Monday, November 30, 2009

It's December Now, And You Know What That Means...

...I'm listening to The Chipmunks' Christmas Song. More specifically, their entire album, which has David Seville singing on it.
I tend to be really hard on poor old Dave as being a freak for referring to three freakishly large chipmunks as his "sons" but in real life, if I met a fellow who adopted three overlarge chipmunks and trained them to sing in perfect harmony, I'd be very intrigued. I daresay I might even fall in love with someone who made such a claim.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Veteran's Day Four (I always get that Roman Numeral wrong)

Yesterday, three little girls came into the store with their mother or grandmother. The oldest may have had some form of Asperger's (Stacy), the shortest (Christine) had NO concept of money (Her: "How much is this hamster in the wheel?" Me:"$6." Her:"I have $3." Me:"..." Her:"Can I buy it?") and their friend (or adopted sister - as she was black, and they were white), I thought I heard the grandmother refer to as Topanga. Her name must be something else, I thought, but I heard the grandmother say it again. I almost ASKED the girl when she checked out with me if her name was Topanga, but as she looked to be about eight I thought that might have been crossing a line, even for me. Topanga wanted to buy a single un-inflated balloon (industry term), to which her mother/grandmother/friends' mother/grandmother said no. “We’re not buying ONE balloon.” Topanga attempted to soften her by reasoning, "It's gonna pop sooner or later."

(Until now, I didn’t even realize the “that’s what she said” possibilities on that one. It took me more than 24 hours to do so. I’m maturing.)

Veteran's Day III

Coffee Crisp is a candy. I can't describe it at all (I wouldn't touch anything coffee - even if it involved chocolate - with a ten foot pole). I really only know it exists because I vaguely recollect seeing it in my youth at the store where I now work, and I only vaguely recollect that after having people ask me incessantly whether we carry it once I began working the candy counter. To make matters worse, we don't have Coffee Crisp bars. I'm not sure whether they're seasonal or the company has stopped making them altogether, but I do know, due to countless fallen faces upon hearing the news, that they are very hard to find. The Coffee Crisp query, about 50% of the time, goes hand-in-hand with one about Aero Bars (they sound way cooler than they are), which we also lack.

Yesterday - Veteran's day, an insanely busy day due to schools and some offices being closed - I swear, every other group of people who wandered in asked me for Coffee Crisp (and or Aero bars.) Some didn't ask me, just began exclaiming about them as soon as they walked in. "I'm sorry, we don't have Coffee Crisps. No Aero bars either," I began automatically adding, upon just hearing the term "Coffee Crisp," whether or not it was directed at me.

By the end of the day, I truly WAS sorry. I don't even mean in a sarcastic way. I am honestly sorry when we lack something. This particular five and dime is a place where to which many people travel from great distances to track down something from their youth, or something their aged mother loves that they can't get anywhere else. People expect to find anything here. When we don't have something I HAVE heard of before - chocolate lipstick, say, or jumping jacks (the toys, not the excercises) - I feel like a failure, like we've let them down and inconvinienced them. Even worse is the fact that this is my family's store; it's like I DO bring dishonor upon my family because we were all out of Sponge Candy. I feel terrible when we can't bring someone the happiness they desire from items of yesteryear.

And I know what you're thinking: it's consumerism, that won't make anyone happy. But it's not. Oftentimes it's people trying to find the perfect gift for someone. The satisfaction I get from finding something someone's son asked for for his fifth birthday that couldn't be found anywhere else is as intense as the failure/guilt I experience by NOT finding it. I feel I have to search every cupboard top to bottom in order to find a requested item - and because the store is so huge, I feel that whatever people ask for (especially if we have had it in the past... 79 years) MUST be there, and that I'm just not being the best employee I can be if I do not find it.

One of my first days, an adorable little girl asked if we had any ladybug "wobots." I lead her to the wind-up toys, among which was a ladybug, and, pointing it out, asked if that was what she meant. She said yes, but then asked if we had one that flew around. I said no, this time knowing we didn't carry one, having never seen one of those anywhere. I felt terrible, and her speech impediment didn't help that. I imagined her in fifteen years standing at the top of a bell tower with a machine gun, shouting over the helicopters to the cops who came to talk her down, "You know why I'm up here? Because there ARE no flying ladybug wobots!"
On the same receipt on which I'd jotted the "Sandy" note (which was probably ten words long on the back of the receipt) was just one other note, which read "Big Break." I assume this refers to myself and what I should be doing to expediate that. (Hello, Blogspot!) Am I delusional, or will writing about middle schoolers awkwardly watching a horse (and then their friend sexually harrassing the horse) be my Sorcerer's Stone? And is the Daria buffet I've been stuffing my brain with in the past week subtly sardonifiying* my writing style even moreso?

*I know this is not a real word. It should be.

Notes from Veteran's Day (11-11-09): Part I

At the five and ten, we strive to preserve the atmosphere that my great-grandfather automatically created when he opened it in 1930. Thus, we have many "retro" or "antique" things (depending on how snotty you are), such as the original hardwood floors (which need to be oiled - I have not yet witnessed this. Apparently it doesn't smell too nice), a popcorn machine that still takes dimes, a scale that gives you your weight and a fortune for a penny, and a mechanical pony ride, also for a dime.

The catch is, having been invented prior to the age where anything smaller than a Sumo wrestler is considered a choking hazard, this horse (Sandy), is much rougher than most of today's kids are used to. It is not uncommon for a three-year-old to be placed on the horse (possibly against his will; it's never clear) to the eager cooings of his mother and grandmother and sit on the still Sandy with an expression of befuddled anticipation that quickly changes to terror and a sense of betrayal once the bucking commences. "Too rough?" the grandmother will say (as if there's a question) as the mother quickly lifts the child from the bucking bronco to prevent the impending crying fit, saying, "You don't like it. It's okay. You can get off." (After all, it only costs a dime, which most people, even in this economy, consider to be an annoying source of extra weight in their pockets or purses as opposed to actual currency.)

It's not uncommon for me to be at the candy counter (located directly across from Sandy the Steed), and it's also not uncommon for me to look up at the sound of the floor-vibrating jolts of movement and see Sandy rocking back and forth with all his might for nought, as he lacks a jockey. But yesterday when this happened, I saw a group of middle-school kids crowded around Sandy as though they were cannibals and he was the meddlesome action hero who'd come to their island, eagerly watching his thrusting back carry his phantom rider. It occurred to me that, as there is an age limit on Sandy (7 years old), perhaps they had wanted to lighten their pockets in a novel fashion. They didn't seem to know what to do until one of the shorter boys hilariously stood in front of Sandy, held his head down, and attempted to pulsate in time with it. That's what teenage girls want to see.

I'm Baaaaaaaack (3 Months Later)

So, I'm gonna try something new here, something that completely doesn't go with the jive I attempted to establish with this blog. Like many blogs of people my age, it was a Phoenix idea, born of the ashes of the successful college reputation as a witty person I'd established for myself. I'd said I wouldn't talk about my real life because, first of all, I was afraid I'd start complaining. But my main reason was: let's face it, who really cares? Nothing really sets me apart from anyone else trying to make it in this sucky economy.

Buuuut then I started working at the family 5 and 10, which has given me some experiences I can GUARANTEE no one else my age has had. (Ever watched a kid puke waffles onto a hardwood floor from the 1930s in front of the assorted gums and tri-colored coconuts and pretended not to notice until someone with a stronger stomach stepped in? Didn't think so.)

I've been doing some writing (on the back of unused or unwanted receipts) during the day, convincing myself that my pocketfulls of scribbles will eventually become my masterpiece. Sometimes I type them up. More often, I add to the large paper bag of "masterpiece-pieces" which is daunting for me to even think about.

Today, on my day off, I managed to type up a few things from yesterday, and add my own spin on it. They are nowhere near as perfect as I would like them to be (nor can they ever be, because I want them to be, well, actually perfect. Which is impossible.) I figured I'd put them here, and if things go well, maybe start another blog about my REAL life. After all, my followers would probably want to hear about that and would hardly fault me for inconsistency.

And if any of you do, I know where you live. All FOUR of you.