Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Lost Friday

There was no one arrested for stealing today, no atmospheric battle between security guard, bogan and ugh boot to get excited about. There was a dead calm as I shuffled through Big W. I thought for a moment it was being closed, such was the chaotic nature of the store with DVDs piled in sawdust and staff in casual clothes milling around with nothing to do, idly hammering nails into bits of wood whenever someone walked past as if we were going to dob them in for doing nothing. I had Ayria turned up loud on my IPOD, so I wasn't concerned, but I presume it was some sort of refund. In the piles of sawdust were a million little cheap CDs slashed in price, hopeful singers who hadn't made it big looking up with imploring eyes from the cover of their CDs, asking to be turned up loudly on a stereo from behind the mask of a 4our 99ine sticker. I didn't stop, but it wasn't like I had anywhere to go. I was just wandering around 1/2lf eating my sandwich and trying not to spend money. I wonder sometimes where the reckless, carefree spender of cash went, the throw the money on the counter at Brashs guy who would almost let the storekeep recommend a CD. Nothing says maturity like a savings plan and less stuff piled up on the floor I guess. Somewhere around the pile of sawdust as Panda Eyed Girl tries a few metres away to look busy simply by blinking every 2wo seconds, two employees are discussing one of the employees necklace. 1ne of them is pretty, and stuck up, with her nose pointed in the air and her smile bitterly insincere, although jewellery obviously is her forte because she's passionately excited about the piece, while the other, the necklace wearer, is a Kathy Najimy clone with darkly dyed hair and wrinkled otter like skin who isn't especially interested in the necklace debate, but joins in out of a sense of workplace harmony as Lily Allen swims delicately in the background, humming over the PA System with her usual grace and elan. To get out of the conversation, Kathy says to the stuck up girl that she bought the necklace at Target and it doesn't mean anything significant. Eventually the stuck up girl loses interest and goes off to talk about The Presets with Panda Eyed Girl, which leaves Kathy to stare at the necklace, to hold it and ponder it's meaning. I suspect it does have a meaning, because her intensity as she stares at it is palpable. If it does have a meaning, it's not being betrayed easily, and I leave her idly standing by under a rapidly spinning air conditioning fan that whirrs so loudly, no one can hear a word, let alone an intensely private and isolated thought in the midst of a suburban hell...

Mist rolls in over the bridge on a cold Friday afternoon. The newspaper has some woman in it who did something wrong but got away with it or something, a milking it smile illuminating the front page. It's so foggy I can barely read the paper and I pull a miserable old man squinty face as I try and I'm bored and cold and without much to do, trying to fill in an hour or so in a place where the stories I see every day have already unfolded a million times. In front of me is a bromance couple - 2wo boys in animated discussion and matching T-shirts who can't quite decide whether or not Syrup is a better nightclub than Barcelona and who's idle slack jawed shuffling is simply delaying me from doing whatever the hell it is I'm supposed to be doing in my lunch time. It's a wonderful symptom of Tasmanian society that we're all impatiently huffing and puffing to get to nowhere in particular in a desperate hurry. 4WDs wizz through roundabouts and almost plough into fields in a rush to get chips from Mures that won't be any hotter or saltier if 20ty seconds elapse in the meantime. On the ATM screen a girl pops up with a cheerful resolute smile, forever encased in her perpetual advisory smiling pose, never aging, never upset, never flustered as she points helpfully to a selection of buttons. One of the boys breaks from his conversation, which had gone into a tedious rant about motorbikes that made me want to get over by 1ne, to casually mention he had slept with this smiling model of tolerance - he's very proud of this revelation and he tells his friend this in tremendous detail, until even the smiling woman in the paper is desperate to get back to her foreign alleged so called hell just so she doesn't have to listen to this vulgar descriptive rant which is so obviously macho posturing I fully expect both guys to give each other a chest bump in the middle of the street. Bemused, I flip to a sports page and bury myself in the paper and another story about heroes and villains written in a black font with all the relevant emotions the writer expects us to feel underlined in arrogance and presumptions, and when I look up the boy is staring at the ATM screen as if struck by guilt for his comments and stares for so long his card is swallowed up by the machine, beeps for a while and then breaks down, and he wanders off without noticing, and as I'm forced to wander off to another ATM machine as the girl in the plastic bubble squints from her broken screen, not a hair out of place and a not a single part of her reputation sullied by the comments that have floated up and been lost in the mist...

Lunchtime drifts to a predictable and pointless end. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the sandwich I'm eating, but I've eaten it for so long it's lost all meaning and all taste, like a piece of bubble gum chewed nervously through an exam. All around me are pleading, imploring sale signs, 1/2lf price, 75% off, free car with every tracksuit top sold, the computer games store so covered in red stickers you can't see the nerds and a store manager in shirt and tie is telling the head nerd that the mass of stickers isn't shifting any product - it looks like a meeting of commerce vs free spirit, because the nerd is blinking nervously in the light as if he doesn't understand, as if he's selling computer games out of a labour of love and doesn't need a lecture. Either that or his contact lens is hurting him. Shoppers shuffle around the conversation without buying anything, a collection of hurriers and scurriers with no where to go, but going there full pelt. For some reason, blue eye shadow girl has a mobile phone strapped to her skirt that's the size of a radar gun, a proper old school 80tys monster which you could use to beat down muggers in an emergency. I wonder if blue eye shadow girl is some sort of Gordon Gecko figure industriously plotting to overthrow her bosses. My mobile phone can't compete, not since some vacant bubblehead at Big W told me I had bought the same phone as a Big Brother winner. The nerd meanwhile is trying to convince the corporate overlord that the signs are working - I think the store might be closing, and he's making some sort of plea for re-organsation. He says something about selling a few more golf games, and makes a lot of pleas about how the signs can be re-organised and maybe a new location can be rented out, but the suit is bored and staring vacantly at his shoes, not really listening, his mind adrift in a blizzard of lost thoughts and fractured moments, the ideas room closed for repairs as he thinks of lunch, going home, everything except the possibilities of an imaginative nerd mind turning around a business and them both retiring to play ATARI in a golden castle...

When a clipboard pusher thrusts her way into my life a little later, rudely interrupting the last bite of my sandwich, to ask from behind a row of perfect teeth how I am, I really don't have an answer. It's that kind of day, everyone just seems to have drifted off, everyone seems to be lost in their own ideas and given up on work, mentally switching off like the lights in the book shop, which on it's last day made some sort of big drama out turning off the lights as it's final customers left with cheap books piled under their arms. I still don't know how I am when I pull in the video shop that night, my little car struggling through rain, and hail, and poor songs on the radio just to get there. I'm in another queue, behind a woman in a T-shirt with an elongated slogan, a black store bought T-shirt where the slogan is far too long to digest in a single session that winds around herself as she returns a giant pile of videos from a plastic bag. Her child, woolly haired and inquistive, sits on the video store counter while the clerk, who will be a devil with the ladies when he starts shaving, has nightmares about an impending health and safety disaster as the kid pokes wildly at the computer with a pen. In an instant the woman has gone ballistic, as she's missing 10en bucks from her purse and is swearing impressively into a Christian Bale video cover over and over again, leaving a rather portly gentleman in a tracksuit to ponder whether to step in or not. With a turn of speed not in keeping with her physique, she violently grabs the kid mid poke, and storms out, kicking the window of the video shop hard with her Doc Marten boot and nearly sending her kid plummeting to the concrete in the mean time. We all stare at her for a joined moment of mutual ponderance, and suddenly a well groomed clarks shoes wearing fatigued old man, a kid with a shaving cut on his cheek I didn't notice before and a portly gentlemen in a tracksuit who is hiding porn between 2wo more tasteful videos are suddenly very aware of how we feel...

Glad she's not our Mum for 1ne thing...

7 comments:

sparsely kate said...

Miles, ya gotta get out of the 'burbs. Or at least out of the brightly lit shopping mall lights.
I think suburbia is like the premise of a Lost series (and I haven't watched that in two seasons)..it just goes around and around with no end. Just music and lights, music and lights and the faint shuffling of never-satisfied customers.

Roam free Miles, break loose! :) For your own self preservation. You're too young to be stuck in Big W hell.


P.S Is Kathy Najimy the beautiful bubbly actress from Sister Act 1 and 2? Because I loved her.

Kettle said...

Oh man I hate t-shirt slogans that are too long or that wrap around front-to-back. I think t-shirt makers have a social responsibility to make their slogans snappy, otherwise they leave us feeling unfinished all day. Argh.

Were your dvds good?

Kath Lockett said...

Please tell me that YOU are not the portly gentleman hiding porn between two tasteful DVDs? ....are you?

Baino said...

Sounds like recession blues! Personally I like Fridays, well I did when I was working, they mean the beginning of the weekend . . except now, every day is a weekend.

Samantha said...

knock knock
any body home?

(word verification amusingly: nodge)

Kris said...

Where are you Miles?

Miles McClagan said...

I'm here - I just took a couple of weeks off because I was kind of bored...nothing bad or anything! Just needed a rest! Be back tomorrow with etc etc...