Monday, January 15, 2007

Life is a lot like art...

Sometimes you look at your life and it just like some works of art, none of it makes any kind of sense, sometimes it's all pretty and romanticized, sometimes it's frenetic and intense, sometimes it's dark and a little scary, and sometimes it's surreal. I could go on with the comparison, but you get the idea... This is an old story from the surrealist genre.

Back during my first year of flower slinging I worked at a store with some people who were not only HIGHLY efficient, but also REALLY entertaining. Nate and I busied ourselves with the celebrity name game, Chris stayed busy with real work, and Chende and I just worked together on projects so that we could giggle and make wisecracks about the customers while we organized things. It was a good time.

One day while Chris and I were working at our usual store, (I think it was Chende's day off,) Nate dropped in to see how things were going. Of course, things were under control. Nate noted that things were looking so good that he wanted Chris and I to go to another store and make a dent in the mess that this particular store had become known for. Having only heard stories about this store in the past, we agreed, if only to gather some actual firsthand knowledge of the mythical beast.

So we headed out. And no sooner did we arrive and the heavens opened up and unleashed a torrential downpour of biblical proportions. And so, looking like drowned rats even before the work began, we met the "workers" responsible for this mess.

We'll start off with the introduction of Bob. Bob was a retired firefighter. All 300+ pounds of him. And I suppose when you spent the bulk of your career-oriented years dousing flames, that you think EVERYTHING ELSE needs to be soaked with the same fervor. Now it's true, flowers do need water, but really there is no reason at all that a shallow tray of bedding plants measuring no more than 12" x 24" should literally weigh fifteen pounds. (Even when well watered those trays should weigh about 5 pounds at most.) But Bob was all about shoving fifteen pounds of shit into a five pound bag... It was true for the plant trays, and it was true for his poor, grossly undersized, clinging-for-dear-life pants. Bob was the father of our next character. The dreaded Megan.

Megan was a short, dumpy, bespectacled, incredibly socially inept blob of a girl who rapidly became my worst nightmare. As a worker I came to resent her if only because I knew we drew the same amount of pay and yet put forth polar opposite amounts of work productivity. More about her in a moment.

Seeing the daunting mess of this store laid out before us, Chris and I set to work. (Mind you it is still absolutely pouring, and most of the work to be done is outside.) We tried to organize the products into a somewhat coherent order, positioning like product with like product, and moving the odd products out of the way to be dealt with later.

As I wrangled an 800 pound rolling steel cart up a steeply graded hill, I find Megan all up on top of me. This is not to imply that she was there to help me. Instead she merely stood there with a kind of bewildered curiosity. After moving a couple more carts in much the same manner, and finding Megan doing little more than staring at me in a way that made me a little uncomfortable, I asked her what she was doing. To which she replied, "You're very pretty."

If I hadn't been soaked to the bone, knowingly looking and probably smelling like a wet dog, working hard to make things resemble something vaguely organized only to be gawked at by someone else who should have been doing this job all along, I might have been nicer about the whole thing, but I think even being as agitated as I was it was all lost on Megan. I replied, "Yeah, I'm hot. But seriously, what the hell are you actually doing right now?" She didn't reply. She merely cocked her head to the side as though that was a necessary step to restore blood-flow to the brain gave me a look of shallow thought, and waddled off to do... Well... Nothing.

After a while I tracked down Chris. And when I found her I asked her, "Is there something wrong with Megan?"

"Not that I know of, why?"

"Because she's weirding me out... And it takes some serious effort for most people to weird me out. She does it with a remarkable ease, and I'm alarmed because it isn't at all forced, I think she's just genuinely ODD. And she's not doing anything. She's just staring at me."

"At least you don't have to deal with Bob. He's still watering stuff."

"Watering? Is he not aware that it's pouring?"

"I guess he figures if it doesn't come from a garden hose it doesn't count. And I'm pretty sure it's all he really knows how to do."

We went back to working independently, and after Chris wrapped up her task she came out to assist me, as it was clear I was getting no assistance from Megan. As Chris and I toiled reorganizing the products on the carts I just relocated, Megan lumbered around, doing little more than being an oxygen robber. I swear to you, if Megan were a cartoon character, she'd be a cross between Jabba the Hut and a knuckle-dragging Cromagnon man wearing glasses. I asked Megan once again what she was doing, hoping that the answer would be different from before considering someone else was now around to hear the answer. As it turns out I was a little too optimistic. She did that blood-flow-restoring cocking of the head, and looked at me as though I had six heads. Chris then suggested that she go over and fill a table with plants from a cart. She didn't seem to comprehend. So we tried to show her. And as Chris and I took to demonstrating the task we wanted her to do, Megan just kind of wandered off. Chris and I just looked at each other trying to figure out what the hell was going on. And as it continued to rain on us Megan came back and watched us work again. Suddenly she announced in my general direction, "You're really disinert."

I replied, "I'm what?"


Chris and I, knowing it wasn't a real word looked at each other questioningly.

Chris inquired, "I'm not familliar with 'disintert' what does that mean?"

In a mistakenly self-assured way, Megan answered, "It means you're off in your own little world."

She then walked off in her unweildy way, and Chris and I stood still for a moment with disbelief.

"That's not a word is it?"

"I don't think so."

"And she thinks you're in your own little world?"

"If she knew what the hell she was talking about, she'd know that SHE is in HER own little world... But seriously, am I hallucinating, or is this the most bizzarre day?"

"I feel like I'm on drugs."

"I think she is probably on drugs... or if not, she needs to be."

Little did we know how right we were... But we'll get back to that.

Chris began working on something else and I began organizing another table. A few minutes into the job I get that weird feeling I was being watched. I turn to find Megan about 6 feet behind me with a pen and a piece of paper. She then approached. "Can I have your phone number?"

"Umm why?"

"I want to be your friend. We can go out sometime!"

"I'm busy the next couple weeks, so I tell you what, write down your number and I'll call you when I get a chance."


She enthusiastically gave me her number, genuinely believing that I was going to call her to hang out sometime... Yeah, not so much. She and Bob then took off for the day. And Chris and I again found each other and just stood in utter bewilderment.

"She wanted to be my friend. Wanted my phone number."

"Did you give it to her?"

"After today? Are you kidding? I told her I'd call her."

"You know she's going to be waiting by the phone."

"Well if she wonders why I didn't call I'll just hide behind the excuse of being 'disinert.'"

We later came to find out that she was being medicated for a few psychological problems... So much so that she literally wet her pants while at work one day later that summer. Yeah. Wet. Her. Pants. Now I don't know about you folks, but no matter how medicated, drunk, whatever I might be, I've not wet myself since the age of two and a half. I don't care what a doctor's got me taking, if I'm conscious, and I feel good enough to leave the privacy of my home to go out and earn a paycheck in a public place, and I know the physical location of a restroom, I'm not going to stand somewhere and piss all over myself. It's just a matter of responding to the physical needs and signals that the body sends. For real.

But that was a surreal day.

Just another day in the life.

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