June 14, 2011
By Jlehfeld BRONZE, Flemington, New Jersey
Jlehfeld BRONZE, Flemington, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

A streetlamp stands eternally free of all influence other than those contained within. The light flickers on and off in its final days of life; relentless power forces an arrhythmic pulse through the already ill filament. Hours tick by spotted with periods of darkness and throbs of light.

It is untouched by desire. Two onlookers forecast their thoughts trying to bring consistency. Even a pattern would do it justice. The only consistency is its inconsistency. That’s the funny thing about electricity, even when it is at the hands of a simple switch, it is still unpredictable. It will flow for a while, following the constrictive control of the wire it is sustained within, but will burst out the next instant.

The bipolarity of electricity is most evident in its nature. A strobe of light is captured from their peripherals. Again and again until he turns; it is just the skies winking. No rain in sight, a warm summer breeze expects this to be a mid-July night, but it is the last day of April, the 31st.

Frank drifts in and out of a 9 pm slumber. He never expected his life to end up this way, still working and past the age of retirement. Growing increasingly bitter and becoming slightly demented, Frank’s Laundromat is his home 50 hours a week. It is a matter of pride to still be running the business he and Bertice created nearly 36 years ago when they were still young and flustered with the corporate world.

A former bricklayer turned salesman, never quite found his niche, and still has not years into the Laundromat endeavor. He never made it past a grunt level, always solemn at work, depressing the process. Eventually, Frank quit on the spot in a glorious showing. Being the first one on the job, and still so young, he took matters into his own hands laying out a phallic symbol into the future sidewalk. When the rest of the crew arrived they noticed a white abnormality in the brick pile, a note. Childish handwriting adorned it in all capitals “I quit.” A few more steps revealed his masterpiece, albeit impressive, the foreman did not laugh. Boisterous laughter erupted from behind him. It is told it took the crew all day to undo Frank’s bidding, and the foreman who was nowhere to be found in the morning was reprimanded and never seen again.

Through a series of clerical errors, the truth of the incident never surface; on paper it showed that Frank simply quit. Not seeing a clearly defined next step, he tried his hands at sales. A choice arose between the only two hiring places, a pet shop and an appliance store. A visitation to the pet shop immediately revealed Frank’s answer. The smell at the door mixed earthy elements and pure nature together, soiled beddings and wet fur. No doubt there is an acquired taste for this field. Beyond the odor, how could one sell pets – to remove themselves from the innate human attraction? The manager welcomed in Frank, recognizing the calm and blunt demeanor from the phone call reflected in his well versed face. Tan and brazen-eyed, Frank looked anyone in the eyes without hesitation.

He examined his potentially new boss, head to toe. Scuffed black shoes were met by improperly tailored pants; one leg fell slightly lower on the tassels of his shoes than the other. Following his pants up, pleats descended from his matching belt, yet to be scuffed. Though most people looked down upon pleats, it was an odd plus for Frank. A baggy white shirt almost kissing his pants clashed with the top starched portion of it, “Hi, I’m the manager Phil, you must be Frank. Good to finally meet you."

Frank fumed at such colloquialisms in conversation, but forced his way through. First impressions were never something to judge on, only to take into consideration. He had nowhere to be. Offering a handshake Frank replied, "Likewise Phil. So tell me what a job here is like. I have worked in construction all my life and am ready to get out of that field completely."
Naively replying, Phil tried to equate sales to construction, "I am glad you are turning a page in your life. Now sales, it's surely one of the most interesting fields, have you ever cat called someone?"

Blatantly put, sales is not one of the most interesting fields by any sane person’s standards. In fact it was rather dull. Intrigued by his line of thought, Frank bit, "Despite the stereotype, we do not cat call. It portrays a poor reputation and can be detrimental for business. Over my years in the biz, I have only known one man to do it, and he was fired on the spot..."
"Sorry I was just trying to make a familiar connection," apologizing for questioning Frank's intelligence, "In sales we are professional complimentors. To be quite blunt, we see the good in everything, and when everything is bad, we feign the opposite thoughts to make it seem spectacular."

Looking back towards his most recent car purchase, the truth erupted. All the salesman did was compliment him. He told him how good he looks, how right the fit was, how great he would be in the car. Switching between cars, the same underlying meanings of the compliments came to light, with slightly different words to bring forth the message. At least the final fit worked out, well except for the atrocious shade of red.

Maybe sales weren’t for him. Only some can be a professional liar, and half of them go to school for seven years. Going back to school is always an option, opening infinite doors for his future, alas his relationship took president. Still taken aback from Phil’s insight, he left with a simple, “I’ll call you.” Those words have been spoken and repeated so many times; it is as fake as the game Phil plays. The game he will be forced to play soon enough.

A ten minute car ride brought him to the other side of town, another strip mall with an antique shop with a quirky display, department store potentially once frequented by a celebrity, chain fast-food restaurant emitting an odor that can only be described as fattening, and finally the bland looking appliance store with a delivery truck peeking out of the adjacent alleyway. Interview two would soon be underway.

Cool air rushed him as the pressurized door opened. The atmosphere emerged Frank into a trance. Row after row of sleek washers, driers, refrigerators, dishwashers, and even a corner for microwaves, all shined and all in various colors, could only be equivocated to a new car dealership. A woman began approaching him, one foot always clicking in front of the next in a perfectly straight line; the isle was her runway. Curled black hair gave a slight bounce when met with every assertive step. Her vision did not stray from him. Before she could even introduce herself, Frank blurted, "I'll take the job."

"Well, how about we get started with an introduction? I am the assistant manager here, you are Frank, right?"

"Yes, Frank Caldende, pleasure to meet you."

"Likewise, my name is Bertice Yerm..."

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