I work in a thrift shop.
Humble job, humble pay, wounded ego.
Directly across the street from where I work is a restaurant named O Steaks & Seafood.
A vicious restaurant where vile people hang. Scurrilous dogs all. Pretentious, condescending, smug individuals. Patrons who pay $15 for macaroni and cheese and feel good about it. People who pay $15 for macaroni and cheese because it makes them feel good about their success in life and my lack of it.
They mock me. Every single night of the week. At least the nights I work. Which is four. That is all my fragile ego can handle. These people are relentless, like the honey badger. Heartless.
I close the store. Tuesday through Friday.
I did not want this responsibility. I did not want any responsibility. I want to be left alone. I want to collect a meager paycheck for anonymous work.
Life refuses to cooperate. You know the feeling. It is why you beat your children.
Instead I supervise, I answer questions, I solve problems, I deal with difficult people.
Just like the patrons of O do. Corporate successes all of them. They earn $250,000 a year plus bonuses.
I earn $9.50 per hour.
I close the store. The benefit to that is, if I am lucky, I get 45 minutes of sweet, elusive peace every night between the close and the time I leave. It's what I live for.
That is if I don't get a rush of deranged shoppers at the very end of the night. That is if one of the volunteers doesn't hang around after six telling me every detail of her boring life, which is rapidly coming to a close.
The only thing on my mind when I report for duty at 1:45 is the prayer that I will have 45 minutes alone at the end of the day. I check my watch 67 times between 1:45 and 6:00.
In exquisite agony.
When I get a peaceful 45 minutes, I revel in them like a corpse resurrected from the dead.
Jubilant. Until I leave.
I turn out the lights, lock the doors behind me, turn to the walk and come face to face with O.
Walking that walk to the street I feel like a dead man walking. All eyes upon me.
Large plate glass windows look out into the street or in into excess, depending on your perspective.
They wait for me. They wait for me to leave. They know my schedule.
Checking their Movado watches, slowly they rise, creating a ripple effect like an ocean wave that breaks unevenly.
One guy stands up against the window, grabs his crotch and flips me off. One woman blows me sweet, sarcastic kisses. Another woman, emboldened, lifts her blouse up and presses her breasts against the glass.
Not very nice.
They laugh in unison. Acid drips from their lips.
When it is warm outside some verbally mock me from the outdoor deck.
"Hey thrift shop boy - wanna come in for steak & seafood? Wanna sit down for a drink? Oh sorry; forgot - you can't afford it. Besides, you're gonna have to dress better than that to hang with us, loser. Where did you get your clothes - a fucking thrift shop?"
Uproarious laughter. Vicious, amoral killers.
One night, a Bentley was parked on the street in front of the store. First spot on the corner.
Gorgeous car. I appreciate the finer things in life. I like to look at them and dream my dreams backwards.
At first I thought it was a Rolls Royce. As I got closer I realized it was a Bentley.
As I was admiring it a man came running out of O Steaks & Seafood and said "Get the fuck away from my car, you ragamuffin. You are not worthy to be within 100 feet of it. Why don't you find yourself a dark doorway to curl up in for the night? Preferably in another neighborhood. And get yourself some better clothes."
What a lowlife piece of shit. But he was dressed quite nicely.
Sometimes I stand there, across the street from this opulence and imagine scenarios.
I picture crotch boy choking on a large chunk of his $66 Kobe NY Strip. He clutches at his throat as his genteel friends look on helplessly. He falls to the floor blue and dead.
I visualize the woman who sneaks a flask in her purse passing out from alcohol poisoning. She is rushed to the hospital where every one of her internal organs shuts down and she dies.
Leaving her children in the care of her alcoholic and abusive husband.
One day soon, and I know it's coming, I will make a lot of money. It is inevitable. Life's reward, right?
When I do I will dine at O Steaks & Seafood, taking to heart the lessons I have learned.
I will face the thrift shop and wait for the closer to walk out. As he approaches the street I will pound on the plate glass window, grab my crotch and flip the asshole off.
I know a fucking loser when I see one.