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I enjoy working. I like knowing that when I go out to dinner or buy something absolutely unnecessary, the money I spend is mine. I earned it. It doesn’t belong to someone else, nor did it come from my parent’s pockets. My job however, is a bit different.
I work at a store on Martha’s Vineyard during the summers called Alley’s General Store. Whoever Alley was, she is long since dead. The store is nearing her 200th anniversary and no one can think of what to get her. She claims on her sign to be ‘Dealers in Almost Everything.’ The one thing Alley’s doesn’t have are guns. But I’m pretty sure that it’s illegal for us to sell those. However, we do have machetes on occasion.
To understand the floor plan of Alley’s takes no time. Just compare her to a home from the fifties. First off, the housewife. She has her full supply of groceries and kitchenware to choose from, along with an entire health and beauty section mostly devoted to strange soaps. And while she cooks, cleans, and irons, in the corner but just in sight stands the toy section. Throw any kid there and they will play for hours. And when the husband comes home from a long day at the office, greeting him are six varieties of freshly brewed coffee, two types of iced coffee and cookies. For him to lounge upon, a sunny porch wraps around the front of the store so he can wave at the neighbors and discuss politics. Along the far side of the building hides the room where the men will retreat when they need to get away. This is the hardware room, complete with everything ‘manly’ including Beef Jerky.
And let’s not forget cigarettes. Plenty of cigarettes for anyone who can prove they’re over eighteen. We require all people to produce ID, even if they are sitting by their own death bed. Some of the older men take it as a compliment and proceed to hit on me as if they don’t notice that I crossed my arms over my chest and an indifferent look is on my face. On days that we feel especially adventurous, my co-worker Spencer and I see who gets hit on more by customers. By the end of the day so many other things have happened that it seems irrelevant.
Behind the general store is Alley’s Farmstand. Devoted only to produce, the small building provides a tranquil haven from the main store. Nontheless, the people who come here haven’t gained any brains while crossing the parking lot. I take pride in picking out the people who are useless. Good indicators of this chronic condition usually include expensive, ugly clothing and not knowing what combination of vegetables to put in a salad. Sometimes I help them out by suggesting they start with lettuce.
If ever I worry about the Farmstand being too peaceful, I’ll make a mix tape or CD the night before. So this way, while I do nothing except touch every piece of fruit or vegetable at least once an hour to ensure freshness, I do not go crazy. Unfortunately, there are always those few people who have no purpose but to make this impossible.
On one particular day, everything seemed alright for the first part of the day I worked in the Farmstand. That is to say, I listened to my latest mix six times. I took to dancing around the produce when I was alone in the Farmstand to help it grow and be more delicious. This didn’t seem to help tremendously. When people saw this, they generally turned away before they got to the door. If only some people payed closer attention.
A women and her sidekick came in somewhere near two in the afternoon. She wore dark blue navy pants, a hot pink collared polo, a lime green belt with whales swimming around her hips and a black and white scarf tied around her neck. Her sidekick had on a white mini-skirt and a blue tennis shirt. Despite their apparent age of around early forties, they had both hit a mid-life crisis when they graduated college. Their solution to this was to marry the richest boy-man around. Obviously they hadn’t matured since that point.
They picked up a basket and began to fill it with food neither of them knew much about or liked. I doubt either of them ever stepped foot into a kitchen besides going to the liquor cabinet. They walked around the single island of produce until it seemed like they were sure that everything was in fact real food. When the woman came to the sign that said ‘ISLAND GROWN CORN’ with arrows pointing directly to the basket of corn she turned to me confused.
“Excuse me, how do you grow corn here?” she asked.
“Well, here it grows off a tall grass-like plant. We grow it in fields.” If only I had been this horrible. I think my actual response sounded more like “Same as anywhere.”
She smiled and asked “Where is it?” looking everywhere except where the arrows told her to.
“Right there.” I walked away.
The two of them approached the counter as the song ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ came on by The Beatles. As I rang them up her and her companion were singing and humming along. After I told her the total and counted out her change, she placed both her hands on the counter, leaned over to me and said “Do you even know who The Beatles are?” with a sneer. I looked at her in such anger that I don’t think my face changed at all. I doubt she even knew who The Beatles were when she was younger. I put her change on the counter. “Yes, yes I do. I made this mix.” She inspected me up and down, stopping momentarily on my coffee stained shirt, collected her change and said “Well then, have a nice day.” She walked out the door and left her sidekick to carry all the groceries who smiled nervously as the screen door almost hit her in the face.
I could picture both of them returning back to the safety of their Yacht Club and, over an expensive meal, telling all their so called boat-y friends about the ‘most impolite cashier they had even seen.’ Their puny husbands cringing at every word, embarrassed to be married to these women.