Welcome To My World

May 12, 2020 at 11:11 am (Cussed Dumbers, On the road again..., That's not funny...)

H/T to Jonathan Maus

“How are YOU doing?”

Are you tired of reading/hearing about the Cornhole Virus? Me too. Jeezus I am sick of it.

But I’m not sick. Thank you, powers that be.

So how am *I* doing?

It’s business as usual, mostly…


To paraphrase George Thorogood, “When I’m alone, I prefer to be by myself.” And lately, I’ve been getting my wish. If we are all dreaming our own existence, I must really hate humanity.

Where were you when it all came down? And where are you now? The deserted streets, populated only by the zombie drughead nutballs wandering the avenues, are the playgrounds of swarthy youths in muscle-Hondas and loud motorcycles. The occasional revving and backfiring of an engine cuts through the quiet. Boards cover the windows of famous restaurants, and the picnic tables that hosted drunken White Claw parties at 6 PM are now the makeshift tent homes of those not irritating enough to be told to move. I’ve even enjoyed the company of a young lady while seated as the bouncer of Kelly’s Olympian. The bar was closed, but the owner came down, saw it was me at the table by the door, and said, “Don’t move on my account. I miss seeing people there.”

We moved anyway, out of respect. Show the homeless how it’s done.

As a grocery store, we are considered “necessary”. Please, World, continue to need Twinkies and malt liquor! It gives me the excuse to do what I do every day. At first, it was eerie as fuck. No one on the streets, just empty buses. Even the cops were scarce. This made us targets for every scumbag and yahoo downtown. All of a sudden, my lovely little Nightclub Store has turned into an evil incarnation of the Mothership. Double the sketch-factor, with occasional nudity on the side.

With the bars closed, our “normal” customer base is nil. (<– Nod to Timbers fans. Sorry for your loss.) The bar staff, drunken customers and parasites that feed off them are gone. What's left are the homeless that live on the sidewalk. We are their refrigerator. And their entertainment, if we don't run them off.

Space Queen is the latest addition to the wacky cast of characters. She began showing up right before lockdown, sashaying into the store with a smile. She was dressed in a cheerleader's skirt and white, threadbare wifebeater, and tugging and pulling at them in such a way I saw everything but pubes. I knew the graveyard guy was due, so I slipped her $3. "Here, go buy a coffee."

People were coming and going, looking wide-eyed at the show. If it were a dude I'd have called SWAT, but since it's a sorta pretty thirty-something, and I been sorta lonesome for a while, WTF. Let's see where this goes.

She was dancing in the window for traffic when Crabby Joe showed up for graveyard. "She's not hurting anybody" would be my defense. I need not have worried; he had kicked her out by the time I had finished counting.

Dealing with safety restrictions has been interesting. I have a plexiglass window at my register, and it's relieving to see (and kind of alarming) how many drops of spittle emit from loudmouth cussed-dumbers in a day. And, after forty years of fearing people who enter the store wearing masks, it’s now a minute-by-minute experience. I will ask people to show the camera their face; if they have a problem with that, they can make people nervous elsewhere.

Most are cool. Construction workers with nothing else for dinner. Security guards.

Others, who insist on playing by their own rules, become difficult. One jackass who likes Mike's Harder Lemonade will stand outside, saying things I can't hear because he has on a mask, a muffler, a helmet and sunglasses, even though it's 10 PM. He eventually gets pissed off and enters the store, where I learn he's been waiting for me to tell him it's safe to come in. "Motherfucker, you gonna be out there a long time." He hisses insults, and I keep quiet. Others have spoken up, and he's threatened to fight.. He almost tangled with Vince, an older Asian man who, under those clothes, is built like Charles Bronson and has a black belt in something. Please loudmouth, make a move…

I’d like to say the customers are cool, but that would be stretching the definition. If this is the zombie apocalypse, and brains are the food, I’m a fuckin’ five-course meal. The first month of lockdown, every cashier had a violent encounter. Shiniqua, during the disruption of a shoplifting, was called the N-word several times, and she chased a guy into the intersection with The Corndog. (Umbrella shaft, metal rod with corndog-looking wooden handle.) I had to explain to her to use the corndog-part as a handle. “That way you can hit him more than once!” Mostly, I was impressed that she got the $2 Costco muffin back unscathed.

Foxy has had a few go-rounds as well. After a drunk threw a coffee in his face, he chased the guy up to the picnic tables, tossed him into the tables, then kicked his ass as the guy ran into the street to get away. Foxy, normally a good-natured kid, can get explosive, but not as explosive as a cup of Hi-Rev mocha. We’re still finding sticky shit on the pegboard.

Another time, I had come back from lunch to find Foxy shoving a dirtball into the middle of the intersection. While the dirtball recovered from the road rash, Foxy retrieved the 18-pack of beer and called the thief “a piece of shit” for good measure.

My favorite shoplifting incident? Happened the last night I worked: A fellow who looked like a gone-to-seed Anthony Keidis, with swollen hands and dirt in the crevasses of his face, was touching and squeezing every sandwich in the cooler. After the third one I told him not to touch everything.

“But suppose I want to buy it? I guess I won’t then.” And he proceeded to throw the vegetarian burrito across the store.

Great. At least I can lock up to clean the mess. I went to find the burrito, and there it was, on the rack of Little Debbie boxes next to the coffee stand halfway across the store. The vegetarian burrito had landed perfectly intact, and sitting like it had been placed on top of some Swiss Rolls. I tucked the ends a bit, and set it back on the shelf.

As soon as I got back behind the register, a regular shitbird (who dresses like Lawrence of Arabia and RuPaul had a southern butt-baby) tries entering the store. “Get out. Get out. GET OUT.” I keep repeating it. He mutters some gibberish, and grabs the vegetarian burrito. “The government authorizes this!” LoA-RP runs out the door with it. By the time I get to the door he’s half a block away and still raving.

You Wanna Piece Of Me?

The original sneeze guard lasted a week. A ‘Heavy Metal Road Warrior’ with trenchcoat, gargoyle rings, crowbars and about 50 pounds of metal trinkets hanging off him got mad when I wouldn’t take a shit-covered dollar for a soda. He didn’t get me, and he left his girlfriend there saying “What the fuck?” as he ran away. I didn’t call the police. I just locked the door and cleaned up the mess. I only allowed in Clean and Safe cops and fellow employees. Sorry, homeless. Momma’s sugar-tit has dried up for the night.

Me? I have my moments, but I’m trying to maintain as “normal” an existence as possible. I travel during non-peak times and love an empty bus, but I miss the energy of high-schoolers filling the bus, or the upturned nose of a secretary who doesn’t like the smell of Gorilla Glue #4. We sit in the back of the bus so we can touch our faces without judgment. I love my job, and I love my hours, but for the last month it’s been 4 AM, 24/7. I miss the normal drunks, and the White Claw Karens, and the hot waitresses. It’s been a year since Rain died, and I’m ready to socialize. But how am I supposed to get within six inches of a woman when I cannot come closer than six feet? It’s a good thing I have a creative imagination.

“Wanna come over? I have a 12-pack at home.” –Me being smooth.

Except it used to be beer. Now it’s toilet paper.

As it goes, I am lucky. Got the house remodeled. Got to go to the last great rock and roll concert in Portland, Oregon. (Tool!) My bills are paid and my bank account isn’t completely empty. I AM NECESSARY!

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