I had a feeling the day would be atypical when I saw the Heavy Duty fire truck driving the wrong way up the Avenue. I was coming out of the office with my cash drawer, ready to start a swing-shift at the Nightclub Store.
I followed my early routine, getting my shift’s accoutrements together. People kept asking me what was going on next door. “I dunno! I just got here. Probably a fire drill. They have them all the time. Or somebody is cooking bacon in their room. That’s the biggest “emergency” most of the time.”
Except… The street doesn’t usually fill with fire trucks, and fire marshals in red Jeeps don’t usually come in such numbers. Time to stick my head out and see what was happening.
I’m not much for holiday songs, but this ditty came out during my teen years and I felt the urge to revisit. George wasn’t my favorite Beatle, but he was one of the top four. He also did an ode to constipation that I will put up at the end, if I can find it.
But that’s later. First we’ve got to get through New Year’s Eve.
I arrived at the Waterfront Store just as Uncle Cliffy came out of the back office with my till. “I’ll take that,” I said. I took the cash register drawer from him and went into the employee office.
Mrs Brady was working with me. Wednesday is freight day, so I have a helper. Since she would be working with me for three hours, I felt no need to rush.
I counted the safe first. The rolled coins, then the bundles of bills. I didn’t bother counting the bundles of ones. Coworkers aren’t desperate enough to steal ones.
BUT. There have been a rash of shortages involving bundles of $5s. One or two bills missing from one or two stacks. Accidents happen, but not consistently, not repeatedly, not without intent. I have been helping catch the mice in the pantry. I counted every $5. On the dot, the way it always is when it’s Uncle Cliffy’s safe. Same with his till. But I had time, ten hours worth. I decided to count his till.
Just to double check.
I woke up this morning, not wanting to move. Laying there for 45 minutes did nothing for my mood, so I got up. As I shaved, I felt life creeping back. By the time I came out of the bathroom, I was almost ready to skip and jump!
Lately, life has been a rollercoaster ride. Facing a lot of moods I would rather not. My usual means of escape have been unavailable, or don’t work. It was a rare feeling to seem complete so early in the day.
I’m guessing my mood won’t be as good twelve hours from now.
It’s back to the Nightclub Store after three days off. I have spent the past two nights working at The Waterfront, going through a bag of personal possessions I’ve been toting between stores. Rain showed up, so I offered her bits and pieces. A half-year’s worth of Busted! Magazine will be available at Rain’s Library of Crime. (My sister’s mugshot, as well as Meg’s, are in the pile.) There were copies of Portland Mercury that held Valentines for Rain, Angel and Clairissa. An I, Anonymous about cigarettes and folks’ price-bitching. An almost-used bottle of peroxide, which I regifted to Stuttering James. He tries to keep clean, but it’s hard living out of a shopping cart or three.
There was a stack of Exotic magazine, the local stripper catalog. I thumbed through a dozen or so, read a couple articles. Saw no dancers that I recognized. I offered them to Festus, but he wasn’t interested. A regular customer, who used to buy porno once in a while, came in. During the post-election riots, he gave me some weed and remained calm as I worried about buses and getting home. He is always positive, and always catching me at stressed out times. Having meant to do him a solid, I offered him the stack of semi-pornos, and any hard feelings caused by my gruffness were long gone. Hey buddy!
The pens are plugged in, charging. (Those are Sister’s. My trusty sidekick is already cocked and loaded.) The Magic Pen will keep my moods civil, if not downright giddy. I have to be optimistic. It’s the last Friday of the month before payday. It’s gonna be a shit-show.
Because of finances, I jump on any shift I can get, as long as it starts after 9 AM. (I’m getting old, getting up earlier, but don’t call before noon east coast time. Standards!) I feel guilty when I have time off. I should be doing something. I rebelled from that feeling all my life, and now I’m surprised that I’m having issues?
2016 has been one hell of a dark year. Dead celebrities left and right, scary politics in our future. What future? I’m getting old! I try not to run to drugs, but they’ve always been there for me. My biggest demon lately has been alcohol.
Not my drinking. Other people’s.
People often ask how I can tolerate working with the public? It’s not easy, but 99 out of 100 people are nice and just want their Twinkies or whatever. However, out of a thousand people, that leaves ten assholes. Sounds like a proper ratio.
I have been training new workers. I preach tolerance, but there are no shortages of rule-breakers, so everything is like school, and I am the hall monitor. After a week of newbies, they sent me to the Waterfront Store for the night. Sundays at Waterfront are deathly slow. Perfect for reading or recovery from endless screaming. I had a stack of Oregonians, waiting for a quiet moment to settle in.
That’s when the old lady with the bottle of vodka walked in.
How was work? Oh, just another night in the funhouse.
This was life around the Nightclub Store. The evening started quietly, but halfway through lunch I heard the helicopters, and then the jeers. Yup, we’re doing it again.
I had my store key on a lanyard, and when the throng would pass I’d lock the door, picking and choosing who I’d let in. Flash grenades didn’t bother Festus, but he wisely chose to come in when the tear gas crept near. A couple regulars made coffee, and I released them when no one was near the door.
Sister came to the store to hang out, and rode home with me. Our commute was calm, and halfway home Bro-In-Law joined us. I had dinner and watched the above recap of my day.
I hope this isn’t happening every fucking night for the next four years.
Since the election, Trumpers have been walking around gloating, and the HRC camp (under-forty) are pissed and rioting in the streets. (“Voicing their opinion” as they call it.) Opinions are like assholes, and downtown has been full of opinions since the election.
I just wanna go home!
Election Day, 2016. I thought it would never get here. I am so sick of politics. (I said that yesterday, didn’t I?) I decided to get out of the house, and out of my head. I sparked up my usual morning doobie, and took a train ride. I decided I would drop by and see if Eva liked the swanky leather waste basket I’d scavenged from Sister’s hotel. As I rode, my phone buzzed.
It was Southie, texting. “Hey, you want some extra hours closing the West End Store tonight?”
Ack! A whole night of drunken, entitled uber-liberals telling me how we’re all gonna die if Trump wins? No thank you.
“I can’t, I have plans later.” Then I called him, and told him what I always do: “If you can’t find anyone, call me and I’ll see what I can do.”
A little while later, he buzzed back. “How about 5:45-9:45?”
I pondered. I had just enough taffy in me to make that an entertaining night, and I’d have the majority of my usual late night. Why not?
“Sure, I can do that.”
I whistled while I walked, nodding hi to everyone, top o’ the mornin’, etc… I cruised into the Nightclub Store. “Ah, that’s why I’m closing the West End. They’ve got you down here!”
Cooter, a transplant from the new store, was in my spot on my usual day off. He replied, “No, I’m closing the West End. You’re at the Mothership six to ten.”
“No way, I’d never agree to that. It says right here, ‘5:45 to 9:45 at the Mothersh-‘ SHIT! No fuckin’ way!” I’d been reading without my glasses, and overlooked this little detail.
I typed furiously to Southie. “I thought I was agreeing to work the West End, your store. This is fucked up!”
“What difference does it make?”
“The Mothership is hot and nasty, and not in a good way!”
“You got me there.”
A minute passed, and he typed, “I’ll see what I can do.”
“Don’t bother, I’ll do it. But you owe me!”
“Hoodie.” Quickly followed with, “Eastcoast Bail Bonds?” I’d salvaged one of his hoodies from the dumpster. It was a birthday present from his daughter, and I’ve been wearing it a lot.
“I’ll bring it back! Washed!”
“You’re right, I owe you.”
I looked at Eva, who was alternating between slack-jawed and hysterics. “Charlie Brown, I think I just had an orgqaz-z-zmmm. I have never seen you get mad before. Pardon me while I savor this moment.”
“I’m only mad because I didn’t read the message properly. It’s my own goddamned fault.”
“Well, I’m still savoring, Charlie Brown.”
I rode home long enough to pick up my work shirt and vapor pens. I’m phoning it in, and having as much fun as possible.
It sounded good in theory, but the Mothership kept me hopping up to the moment Antknee appeared, suavely dragging on a menthol cigarette and organizing his bitch-face. We’re both used to the laid-back stores; a dad-voice is helpful. Unfortunately for Antknee, he looks like a bookish version of Shaggy from Scooby Doo. He looks anything but intimidating, but he takes no shit from the denizens of the night. I respect him for that.
As I rode home, depressed texts from Dr T, gloating texts from Festus. I popped in on the phoneless Rain, long enough to kiss her good night and remind her to go to court in the morning. She hasn’t been booked, so I guess she made it.
And I am back to work, holding court at the Waterfront Store. Master P, a diehard Limbaugh-loving Trump supporter, will be drunk with power. I must keep an optimistic thought.
So should we all.
Work has been, well, work. Lots of personnel changes, new managers, new stores. My recent floating between stores is morphing into having a home base. Until further notice, I will be spending time at the Nightclub Store, under the newly-promoted Eva Braun. Store managers don’t have a hard time bossing me around, even though I’m the one who trained them. They keep on me, but they are respectful. In return, I respect my bosses and their position. I couldn’t do what they do. Product vendors would drive me to a nearby tower with a high-powered rifle.
I have enough trouble dealing with the public. And the public is KWAAAZY!