Price Breaks And Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Al And Tallulah’s Wild Ride
“Now Al,” Paper Shredder store manager Mr. Palmer walked up behind me, “you know that reading books instead of working is the same thing as stealing.”
“Oh I’m sorry sir.” I fumbled the volume back onto the shelves.
“What is it you’re looking at anyway?” He pulled the volume back off the shelf, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting?”
“It’s… a research… for a story about a serial killer baby...”
He rolled his eyes, “I don’t know what kind of person would read a story written by you but I can only feel pity for the twisted blackened remnants of their souls.”
Somehow the fourth wall didn’t collapse and kill us both so I said, “Well I guess I should just get back to work then.”
“I think so.”
I started to leave and turned back, “You have a family don’t you?”
“Yup two kids and another on the way,” he smiled proudly.
“So I guess being a manager is a good deal right?”
Mr. Palmer laughed, “No. I barely make ends meet.”
“Then…” I had to scratch my head, “…Then why are you doing it?”
“Because I can’t find a job anywhere else,” he explained, “managers are salaried but the only way we can meet deadlines is to work at least 60 hours a week. I barely have any quality time at all with my family.”
“And the only thing the district manager loves to make more than surprise inspections is making managers eat crap sandwiches.”
With every word Mr. Palmer spoke the whites of his eyes showed more and more. I had wanted to ask him about the benefits package and chances for promotion but I was afraid those eyes of his might roll back in his head.
I tried to stay calm, “I guess I should plan for a career somewhere else.”
“Oh you can get a foot in the door here but just be ready to kiss school and your social life goodbye. Every day you’ll die inside just a little bit more until the only way you’ll be able to feel joy is by masturbating in the privacy of your camped office.”
“I am so glad you opened up to me like this.” I backed away, “But I should probably go and unpack some more boxes of romance novels.”
“Sure, sure.” He waved me away, “And has that handbook of nude photography I ordered come in yet?”
“I think… I think it got lost in the mail...”
So management wasn’t for me, honestly it was almost a relief, but I still had to wonder what other choices I had. Did I dare go crawling back to Paul DeSanti and try and get a picture truck of my own? I had heard he was branching out into bootleg videos and considering this was the late 80’s that put him pretty far head of the curve.
I thought about talking to one of my friends but I knew that each of them were at the same stage of their lives. Like children we were all taking our first fumbling, uncertain footsteps into the world of adulthood- some of us would soon break into a run to greet those challenges but most of us were poised to go crashing face first into the glass coffee table of maturity.
So what was I going to do? How was I going to take care of the girl of my dreams and the baby that might be?
There was a solution of course, one as obvious as it was scary.
I could join the Army.