Wednesday, December 15, 2004

McJob is a Window on the World

We needed some cash. In the rush of what had been a rather bohemenian existence we had to keep a little capital flowing our way. So, I got a McJob, you know, easy to land, easy to perform, easy to discard.

I've recently started working at a nationally known video retail and rental chain. I won't mention any names, but you'd recogonize it if I did. Let's just say there's probably one in your town and the name rhymes with RockDuster. Yes, I have the shirt. I look right smart in it too.

A few months ago, we set out to see some of the world. Well, I'm seeing a lot of it from behind the counter.

Most of our customers are fine. Still, two things I've noticed so far stagger my imagination.

If your children are below the age of six, why do you bring them to the video store? Just so they can run around whacking others customers with a copy of Bob the Builder's Christmas Spectacular?

I see this scenario over and over. A mother comes in with her kid and for 20 minutes tries unsuccessfully to corral him. Over and over she yells, "Ryan! Ryan! Come here. Put that down. Don't smack that man. Come here. Ryan! No running. No, we're not going to rent "Vampire Drug Dealers.' Put that down."

Eventually, she gets the kid calmed down enough to look at his options.

"Don't you want to see Rudolph?," she coos at her little demon son.

"No! Want this one," the kid bawls waving some box he hasn't even looked at.

Then, the craziness starts as she tries to convince the kid to accept Rudolph.

"But you just saw that one," she says. "Why don't you want to see Rudolph."

I feel like saying, "Look lady, you're standing in a video store, lights flashing, televisions blaring, begging a kid to explain his prejudice against a fictional red nosed animal. For crying out loud, have a little dignity!"

If I had acted this way when I was a child my mother would have handled the situation somewhat differently.

"You don't want to watch Rudolph?," she might have asked

If I had said no, she would have responded not with gentle, if futile, persuasion but with an argument I found irresistable--

"Fine! then you can go to bed as soon as we get home and you can stay there!"

Suddenly, I wouldn't have been able to think of anything in the world I'd rather do than watch Rudolph.

The other thing that amazes me is how many of our customers wander in in reeking of pot. It's like suddenly everyone in New Hampshire has gone Rasta. Sometimes even the DVD cases come back stinking with the stuff. Yesterday I cleared out the return box and got such a big whiff I'll have the munchies for six months.

I've got a little explaining to do

Once, we were happy, the Mrs. and I. We had jobs we liked, a cozy apartment with a landlord who was always around, his bearded smile gleaming from beneath the brim of his low-slung Indiana Jones hat. Just like Jones our landlord was an archeologist too.

Then, we threw it all way. We had offers. They seemed good, chances too sweet to pass up. So, we packed up instead. We left our jobs and our place and threw ourselves on the wheel of history flush with the excitement of chances taken.

We traveled a while running here and there, meeting folks, having all kinds of fun. Then, the fun ended.

We spent the fall involved with an operation in New England we thought we might one day go to work for. We spent a lot of time with these people and found our long-term future wasn't going to be with them. Our vision of the immediate future was dashed.

We didn't panic. We came home, back to New Hampshire where I'm applying to graduate schools all over the country. Since we were already in New England, coming here was cheap. If I get into any of these programs, we'll be hitting the road again anyway. We figured one big move was enough and so settled here for the interim months.

We're still getting settled. Soon, we'll be in a permanent place and the regular blogging will resume. I appreciate those of you who drop by regularly to see if I've updated and I hate letting you down most of the time.

We're still happy and wouldn't have missed the last few months even if they have required some quick adaptation. We're doing fine, don't worry and keep an eye out for us. We'll be around soon.

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