About a week ago, a woman came through my line at Borders with platinum blonde hair, long lavender nails, and two deep purple bruises around her eyes.

And I said nothing, even though I assumed all the things I've been taught to assume--her husband's beating her, she's afraid for the kids, she's afraid for herself, some part of her believes he loves her. I treated her just like I would have treated any other customer, asked her whether she had her Borders Rewards card and whether she'd like a bag. Wished her a good day.

Maybe she really did fall down a flight of stairs. I hate making assumptions about people I don't know.

But maybe someone hit her and what she really wanted was for me to ask if everything was all right, if there was anything I could do. I know there have been times when I've sat on the Metro, lips tight, and wished someone would ask me if I was okay. And I've never had two black eyes, except when I opened a car door into my face when I was a kid. (I also fell going up stairs and left tooth marks in the wood floor at the top and closed my pinky in a door that year--it was not my most graceful period.)

Maybe everything was all right. Maybe she has some sort of weird skin disease that makes it look like she has two black eyes when she's really fine. Maybe. Maybe.

I will never know. I don't regret not asking her. It wasn't my place. But some fundamental human part of me wishes I had.

(Pudgeball kitten has decided that he loves All Things Shiny. His best friend at the moment is a crinkly foil Christmas ornament that he carries around with him and stashes in various places. Also: all of the tin foil has disappeared from the recycling and reappeared in corners around the apartment.)
I may have lied about being back when I posted a month and a half ago.

Currently, I have four classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, thirty-two hours of Borders shoved into the other four days, a fifteen+ page research paper to write, an Old English poem to translate, a draft to revise, a take-home exam to complete, and three tests to take. In addition, I am making just enough money to keep me from destitution (although not according to the Federal government--yay being under the poverty line!--or to my mother's standards, because when I let drop in conversation that I had $1.14 to my name until payday, she nearly had a fit and accused me of bad money management. I did not point out the part about being officially under the poverty line. That would have ended not-well). Between me and The Boy, though, all of us (now including one adorably twitchy and one lazy little pudgeball kitten) get fed, housed, clothed, and sometimes even not-stressed.

(Yes, The Boy still exists, apart from a sort of...glitch? we had back in October when things were bad for a few days. He still rocks most of the time, except when he's driving me nuts playing a video game or ranting about the deliciousness of Chipotle burritos when all we have left to eat is a can of tomatoes and some pasta or demonstrating the "correct" use of the parking brake in cornering on an ice-covered Wisconsin road. But we're still together, and I'm insanely in love with him even when he dries his boxers on the shower rod, so it's good.)

Anyway, I am slightly busy.

As a result, I have not kept up with SPN or FNL aside from the first few episodes of each, which was a giant crisis for me. I ultimately chose 3.5 hours of sleep a night and some semblance of sanity over the media. Besides, I'll be able to catch up at semester break. Hopefully.

On the plus side, working at Borders rocks. Well, most of it does. The pay blows monkeys, and as with any job, there are parts that I dislike, but the discount almost makes up for it, and the fact that I get to find people books all day long wins by a long shot. Also that we sell DVDs, and so I get to rant about Ratatouille and Escape from New York and Blood Simple to unsuspecting customers. They never know what hit 'em.

Oh! Speaking of Blood Simple, All and Sundry should see No Country for Old Men. Easily one of my favorite McCarthy books, easily the best Coen brothers film yet. As creepy as their early Fargo-ish stuff, with that gorgeous eye they have for the scenery and the setting and the characters. Intense shit, yo.

And now! Off to write about effective design strategies for after-school programs targeting minority and low-income urban children!
I quit my job two weeks ago. I'd had enough. I was going to bed angry and waking up angry and dreading work from the moment my alarm went off to the moment I walked through the front doors. It was damaging my ability to be kind to people. And when I felt, more often than not, the urge to tell customers to fuck off, I decided it was time for me to go.

After I turned in my two weeks' notice, my managers talked to me, offered me a raise and a guaranteed thirty hours a week. I almost said things I would have regretted, but I refrained. Sometimes, I do actually possess self-control.

There's no room for regret here. I don't regret quitting the job. Sure, the next months are probably going to include a lack of chocolate-covered espresso beans and possibly also apologetic, cringing calls to the landlord to ask for a little pity while I scrape together rent. That's not the problem. I've been without money before.

The problem is that I want something to work. I want to do a job I like, I want to do a job that means something to me. I want school to mean something to me. I want to get up in the morning because I'm looking forward to my day, not because I can't afford a no call/no show. I don't ever want to burn out as hard as I did at the end of this school year. I don't ever want to wake up angry again.

I'm taking a few weeks off--The Boy and I are driving home for my brother's graduation. Hopefully, my head will be on straight by the time I get back. And I will be able to breathe again.

no flash!

Feb. 15th, 2007 04:21 pm
And this, right here, is why I love people.

Although I have to say, I'm sorry, Mona Lisa guardspeople, you don't have a stressful job until you are trying to narrate a tour of Arlington National Cemetery to eighty-five middle-schoolers on the muggiest day of a Washington summer, one of them telling you about every three minutes that she thinks she's going to vomit, one who won't take off his headphones, two in a silent staring battle at the back of the bus, and one who's crying about how her boyfriend broke up with her to three sympathetic cooing friends. Or a job where you have to manhandle three hundred hot and angry people, fully half of whom are larger and scarier than you, into a line. Or a job where you have to tell flyboys that no, submitting some sort of half-assed muster report in which their command has inexplicably doubled in size overnight doesn't quite cut it, try again. Or a job where you have to simultaneously translate between the American police and the Italian who's just been rear-ended outside the base.

Me, over here? I will trade!
I am a barista by trade. I love it, mostly because I love coffee, and I love people who love coffee. I love the sound milk makes when it steams and the smell of espresso. I love making a perfect drink: microfoam with a halo of brown around the outside and the tiniest flaw in the center where I finish my pour. I love the slang and the lingo, stringing five or ten disassociated words together to describe something (grande half-caf skim chai charger with whip) and then creating that thing without thought, without translation.

The thing is, I have my hands in and out of cold water, hot water, soapy water, sanitizer, and coolers all day long. I can't wait for them to air-dry most of the time; I need to be making the next drink, helping the next customer, and so I have to dry them with paper towels, which aren't abnormally rough but feel like it once I've scrubbed the hundredth one across my knuckles.

Liberal application of Bag Balm, morning and night, helps, but it's only a stopgap--I can't use it on the job, because it's too oily. So I've been just enduring it, wincing each time my skin touched something cold or hot, pretending it didn't hurt like a bitch. Finally, yesterday, my skin informed me that it wasn't going to take any more of this shit and it would like it very much if I would just curl up in extreme pain and kindly not disturb it while it went about mending itself. I came home after work with hands that literally throbbed each time my heart beat, sat on the sofa, turned on some old TV I have on my computer, and slathered on the grease. They started to feel better after an hour or two, and they felt fine by this morning, but I have to work again tomorrow and I speculate that they will not be happy about this.

I went to the pharmacy this morning and purchased something called Warm Skin all-weather guard lotion that I'll try for the next week or so to see if it works. If it doesn't, I'll have to try something else.

So, flist, I turn preemptively to you. Do you have any hand creams that you swear by? They can't be water-soluble for obvious reasons, and I'd prefer for them to be as non-greasy as possible. Also for obvious reasons, they can't contain anything toxic. Suggestions?



May 2010



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