Boom, boom, boom boom. My life is a ridiculous struggle against entropy
My job? I push carts to one part of a parking lot. Irritable
shoppers put their groceries in them, take them out, and then scatter them across the confines
of our property and sometimes that of the surrounding stores. Half an hour later, I walk
outside and move them back to where they started.
While I'm inside, I put groceries in bags. Successful middle-aged businessmen carry the bags
home, take the groceries back out of them, and throw them away. A middle-aged businessman
does not look ahead. He thinks only in the now.
If any of the damned souls
who worked here had anything significant to say, they would have
said it by now. Only little chunks of dialogue
prove to me that they even exist.
"I always feel like I'm going to die soon. I've probably got a disease." This is
Nicole who briefly reminds me of Dave Eggers. It turns out she's been fooling
around with a guy I've known since the fourth grade or so. One of those weird coincidences.
Six degrees of separation. Synchronicity.
"I just blew fifty dollars on scratch tickets." This is a fetid piece of shit who
pays his order with food stamps. Afterwards, he pulls out the last of his cash and pays for
his beer with it. Massachusetts is getting smarter and is no longer paying for this guy's
alcohol. Not that it matters, since he's got just enough for a twelve-pack every few days.
"..." This is a cardboard cutout of our pharmacy manager. It doesn't talk, although
on particularly long days I've said hello to it before realizing it was just a picture of him.
Customers give me funny looks, and I think things like "*You* do this job for a few months
and see how you start acting."
That's the point. The job is garbage - la crema de la
basura. Not only does it make me irritable and tired, but I receive the legal minimum in pay. Minus taxes. Minus the $57.80 in my Social Security account.
Minus the 86 cents in my Medicare fund. Minus a dollar per week in mandatory charitable
contributions. (THE SUPERMARKET AIMS FOR 100% PARTICIPATION IN THIS CAMPAIGN
BY ALL OF OUR GOOD EMPLOYEES.)
I wear a pin that says "Ask me about Smart Chicken
." I don't want anybody to ask me about
Smart Chicken. My girlfriend is a vegetarian
. Smart Chicken is bullshit, anyway --
all-natural, no hormones, vegetable fed
-- it's reversing everything
we've learned about intelligently preparing poultry
. "Prepare your chicken like King
would have!" God help us all.
The obvious question is Why Don't I Quit? That's a good question, and I'm not the first one
to ask it. "Financial security," I'd tell you. What the hell do I need financial security for?
I'm seventeen. Six months of 'valuable customer service experience' and I still make an
effective wage of under six dollars an hour.
It'd be all too easy to walk to the Blockbuster across the street and get a slightly better
job, right? Less old people. Less raw meat. Less mean layers of management. Why haven't I
done it? -- Hell if I know. It's goddamn intimidating. I'm miserable here, but it's a
predictable and comfortable kind of miserable. I know what to expect -- there will be no
demotions, but there will be no promotions. I will make this pathetic constant living until my
ten cent raise takes effect, and the dead-on reason why I haven't left is simple.
The major skill in life that I haven't built is the ability to smoothly execute a change. I
can't up-and-go when I've got safety and a quiet little rut to live in. I can't just walk away
from the one pathetic job I managed to get after eight months of applications.
All that I can really accomplish is making everybody else listen to just how bad it is.
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