It’s My First Time Working Late Nights at a Convenience Store, and If I Keep Getting Demon Lords, Kappa and Other Oddballs as Customers, I’m Giving My Two-Weeks’ Notice
I’ve finally hit forty shifts as a cashier.
That’s cool and all, but today just so happens to be an extra special day.
It’s July 1st — my manager’s birthday.
I picked out his present (a bear print apron) before I left for work, and I’m already looking forward to his reaction.
Why bears, you ask? Honestly, I just thought he’d look really cute in it. That kind of thing suits him.
Not that I had that impression of him at first. He seemed more like the sort of guy who bench presses kettle bells in his spare time, but I’ve since learnt that he’s into cooking and gardening. Also, I might actually have a bit of a crush on him.
I know that most people would find it pretty hard to believe that he’s so loveable, but if you worked with him, you’d get it.
When I saunter into the break room, he’s stretched out on the couch, as usual.
“Oh, Haru. Good evening to you, too.”
...Yep, everything’s the same as it is every night.
Which is exactly why I want to surprise him.
I’m going to leave his present in his locker. When he opens the door, he’ll see it all wrapped up in a pink gift bag, tied with a cute red ribbon.
With a little message card that reads “Happy Birthday,” of course.
My manager will be all like, “What’s this...?” He’ll take it out, his heart pounding with excitement as he slowly undoes the wrapping...
Then, bam! Adorable bear apron.
As plans go, it’s almost TOO perfect.
I silently slip the package into his locker, wondering when he’ll finally notice it. Chuckling quietly to myself, I head out to the register... Where I’m greeted by a big sign that reads “Happy Birthday Manager.”
The rest of the store’s been decorated from wall to wall with colorful flowers made from origami paper and tissue paper. And my jaw just drops.
“Hey! What do you guys think you’re doing?! Did you forget that this is a convenience store?!!”
The booze hound is sitting up on the counter, barking out orders to the very familiar-looking decoration team.
No, seriously — what happened? When I walked through those automatic doors a couple of minutes ago, this place still looked normal! Is this like, a prank show or something?!
“Pops, what’s all this about?!”
I call over to the scruffy supervisor, who shrugs.
“Well, we’d’ve started sooner, but we were waitin’ fer you t’get here. Figured you’d want in on this.”
Whoooa, no. Nope. There’s no WAY that’s happening.
These are EXACTLY the kind of shenanigans that could get me fired!!
I spot the werewolf, who’s in the middle of scattering a bunch of rose petals all over the floor.
“...Uh, could you not? I’m the one who’s going to have to clean all that up, you know.”
“Heeeey, cashier kid! Sure has been a while, huh? How’re you doing?”
With a hearty laugh, the werewolf comes over to give me a firm but friendly pat on the shoulder.
“Well, you know. Not too ba-... Dude! Stop trying to distract me and pick up those petals!”
“Oh, um, I can’t really do that. They’re for the manager’s birthday. Y’know, like one of those red carpets that famous people get to walk down at big events.”
Well, he’s definitely laid down enough of them that “carpet” is the first word that comes to mind.
But what’s with the overly romantic spin on things? And you just know he’s not going to take responsibility for them afterwards.
“We’re heeere! And we brought the birthday cake!”
“My wifey and I made it ourselves!”
The ogre couple make their entrance, carrying a big box.
“Here! See for yourself!”
They pop open the lid, revealing a round, white cake.
...And that’s it. There’s no sprinkles, no strawberries...nothing.
“We were thinking of putting a bunch of those mini cream puffs on top. Could you ring us up?”
Pompom-om-nom explains their design choices with a wink.
“Why can’t we fold these correctly? This is absolutely vexing! Couldn’t you have picked something easier?”
Frustrated, the vampire chucks a misshapen tissue paper flower onto one of the tables in the seating area.
“Aw, honey, that’s ‘cause you have no style. ...Here, let me see that.”
Kintaro helps fix the crumpled blossom, while the booze hound directs Princess Kaguya’s five suitors as they hang even more signs.
“Nah, lift that other end up. Yeah, jus’ like that. Hrm, should the message board get gussied up a bit more, too?”
He tilts his head to the side, distracted by the sudden thought, and the suitors rush off to go find the comically oversized card that has everyone’s signatures and well-wishes on it.
“While that gentleman might be our sworn enemy, he is also our savior. When Princess Kaguya sent us here on our quest, with his quick wits, he solved our lady’s riddles in an instant. ...You and the jinmenken are the last two who need to sign, I might add.”
With that, Prince Kuramochi politely passes me the message board. I can feel everyone’s eyes on me.
“Would’ya mind helpin’ me out? I ain’t got the digits t’do it myself.”
The booze hound grins, flapping his finger-less front paws to make his point clear.
I sigh heavily, resigning myself to my fate.
I mean, I just know I’m going to get stuck dealing with the fallout. I swear, it happens every. Single. Time.
Still, I can’t help but smile at the outlandish gesture.
...Oh, hell. I think I might start to cry.
Shaking my head, I rummage through my pockets for a pen.
“I guess we’d better hurry up, so we can get this party started.”
I glance over at the clock. It’s 2:30 AM.
Geez, they’re already two and a half hours late.
I flag down Ayame — who’d been watching from her usual post, waiting for a chance to join in — and she offers to lend a hand, too.
When I get back to the register, there’s a small pile of mini cream puffs and assorted candies on the counter. I’m guessing the ogre couple brought them over. I ring them up, making sure to give them a bit of a discount.
Ayame, meanwhile, is helping Kintaro help the vampire with the paper flowers. (Let’s face it — she probably needs it the most). She shows me how to make them, too. The five suitors are still on decoration duty, and the werewolf turns his attention to the countertop, covering that in flowers as well.
Apparently, the booze hound “c’n smoke alright, I’m jus’ no good with letters.” So, I take down his message for him.
It’s about what you’d expect, but still really touching.
“...Man, what’ve I gotten myself into this time? This place barely looks like a convenience store anymore.”
I mutter wryly to myself, as everyone congratulates themselves on a job well done. Actually, it’s kind of amazing how my manager’s birthday brought everyone together like this. The five suitors haven’t so much as squabbled once. Heck, even Kintaro and the vampire just exchanged a high-five.
And it sounds like those three ladies have been gossiping about their love lives this whole time. It’d be nice if that truce extended past this one evening.
“Right, I’ll go get him.”
The store’s been decked out from floor to ceiling in birthday finery. ...I have NO idea how we’d even start explaining this to any of our other customers, so I figure he’s not going to be too thrilled about this.
Well, whatever he says, I’ll cover for them.
When I walk into the break room, I catch my manager in the middle of trying on his new apron.
My mouth flaps open in wordless astonishment.
“Oh, Haru. Thank you for the present. ...This IS from you, yes?”
Settling a hand on his hip, my manager points at the bear-print fabric.
He looks adorable. I knew that was going to be a good pick.
“It’s wonderful, I’ll wear it every day. Although, I didn’t realize what it was for until I saw the card. I’d completely forgotten that it was my birthday. But, you kids sure are all about the elaborate surprises nowadays, aren’t you? No one’s ever done anything like this for me before.”
His smile is absolutely dazzling. Buying that present was, hands down, a brilliant idea.
Bothering to be secretive about it was well worth the extra effort, too. I mean, he’s so pleased that he keeps turning to admire it in the mirror.
“Well, that’s not all. There’s another surprise waiting for you. But, you’re going to have to close your eyes first.”
He crosses his arms with a slight huff.
“Oh, this is more than enough.”
“What! That was nothing! Come on, just do it!”
Once I’ve made sure that his eyes are good and shut, I take a deep breath and lead him out into the store.
“Okay, you can open them now.”
He squints, his eyes adjusting to the harsher lighting of the main area. The moment he appears, the sound of party crackers rings through the store. The werewolf has set himself up near the door, showering my manager with rose petals as he walks through it.
Blinking in surprise, he’s too startled to notice that he’s covered in confetti and petals.
“Happy birthday, Manager!!”
The assembled crowd bursts into lively applause.
“Hey, mister manager! Thanks for the good advice! I’ll be back to bend your ear again some other time!”
“Congrats, you studly birthday boy!”
“You sly strumpet! We wanted to be first! ...Oh! Happy birthday!”
“Ready, gentlemen? On three. One, two... ‘Our sincerest congratulations!’ ...Wait, that wasn’t together at all! Can we get a redo?”
“Manager, check out the cake! Oni-woni and I baked it ourselves!”
“To thank you for the wonderful one you made for us!”
“...Happy birthday, Manager. I really appreciate how yer always goin’ out of your way to look after an old dog like me. So, I called up everyone you’ve helped this year and asked them t’come celebrate.”
My manager shuffles through the lush carpet of rose petals to the seating area, where the cream puff creation is waiting for him. The ogre couple have piled as many of the treats onto their cake as possible, complete with a little chocolate plate that reads “Happy Birthday Manager!”
He’s still in a state of shock.
“Thank you, Manager, for everything. We’re all happy to have you in our lives. But, here. You can read everyone’s memories, in their own words.”
I hand him the message board, which he takes with trembling hands. Dazed, he gently cradles it in his arms.
“...I...don’t know what to say. No one’s ever celebrated my birthday with so much enthusiasm before. Still, I... Thank you. Very much. That all of you would gather together, in the middle of the night, to make something so beautiful just for me, it’s... So touching.”
He almost seems to shrink in on himself as he speaks, his voice quivering with emotion.
It’s a side of him that I’ve never seen before.
“Okay, so, anyways, Grim’s outside on lookout — which means that no one’ll drop in uninvited. We’re free to party all night long!”
...Well, you could’ve said that a lot sooner! Ugh, I could skin that werewolf.
“Lean in and open wiiiide, honey. Can’t have a birthday without cake, right?”
“What! We wish to feed him, too! Come now, darling, say ‘ahhhh’!”
“Oh, has he tried the cake yet? How does it taste?”
“We put all our love into it, so you just know it’ll be delicious!”
“Well, whaddya think of the decorations? Pretty spiffy, eh? I made this one myself, y’know.”
“Hey, Manager! Over here! Don’t you think these tissue paper flowers are perfect? ‘Cause I’m the one who put them up!”
“We also made some ourselves! Manager, look at these instead!”
“Oh, um, actually... After we had that whole big talk, you inspired me to start learning more about the language of flowers, and I made you this bouquet. You get it, right? It’s got delphinium for your birthday, yellow lilies to say ‘thanks,’ irises for ‘friendship’... But, well, we can chat more about it later. I’ve got a bunch more questions for you...”
“Thank you for always looking after my beloved Haru. I hope that this year brings you nothing but joy.”
“Hey, now! Don’t start blubberin’, ya big softie! Have some more of yer cake, instead! And you’d better believe you’n I are drinkin’ tonight.”
“Thanks again, Manager. And happy birthday. I just wanted to say that I really look up to you. I couldn’t have asked for a better coworker.”
“...*sniff*... Th-Thank you, everyone. Really, you’re all too kind... I’m so glad that I run this convenience store. Truly, I am. From the bottom of my heart.”
Seeing him smiling, surrounded by his friends... I have to wipe the tears from my eyes.