Hejira
strange days
June 19. 2000

I finished "The Handmaid's Tale". That took, oh, about 36 hours or so. It's been a long time since a book has gripped me that much that I had to tear myself away from it just to do the things I needed to. I read it during my lunch and breaks, and even when I was supposed to be working.

I had my last break at 2:15. I read like mad during that break. I became so absorbed in the book that my surroundings just disappeared and I wasn't aware of anything but what was happening in that book. I looked up, realized 15 minutes had passed in an instant, and shut the book. There was about 10 pages to go. I felt disoriented and out of place for a while. Almost as if time had passed without me.

My break ends at 2:30, I work til 4:00. I suddenly realized that that hour and a half was going to be inhumane torture. What happened? What happened? The thought keep circling my brain. I didn't know how I was going to stand it.

Then, as luck would have it, a fire. A small one, far away from me in Building 3, but enough to get me what I needed.

We were all herded out onto the sidewalk outside the warehouse. I immediately sat down on the pavement, and finished the book like a runner out of breath. Dani was looking at me with either bemusement or annoyance, until I finally shut the book and breathed a sigh of relief.

I can't remember a book effecting me like that, not since "A Prayer for Owen Meany". I remember staying up til 1:00 am reading it, and when I finished it, I was crying.

*

I already told you about Sonya, Bonnie and Dani, but there are a whole host of other people at work that I find interesting.

There's Wendy, first of all. Wendy does not normally work in our section, B zone, because she's usually two floors up in recieving. But occasionally, once a week or so, when there isn't enough work for her and we need help, she materializes.

Apparently Wendy does not know how to talk in a normal voice. There is no six-inch voice for her. She yells everything. Today, to Sita:

"OH MY GOD! I THOUGHT YOU WERE CARRYING A FLASHLIGHT!!! THAT'S WHAT I THOUGHT IT WAS!!! HA, HA, HA!!!!"

She is a dark haired, skinny, tall women, mid to late thirties. The jeans she wears look like they're about size zero. She has veiny arms, and eyes that kind of bug out when she gets excited. Which is often. I'm beginning to think this woman doesn't really have much excitement in her life outside work, so she must expel it all here. Oh yippee.

"THIS ISN'T REALLY THAT BAD A JOB, IS IT? I MEAN, IT COULD BE A LOT WORSE, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? WHERE DO YOU GO TO SCHOOL? FOR WHAT? WOW, THAT'S PRETTY INTERESTING, YOU WANT TO BE AN ARTIST...YOU'RE SEASONAL, RIGHT?"

Get away from me, I think.

Then there's Bob. Bob works in A zone, right across from us in B zone. Bob is not so much annoying as kind of odd. Bob is an older guy, with a walrus-like mustache and yellow teeth. Bob sings show tunes. Bob whistles Christmas carols. Frequently. I'll be back in some aisle, trying to find a product, and I'll hear

"OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAK! la homa where the wind comes sweeping down the plain..."

And 90 degrees though it is, we're frequently serenaded with the shrill, piercing whistle of "Winter Wonderland".

There's Liz, our coordinator, who is a state of perpetual agitation. No matter what's happening, it's bad and it's a crisis and Something Must Be Done Immediately. She is perpetually afraid of "being hollered at." Don't sit on the conveyor, you'll get hollered at. Look like you're busy or you'll get hollered at. Put away the stuff on the endcaps or you'll be hollered at. And on and on and on.

At least I'm (usually) not bored.

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