Tuesday, February 19, 2008


On Sunday, when I was writing that Diary of the Dead review, I decided that I needed to be out of the house, so I packed up my laptop and headed to the Panera Bread in Evanston. After buying some soup*, I sat down, yanked my headphones out of my iPod and put them in the headphone jack on the laptop before opening it up. I do this regularly in case I've left the sound on and something playing (not very likely, but it's happened) in order to spare those around me whatever music I'd been listening to before having it hibernate. On this occasion, nothing was playing and the sound was muted anyway, so it turned out not to be necessary. Simply because it was easier, I didn't remove my headphones and just left them on, without bothering to put on music, while I typed and ate my dinner.

To my right was a teenage girl and who I presume was her mother. They were having the "damn it, you need to get a job" talk, and, because I didn't have my music on, was impressed by how loud they were talking about it. I'm not one to eavesdrop, and so was trying to focus on writing, but kept hearing things like "If I worked there, I'd kill everyone and myself" and "I'm not working at the supermarket. I'm better than that" which I couldn't help but find amusing, because, frankly, an unemployed teenager just isn't better than working at a supermarket. At that point, because it was practically shouted, I looked up at the mother and wished that psi weren't fiction, because I'd have liked to have told her to tell her daughter to shut the hell up, stop holding out for a dream job (which is apparently folding clothes, because there's music there) and take the job at the supermarket, but alas, my thoughts were not transmitted. She asked her daughter to keep it down, because they were in a public place, at which point the daughter turned around and said "He can't hear us. He's got headphones on."

Which is a logical conclusion, but that doesn't make her inaudible to the other twenty people that are sitting just as close as I am with no headphones on.

It struck me as funny that I wanted the mother to force her to take the supermarket job (if for no other reason than "I'm better than it" being laughable), because my time working as a stockboy in a supermarket, which also happened to be my first job, was easily the worst job I held in my time as a teenager, and therefore the worst job I've ever had. To the point that I can still, almost a decade later, remember the last thing I did on the last day I worked there because I was so damn happy to be getting out of there. Easily. As in "cleaning behind the dumpster on New Years Day, trying to scrape frozen, discarded chicken breast off of the pavement and somehow getting stung by a bee, then trying to figure out how in the hell the bee was alive and hanging out in January.

*Incidentally, to any Panera managers reading this, there's no real reason to give me a buzzer. At all. Especially not if I'm buying soup. I'm capable of standing there and waiting for my number or name to be called, and if I'm buying soup, the guy behind the counter is just going to ladle it into a bowl and immediately cause the buzzer to start a-buzzin', so it's more an exercise to get me to move the buzzer across the counter for you than any kind of convenience to alert me to when my food is ready.

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