Category Archives: from the eazyztop
Being useful is more noble than making oneself feel good. Are the two distinct from each other? If I am useful does this not make me feel good? And if I feel good isn’t it only from being useful? One can decorate oneself in buying automobiles, jewelry, technological devices; do these make the buyer feel good only to the extent that they are useful to the buyer? And does not the buyer also think (however woefully), ‘ This is a good thing I have done, purchasing this item. It improved, with dollars, the lives of the people at the store I purchased the item from; and the shippers who transmitted the item from factory to store; and the workers at the factory, who wouldn’t have made this item if I were not willing to buy it.’ It feels good to buy something – anything. Even a cup of tea from the corner store. It feels as though one is doing something, because spending money is the pinnacle; the raisin dee- o-tray.
Were it 1:30pm a customer might have given a funny look or made estranged comment about the short young woman standing in front of the Slushie machine, her mouth agape.
‘”Standing” is the polite word for it,’ Blunt Boy said, adjusting his baseball cap by jostling the lid. I imagined it scratched the crevices on the backside of his ears when he fiddled with the cap and I wondered if he was conscious of it.
As the woman who worked at the Post Office exited the Quickstop Blunt Boy’s town rival, Stevie, entered, the mild beep of the Customer Alarm going off with the opening of the door. The Postal woman, after purchasing 2% milk, cigarettes, and caffeine pills, had stood with Blunt Boy and I at the check-out counter watching the transfixed young woman none of us knew hovering before the Slushie machine. ‘Like a goddamn gargoyle if you ask me, boys,’ Postal woman said before picking up her groceries and departing.
I thought she looked like the Karate Kid, I told Blunt Boy, ‘When he stands on one leg and holds his arms out,’ miming the posture from behind the counter. The police usually showed by 3:00am for coffee and diet sodas and Blunt Boy kept a red eye on the white clock by the door, which hadn’t ticked past 1:30am yet. It was the strange nature of the overnight shift at the Quickstop that I could see only head and brake lights when I looked out to the parking lot and street but, to those looking in, everything was fluorescently lit, displayed. To combat this harrowing exposure to the town I tried to tape as many sales and promotional posters on the windows as was allowed by Quickstop regulations.
‘It’s like her left eye is set solely on the red Slushie,’ Blunt Boy said after running a reconnaissance mission to the cooler nearest her (under the pretense of harnessing a soda) to settle our debate concerning whether she had one eye for each flavor or two eyes for one. ‘And her right eye is solely on the blue Slushie. And they’re both, the eyes, spinning round and round with the mixers inside the Slushie machine that go-‘
‘Round and round,’ I finished for him. ‘Right. Round and round.’
Stevie approached the counter, tossing a box of sandwich bags in front of me, which I scanned, the price illuminating the register display.
‘Making sandwiches?’ I asked.
‘Yep,’ he said, grinning. Low baseball cap almost completely hiding his starched eyes. Eyes that looked as though they been taken to with steel wool.
‘We’ve also got several varieties of bread in the last aisle there and ham, turkey, roast beef in the cooler,’ gesturing to the far corner. ‘Tuna in the middle aisle, too. And what’s a sandwich without pickles and must-‘
‘No no,’ he cut me off, laughing. ‘I’ve got all the makings in my car.’
‘Good good,’ I said. ‘Save a bite for me.’
‘And me!’ the Slushie transfixed woman said, unmoving.
‘Shit,’ said Blunt Boy after Stevie left, ‘I can make you sandwiches all day, dog. And you, too, Slushie girl.’
‘Well we’ve got all the makings right here at the Quickstop, Blunt Boy. There’s bread in the far aisle-‘
I will smoke in the walk-in cooler after 1:00am, by which time the only other employee that might be awake and out on the town (out of bed, even) is Homer who smokes in there also. I cannot tell the difference between a regular exhalation and an expunging of smoke, so that only the physical sensation is alerted. The enormous fan that keeps the cooler at thirty-five degrees Fahrenheit is like a noise – a scream, a city – that becomes wallpaper if consistent enough. It dissipates smoke like dirty hands in clean running water.
Rows of beverages rest on white plastic racks. I can almost insert my fingers between the thin rows that make up the racks but rarely attempt it. Images of broken fingers in my imagination curb the desire to know.
The massive cooler rumbling sheets of frigid air, one can barely hear a dropped bottle break on the concrete floor. I wouldn’t have minded so much but I had been drunk the night before and I had never been drunk before. I vomited near to and upon my friends, who were also drunk. The smell of spilt Budweiser was not as lewd in the cooler as it would have been in the store proper, but my gaze wavering over the puddle and brown bits of glass, mop retrieved and in hand, the odor penetrated, mildly distinct, the cold I sucked into my rusted lungs. At least I can’t smell myself, I thought.
Liquids don’t cling as readily to the mop’s strands in the cooler. Much of the glass – all of the bits – I wrap and crush into the mop with my feet and into the mop water. As I pour it down the drain in the stockroom, leaning my face against the smooth warm yellow of the rotund, circular water heater, I wonder where filthy water goes, where the glass goes. But you’re only a little more than half of four-score, son, I think, and you can’t know everything.
Perhaps because we do not, in the general population of the United States, read much at all much less do we read texts in other languages – since a rudimentary understanding of those languages would be a necessity – (I myself could not dream of politely talking my way out of a Québécois privy) many Americans cannot believe that the word ‘Iraqi’ does not have a ‘U’ in it; and we scrutinize and examine the page, losing all of our thoughts on the text’s implications, looking for it. It is like a law of grammar learned in each of the thirteen years of one’s education: ‘I’ before ‘E’ except after ‘C’; an apostrophe signifies ownership, except in the case of ‘Its’; ‘U’ follows ‘Q’ and just try to find a word that does not. Iraqi. What is an Iraqi? Where do they come from? Are they also Arabs? And what is an Arab? Arabs are from Arabia; Persians are from Persia. What came first: the Kurd or Kurdistan? O, it is lonely here, beside the great black lottery machine, without knowing the difference between Iraq and Mesopotamia; between the Duke of Windsor and the Duke of Earl.
The man with the Sunday papers arrives at 4:30am, thirty minutes late. He is out of breath and puffing smoke in the store, though my breath goes unseen. The pavement of the parking lot is ice with more friction. I imagine falling face first and breaking my teeth on it. Lafayette, who died and left you here?