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 Arthur 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.

back | forward

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.