I am guessing he was about 18 years old, stood over six feet tall and weighed four hundred plus pounds. He managed to somehow find the prerequisite baggy clothes of his generation, even for a boy of his immense size. He had a large piercing in one ear, and several smaller ones in the other, as well as assorted metal objects lodged in nose, eyebrow, and tongue. He moved as if he were fighting an undertow, and from the tiny beady eyes buried in his facial fat you could just read his disdain for the rest of the world. Blaring from the small stone cubicle that operated as a cashier’s station was some variety of hopeless urban hiphop that repeatably offered some motherf**ker this & motherf**ker that, along with a cap upside of his ass (or was it her?…there was quite a few b*tches and ho’s in the song too). Such was my adventure in getting my car filled with gas.
I was the second vehicle at the separate pumps, but Junior had a one vehicle at a time quota to his abilities, so I patiently awaited my turn. A small Ford Parental zipped in with two scantily clad bleached blonde teenaged girls. They vocalized their impatience at having their lives interrupted by fueling, and Junior obediently followed the scent of fluttering eyelids and bouncing barely contained breasts and forgot all about me being next. Assuming this was his only stab at maledom, I waited for the girl’s $5 purchase. Junior accepted their cash with a goofy fleshy smile and the young adventurers sped off with hearty laughs at his expense. Five minutes later, with no word spoken between server and patron, I paid for the fuel then made my way to the grocery store to buy my supplies.
Inside the store was filled with the narcissists of consumption. Each aisle would have a single person standing dead center with their cart on an angle so that no one could pass. I would say the “excuse me” to their obvious displeasure of having to share the facilities – only to have to replay the same scenario in the next aisle. When not having to push, I would be bumped into and pushed from behind by shoppers who were apparently in some mad dash to get home to watch television – or pehaps get to the liquor store before it closed. After the usual twenty minutes I made it to the checkout aisles where there was a dance of exiting patrons vying for the shortest lane. The shortest lane in my experience invariably led to the biggest pile of coupons and the longest time check writing – or that occasional “just cleaned out my change jar, so I am paying in coins” routine.
I got jammed in between two shoppers before I realized I had definitely picked the slow lane. The girl checking us out was working in slow motion as if gravity were twice the burden for her than the rest of us. She had vacant heavily made up eyes and a bare midriff showing. She moved as if at any moment she was going to fall into a fit of narcolepsy. While chewing gum she would be incoherently mumbling something to herself, and the woman in front of us kept saying “pardon me dear?”. The girl just looked right through her as she collected all of her will to move the next item’s barcode across the red sensor. Each item of produce produced two inch scarlet red fingernails to flip through the little book that gives item number and price. It was like watching a car accident in slow motion – fascinating and at the same time stomach turning.
Knowing the vacancy sign on their foreheads, I don’t even bother saying anything to those who serve me anymore at stores and gas stations. As the manufacturing jobs continue to march overseas here in the states, then these creatures who used to be employed at mind numbing repetitive jobs are slowly taking up their positions in our service orientated jobs – jobs that used to be grabbed up by the people-friendly folks who when they told you to “have a nice day” you actually felt like they meant it, and were not reciting some memorized placard of required storemanship like these life-couched potatoes. I hate to go shopping anymore. It has become a huge chore. I can remember it being a social event when I was younger, but sociability has slowly turned to incivility.
Very few hold doors open anymore for their elders. Very few employees ask if you need something in these discount retailers…they tend to always be on the move away from customers rather than towards them. I know the pay sucks, but I used to clean toilets at the local country club and always did the best possible work I could – because my reputation was important to me. The work environment in this country is becoming absolutely ugly. A lower standard seems more widely accepted everywhere. Who in the hell looked at Junior one day and thought, “this young man will make a good impression on my customers”? If I were wealthy I would pay someone else to deal with the public and I would stay in my safe cocoon here.
~ DC Vision