Taking and refilling orders was only one part of Tapper's job. The other part was being there to simply listen to people, whether it was someone having the best day of their life or the worst. Sometimes it was annoying, as no one seemed to care about what he had to say about his own life. Like how sometimes he worried that people would grow bored playing a game where all you do is quickly give out root beer mugs to customers or that he wished he had more of a social life. Being stuck in the only bar at Litwak's did not allow him much time to head out on trips to the Station, as there was always a customer.
Then again, he figured that there was something about him that told others that he was a decent guy with enough time on his hands to listen to their problems or whatever else they had to say. There was that Wreck-It Ralph, nice enough fellow for a villain, who came in for extended visits just so he could escape the hum-drum life he led, a result of being shunned by his co-characters. He always had plenty to say about how lonely and meaningless he felt, drowning his sorrows in root beer until about an hour before Litwak returned to open the arcade. Oddly enough, Tapper never saw much of Fix-It Felix, Jr. unless he was dragged in by someone else.
Must be more of a BurgerTime type chap. I wonder if Pete's as busy as I am...
There was Q*Bert and his gang, who not many could understand as they had not taken the time to learn the unique language, so naturally the little orange guy would bleep and squeak Tapper's ears off if he gave him the chance. Ken and Ryu of Street Fighter had drinking contests to see who would have to race to the bathroom first before their bladders busted. Paperboy would whine about how no one was interested in reading the paper after closing time, sipping on his own drink through a straw as slowly as possible and then blowing bubbles in it, which drove the barkeep crazy.
Mario himself was not a bad customer, but his brother Luigi would whine and gripe all night about being second best to his brother if he had enough root beer in him. Pac-Man was an absolute nightmare as a customer; what with his over-sized mouth and literally linear way of moving, he never failed to leave a giant mess for Tapper to clean up. Frogger was the second worst, his sticky tongue shooting out at everything and knocking drinks over.
Yeah, Tapper had a rough job at times, but it was his job. On the really busy days, and nobody knew this, but he had a secret behind not having to worry about running out of stock during the night. He'd been given a combination by some unplugged sap that was about to die with his game and it allowed him to enter his very own Code Room: the hub of the game. All he had to do was sneak off, look at his handy napkin to punch the code in, enter it via safety cord and do a little tampering in order to get to increase his root beer capacity up until Litwak returned, which is when he reset things back to normal. No big deal, it was perfectly safe. No one ever saw him do it.
He was just about to go do that very thing, even had the napkin out in his hand when-
Uh-oh, another customer. Ol' Turbo from that racing game TurboTime had been coming in more frequently ever since Litwak purchased the new RoadBlasters. Word on the street was that Turbo's game wasn't getting as many players anymore and that it was possible that his plug might get pulled, leaving him homeless. Nobody ever wanted that to happen to themselves and Tapper knew that it would be a big blow to the once popular racer if that were to happen to him. Apparently he had been hearing the gossip as well and had taken to drinking root beer half the night after closing hours. Normally he sat in silence away from everyone else, understandably not in the mood for conversation as of late.
Today was no exception; the gray-skinned man looked like he wanted to be kept alone tonight, what with his fist propping up his forehead and his eyes closed to the world, so Tapper didn't bother to say anything. Forgetting about his task at hand, he laid the napkin he was holding down on the counter so that he could fill up Turbo's mug for him and present him with it. He would've turned and left then but that's when he noticed the large tear streaking down the racer's cheek.
"I don't want to get unplugged, Taps," he muttered quietly as he cracked his yellow eyes open and stared down into his drink. "It isn't fair. Why did he have to get another racing game, huh? Wasn't I good enough for him?"
The mustached man knew he was referring to Litwak and he felt his stomach twist into a small knot at hearing this small outpouring of emotion. He debated whether answering him or just standing there and listening silently while he absentmindedly cleaned out a mug with a nearby dishrag. Turbo eventually tilted his large sad eyes up, looking very much like an abandoned puppy, and stared blankly ahead of him at the back corner of the game.
"I don't understand why this had to happen to me," he continued hoarsely, using a nearby napkin to wipe his face then clenched it in his hand in case he needed it again. "Popular games aren't supposed to get unplugged."
Tapper shrugged, putting the now clean glass under the counter. "Well, Turbs, all I can say is that it could've happened to anyone...it will happen to everyone eventually."
"But so soon?" Turbo lamented, glancing briefly at the barkeep. "I haven't even been around five years. I thought I had a whole life ahead of me."
The other man sighed deeply and leaned over to give him a comforting pat on the shoulder. "You never know what life's going to throw at ya, pal. Hang in there, you'll be all right. You're always welcome in here."
The racer cracked a hint of a lop-sided smile. "Thanks," he whispered, looking down at his hands as he busied himself attempting to create an origami swan out of his napkin, not knowing what it was he possessed until much later on.
Tapper took that to be the end of the conversation and-
"Hey, Taps, can we get a refill!"
Ugh, Ken and Ryu again. He groaned mentally as he made his way to their table and continued to be busy after that. By the time the arcade opened, he was dog tired from running around filling orders. As he finished cleaning his now empty establishment up, it dawned on him that he had been too busy to even sneak off to the Code Room which was a rare occasion. He patted around inside his pocket to pull his napkin out and a concerned look crossed his face when he realized it was not there, nor was it sitting around on a counter somewhere or hiding in the trash.
Huh, that's funny, could've sworn I had that thing out earlier...
He never did figure out what happened to it.
My second, much more simple theory on how Turbo got the Konami Code on a Tapper napkin. Hope it's okay :)