Pillbox

Grand Wizards Join Newest Season of 'Undercover Boss'

“Pass the scallops, boy,” shouts a conspicuously pointy-headed new hire at Josh’s Lobster Hut.

I’m writing this from the back of the eating area at the Mobile, an Alabama seafood restaurant where the newest season of "Undercover Boss" is taking place. Each episode, employees get the opportunity to work with their boss, though they don’t know who he or she might be. To celebrate the 157th Anniversary of the Ku Klux Klan, this season’s undercover boss is none other than the Mobile Chapter’s Grand Wizard.

“I’m still trying to suss out who it could be,” says busboy and junior rally organizer Argus Underwood. Part of the fun of this show, I’ve found, is trying to determine who the boss is. Obviously, the makeup and costume team is hard at work obscuring their appearance, but usually there are “tells” that give them away. At an automechanic, the boss might look like everyone else but be unusually concerned with customer satisfaction. At a McDonalds, the boss might apply fake acne and hair grease but have a bizarre obsession with loss prevention. But at Josh’s Lobster Hut, famously a front for America’s favorite hate group, it’s harder to suss out the Wizard from the merely hateful Warlocks.

“Seafood spots have been a Klan haven since, hmmm, I’d say about the 50s,” reports local Klan historian and hopscotch Bronze medalist Mackey Dodgeson. According to Dodgeson, locations just like Josh’s Lobster Hut serve as easy places of work for what would otherwise be unemployable bigots. “Put a Klansmen in front of a cash register anywhere else, and they just cease to function. The register has black keys? The products are from China? The receipts are vaguely Semetic? Forget it. But somehow the smell of hush puppies and popcorn shrimp overrides the part of 'em that hates. Me, I just think they make a mean crab leg!” says store assistant manager and aspiring gay wedding cake-denier Cathleen Redmayne. I can’t help but agree as I dunk the delicious sea bug’s appendage into golden butter.

Watching the workers puzzle out the identity of the Grand Wizard among them reminds me of my childhood. I’ve seen the same expression of racist confusion on grandmas and truckers alike as they tried to find out if I was mixed or just Dominican. From arranging fries into incorrect swastikas to see who corrects them, to playfully dropping hints that they’re ok with race-mixing, I feel like I’m watching a game of white-supremacist cat and mouse. Of course, I know who’s the Grand Wizard; but as a Texan, I know how to keep a racist secret around delicious food.

All I will say is, tune in this week for the conclusive episode! And after that, keep the tube on to see the shocking reveal of the fourth property twin, whom they’ve kept locked up in the basement of just the nicest brownstone you’ve ever seen!