Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lunchtime (1 pm Eternal)

My Dad is an essentially uncomplicated man - his puns remain steady and constant, as does his politics, and so does his Xmas. In essence, all I have to do is buy him the same computer game year in year out, thus once a year venturing into somekind of geek filled games store to purchase said item so he can wile away his summer with idealistic thoughts of perfection, a left wing government and move little circles from left back back to right back in his computer quest to make Elgin City the football champions of the world. Todays purchase was an easy one, made difficult by the constraints of my lunchtime, the configuration of the store (small little basket store made corridors, perfect to trap customers for sales pressue) the terror of venturing into the geek lair, and of course by the fact that it disrupts the walk and stalk flow of my lunchtime. The guy who sells me the game is a ginger haired pasty and bearded D&D player up from the dungeon to pop briefly into my world and key numbers into a cash register. He spruiks a loyalty program to me, and I explain with what I consider friendly patience that I only buy one game a year, and he looks sad, a sales technique I'm not familiar with - he's turned this single act of cutting off his spiel with a basic fact as if I'm turned him for a date. He rebounds quickly though, although the smile doesn't match the eyes. Next to him is a guy in a work shirt who looks too polished and trendy to be here full time - I imagine he's telling people he's only working there until his screenplay gets published - and next to him is an overweight girl with punk rock hair who is so disdainful of life that even assigning her a character in an anecdote would probably make her disgusted with me. They are all trapped together by the vagaries of chance and sturdy job interview techniques, and the geek, recovered from my crushing rejection of his offer to be my friend...sorry, to join his loyalty program...goes to get a pen, and makes an unintelligable joke, I know it's not about me, you can always tell, but his cohorts just aren't listening, and the punk rocker, too cool to wear flowers in her hair, stares vacantly into the middle distance, straight into another store. I try and see what she's looking at, but I can't, and soon I see that once again, the rejection of his joke has upset the geek, who hands me my bag with a weary and mournful sigh. His sensitivities are a little too open, his manner a little too over emotional, but his heart is in the right place, but there's nothing he can do to make the punk rocker care, and she keeps on staring, not even noticing the continuing loop of their world that is about to continue, with another customer queued behind me, ready to buy some sort of addition pack to the Sims, and maybe make himself a new friend...

In Big W, the fat and sweaty girl with the eloquent diction is distracted by a conversation, the conversation could be about anything, work, play, how soon she can get a chip, but she is dilligent in her duties. She directing the younger, enthusiastic but alarmingly thin trainee to do something in the aisle that sells those little tins of those little rolled up wafer...the lolly aisle. She's puffed out, not just from having to walk from her desk, but with pride, she's clearly very impressed with herself that she's going a fantastic job of training the waif, and the waif is responsive. Neither of them notice a rough, impatient single mother, a tattoo of indistinct quality on her left shoulder, slight gut and cleavage showing in a white tube top, scrunched up angry face, kid in one arm, basket in the other. She has a question, and the question needs an answer now, but she can't get their attention, and eventually storms off, unseen, or, let's be honest, seen and not helped because of her appearance, all the while the puffed out supervisor is standing surveying her world and completely in control. As I stand in a middling and grumpy queue of people just to purchase some tepid unecessary DVD because it was 8 bucks and had sale on it in big red letters, an old lady tries to engage me in conversation - I don't know why, but her basket is as meagre and threadbare as her conversation, inane and persistent about how cold it is, containing only a packet of mints and a card with a monkey on it - and I reply, figuring that soon I'll be free and she's obviously lonely. Our captain of the queue is the pretty girl with the panda eyes who swears a lot, and she's off in her own world, and after a while, the old lady with fury and venom in her eyes says to no one in particular some words that express the desire that the queue moves a bit faster. I realise at that point that I myself am standing with my arms folded, and am tapping my feet in impatience. Panda eyed girl looks at us both, for a moment a little hurt, then buries her head in her work, and I feel a bit guilty, and when it's my turn to be served, I feel the need to be a little over friendly to make up for it. Flustered, she fumbles my change, and I feel even worse, for making a bad day dis-integrate, however unintentionally, but she perks herself up, and just as I leave, she rises up in her swivel chair, stoically determined to see off the challenge of the grumpy old woman with subtle panache. The last thing I hear her say is an accusatory just the mints...the emphasis on the just, for what it's worth, can only be appreciated by anyone who's worked facing the public...

I've taken too much time in these queues, and I haven't eaten yet. I'm idling, I'm wasting time, I'm looking at things I can no longer really afford. At some point in my life, I became a curio whenever I went into a surf shop, being treated like an old man by impossibly young surfers named Brad and Dave who call me Dude and think I don't know who DJ Tiesto is. The surf shop is littered with Transfomers T-shirts and slogans, crude sexual drawings T-shirts, and the thumping sound of a place trying way too hard to make a simple retail outlet seem like a hangout. As the thumping repetitive strains of the loud music try to convince the likes of me that I could never afford some cotton with an iron on, I see just a glimpse of a frazzled hippy looking boy with beads around his neck sitting at a desk either doing stock or inventory or accounts...dude...it hardly fits the image. A dark haired girl with a name tag the size of Belgium is just about to try and elbow me out of the way for not fitting in with the demographic, or just apply sales pressure, but I see her coming and leave her groping blindly for something else to do, so she fiddles about with T-shirts and I move on, past a desperately grabbing man in hat trying to give out free samples of cordial or an AUSTAR pack or whatever the freebie of the day is. There's a giant poster of Glen McGrath bearing down on me, telling me he's going to be doing a book signing for the unemployed and the bewildered - a Dad in a red T-shirt with no logo discernible is trying to tell his soon who Glen McGrath is, but his son isn't listening, he's desperately eyeing a muffin from the store where the girl with the funny eyebrows works, and she's eyeing the same muffin, which is surely against company policy, the covet your own stores goods. Dad hasn't noticed the mutual muffin admiration society, and seems plainly determined to recount everyone of Glen McGraths 812 wickets, ball by ball...however, by now, I've joined in the mutual muffin adoration society, and think that nothing in this world would be better than a muffin. However, as we all stare, western consumers to a fault, at the surprisingly paucity riddled little tray where the muffins used to go, an old woman snatches in from off camera and buys the muffin. The girl in the store looks at us with an apologetic air, as if to say we still have hedgehog slices, but the moment is passed, the kid has found something up his nose, the girl has cursory politeness to impart and eyebrows to mash into weird shapes, I've got to go and see if blue eye shadow girl is working, and the Dad is up to wicket 200...something tells me that kid is going to wish soon he was back at school...

Blue eye shadow girl isn't working, but my grey haired trolley pushing nemesis is, so I steer well clear. She looks like Joyce, the singer you always see on those three times a year worst album cover e-mails, but I decide immediately that reference is too obscure and that time is running out for me to get a sandwich. I had wasted far too much time in the morning fussing over the exact creation of a lime spider to be late back to work, so I have to rush. At the front of the sandwich queue is a hunched over man with an unkempt beard and the kind of blue anorak only trainspotters and serial killers would wear - it even has a tartan inner hood, dangling to the left, which makes me think he has a shack somewhere in the woods - and his voice is high pitched and makes him sound like a special school kids. He's been put in my way by some deliberately pre ordained destiny, and he seems determined to talk about the quality of individual sandwich fillings with the girl in the silly paper hat, who's self consciousness about having to wear a silly paper hat she will one day outgrow when she becomes confident in herself. Her over applied lipstick speaks a lot for her nervous posture, but she's patiently explaining to guy that yes, that's a tomato and yes, that's bread, and no, that's your finger, don't eat that, and I'm looking at my watch figuring at this rate I might have to bite the bullet and eat some suitably budget conscious plain biscuits, as his lollingly retarded tone continues to eat away at my brain (at least someone was eating) - just as my stomach is about to burst though, a strange thing happens, his mate comes up to him, Argyle sweater, grey hair, stance of a doctor, pushes right in front of everyone to talk to him, and asks the special one if he's going to play golf on Sunday, and suddenly the man who had sounded like he needed help to draw a triangle is Charlton Heston, ennunciating in a loud clear voice about the wonderful time he had shooting a 65 at Royal Penguin. Me and stupid hat girl (sorry, that will hurt her feelings) stare in amazement, and without missing a beat, he turns around and says lettuce, pointing back in his hunched over stance, a reverse Lazarus as rare in the bakery as a warm sausage roll or a smile from the girl in the nose ring...

Time chewed up, I go back to work, shut the door, and re-engage with the hellish world within...we may not have hope, we may not have leadership, but by god I had neatly trimmed crusts...

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Started reading your blog recently. Love your style of writing. Ive been looking in and am enjoying it.
nice to know your a footie fan, even though you may be Scottish, heres hoping you will never walk alone.

My advice (and I'll put it in my arse if requested), walk up to blue eye-shadow chick, give her a card, inside are your blog details, and a request for a chapperoned date.
Any chick who can be admired thus so is gonna be flattered, curious, and interested.

Hell its romantic to be admired, but unrequited love (lust), nah, make it happen. Good luck. Keep writing.

Cartouche.

Oh Lime spiders, Ice cold cream soda, that should help.

Megan said...

I did quite a few things with my lunch hour today, but I don't know that I could ever describe them as well as you do...

Miles McClagan said...

Thankyou very much, I appreciate it - Liverpool and St Mirren fan for life. I did consider that to be honest, some sort of grand and hopelessly demented romantic gesture, but I knew a guy who fancied a girl in a travel agent and sent her a copy of James Blunts You're Beautiful...it plays on my mind! I'm having a lime spider right now...it's delicious...

Yeah, but you probably used your lunch hour to get lunch! I ended up starving...I guess it was for my art...

Kris said...

You should have got something at Boost Juice.

A whole hour for lunch? I struggle to find enough to do to fill ten minutes. There is bugger all in the way of inexpensive, yet quality grub in Salamanca though.

That said, we had plenty of wrinklies in gold lame tracksuits with American accents wandering around today. I should whip out the blues harp and do a bit of busking, these dudes are big tippers.

Miles McClagan said...

Yes, I really could have squeezed a story out of being glared at by a promotions model for having the temerity to ask for some juice...what's with that place? It is now getting really hard to kill an hour, obviously there's my walk and stalk to do, and I like that newsagents in Salamanca where they let you read all the magazines unhassled...Americans are definitely huge tippers, although the sailors used to be tightarses...must get to that one day...

Jannie said...

I'll have a hedgehog slice please. I picture it with minced nuts, cocoanut and chocolate. Am I right? Maybe a sweet filling.

Miles McClagan said...

http://womansday.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=11256

Absolutely delicious they are, in the right hands they can be made to taste positively exotic...

Mad Cat Lady said...

There are crushes one speaks to, but then there are some you keep distant. I love a good unrequited crush. It's great. One gets a thrill everytime one sees them without any of their actual personality to potenitally spoil things. In ones head people can be anything you want. It's a beautifully consistant delight that can last for years. Whereas if you speak to them, it turns out they have a really annoying laugh that grates on your nerves and won't listen to Queen because the lead singer was gay and they are so homophobic that the very idea of listening to a gay man sing makes them shudder, and then what if there is nobody else around that you can make eyes at when they aren't looking and you are left stranded in an empty existance with nothing to look forward to at lunchtime apart possibly seeing some complete stranger trip and go arse-up when they are crossing a street.

Miles McClagan said...

I completely agree - I know nothing at all about blue eye shadow girl, she may in fact enjoy the comedy of Rob Schneider and have a horrible laugh, but she brightens up my day, and that's good enough for me...I love that comment by the way, it's ace, and so unparagraphed I love it!

Baino said...

I'm still catching up, four posts tonight to read and Miley, you're amazing the way you remember. I find myself walking through Castle Hill Food court and coming up with McClaganesque scenarios for lunchers but I can never remember them when I get back to my desk, nor could I describe them the way you do. And, as for Blue Eye Shadow girl (despite the fact that blue eyeshadow is never in fashion) . . make a move man! I have a massive crush on the Brasilian hand cream man who has one of those little stalls. He charms all the middle aged women. I know it but he's beautiful to look at and listen to. I have more manicure products than I know what to do with but as he gently 'creams' my hand I'm somewhere else . .cooo!

Miles McClagan said...

I'd quite like to inspire a literary genre just entirely based on watching people eat lunch! As I said before, it is fun to do, but then I have to remember to buy something to eat...as for blue eye shadow girl, as I said before, it's a very distant love, and I could make a move, but I am wary of it - she could be anything, and my admiration for her blue eye shadow, polite dilligence at work and great smile could be masking, perhaps, a BNP membership? I guess that's the point - I don't know!

MJ said...

Thanks for popping past my blog!

I was intrigued by the situation in the game store. I haven't ventured into game stores (neither my dh or I am inclined and my kids are too young!), so I have no idea what goes on in there! I suspect your character descriptions apply to many game stores! How funny it is that you are so easily set for gift-purchasing for your dad!

I'm trying to figure out what the Big W is ~ Walmart is my guess?

Miles McClagan said...

Yeah Dad is the easiest person in the world to buy a gift for, I just have to put up with some venturing into a nerds lair to get it...the other gamers store where I work is pretty similar, cept there's a fat bloke instead of a fat girl. And yeah, Big W is exactly like Walmart, although probably with more fat sweaty people and panda eyed checkout ops!