Continued from Parking on ice in the Morning
Stick Chick’s day officially began at 6:45 AM, coffeeless and bleary-eyed, but otherwise dressed for corporate success. The doors to The Bestest Store opened to holiday shoppers at 7AM, but no one cared.
As the day progressed, a lone plow cleared the front path leading toward the highway beckoning shoppers.
Sometime after 9:30 AM the first shopper arrived. The background musical loop played alternating lousy jazz smattered with B side Christmas tunes sung by artists whose agents had clearly convinced them that “every artist puts out a Christmas record,” without every having added critical adjectives such as “worthwhile,” “classic,” or even “timeless.” Instead, mediocrity rained from the speakers upon innocent ears.
Still, the ice-coated sidewalks did little to attract anyone but the most resilient.
Gradually, the clouds began to break with sunshine providing the needed melt enough for shoppers to venture out. An increasing number began to arrive. The monotony broke in fits and spurts with the entrance of the archetypes.
Sadly, there was the old man who lingered long enough as he made his purchase to say his wife had passed away a few years prior leaving him to decide on his gifts alone. He looked for confirmation that he had chosen well as much as he did for simple conversation.
There was the prissy woman, so full of herself. Stick Chick imagined Mrs. Priss might well have been a Gold Star donor to one cause or another, impressed with herself for her caring and generosity, especially pleased to see her name appear in the organization’s annual report. So turned out was she in her designer clothing, handbag, makeup, fine jewelry, latest hairstyle and color, always maintaining her air of superiority and condescension carefully honed by a lifetime of insulation from the plight of the tired, the poor, and the hungry.
The heroin addict appeared in baggy green khakis, too long and worn at the bottoms, wet a full six inches at the feet from walking in the snowy outdoors in old, low Converse sneakers. In desperate contrast to Mrs. Priss, she appeared a hot mess, darting nervously between the line of paying customers, the checkout counter, and the stroller/shopping cart she used to push her child. Tweaked with her hair askew and dry, failed at any attempt to make eye contact.
The addict begged for something in which to place her daughter’s snacks that she had stuffed into a paper towel in her purse. Stick Chick lied claiming none to spare—fully suspicious that anything given would instead be used for shoplifting pawn-able trinkets to get relief from her demon. Though she regretted being judgmental, when the addict walked away from the counter empty-handed, Stick Chick wondered aloud whether the young woman knew how perilously close her life was to its end, and who might take care of her young child when the drugs stopped her cold.
The steady line of customers made the rest a blur of transactions, removal of security tags, folding, boxing, bagging, and the incessant beeping of the door monitors as shoppers exited the store. Occasionally, Walter (the man in charge of checkout supplies) would break the stream of customers by noisily emptying the hanger bins just long enough to complain that all of the cashiers are giving gift boxes away to customers with reckless abandon as though it was their goal to cause him extra work.
Amid the chaos, Stick Chick clocked out for the day, wondering what it all meant.