Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Multiple Forms of Tender

In the land of big boxes I have exited the garden/seasonal department for the cash register. Plants don't get much respect from the management, but money does. Why not bond with the power element?

I always felt as if managers thought I was slacking off when I was watering the plants, as if somehow I was avoiding the "real" work. You could hear announcements coming over the loudspeaker about being sure to pack down the UPS arrivals, all of them insensate. No one ever got worked up about the gigantic boxes marked "Please Open Me!" and "Live Plants!" This culture of life stuff stops short of our little green friends.

More pressingly, I was becoming increasingly irritated working for my department supervisor, who is best described as a pompous twit. He races around the store all day barking into his cell phone, always much too busy to work, unless it's driving the fork lift or sucking up to the managers, his ideas of a Real Man's job. Watering? It'd dissolve his testicles.

I needed some distance, and the guy who heads up the cashiers is bright, hard working, fair-minded, and kind spirited. I took the 18 hours of training required for certification, watched videos with scripts of stilted dialogue ("And will you be putting that on your ---- ----- credit card today?" we are advised to say in the hope that it will remind customers who have not yet applied to get one..."And thank you for shopping at The ---- -----!" as we place merchandise and receipts in their waiting little hands.)

Now I have a little patch that proclaims me to be certified and the least desirable station in the store, the outdoor garden cashier booth. It's cold out there, and not very often visited. Brandy, often the head cashier on my shifts, refuses to put me out there when temperatures hit the single digits. Otherwise, I hide inside, looking as inconspicuous as I can, and read home improvement tomes. Since I'm still in garden/seasonal, I can direct folks to potting soil, powerized snow shovels, and artificial trees, since we sold all the living ones a week ago.

Alone in my booth I can contemplate the latest Chinese cultural revolution and ponder its relevance to the Confucian Analects... or whatever. Just outside my window are pre-lit Oregon pine trees, Kodiak fir trees, icicle lights, mini net lights, and garland lights; boxes containing self-inflating Santas and sleighs, moose and reindeer, acrylic penguins and polar bears, animated holographic Santas, light rope choo-choos, and big gift boxes that open and close... all made in the People's Republic.

What would Mao think?

The p.a. system spins out 30 different versions of "Let It Snow"in the course of a shift. Stevie Wonder sings "Everyone's a kid at Christmas time, a holly-jolly kid at Christmas time," and some boy-band is more direct: "It's almost Christmas I want everything I can't wait." Occasionally there are digitized sleigh bells, jingling all by themselves, divorced from any song with a cheerful vengeance. Aren't we merry? Feel the magic!

And Bill O'Reilly whines about being wished Happy Holidays?

I want to hit someone.

At least I don't have to tell anyone the price of the Disney Princess Christmas Tree, a monstrosity pink enough, stiff enough to give Princess Sparkle Pony nightmares.

I just perch in my cashier booth with my till and enjoy the draped pine roping and holographic candy canes, cheerfully relieving customers of cash, teaching them how to swipe their credit and debit cards, standing at the edge of the pit of their collective indebtedness, processing multiple forms of tender.

Did I miss something? When did you enter the exciting world of retail?
And who shoved that Christmas tree up Barbie's ass?
This reminds me of the time my friend Tippy went back to school to get her third Master's degree.
I got her a part-time job selling doodads and trinkets at a trendy gay giftshop.
Everytime someone plunked down $75 on a leatherette clad statue of Betty Boop, her head would spin like Linda Blair's.
Retail, you are not, unless you are gathering material to write a novel, mon cheri.
See June 16! Doc has had to close the practice. His cancer is advanced to the point where seeing patients is impossible. I now go into the office to clean up claims, transfer charts, etc., and to be close to Doc and his wife, who are more than employers... they are treasured friends.

Nope, I guess I'm not Retail, but it does pay the bills and give me a chance to do what I need to do most at this point: live a day at a time.
Oh sorry, I must have forgotten the details.
At age 52, I forget many, many details.
But I did remember today was Christmas. Have a merry one.
>>> It'd dissolve his testicles.<<<

Lulu Maude, I remember reading this at the time and thinking it was the funniest thing I had ever come across. Two years after the fact it's still got me chuckling. I had to find it again for something I'm working on. Regards,

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