Saturday, April 16, 2011

Etched into memory

Sometimes things make a lifelong impression on me.  Just little things that I remember clearly.  Like, for instance, I'm in the habit of saying "No likey!" if I don't like something, or if I don't want something, or if I'm not in the mood for something.  At work, I'll say, "No likey!  Want to go home!"  That kind of thing.

Well, here's the reason why I say that.  Back in '92 I was working for Domino's Pizza.  We used to deliver 40 pizzas out to the Pilgrims chicken plant for the Mexican workers there every Friday.  Since they were Mexican, the owner, Steve, felt that it was ok to skimp with the cheese to save a few bucks.  I overheard him talking to his 5 year old son once about a black customer who had just left the store.  He said, in his most loving, paternal voice, "Daddy hates niggers."

Anyway, he skimped on the cheese for the Pilgrims order because he felt that the Mexican workers were sub humans.  One Friday evening I delivered the pizza to them, and by the time I'd gotten it all out of the car, some of the workers had already dug in.  One Mexican guy came up to me, holding this pathetic piece of pizza with almost no cheese on it.  Just patches here and there.  It was a sad looking slice of pizza.  He held it up to me and said, quite forcefully and in broken English, "People no likey!  People no likey!"  Then he turned around and sat back down with his friends and continued to eat the pizza which was made especially for sub humans.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Proverbs 6:6

A friend posted a cartoon on her blog with Proverbs 6:6 as the topic, which inspired me to simplify it somewhat with this translation:

Proverbs 6:6 Elias Davis translation.

Burn thou not the ant using glass and concentrated fire, O idle dawdler; who art ever expeditious in sin yet stagnant in virtue. Rather, abandon thy slothful ways and go swiftly to the ant; and in good stead, consider thou her ways, for which God in his infinite wisdom hath created her and purposed her. In this manner shalt thou learn wisdom.

Yet again

Yesterday at about 7:00 it was busy.  There were lines at both registers, and Brittney and I were checking customers like robots.  I had just finished ringing someone up - I believe he had some Lunchables, a Slim Jim, and a MoJo Bar.  The grand total was $7.00.  The guy reached into his wallet, pulled out a hundred dollar bill, and offered it to me.

There are some things at work which cause me instant irk, and this is one of them.  When someone just nonchalantly hands me a hundred dollar bill for a purchase under 10 dollars without even asking if I can break it, this is what I feel is being said to me: "I know this is a convenience store and that handing you a hundred dollar bill for a couple of items is a hassle.  I know it holds up the line and I know that it's going to wipe out your register.  I know all of this, and I don't give a crap.  This is about ME, and I want my hundred dollar bill broken."

Now, I understand if all the customer has is a hundred dollar bill, and although it's still a faux pas to try to break one in a convenience store for a small purchase, I'll usually go ahead if it's not too busy, and if the customer asks first before handing it to me.  However, at that moment it was busy, and the guy didn't ask.  Instant irk.

I said to the guy, "Dude... dude, no.  I can't break that."  The guy looked at me and waited for a few seconds.  I said, "You gotta warn a guy about this."  He just stood there.  I wondered if he thought I was kidding.  "No.  I can't break a hundred," I repeated.  He looked over at Brittney.  She was busy too, with a line of about 5 people.  "Can she break it?" he asked, nodding toward her.   I sighed inwardly, trying to hold back my irritation.  "I don't know.  Brittney?"  Brittney finished with her customer and went through her drawer.  She had a few 10 dollar bills.  "No, I can't break it right now either."

The guy looked at me again and just stood there with the hundred in his hand, as if he still expected me to take it.  People were waiting, and my irritation was growing.  He didn't leave.  I thought to myself, 'Why do people do this?  Why do they consistently try to break their big bills here, at 7-Eleven, a convenience store?  Surely they know that we don't keep a lot of cash in the drawer, right?  It even says it, right there on the door.  Is he really just completely unaware of this little unwritten social rule, or does he just not give a crap?'  He didn't look like he was ready to leave, so I had two choices... I could either be rude and dismiss him by motioning for the next customer, or I could be rude and say something to him.  I probably should have just motioned for the next customer.

Me:  "You should know better than to try to break a hundred dollar bill at a convenience store for a small purchase like that.  I mean... come one.  People just know these things.  It's common sense."

Him:  He thrust the bill at me and said, "It's money!"  This is where I realized that he just didn't give a crap.  Nothing else mattered to him.  It was money, I should take it, and to hell with everything else.

Me:  "This isn't Kroger, it's a small store.  We don't keep a lot of money in the drawer.  It even says it, right there..."  I motioned towards where it was printed on the door.

Him:  He got angry.  "Fuck it," he said.  He shoved the items across the counter at me, muttered "idiot" under his breath, and began to walk away.  I started to say something to him again about the sign on the door, but he kept walking, said something else that I didn't quite hear, and exited the store.  Well, I just seen red.  Again.  Before the door shut, I fairly shouted after him, "Only idiots bring hundred dollar bills into a convenience store!"

The door closed.  The guy stopped, turned, and looked at me, his face red.  The visage he offered was one of pure, seething anger... maybe even hatred.  He balled his fists at his sides and made as if to come back into the store.  I turned away from him.  With my peripheral vision I saw as he stopped again, turned around, and strode stiffly away.

Of course, everyone in the store had witnessed the little encounter, but I was too upset at the moment to feel embarrassed.  The next customer was waiting, so I went back to my drawer and began to check her.  After a moment of awkward silence, she asked me how I was doing. 

Me:  "Oh, fair to middlin', I suppose." (I say that a lot when people ask me how I'm doing if I'm not feeling particularly well)

Her:  "What did you say?"

Me:  "Fair to middlin'."

Her:  What?  Fair to mid-what?"

Me:  "Middlin'.  It means fair -" (I placed my palm slightly above the counter to illustrate 'fair' as being somewhat low) - to middlin'." (I raised my palm up to about chest height) "Middlin' meaning, you know.  Just ok.  Middle, I guess."

Her:  "Huh.   I've never heard that one.  Fair to middlin'."

Me:  "Yeah, my grandma used to say it." (I can't remember if she used to say it or not, but it seemed likely that I would have picked it up from some old country sage, since it has that old-timey kind of flavor to it)

Her:  "Cool.  I have a book that describes the origins of old sayings like that.  I'll have to look it up later and see if it's there.  Bye!" (she smiled and left)

I was a little surprised by such a friendly exchange, what with it occurring right on the heels of such an unpleasant one.  I wondered briefly if she had been extra nice and personable out of the fear that I might cast my retribution upon her.  However the general atmosphere of the store was one of amity, understanding, recognition, acknowledgment... union.  As if all of the customers agreed that the guy with the hundred dollar bill was a jackass, and they were approving of the way I'd handled it.  However, I wasn't as sure of that as they seemed to be.

We continued with the customers.  After the rush was over, Brittney asked me if I was ok.  She knows how upset I get with myself when I get angry for whatever reason.  I looked at her and smiled. "I'm fine.  Thanks."  I paused for a second to consider, then said, "I know I got a little angry just then, but I can't deny it... calling that guy an idiot had felt good."

Just one more thing to add to my list of confessions.

Morning encounter

My check usually hits the bank at 2:30 am, and I was going to stay up for that last night so I could get groceries and stuff, and a money order for Ed, and after that I was going to look for my taxes so Nancy could help me with them this morning.  Well, I went to sleep anyway.  So I set my alarm for 6:30 and got up super early to go grab sundries and whatnot, and then get home and find those dadgum tax greeblies, and I walked up to Walgreens and who was there?  Brittney!  We yakked for a minute, and then I had a BRIGHT idea... "Take me home Brittney!  Please?"  "Ok," she said.  "Oh, and you remember Todd, right?" 

"Hey, Todd!"  We shake hands.  Todd said, "Brittney talks about you non stop."  I started to think... ah shit.  I hope Todd doesn't think that Brittney and I are... I dunno.  You know.  Todd is in love with her, and I understand that, more than he probably knows.  Brittney and I are just friends, that's it.  Just friends.  I don't know if he thinks anything about us, but I know I sure would if my girlfriend (they just got back together) came home every day talking about the guy she works with.

I hope things work out for them.  Brittney has had an unreasonably hard, and at the same time, very interesting life.  I know that being with Todd can be hard for her, but I also know that she loves him.  The way Brittney describes him, Todd seems so... hopeful, sad, good, unreasonable, caring, bitter... a good person with problems.  I hope things work out with them. 

I should have told Todd, "She talks a lot about you too."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I love you!  No, not you.  You!  Well... ok, you too, I guess.  Aw... wait.  I'm sorry, of course I love you!  And you.  Yeah, and you two, too.  What?  Yeah, sure, you too.  Huh?  Well of course!  Who?  You?  But I don't even know you... no, I... wait.  Sure, yeah.  Ok, you too.  Yup, really.  Huh?  Really?  You do?  But I didn't think... wow, thanks.  I love you too!  Ok, yeah, you guys too.  Yeah, all of ya'll over there.  I love ya'll too.  Heck, I love all of ya.  Really!  But especially you.  Just not as much as you, and a little more than you.

But only in the late, early morning right before sunrise and right after the brightest star fades, and only when Venus is at opposition, and right after breakfast, or before work.  Whichever comes first.  All depending on my mood on any given day, of course.

A dream - joyful and sad

Later.  Oh boy, how exciting this was.  A little lab in California, and I was allowed to be a part of it.  They had built a ship, tall and black, like an old fashioned rocketship.  I wondered why it was pointed at the top.  Why should it be pointed?  I guess to provide the spectacular view, since partway down from the top the whole thing was made of glass, and that was where we sat inside the thing.  A glass walled dome with a small black cap on top, a place inside of which we would be witness to a spectacular view.  Up we soared, and it was night.  The moon was bright and full, and everything was illuminated in this silver phosphorescent kind of glow.  California was visible way way way down there, and clouds were silver phantasms in the sky.  Stars were everywhere.  We flew very fast, and oh man, how we maneuvered.  Loops and rolls and upside down and just FAST!  Through clouds, and near the earth, through canyons, over cities.  Everything painted in glowing blues and grays and blacks.  It was exhilarating.  Just joyful and buoyant, and fantastically happy.

Later we had to give the thing up to the investors, and I knew I would never fly in it again.  I started crying and couldn't stop.  Joy had become sadness, deep misery and hopelessness.  It translated to worldwide catastrophe.  I stood in a small bathroom in a shelter an watched through a tiny window.  Outside it was a wasteland.  In this little place, I was safe, but imprisoned.  I cried and cried, and couldn't stop.  Survivors started to accumulate at our little lab, and Julie was there.  I knew her sister Elizabeth had died in the calamity.  I saw her approach, and when we made eye contact, she started to cry.  I ran to her and embraced her and sobbed and said, "I'm sorry about Elizabeth, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.  I'm sorry.  I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

A dream - almost perfect

Rollerblades, and snow, and wanting, and speed.  And being lost, and winding up in a beautiful field that defied imagination.  It was imagination though, so I guess it was real.  The grass and trees were so green and textured and bright, and the sky so blue.  Blazing full color, maybe even moving into the range of ultraviolet.  It was in Colorado, I know that much.  Something didn't want me to be there, I wasn't supposed to be there.  There are memories of a place which wasn't as perfect, that called me back to it.  I didn't want to go.  I took pictures with my camera phone, trying to capture the beauty, but knowing that the phone wasn't sufficient.  A church down there, with trees around it, and the sun setting just behind it.  It was going to be dark soon, and all of this beautiful color would disappear.  The shot never really lined up right, not the way I saw it.  It was so beautiful.  I walked back to the grassy meadow in the middle of it all and waited there.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy - part 4

Yesterday I felt great again.  I worry about these days.  I felt awful before work, worse than usual, and I got to work dreading the day.  Without any reason or warning whatsoever, my mood instantly did a 180 right after I'd clocked in.  I was grateful, but somewhat confused.  Then I got upset with a customer to whom I had just sold two Lotto tickets.  She had wanted two picks for each number, but I hadn't understood her request at the time.  I had to buy the tickets because she didn't want them.  Again, just like every single time I let myself get angry, after it was all over, I felt awful about it.  I kicked myself and hated myself.  I wish I could control that better.  But then I felt great again, five minutes later.  Brittney and I cut up all during the shift and just had a great time.  Oh boy, if I had time to write up all the crap that happened yesterday...

So.  I was almost sorry that the shift ended, which is unheard of, because I knew my mood would have nowhere to go.  I worry about these good moods because there is no discernible reason for them.  I wish I could feel like that all the time, 24/7, but I don't.  Why can't I feel like that at church too?  It's only at work, and randomly, at that.  I can just hope that I'll feel good before work every day.  Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't.

I think that it's God letting me know that happiness doesn't depend on any one thing, but I don't know how to let that happen all the time.  It worries me.  I don't like being worried.

I think about giving up sometimes, on church and Orthodoxy.  I feel like I've just gotten a handle on some negative emotions recently, and as soon as that happened, hell.  I don't know.  I don't know how.  I need something.  Something is missing.  I'm defective.  I don't like this.  I don't like it.  I don't like these things, these thoughts and these things I write.  I don't like feeling like this.  I don't like other people reading about it when I'm feeling like this.  I don't like my situation.  I don't like needing something.  I don't like needing someone.  I don't like it.  Maybe it's just an attack, a brutal brutal attack.  I don't have anyone to talk to about this, just this blog.  Maybe I'll e-mail Fr. Justin.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A dream - the wave

I was on a ship, sailing towards New York City.  When I got into the harbor, the entire city was flooded.  I opened my phone to take a picture, but the current was too strong and was pulling me into a torrential river.  It started to flow uphill and into the woods, and I wanted to go back to the city.  I turned off the motors, hoping that the momentum would stop and I would flow back.  It didn't, and I finally arrived at a house.  My mom was there, looking for me.  I told her that the city was flooded and that I wanted to go back.  She started crying and told me not to go.  I ran back towards the river, but the ship had drifted away.  I ran alongside the river, hoping to find it.  The idea of losing the ship was unthinkable.  When I got back to the city, I couldn't find the ship, but the water had subsided and there was traffic everywhere, trying to get away.  I saw a tidal wave coming, and I ran frantically for high ground.  People were running with me, and we were all getting stuck in the mud.  One little kid had found the grass, and was running to the top of the hill.  I was calling to the kid, encouraging him that he could make it, to keep running.  The tidal wave engulfed us, and I could see up through the water to the kid clambering up the hill, and then the wave got him.