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."

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