Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Just so wrong

Some things are wrong.

The last several days have been a lunartics Holiday. Full Moon. And Seasonal Panic. People who play the wretched card have been dealing aggressively and attempting to "buy the pot", which is kind of amusing in a return the circle to the wretched kind of way as there is no pot to be had.

Yesterday, I started work at 11:30am. By the time I was sent off on my first break at 1:15pm, I had managed to experience the worst, most abysmal hour and three quarters I have ever spent in retail. In my life. I am 61 years old and have been in and out of retail situational ethic awareness employment since I was a teenager. I've been dealing with the public in some form or other since I was 6 or 7 years old, when I would occasionally cover the town librarian when she needed to excuse herself, or had other work which needed her attention. (Luckily, she never held that incident where I chased Patricia Ann Smith around the library stacks in order to obtain a kiss against me.) Somewhere around 8th or 9th grade, I even ran the regional school's student supply store, so I've been around, ya know? Read that again. A student run supplies store for student purchases.  Yes, I'm that old.

Bookstores, Department stores, bookstores and department stores at Christmas, Dining room service, free loan film services where hiding behind a desk and a phone was no insulation from the inane insane. And so on and so forth.

The parade of torment and pain seemed never ending. It wasn't the monosyllabic grunters, they were (by and large) reasonably well behaved. It wasn't even the people who refuse to speak to you at all - it's usually beneath them, you know. It wasn't the woman who watched me ring up and pack her $120.00+ order on express, and just as I started to pack her last 3 items spoke up, "I have my Own bags." Oh, how nice! I'm glad you're doing this, it does so help the environment. The plastic trees are endangered, you know. It wasn't the woman who grabbed things out of my hands as soon as I had rung them up. No, it took at least 10 minutes until she arrived. She held up a gallon plus size of liquid Tide and said "5". She held up her fingers, "Five". No, mam. You have two different products there, I will need to ring them up separately. Empty Blank Stare. Hand up. "Five". No, man, I'll need one of the white bottles and one of the orange bottles, "two", plus "three". She stood there. She waved her hands around. She pointed. She spoke no English. She didn't understand. I walked around the counter, around her, reached in to her cart, moved the two white topped bottles to one side, and the three orange tops to the other side. I counted them, one, two - and rang up the white topped bottles. I then repeated the effort with the orange three. She looked at the computer screen. No, no.  She put her finger on the computer screen over the sale discount, a minus line item, as in " - 10 cents". I tried to explain that she wasn't paying that amount, it was on special.  People were rolling their eyes and loudly grinding their gritty teeth, and they weren't even in my line. Eventually, the war of comprehension was won when she waved at one bottle of detergent as though she were pushing it away. I took it off of her purchase. She was satisfied, and thankfully left. 

A minute or two later, a well dressed middle aged woman set down her purchase of a container of fresh soup made by our deli. I rang it up. That's six dollars and fourty three cents, please. "SIX DOLLARS!!!" (It wasn't a question.) "SIX DOLLARS !!!!!  !!!!" THAT'S OUTRAGEOUS". Well, mam, it's this amount per pound, and you got this weight - would you like me to re-weigh that? "SIX DOLLARS!!!!" Yes, mam, I'm sorry but that's about right. "I DON"T EVEN HAVE SIX DOLLARS." "SIX DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!"

Then came to the two backwoods types. As I rung up the first guys' order, it was evident that he was  concerned about the second guy. He said he was going out to the car and would wait for him, and no, it was all right, he would drive him home, he wanted to do that. The second guy looked horrible. Long term sickness haggard look. Hi, how are you today? "Not good." Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. "I just lost my job". He worked as a handyman for someone who'd had a heart attack a week ago. The son had just let him go.

A smiling bald headed woman stepped into view. "Hi, Steven". Hi. We used to work together at Northeast Cooperatives. She'd lost weight. And had a very shiny head. I see you've had a few changes to deal with.... "Well, they told me if I was going to get cancer, then this was the one to get, it's only a year or so of chemo left..." I told her how much I admired her for not covering up, for being seen. I don't think I would have gotten through the rest of the day without her.

And so it went, people whose bank cards were declined and who had to return food. A few feeling no pain thanks be to the spirits. The children who stare at you with hollow eyes.  The woman who was upset because the plush toys display didn't have a full set of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer product tie ins. She'd purchased the tv show's characters over the previous two years, but never got a Clarice. She has to have a Clarice. I mentally hear Anthony Hopkins and manage a sympathetic smile. Sorry, mam. 

A guy who likes to talk politics (even though I've been "requested" to not do so) was next - he has no money for presents this year and was wondering about the morals of selling a photo he took years ago when he was standing next to Robert Kennedy in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel.

There was my ex-landlord and his wife - he looking gaunt, obviously living with something ill. I rented from them until he got upset over a late promised check to catch up my rent (in arrears after Northeast Coops was bought out and there were no jobs available) and had me evicted after having rented from them for 10 plus years.

About 10 minutes before I was sent off to break, a woman I've known for years - since back when Sovernet started up and finally offered a local dial up ISP service in Brattleboro, fer Christs'sakes,  put her purchases on the register station's belt. She smiled broadly and said something on the order of, "It's so good to see you again".  I started to cry. Really. It was the first nice thing anyone had said to me all day.

It gets worse, you know. But I just don't have it in me to go on (about it). I've been taking drugs again for a few days now. Just the trazadone. Otherwise I don't sleep. And when I wake up in the middle of the night, my breathing is weird. Which freaks me out because a few weeks ago, when I woke up around 3am, I suddenly said out loud, without thinking about it, "I'm going to die before the summer". Needless to say, even though I put no stock in that what so ever, it doesn't help to make waking up hourly with breaking weirdness a calming stabilizing selection force in my life.

This morning, I did speak with a very nice woman at the Comcast office out there, somewhere. She turned out to be upstate in Burlington, and understands the local economies. I'd expected that I would lose my internet/phone/tv service today. I often call them to point out that their turn off date is always two days before I get paid (sheer accident of timing, yup) and will gladly pay them as soon as I can get my pay into my bank account. I've often  had to have supervisors get involved over this. The bill always shows a huge amount due. I always have to make it clear that I know they bill a month in advance, that the prices listed are before all of the various discounts and deals are figured in when you pay, and that the only money I owe them is about a third of what the computer shows, namely the current month, dammit. I often get a spiel that this is the last time they can offer me a two day delay for 6 months. Et cetera.  This time though, I wouldn't be able to pay the full monthly amount. I just don't have it. But no, this woman gave me no such grief. Problems worked out in a minute. Except that she turned out to be a survivor gabber and I had a hard time getting off the phone. And no, I'm not complaining, just observing.

The dryer in the basement isn't working right. I had to reload it with quarters. It took everything I had. I'd been hoping to use that for the bus fare home tomorrow instead of walking. Oh, well.

When I had been feeling like I could actually handle Christmas, and could interact with it again, I splurged on something I shouldn't have. I bought a new ornament for the Christmas Tree. It was a wild thing to do. It's a little tiny ceramic Tinkerbelle, sitting on a red ball and holding up a star to put on the tree. It's one of those dated keepsake ornaments that won't be made again, and was the last one they had. There would be no more. I bought it. At least I shopped local.
Of course, at the moment, it looks very much like I won't be able to afford a Christmas tree this year to put it on. I'd been counting on getting paid for 20 hours of holiday time at work that needs to be taken by the end of the year or I lose it. I had been getting small payouts on unused vacation and sick time (meant for next year, but subject to the new use it or lose it regulation). But they suddenly stopped after Thanksgiving week when I got a whole 32 hours of work, count my blessings. In asking for a monetary payout to be added to my check, I got a lecture. It was too late to include in the next check. If it gets approved, I might get it the check 3 days before Christmas. I bowed and scrapped and tried not to shuffle as I said "Thank You" to the person whose job it was to have kept the arrangement going in the first place.

So, with this swirl of emotion and loathing, I was looking through some old files on my computer when found the following. As I said, some things are just plain wrong.

Today is December the 13th, the 347th day of 2011, CE.
There are 12 days remaining until Christmas.
There are 18 days remaining until the end of the year.
There are 372 days remaining until the end of time.

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