Wednesday, July 10, 2002

I should have known today was going to be a weird day when last night I found a dead bird on the floor near my bed.

It was a present from my cat Scout. She laid it on a piece of paper, and when I returned home from work there it was, wings spread, body torn open and half eaten, and loose feathers surrounding its carcass. I didn't know what kind of bird it was, but it was young. Not a baby, but not quite an adult either.

This morning, my answer came. A mourning dove kept flying at my window. It created quite a ruckus, squeaking and flapping it's wings, then taking a rest to perch on the tree just outside my window. Then, it would flutter madly again as it looked inside. I've never seen a dove do that before, and I'm guessing that it was the parent dove calling for her baby. It made me sad, watching the futility of that dove frantically looking for her young who was not going to answer. It also made me think of the tragedy of finality. That baby wasn't coming back, no matter how the much dove flapped her wings and chattered. I felt sorry for her, and responsible. I know that it was my cat that did it, but I had brought the cat here and let her out. I looked at the dove, a mother that had lost her young, and said, "I'm sorry."

This was the first of many odd incidents today.

When I left for work it was 102 degrees outside. Miserable. As I've mentioned before, we have no air-conditioning in the house. My room was a hot box. I carried around a facial sponge and spritzer bottle, sponging and squirting water on me every two minutes. It still didn't help the misery. And, it's supposed to be even hotter tomorrow.

I got to work fifteen minutes early, as Barnes and Noble is air-conditioned, though not very well since the door is constantly opening and it's a big store. I bought my mocha over ice and bottled water and went into the break room to mellow out before my shift started. Two other employees filtered in, one named Elaine who I had just met, and Katie, a relatively new employee but whom I know better. Brian came in, and all of us sat at the table red faced and tired from the heat, not much for words, but cheery nonetheless. It wasn't lost on me though, that the manager's door was closed and there was a meeting going on inside. Quite a long one, as it had been going on since I had arrived. We continued to chat, when the door burst open and Lisa, who works in the music department, stormed red-faced toward her locker. I thought she was crying, but wasn't sure until she turned toward me, face contorted in tears and as she stomped past me, hurled an envelope at the wall, flung open the break room door and flew out of the room. Seconds later, I heard stomping up the stairs. All of us were shocked and cautious with our comments, touching on what we'd just witnessed but not delving too deep into what might be happening.

I walked over and picked up the envelope, and Josh, the music manager walked out of the manager's office. I handed him the money, and as I visualized Lisa flinging it against the wall in a fit of rage, I said to him, "Lisa dropped this," and handed it to him. I figured that it was her last paycheck, vacation money and whatever had accrued over time, as Lisa had been with the store for four years.

A few minutes later, she came back through the door, her face sullen and I mouthed to her, "you ok?" She looked at me but didn't respond, and I left it at that. She walked into the manager's room and had a few more words with them, during which the rest of us pretended that we didn't notice the drama going on. After she was finished, she turned back toward us, dropped her lock on the floor and kicked it toward the wall. At that, she left. Seconds later, I heard a woman screaming at the top of her lungs.

I knew it was Lisa.

I walked outside to a hushed store, then walked up to Brian who was sitting in the cafe and asked, "What happened?"
He told me that Lisa had yelled to a stunned store, "I'm finally free, free of this fucking place!"

I asked someone why she was so upset, and was told that she had been fired for being "written up" too many times. I had no idea, but I guess there was a long history of complaints from customers and coworkers. However, I liked Lisa. She has a morose personality that some of the newcomers felt was aloofness and unfriendliness, but I liked her sarcastic wit and could see the girl underneath the misanthrope. After being through my own hell, I can talk to anyone, and don't take much personally. I guess what broke through the ice pretty quickly was I didn't see her initial impression as a barrier. I also have an incredible understanding of people, particularly artists.

I have to say that I think getting "let go" is a blessing in disguise for her. She is only 23, and seemed unsure with the track her life was currently on. And, she'd been at the store for four years. She is a smart girl with a degree in theatre arts from USC and it's just too easy to hide in an easy job and live at home with the parents. That is, unless you have a specific game plan for doing so, such as school or looking for a new job. This is why I think it's the best thing that could have happened to her. She will now be forced to consider other options. I know it hurts her right now, but maybe in more ways than she ever considered, is she finally free.

I will miss her, though.

Just minutes after Lisa's declaration of independence to the patrons of Barnes and Noble, another drama was taking place up at the cashier's desk. A woman who had no receipts for her books wanted to return them for full price, and was enraged that our store policy didn't allow it. She was a fat, short woman with a fat short dog, (the dog was cute, though), who wore dark sunglasses. She proclaimed that she spend "thousands of dollars" at our store and couldn't believe that she was being treated in such a shabby way. She was abrasive, demanding, insulting and rude to Josh, who was simply trying to explain our store policy. And, she was causing a scene, saying that her husband had the receipt in New York, that she needed to exchange the books tonight, and a whole bunch of other bullshit.

As I listened to her rant and rave, this saying came to mind, "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine." And in her case, you can add "bitch" to the end of that sentence.

I think the woman was under the impression that if she screamed loud enough, that she would get her way. She was wrong. It was actually hurting her case. Especially when you want to return a few hundred dollars worth of computer books at full price, which is a classic scam. Steal the books, return them at another store, get store credit, sell the store credit. I called Don in the back office and said that the woman was causing a scene and getting in Josh's face. Two minutes later, the security guard arrived. After protesting loudly that security had been called, she piped down. And, she didn't get her way and ended up apologizing to Josh and Jeff later. Apparently, because she was busy yelling and not listening, she had misheard a few things. Needless to say, she had no argument.

Like I said, it was a hot day. It was taking a toll on people.

Little did I know, that earlier in the day, Monica, another employee had to be taken away by ambulance. She became ill with a headache that progressed to loss of feeling in her arms and no peripheral vision. Fearful that she was going to have a migraine seizure, the ambulance was called and the paramedics whisked her away. I wasn't there for that one, and from what I hear, Monica is feeling much better.

Then, I was stalked. More on that later.

No comments: