Saturday, December 13, 2008

At Your Fingertips

I just don't understand why anyone watches reality TV, when you've got a perfectly good convenience store on every other street corner.

Not that I spend a lot of time hanging around in convenience stores. But if I wanted to, say, quit my job and devote myself full-time to writing - and who doesn't? - I can't think of a better place to find material.

This isn't actually true. Work is the best place on earth to find material. But whenever I blog about work, or at least the traveling aspect of it, several hits from the city I have just written about immediately show up on my web stats, spending several minutes and out-clicking to my profile. Some of the visitors' referring URLs are mailboxes. I just can't do it. Traveling is the second-best thing to blog about, and traveling for work? Oh, my gosh! But I just can't.

There's also something absolutely hilarious and ridiculous that happened at work yesterday that I can't possibly write about, because there's no way to explain it without making it much too abundantly clear where I work. You'll just have to take my word for it that my agency did something particularly absurd and boneheaded. I know it's a stretch.

But that's neither here nor there. This morning, as the coffeemaker gurgled comfortably and sent its gentle aroma wafting through the house, I realized that we don't have any cream; and, not being a 1970s-TV-type cop with a gravelly voice and a superfluity of body hair, naturally I had to run out to the 7-11 to get some.

There was in fact a cop car in the parking lot. But that's nothing special. 7-11 has doughnuts: not good ones, mind you, but after spending all night on patrol, I bet you're not picky. So I walked on in and found the cream.

People are funny, or had you noticed? Something extraordinary can be going on right under our noses, but unless we really ought to be doing something about it (and of course often then too), we all have to pretend nothing's happening. In this case, two men were arguing heatedly towards the rear of the store. Heatedly, but not violently, presumably due to the presence of the police officer who was standing between them, watching each one in turn as if he were at a tennis match and frowning upon them with stern authority.

The clerk, a middle-aged woman, was visibly tense and anxious; but customers were coming and going, all pretty much like me - pausing only for a fraction of a second in the doorway to take in the scene, then making their purchases - and fortunately the cream is right up front - and checking out, passing a few nervous pleasantries, and leaving. Probably all of us wanted to say something sympathetic to the poor clerk, but her expression was tight and closed, and besides, anything anybody could have said would pretty much have boiled down to "Wow - sucks to be you!"

It would suck to be a convenience store clerk. Traveling a couple of months ago, I stopped in at the convenience store next door to my hotel to pick up a bottle of wine. But all they had was Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill, so I got a six-pack of Shiner Bock instead. I normally drink wine out of a box, but for God's sake, I do have some standards.

At the checkout counter, a handsome young black man was good-humoredly arguing with the clerk, who was very young, Indian or Pakistani, and didn't speak much English. The customer, who had a British accent slightly tinged with Jamaican (Yum!!! but never mind) was explaining that where he comes from, people don't get carded to buy alcohol, so he doesn't carry any ID, so the clerk is just going to have to go ahead and sell him the booze, okay mon? He smiled and winked at me.

He was pleasant and charming, but clearly wasn't going to take no for an answer, so the clerk miserably sold him his beer and let him go on his way; but as I was checking out he asked in broken English, "What was I supposed to do? I don't want to get in trouble!"

Poor little guy. My heart went out to him, partly because I relate so well to the feeling of being easily overruled, and partly because he had carded me; so I just smiled and said, "Don't worry about it, it's all right. You did fine!"

What? I'm not his boss.

I guess the point of this post is that if you ever think your job sucks, you should probably go hang out in a convenience store for awhile, unless you work in a convenience store, in which case you might want to think about finding another job.

Or just start a blog. The tales you'd have to tell!

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At December 13, 2008 12:04 PM, Blogger Cheryl's BITCH! said...

Let me tell you....If you want some pure and ridiculous bullshit and drama to write about, well Critter Airlines is the place for you.
You are a much better writer than I am and have a way of describing situations is a way where is it so vivid to the reader.
Yeah our agency has it's interesting moments, but no one takes the cake like Critter.

At December 13, 2008 5:10 PM, Anonymous dreadpir8roberts said...

Working a convenience store can have its perks. Ask these guys.

Looks like you ran into a S.E.P. field which would explain why most people weren't really paying attention to the argument.


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