Friday, March 20, 2009

From 8am to 8pm, he's up and running, everything else is solitude

It's 8ight in the morning - I'm wandering around with an unsteady shuffle, the wheel clamps I have for shoes are still getting adjusted to, so I'm still a little bit shy of my full Rob De Castella walking pace that I normally break into. There's another shop shutting, although there end of lease sale sign is in chalk rather than the standard piece of paper stuck to the shutter doors. I barely notice though, flicking through Kenickie songs on the IPOD and trying to find a sane prediction in the tabloid newspaper I choose to read. My walk becomes more unsteady as the clamp digs deep into my cut, which makes me feel old, even before a gaggle of trendy youngsters sweep by in formation talking about how Grade 12elve Maths is an evil curse on humanity. Or they say it's fucked, one of the 2wo. Outside Boost Juice, the workers are congregating, sour surly promotions models not fully awake, not wasting any of their energy on smiling and paying their customers attention. Someone has The Presets on really loudly, in a vain attempt at motivation, perhaps the slightly older promotions model who appears to be the nominal boss. She has a I want to give a pep talk face, the kind you see on the front of employment brochures with a re-assuring smile who stabs you in the back eventually. The blonde promotions model looks ready to kill as she stirs the magical concoction. She takes a glance at the radio, and then shakes her head with bitter morning angst. Obviously not a fan. Of anything really. I wonder what it would take to motivate her - money, fame, the misfortunate of someone poor. I'd explain the concept of schadenfreude to her, but it would be wasted. She stares entirely down as she stirs, never taking her eyes off the juice, plotting to destroy humanity with every twist. I move on, just as the boss moves in for a pre-emptive pep talk. As the Presets thump and grind ever more loudly, and the boss crawls into view for a chat about juice, her eyes just for a moment flash with real, genuine anger, and I'm very glad I'm not the unwitting customer lurching into view, with a big smile and a genuine heart, not to mention an obvious love of a big hooped jumper, who is about to quite innocently and excitedly ask for a delicious cup of juice...

It's lunchtime. My shoes are a bit better, and I've cheered up a bit. I'm in Big W, milling around the cheap CDs pile - at some point, I need to go and complain about the fact that they still haven't got my DVD, but I'm distracted by the fact I haven't seen Panda Eyed Girl or Fat Sweaty Girl for 2wo weeks and I'm wondering if they've been flicked. A married couple are having an animated discussion about a sign above the Mens Gallery - she's very vocal while he's a mile away, reading the back of a Jean Claude Van Damme DVD hoping that he can drown her out simply by reading fascinating facts about muscles loudly in his head. There's an old boy in the shop - I've seen him before, he has an unusally strange single whisker growing out of his chin and he walks in a strange shuffling gait. I wonder how tight his shoes are. He seems to have a nice line in blue shirts though, and every single time I've seen him, he heads straight to the book section, where there's a particular book in the sports section, a motivational book written by a sports coach with a suitably fancy overblown title. Three times the old boy has lurched towards the book, touched it with the awe of a man handling a religious text, read a single page, then wandered off with a big smile on his face towards the crayon district. I'd read the page myself if I could, but I don't think it will have the same effect on me. Not much motivates me these days - maybe the odd trip to Melbourne - I don't think the printed word is going to do it. Still, it clearly motivated Whisker Whiskerson, because his gait is now very positive and his mood seems positively springy. I just hope he doesn't go and get some juice to go with his new mindset. I feel like getting the book and handing it over to the harassed husband. His wife, having seen off the Mens Gallery, is now loudly proclaiming she expects every shop in the place is going to be shut within 12elve months, and he is gripping onto the DVD in his hand like a handrail on a rollercoaster. As I walk past, he shoots me a glance that either seeks empathy or my opinion on the relative merits of the Jean Claude Van Damme collection, but I can't spare the time for either, as I have a pressing meeting due with a Chocolate Royal, and when he sees I'm not getting involved, he turns back to his private hell, gripping even more tightly onto the DVD as his wife begins to turn her attention to lousy punk kids, getting in the old favourite about military service by the time I'm past cheap socks going cheap...

Outside Gloria Jeans, I always feel uncomforable, as it's part of the smoking and taxi district. On seats nailed to the wall entirely to stop people taking them home and putting them on E-bay, exhausted OAPs and gaggles of people who's life has ended at 20ty due to the lack of hope slump with bags of as many groceries as they can afford scattered around their aching feet. They wait for the religious like significance of being chosen by a taxi driver, but they are in for a fair wait, as the taxi drivers are smoking with the Woolworth workers, and they don't seem in the mood to smoke quickly. They don't talk though, they just enjoy, the taxi drivers enjoy the superiority of making the punters wait, the Woolies trio enjoying the way they get away from the public and the old woman who wants home delivery, the only animation in the enjoyment a middle aged Woolie with a bad perm who takes the time to adjust it every 5ive seconds as though the Queen is coming for tea. As the smoke wafts up into the clouds, a fight breaks out near me. A woman is storming 3hree steps in front of her husband, shouting over her shoulder as his bedraggled sub Murdunna poor person frame walks behind bewildered as to what he's done. She's overacting, I can tell, for I have thrown that particular shape many times before, and by the 2nd sentence, the anger has dissipated and the shouting is just for effect. She yells incomprehensible sentences as she swings her imitation handbag, her stomach heaving as she spits out the faux venom, his beard trailing along the ground as he takes the abuse. The sandwich eaters stop munching their bread and filling as they watch, enjoying a free piece of theatre. The woman obliges, yelling something about the man driving her to crystals. Whether it is meth or new age healing is discussed at some length by the munchers, as they disappear, the man shuffling away from our view, a refugee from bedraggle rock as his sandals squeak softly across the ground. A man in a shirt and tie sighs sadly as they go, muttering something about how he was enjoying the argument. His sneer is unpleasant, and I would give him the benefit of the doubt and say I misheard, but there's no way he could be enjoying his sandwich. Judging by the quality of the curried egg and the way he's looking at it, I'm thinking any distraction from taking a 5.95 hit on such a poor quality lunch is to be entirely appreciated...

I feel bad for the guy at my local Coles who seems to always get stuck with taking the rubbish out. He's been doing it for so long, he must either be really happy doing it, or he still thinks one day if he takes the rubbish out really well he'll climb the corporate ladder. There must be a perk to it I can't see - at least when I got to put the trolleys away, I could make extra cash by collecting the 20c pieces. I presume he volunteered once, and that's now his task. He seems quite jovial about it, and he takes some time to help an old lady find jam. Late night shopping is one of those things that I didn't really take into account when I moved out of home. Our queue ambles at a less than lightning pace, the woman in front of me seemingly fighting deep veined thrombosis as she swings her legs from side to side, buying the odd combination of lasagne and a Flintsones pencil case. My own basket seems sparse when I study it, and I know I've forgotten about 12elve things, but I can't be bothered snaking to the back of the queue just to get some Red Eye. It's one of the minor annoyances that plague my day. I'm healthy and happy, so something has to bug me. The lady with the Flintsones pencil case has no such troubles, and dramatically throws her hands to head and says the word soap with such deliberate emphasis you'd think she'd left her baby behind. She has the kind of bogan look that suggests that naming a baby Soap isn't out of the question. Minor celebrities wink at me from the magazine stand, and our queue continues to amble, as the checkout girl waves milk over the scanner with a regal flourish of the wrist that does nothing for her efficiency. By the time I get home, and slump in my hammock, I'm exhausted. I don't have the energy to turn off a tedious documentary about Australian Rules Football which purports to be candid but just sounds and looks ridiculous. With all the motivation of a Boost Juice employee, although with about 1/8th the lip gloss, I curl up and go to sleep, and have a perfectly lovely dream about Lily Allen that just makes all the day fade away to nothing...

It all comes back in the morning though when I wake up, go to grab a Red Eye and...

6 comments:

Kettle said...

Miles, I'm worried about your shoes. There are some excellent blister pad-things you can use while your shoes get used to their new job.

If, on the other hand, you're using your shoes as a metaphor for life, then please disregard my blister pad propaganda and struggle on!

Baino said...

Okay what's a Red Eye . . we really do live in different countries don't we? One thing I hate about Boost Juice and Gloria Jeans (apart from the fact that Gloria Jeans is owned by some Hillsong boffin and I hate giving them my money) is the way they ask for your first name then belt it out once your drink's ready. I make a new name up every time I go and nobody's clicked!

G said...

I've had that problem from time to time when it comes to personal shopping.

I would invariably wind up in a long line that would slowly snake its way through the register, and when I was about next to next of being rung up, I would realize that the item I came in for originally, wasn't in my basket.

Suffice to say, there wasn't any way that I would get out of line to get that one particular item, especially when I spent ten minutes in line to begin with.

Miles McClagan said...

No, there's no metaphor! I have terrible shoes, and they hurt a lot. I think I need a new pair...already! I'll do what I can!

Red Eye is a drink, similar to Red Bull, without tasting like lemon medicine. That happened to me the only time I've been to Sydney. They screamed my name in Starbucks, and I had to shuffle in embarrassment just to get a waffle...never again!

Our queues in Kingston are notoriously slow moving. I compose entire blog posts waiting for my milk to be scanned. And then, someone wants to pay by EFtpos, and the saga just begins again...

squib said...

The Boost juice people here are horribly healthy and young and ENTHUSIASTIC!!!!!

I love the crystal deranged woman and the woman who forgot soap or Soap :)

Miles McClagan said...

Ours are young and healthy, but really bitter. I think they get fed up hearing the Presets all day. No time for pep talks!