Let me introduce myself. I’m a single mom with a kid who is just about to enter high school. My ex is pretty consistent with the child support but it’s not really enough to cover everything I need. I’ve been working at this warehouse store for a year now. I have a bachelor’s degree but I got married right out of college and pregnant within six months.
He’s long gone now and the store is within walking distance of my house and my hours are perfect match for John’s school schedule. I put on a few pounds before I went back to work, and have a tendency to wear pants with elastic waists, running shoes, oversize tops and little makeup or jewelry. Right now I’ve also got on a Chargers jacket that my ex left behind in the hall closet.
Everyone I work with is very nice. In Australia they’d call them battlers, people who know that they have to work hard to survive. That they can’t forget for a second, or get sick, or take a two week vacation and still have the money to pay the rent.
I just got to my register. Its only ½ hour after opening and there is a long line of shoppers ready to check out, some with flat bed carts loaded six to seven feet high, local restaurateurs or the buyers for local buffets. The bar guys with carts full of generic booze to fill up the name brand bottles, so they can charge more. It’s still Vodka after all, and most customers can’t tell the difference.
There’s the mom with the 12 foster kids, but since it’s a weekday only 6 are with her; The ones too young for school. Multi bag loaves of white bread, giant boxes of frozen fried shrimp, hot dogs on a stick, frozen burritos, frozen pizza. Even at this store the bill was astronomical. And you always had to keep an eye on the kids, who despite the bulk packaging, still managed to put things in their jackets or in their mouths. They were always holding sample plates heaped to the brim, even in the checkout line. I’m sure she cuts her grocery bill by bringing them in for tastings a few times a week.
There’s Elmer and Shirley, the senior couple from the corner house The lawn has died and they are either too sick or too broke to take care of the exterior and the yard. Elmer is munching on a cheese ball as Shirley looks on disapprovingly, while unloading the cart full of women’s clothing. He eats, she shops, they’re in a rut and bored.
Now we’ve got Gianni, that gorgeous 30 something man who owns the upscale Italian restaurant in the village. Too bad he’s so short and small framed. He’d never look at me twice. If he’s not married, I bet his restaurant is packed every night with women decorated to attract his attention.
My next customer is a very small older woman who doesn’t meet my eyes. She hands me her membership card and moves towards the end of the counter holding a roll of bills almost as big as her head. Across the aisle towards the exit I see a very large man watching her who looks young enough to be her son. He looks very irritated and very threatening and impatient. I see her raise her eyes towards him and quickly lower her head again. When I tell her how much she’s spent, she bursts into tears and starts screaming.
To be continued