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Archive for December 10th, 2017

“I don’t remember the author or the title, and what it’s about is hard to explain, but it has a green cover.”

With difficulty, I refrain from directing her to the store’s Green Book section. “Can you tell me anything else about it?”

“It was on a talk show this morning.”

The information is little help, since I have been at work since eight this morning. Desperately, I scan the best sellers’ display at the front of the store, but none of the covers include the slightest tinge of green.

“Sorry,” I say, feeling more apoplectic than apologetic. “But without more information, I can’t help you.”

“Fine! Be like that!” She says, and sails off on an air of self-righteousness.

I turn away and continue unpacking an order of books from a local publisher. It’s four and a half hours before quitting time on Christmas Eve, and the nearest I can come to a carol is The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” – which may not be seasonal, but is a truer expression of my feelings than the two Christmas albums that the mall has been playing on rotation for the last six weeks. I might have stopped consciously hearing them after the first week, except that one is a Smurf Christmas Special. The best that can be said about the other one is that it isn’t.

I get maybe thirty seconds of work done before I am interrupted again. This time, it’s a man who’s aggrieved by the fact that he has been in the store for five minutes and none of the clerks have approached him. The fact that they are all busy is irrelevant.

Fortunately, a toddler tearing up books in the Children’s section gives me an excuse to rush away. I place the books out of reach, but no parent is to be seen, even when the toddler starts wailing. After twenty minutes of wailing, the mother shows up. Apparently, she left her offspring with the book store while she popped into The Bay.

And so it goes through the afternoon, my only break the five minutes needed to take boxes out to the compactor. The service corridor is probably the only place in the mall not crowded with increasingly frantic people, which makes the stench of the garbage the nearest thing all day to an uplifting experience. I manage to receive less than half the book order I have been working on since my lunch break.

Yet somehow I survive without suffering a stroke or a lingering death by diplomacy. Just get me to the airport, Put me on a plane, Hurry hurry hurry, before I go insane. At this point, the Ramone’s old hit has become my life’s theme song.

Fifteen minutes before closing, the staff starts walking up to customers and explaining that the store is about to close. Even so, the front door only closes twenty minutes after closing.

The women clerks are just sliding off their high heels when a man starts pounding on the door. His hat is askew, and he is so frantic that his cheeks are an unhealthy red.

“Please, I need to buy a present for my wife!” he pleads.

At this rate, I think, next year he won’t have that problem. I think of the spiced cider I can have tonight, and how I have nothing to do except show up on time at my parents’ tomorrow and maybe set the table and do the dishes. I think of how much I want to be alone, if only for a few hours, and the moxy of the man outside.

“Please?” he says. I think of smirking at him and walking away as he swears at me. I have the right, and if he complains, the rest of the staff is sure to back me up.

“Pleassseeee!”

Sighing, I unlock the door and let him in.

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