For you, the dress code is casual.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Workin' for Da Man and Then Some

I think that one of the things I’m unhappy about in my job is that there’s no opportunity to be surprised. I sit down, I hit play, and there I am. That’s my job. I watch people talking and I make captioning flow with the action and the speech. That’s my job. Homogenizing language and motion.

But nothing ever happens.

Nothing shocking. Nothing scary. Nothing that makes you wonder where our humanity is. Nothing that leaves you grinning for the next 17 minutes. Nothing. Ever. Happens.

And I miss that. I loved the spontanaeity and craziness that’d unfold daily when I worked retail.

The jobs in which I worked retail included a laundromat, a toy store (wooden toys... called Knotty Toys. GayBoy used to prank me with phonecalls in which he’d use a lusty, raspy voice as a disguise: Hi there. Is this Naughty Toys? I’m looking for something long... hard...”) ...and other stores I worked in included photography shops and bookstores and libraries.

So I never had a job I didn’t like. I know it sounds all blissed-out to suggest that’s how we should all do it, but yeah, that’s what I think. Why work for someone who doesn’t respect and value you? Why work where you’re unsatisfied?

And that’s why it upsets me that I feel my job’s lacking. I know I’m respected and valued in my job. I know there are things I do very well and that some of my talents are utilized.

But I ain’t never surprised. And no matter how I try, living a life that borders on boredom... never did suit me.

* * *

The thing I always loved about retail was how inconsequential the encounters were... it’s a fleeting, one-night-stand kind of lifestyle.

Because of the daily turnover, the staccato pace of public coming in, going out, a lot of things could happen that you wouldn’t normally get away with. There was a certain forgivability that came with the temporary nature of business.

Like the time The Woman came into the bookstore.

“Excuse me. Do you have a copy of the Torah?”

Mark, a surly and gruff but quick-witted clerk with an interminable bullshit meter, took the question. “Yes, yes, we do. It’ll be in the “Religion” section. Down this aisle there, on the right.”

The Woman staggered back a step. Her jaw dropped. An aghast expression unfolded. “There? In the “Religion” section? With all the other... “faiths”?”

Mark looked at her. Turned to look at me, furrowed his brows in a quizzical “What, is she serious?” kind of way.

He took a breath, looked back at her, leaned on the counter and in a measured voice, replied, “What, we should have them in another section? Segregated, like? And when people return any Judaic books, we’ll burn them rather than reshelving them?

The Woman stiffled a yelp, turned and strode out of the store.

Mark shook his head and went back to shelving books.

* * *

And that’s why I loved retail. Every now and then, you wouldn’t be able to repress a reaction to someone’s idiocy. You would say the first thing that came to mind. And if you were lucky, like I always was, to have bosses that didn’t put up with assholes of any kind, you’d likely get away with a scene like the above.

And don’t give me shit for any perceived slight on Judaism. It ain’t like that. I respect all religions. And I equally disrespect any person who thinks their faith is more valid than another. Yeah, all your books go in one section. It's always ironic when extremely religious people can be so intolerant. And this is a fine example, and a true one.

Hypocrisy is one-size fits all, man.