i wanna knit you wool sweaters
with little deer all over
i wanna feed you from my kitchen
til your belt feels too tight
i wanna make love til three
and never judge my performance
on a midwestern saturday night

susan werner



Saturday March 3. 2001

so this was my day

She was kind of old. Her breasts were way too perky, though. Boob job, I thought. She ordered a small cappuccino.

A few minutes later, she was back. "I'm sorry, I have to return this. You never make cappuccinos right here. It has to be one half to one third foam, and whenever it isn't made right, I'm afraid I have to return it..." I couldn't believe this. She was lecturing me on how to make a cappuccino.

"I'll redo it, ma'am," I muttered. I was pissed, but redid the cappuccino with what I thought was an adequate amount of foam.

A few minutes later she was back, elbowing her way up the line in front of people. "You people obviously can't make a good cappuccino, so I want an Americano." I was seeing red at this point, so I made Tony deal with her.

A short time later she was back. "This Americano isn't good enough, I want a refund."

A refund, people. On a two dollar cup of coffee.

I wanted to say something to her. So badly. Shouldn't, wouldn't, couldn't. I went back to the storeroom, and as soon as I walked into the refrigerator, I knew I was going to lose it. I cried, my head in my arms, leaning against boxes of cream cheese.

I came out a short time later, told Tony I had to leave, and went back to the break room where I cried some more. I could hear Mark, one of my managers, moving around in the office, but if he heard me, he gave no sign.

"Bethany? Could you come into my office?" I heard Mike's voice now. I was led into the office and directed to a folding chair. Mark and Mike was there. So I was in trouble. We're not supposed to ring up our own purchases. I was hungry that morning and had bought a piece of cake and rung it up myself, Mike had caught me doing it, and now I was in deep shit, yadda yadda yadda. It was like I was looking through a fisheye lens, to Mark's impassive face, refusing to look me in the eye, to the nosepiece of Mike's small round glasses, to the beige colored carpet. Couldn't they see I was upset? Show some mercy?

"I am going to lose my job?" I managed to croak out.

"We're going to look at the logs, but yes, that is a possibility." he replied.

"Fabulous," I muttered. I got up and left before I lost it.

Eight months on a job, people. For a two dollar piece of cake.

I left early. As soon as I got in the car, what was left in me was finally released. Long, shuddering sobs as I drove home, almost blinded by the tears, with the nagging suspicion that this eruption was not just about the Evil Cappuccino Woman or the potentiality of getting fired, but something else. Lords knows what.

As I got out of my car at home, I noticed a dog lying near the road. I was too upset to take much notice of it. Somewhere in my warped and upset logic I thought, well, maybe it was sleeping. It was a big dog, a golden retriever maybe, obviously taken care of and not a stray.

There was a messsge on my machine from my mother. I wasn't up for talking to her yet, so I left a tearful and mostly incoherent message on John's machine. I waited for him to call back, weakly lying on my mattress until finally tiredness overwhelmed my sinus headache and I fell asleep. I was woken up by the phone an hour and a half later, he was calling from downtown Manhattan, near where he worked, because he had gone to pick up his laptop at the repair shop.

"Why don't you do something nice for yourself," John said to me right before we got off the phone. "Go see a movie or go someplace you like to eat."

So I did something nice. I drove aimlessly. Up 611, through Jenkintown. I felt drained, my mouth was dry and I had a dull headache that clung stubbornly to my forehead. As I drove, I absently took note of the stores I was passing in case I should ever need to make use of them. A quiet running dialogue in my head: "Old Navy, for cheap clothes. There's another Barnes and Noble. I am not bitter. That Starbucks right down the street can't be good for their business. Target...oh, American Appliance, and Best Buy...I should see if there's a Costco around here..."

I got to the turnpike, and found myself on it, going very very slowly. I turned off at the next exit and drove to Giant to get some food, hoping I would beat the pre-snowstorm rush, since it was nearly 11 o'clock. No such luck, the parking lot was full. The fresh fruit, milk, orange juice, bread and eggs were picked clean. I got in a line that had to have been at least 25 carts long. People were getting increasingly nasty, to each other and to the employees.

I just have to say this: if you go into a retail establishment, PLEASE PLEASE be nice to the people who work there. Whether it's crowded, whether you're stressed, whether your cell phone minutes just ran out or you're late to pick up your anklebiters from day care, just be nice. Common human fucking decency. I'm sure if you try really hard you can remember when you may have worked retail in high school or college, and people may have treated you horribly, and you felt like shit, or you got angry. This whole "customer service" and "world class service" bullshit sucks for us, the employee. It means that you, the customer, are always right, no matter what, and if you treat us like shit, we have to smile back, bite our lip and do everything we can to satisfy your needs.

The dog was still there when I got back from shopping. As I came back to the car to haul my 24 pack of pepsi inside, I took a closer look at it. It wasn't a golden retriever as I originally had thought, it was one of those big bear dogs, like a Saint Bernard. As I neared it, I saw the tags around its neck. My god, this was someone's dog. Someone was looking for it. Or someone had abandoned it.

So that was my day. As Cara said to me later, "She won, you know. By getting upset, you let her win." And I knew this. It's exactly what I was thinking when I was crying in the refrigerator. That strong person I thought I was becoming, the misconception that maybe I could take care of myself and maybe I was actually becoming an adult, well, fuck that. I pretend to be this strong person who will kick anyone's ass and not take any shit, a scenario even I sometimes believe, but I am not. Confronted with adversity, I buckle, I cry, I am such a fucking girl. I am back where I started. I never got anywhere to begin with, really. I'm the same person I was when I was 13 and crying in the bathroom over some boy who told me I was fat, just 7 years older and not really any wiser.

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One Year Ago:
"In class today, Chuck mentioned something about talent without discipline being a sin. I cringed, because I felt like he was talking right to me. I don't sketch, I don't practice. But I do love to draw, when it all gets down to it. I don't want to fall into that trap of drawing only as a means to an end. I want to draw just for the sake of drawing, and I'm finding that harder and harder."