The Veteran

August 12, 2016 at 11:30 am (Cussed Dumbers)

It’s already my Tuesday, but it feels more like a Monday than ever.

Match Game PM

Match Game PM

My days off have been falling in the Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday range of late, which makes for a brutal work week. Mine starts off with the after-work drinking crowd and devolves into weekend mayhem. The real Monday is often a quiet end to the madness.

I load up my bag with the things that get me through the night, and awaaay we go…

I have been a night cashier since 1979. I know I could have done other things, and still might, but has been an easy way to pay for life as the fun happens. I do have fun, most of the time, but the past year or so has been a challenge. I’ve seen a couple BIG relationships end, my main one has faded into an afterthought, and yet I still get up and go through the motions every day. I’ve had days, especially when the pill thing was getting to me, that the thought of getting out of bed was soul-crushing. I discovered, however, that getting out into the air had me forgetting my troubles, at least a little bit. I spend a lot of time on the bus and train, just staring out the window and thinking. Things still don’t seem quite right, but I’m working on it.

I hope this counts as a “down period.”

When I get like this, I throw myself into work. I can wander the store, putting items back where they belong, stocking empty spots. I have been bringing harmonicas to work, and will play quietly while people shop. I do a lot of what people are describing as prison blues. Dr T says all I need are sunglasses and a ball and chain.

When nobody is around, I’ll bust out a honkytonk jam.

I have been keeping my red bank bag for superstitious good luck. Festus knows the back-story, and brought it to me one night. I’ve been using it since.

Southie has been on bereavement leave. Grinder had his fuck-you finger operated on, and was out on medical. Master P has been on the road, so the day-to-day duties have fallen to Eva Braun and an army of minions. (Giggles is aghast that Mrs Brady was left in charge instead of him. And now, she might have to get involved with the mystery of Giggles and The Stolen Hat. More on this as it develops.) Mrs Brady takes her job very seriously. There will be no humor on her shift. This is work! We’re not here to have a good time! Even our more enlightened staff members think of her as Grinder with boobs.

As I came back from the bathroom, Mrs Brady was holding up my bright red bag. (It comes from a nearby bank, different from the store’s. Southie got a personal account there so he could skip walking ten blocks.) “I need to return this to the bank.”

“Why? I’ve been using it for weeks.”

“I just got it at the bank. They were nice enough to loan it to me, I need to take it back.”

“I had THAT BAG in the back, with my work shirt, but okay.” I was not going to battle over a stupid fucking bank bag.

I went back to Southie’s desk, picked up the red bag the bank had actually loaned her, and took it out front. “Will this work?”

Her face was redder than the shiny new red bag, and she didn’t say much the rest of shift. The next time we worked together, I showed her as I came out of the office: “See? Lucky red bag!”

She laughed. “Whatever makes you happy, Charles.”

Things that make me happy have been hard to come by lately. I miss Meg. I miss Angel. Rain called me at work last night, and met me on lunch. We had a soft cry over Neptune, (“My buddy?”) and spent an hour on a bus bench cuddling. It was worth a million bucks.

BiBsI went back to work with a spring in my step. The song in my heart is still bluesy, but I’m finding outlets. I stopped by the Nightclub Store, irritated to see so many out-of-order signs on the pop machine. I went to the back room: Out-of-order because the boxes of syrup were all empty. With Mrs Brady in charge, and Giggles as her Sargent Schultz, how could four boxes of syrup go unnoticed? I donated fifteen minutes of my lunch hour, and left just enough of a mess to make my point.

I went back to the Waterfront Store, and stocked three cases of bottled water while Siriusly, Marcus Annoius’ stealth dog, watched. Then I vacuumed, and stocked the coffee bar. If they didn’t do it, I’ll get blamed for it.

Don’t fuck with the old-timers. If you’re gonna know it all, do it all.

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