Friday, June 27, 2008

Dear Rude VONS Checkout Girl

Dear rude VONS checkout girl,

Please don't misunderstand me. I get that you are super-cool and 18 and just out of Stockdale High School. I get that the rules of societal behavior just don't apply to you. But I would appreciate if, in the future, you kept these things in mind when I patronized your store for fruit for my son…

1. I know that I'm fat and funny looking. Pointing these things out to me is unnecessary.

2. I kind of figured that your high school girlfriend was in line behind me. Especially since you spent half of your time talking to her. She gets it. You work at VONS. You are cooler than the rest of us.

3. I do realize that Fresca isn't the sexiest choice when it comes to soft drinks. You don't really need to point this out.

4. I walked out of my house wearing a Star Trek t-shirt. I am fully cognizant of this fact. Telling me a story about your friend who still has Star Wars bed sheets, and how you're glad he's "just a friend and not a date" is unnecessary. Especially while giggling at your friend and rolling your eyes at me.

5. Assuming that all nerds want to have sex with you is a fallacy. I find you rather appalling, to be honest. I have no interest in having sex with you.

With all due respect,

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Job, The Grill, & The Gate

I went job hunting today, with a spear and a bucket and everything. I'd like to find something to do soon. I hate being useless. I'm going to prepare myself for substitute teaching in August in the event that nothing happens between now and then. I still need to get my state license and appropriate recommendations together though.

My qualifications freak me out, though. I'm qualified to write, obviously, having done it professionally in the past. I have management experience; I'm pretty good with customers in a retail environment. I'm even qualified to teach the children of America, if even just on a substitute basis. I am not qualified to shovel rocks, however. I have a paper saying so. Don't get me wrong, I can physically do the work. I just failed the test that says I can officially do it. What's next? Proof I can't work in a coal mine?

After hitting up some local businesses, I drove around a few parts of east Bakersfield I'm unfamiliar with. I haven't really done that since moving out here, with the price of petrol being what it is. I took in an auto lot, with its shiny red tasseled car antennas blowing in the wind. There was also a shopping center with everything I love about east Bakersfield concentrated in one place.

Every store had merchandise on display outside, often covered in rain spots or a fine layer of dust. Accompanying these items were people, leisurely enjoying the day. Some even sat on furniture outside the rental store, eating their lunches. There was a man grilling chicken in the parking lot, his associate chopping the tasty birds into burritos, or salads. Mexican sodas were available for purchase, iced.

There was a 99 cent store on one end of the complex, at the other, an 88 cent store. Both seems equally patronized. Anchoring the shopping center was an honest to goodness carniceria, painted a vibrant mix of teal, green, and red. Customers flowed in and out of the automatic doors with a "Woosh!" The smells of the place were quite lovely and I thought it was a store more people should visit, even if it were the sort of place most non-Hispanic people wouldn't look twice at.

I was certainly looked at more than once by the patrons of the carniceria, and of the shopping center on a whole. I was looked at as an interloper. Maybe my shoulders were hunched too low. Perhaps I lacked the jump in step most of them had. Maybe I just didn't look like I belonged there.

I drove back to my odd, little gated community. The one near all the farms and bizarre east Bakersfield mini-mansions. Horse runs and rental parks, brick walls and pass codes. The whole way thinking, "I belong with those people."