper never had available to him to take his madness and hideous agenda well beyond the mere butchering of prostitutes.

BellowsoftheBoneBox_FrontCover

You can purchase the book online from:

AMAZON
AMAZON UK
CREATESPACE
SMASHWORDS

I Want To Love Tim Hortons, but…

Today I have a very important post regarding a matter of great concern to me that was discussed in detail on Facebook. The threads have since fallen into the archives of the various people who followed it, but the concern is one that may force me to reconsider my patronage of what I believed to be a great franchise for writers like myself to hang out and enjoy an awesome cup of java.

Tim Hortons is a popular little place to get coffee, donuts, sandwiches, soup, and other awesome little snacks while you kick back and relax with the peeps (read: friends and colleagues). Many stores from this franchise dot the landscape of the Western New York area where I live, and one of them, located on Colvin Blvd. between Brighton Rd. and McConkey Dr., has always been my complete fav over the past two years. Its atmosphere is typically laid back and fun, and the employees working the night shift when I usually hung out there were not only courteous and attentive to the patrons, but showed a great deal of interest in our vocation, which was writing–or in some cases, artwork and photography as a corollary of the writing and publishing field. Coffee shops have long been popular with writers and artists of nearly every stripe, going all the way back to the Beatnik subculture of the 1950s. I like to think that authors like myself, and those artists who often work along with us to produce books, are the modern day successors of the great but quirky Beatniks of yesteryear.

One of the reasons coffee shops appeal to us so much is because of the specific type of ambiance and environment they provide, and the fact that they tend to attract both employees and patrons who are “hip” to the youth culture. Such individuals appreciate the sense of fun that our writing largely embodies. My genres of choice for writing tend to be horror, sci-fi, and pulp fiction, with a great appreciation for the comic book medium (even though, thus far, my published work all appears in prose). My work also has a lot of what I consider to be strong political and socio-cultural commentary, something the above genres and sub-genres of fiction writing have long specialized in providing. And the idea of entertaining your audience while simultaneously–and hopefully–enlightening them at the same time is the main purpose of our product. This is why we love our coffee shops to provide an atmosphere that is conducive to the spirit of our work when we visit. And this means, first and foremost, a sense of fun.

And here lies my concern. As many friends and colleagues are well aware, I have long recommended and preferred Tim Hortons [THs] to its main competitor in the area, Starbucks. THs has always had better service, better tasting coffee and latte, and considerably more reasonable prices. The THs on Colvin Blvd. (often called the McConkey branch) had become the THs of choice for me over the past two years, and certainly the only one to patronize regularly. This was not only due to what I mentioned above in terms of quality of product and reasonable prices to go with it compared to Starbucks, but also the fun and affable personalities of the late evening/overnight staff and their singular ability to get along well with writers and the rest of the hipster, youth-oriented crowd that love to frequent coffee shops.

Interacting with these employees gave me all the extra impetus to order multiple cups of java well into the “late” morning hours (not a contradiction in terms, as I’m sure you know I mean late at night into the morning when it’s still dark outside). It also gave me much encouragement to recommend not just THs, but this particular shop to my many fellow writers and related artists, whom I often encourage to visit and hang out with me in the Western New York area.

Well, about a week and a half ago, what I feel was a very bad business decision on the part of the store management was conducted. It resulted in what I believe to be a great injustice to two of the employees of the evening/overnight shift at the McConkey branch of THs. These two employees were well known for providing cordial service and often a shoulder of advice and great artistic suggestions to the hipster authors like myself who frequent the locale. I understand why the manager made the decision that she did, but I’m sorry, it was the wrong decision, and though I realize it was done for reasons intended to serve matters of decorum and professionalism, it was done without a thought as to the main customer demographic who tend to patronize the coffee shop.

Specifically, a short video displaying some patrons and reportedly the two employees in question (whom I must confess to not really recognizing under clever masks) performing a rendition of the popular and very fun Harlem Shake dance. It was embedded on Facebook and (for a time) YouTube, and to say the least, everyone I know who saw it totally loved it! It gave the location the important veneer of fun and youth-oriented atmosphere that attracts so many of us to that fine place. I knew my fellow writers would flock in droves to patronize such a cool and hip little coffee shop when they got the chance to visit me periodically, and it would be a great place to relax and hold our creative planning sessions for future book projects. I likewise recommended it to all fellow writers I know who live in the area.

The McConkey THs shop was simply a great place for writers to hold their story planning sessions. Its atmosphere was highly conducive to the type of fun and creativity that underlies our work, while sipping some great java that is priced reasonably enough that we could afford to be ordering additional cups for an entire planning session, which could last a few hours. We could also have some snacks there while conversing and sharing our story ideas with the employees, who had often shown great interest in our work. I knew they would always look forward to meeting my fellow young men and women who work the literary “salt mines” with me, and the reverse was most definitely the case.

Unfortunately, the manager, upon seeing the video on either Facebook or YouTube, reacted in a knee-jerk display of what I’m sure she legitimately considered “professionalism” and fired the two employees who were present when the short video was made, and who were said to have participated in displaying the mega-popular Harlem Shake. These two employees just happen to be great and attentive workers who showed much interest in the creative work that so many of the franchise’s patrons are involved with. They also got along very well with the predominantly youthful customers there, who are largely comprised of college students, poets, starving writers, goths, fans of the contemporary music scene, Harry Potterists (this way cool descriptive term for this group of fantasy fandom was coined by one of the two employees who was fired), and connoisseurs of books in the various fantasy sub-genres. In other words, they were hardly the type of patrons who would be even remotely offended by such a video being filmed on the premises. This fact was amply displayed by at least three patrons who took part in the fun. The video was quite brief, lasting no longer than 23 seconds, and could in no way be construed as a case of the staff neglecting their jobs. I can personally attest to these employees being very good at their jobs, and very responsive to the patrons there, including regularly telling us what was on the menu, always diligently giving us the reminder, “last call before the old stuff is thrown out to make way for baking the new stuff,” etc. I never felt they were in any way unprofessional. 

I was very upset upon learning that these two employees were let go for something that was in no way negative towards attracting the type of patronage that primarily enjoys the environment of Tim Hortons; quite the contrary, in fact! And the video in no way constituted a case of any employee of that particular shift neglecting their work to “goof around” instead. They would never have filmed such a video if there was a large number of customers to be served, and in fact, the small number of customers present at the time clearly encouraged the very festive video. This is no different than the emerging and growing trend of businesses that routinely have employees spontaneously engage in nerf missile fights or impromptu hoop-shooting tournaments to keep a “light” and festive atmosphere that is fun to participate in. This method of running a business is highly attractive to both youth-oriented customers and employees, and has never been shown to detract from a professional job being done by the staff.

Yes, the Harlem Shake has sexual connotations to it, but that is simply and largely an imitation of the very popular music videos made by mega-hip vocalist Katy Perry. She is immensely popular amongst the youth crowd, and the evidence of her very strong influence on the emergence of the now trendy Harlem Shake dance is clearly displayed in her music video California Gurls.

Ms. Perry and her act personifies the free and joyous expression of sexuality, as well as the unbridled–even manic–sense of fun and creativity that is so popular with the youth crowd of today. It would only come off as “inappropriate” or offensive to the most old-fashioned way of conservative thinking, and such individuals do not regularly patronize coffee shops like THs, unless it happens to be a store with a convenient drive-thru. But they do not tend to sit in the store and become part of the social scene that are an integral part of its atmosphere, and are indicative of what coffee shops tend to represent in American culture. And I always felt that THs was as “American” and contemporary as any other popular aspect of this culture (yanno, like apple pie, baseball, etc.).

So I cannot put into adequate words how disappointed I was by the manager’s knee-jerk reaction to this short little video. I understand that she could easily say the following things: “Sorry, I didn’t really want to do it, but it was store policy.” It was? If so, then the patrons knew nothing about such a policy, and as we are supposed to be the most important people in the store, it forces us to wonder what purpose such an incongruous rule was to serve. Not the interests of the customers, I must say. “Doing such a thing on work hours was unprofessional and a sign of neglect for their jobs.” That would be patently untrue, for all the reasons I mentioned above, as myself and my fellow patrons always got great service there, and we grew to like these employees on a personal level. I certainly wouldn’t recommend a coffee shop to my fellow writers, both within the area and visitors, if bad service was common there.

I called the store last week, spoke to the manager, expressed my concerns and that of my fellow writers over her decision, and issued a polite protest. She spoke to me very politely, took down my personal info and blog address, and courteously thanked me for the call when it ended. I did inform her that since I have been discussing having some of my fellow writers visiting with me soon, I could not in good conscience recommend the McConkey shop any longer, or even THs in general (since presumably, the policies would be the same in every shop of the franchise).

If an unjust reason like this would be used as an excuse to fire efficient and hard-working customers at a time when jobs are hard to come by during a bad recession, how could I be inclined to support this shop any longer.  One of the two employees, in fact, is married and has a family to raise. It’s not like what either of them did (to whatever extent their involvement was in the production of a short, fun video) was the equivalent of stealing, or failing to replace day-old food so a a new batch could be cooked up, or being rude to customers for no good reason, etc. These two employees never acted moody or in any way discourteous to the customers around me, no matter how hard a day they had either before or during the work day. Nothing about that video was something that would make the company look bad for the primary patrons there (again, quite the contrary!), and they were not neglecting the needs of the customers in any way.

I did let the manager know that my blog entry on this matter would go “live” today. And in that time (I spoke to her last Friday), she evidently did not reverse her decision. I do not know for certain if she put any thought into the matter, but it’s my personal opinion that she simply took a “what’s done, is done” attitude and put no major thought into it. And despite the fact that her overall intentions may have been inclined towards what she perceived as adhering to professionalism, it was not something conducive to the well-being of this particular establishment, it was not a decision that in any way made the main customer demographic happy (yet again, quite the contrary!), and resulted in two routinely courteous, amiable, and hard-working employees being rendered jobless during a nation-wide recession that this state has been suffering particularly bad from.

In case I may be accused of making up these accolades for the night staff, please go to this website, which gives location info and customer reviews for this particular Tim Hortons.

Please note the following, excerpted from the customer reviews that I linked to up above (which I copied and pasted in bold face):

Shaun R.

Shaun R. April 22, 2011

Go late night, the staff there is phenomenal. Very nice for a night crew, and I’ve had my fair share of bad night crew employees.

Leslie A.

Leslie A. September 28, 2012

Been to many Tim hortons and this is by far the best, the staff is so friendly…

Brianne G.

Brianne G. June 8, 2012

The staff here is so friendly and cheerful 🙂

Note the time stamp of these excerpts and you will see they were made from 2011 to Sept., 2012, which are recent enough. Nothing about those reviews suggests the work of a troll, as they were friendly with no sign of sarcasm. Note how one of them directly recommended the evening shift, and noted that it’s (or at least was) the best of all the THs in the area.

As such, I am planning on having a talk with THs corporate management. I encourage all of my followers on this blog, including all of my fellow writers, to leave a brief and polite message of protest to the manager of the store, who can be reached at this number during the daytime hours (figure Eastern timezone hours): (716) 833-0412. Let her know that this was far from a good reason to fire two employees whom the patrons liked and respected, and whose presence often encouraged me–and clearly other patrons–to specifically pick the McConkey store, and specifically during the evening-overnight hours.

Thank you to all for listening, including my fellow writers and the management of this store. And to the latter: Please reconsider your decision and do the right thing. A refusal to do the right thing out of nothing more than stubbornness or lack of concern for the situation (because it’s now “in the past”) is only going to lose this store a chunk of its primary patronage, possibly hurt the franchise’s good reputation among those of my vocation (who are a big part of its customer base), and result in protests further up the Tim Hortons hierarchical ladder. No one is calling you an evil monster or any names at all for that matter; we all make mistakes, and we often make mistakes with the best of intentions. But the only way to rectify things for people who may have been hurt by some of our mistakes is to admit the error and reverse the decision. As I see it, that shows a lot of character and responsibility, not a sign of weakness.