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Dirty Cynicism (or Not A 9/11 Post)

"I've been watching while you've been coughing. I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous. And so I drink to health while you kill yourself, and I've got just one thing that I can offer..."

The Target Powers That Be have taken me off the sales floor. My new assignment is as a part of the group known as Presentation. If today is any indication, Presentation involves getting up at five in the morning and then sharing a shift with the frightening malcontents they don't allow on the regular day shift because...well...they're too frightening and malcontenty. At the moment, Target are switching from summer to fall lines, which for the moment means getting rid of all the Back To School junk and replacing it with Halloween stuff.

Regular readers may recall that I once worked the night shift at Tesco. They may even recall me once saying that I finished the best part of a novel whilst on my lunch and coffee breaks there. I started work at ten, had a fifteen minute break at eleven thirty, half an hour for lunch at two thirty, and a further fifteen minutes at five-ish before heading home at seven thirty in the morning. And though the three months I was there damn near killed me, they were also probably the most productive three months of my life.

Which might be why I felt a strange thrill when I arrived at the store to find a band of tired looking strangers sitting outside having a cigarette break.

"What are you smiling about?" A tall Mexican with a permanent slouch and dark circles around his eyes asked me. "Don't you work at Target?" He offered a weary grin and a grimy hand, tilting his head to acknowledge my nod of recognition.

You see, no matter how good I may be at the customer service thing, and no matter what store and district and even regional managers may see in me, these will always be the folk I relate to most, and their places - places most people don't give a second thought to - will be the ones almost shining with inspiration. There's a certain mixture of desperation, resignation, and dirty cynicism that appeals to me, a sense of realism that would be lost on the cheery students and second-jobbers that inhabit the day shift. The difference is only a few hours, but it may as well be another world.

But back to Halloween, and back to this certainty I had - after about ten minutes of hanging up the kiddie costumes - that this generation is both the most and least fortunate to have come along in a while.

Most fortunate because some of these outfits fucking ruled. Seriously, any fool can wrap a scarf around his head and call himself a ninja. But how many can turn on those that have spurned their innocent requests for treats by whipping out a pair of suprisingly heavy nunchuku, or even twin daggers attached to their wrists by way of a bracelet and chain? Those whose parents shop at Target, that's who. Some might say that such weapons are dangerous, but if you ask me, the only real threat inherent in these elaborate, kick-ass costumes is that they may cause your kids to roleplay themselves right over the high side. Nobody needs little Billy to suddenly decide that he is, in fact, Gargan The Mountain Warrior. And recapturing the demented child could prove difficult, especially when he's equipped with a double-headed spear and a four foot broadsword, even if they are made of plastic.

There are headlines waiting to be written this Halloween, and some of them will be fantastic.

Least fortunate because even Gargan The Mountain Warrior is a less fortunate child for never having made his own Halloween costume. If you don't know the dichotomy of thrill and disappointment that comes with throwing your first white sheet with eyeholes cut in it over your head, then you don't know Halloween. Not really. Because the best part of that particular festival is not the pumpkins or the candy or even the awful tricks the creative and mischevious can play on their unsuspecting neighbours. No, it's having the idea, the materials, and the determination to make an absolutely terrifying costume.

We'll see who scares who come October 31st, Gargan.

But I digress. My point, before we got sidetracked into that weird Halloween rant, is that being shunted onto the Presentation shift isn't the curse it initially seemed when I was crawling mole-eyed into the bathroom at five this morning. In fact, it inspired me to pause on my way out of the store this afternoon and pick up a bundle of super-cheap notebooks from the now irrelevant Back To School section. I'll slip one into my bag tomorrow, and instead of staring at the walls during my breaks, I'll jot a few thoughts down, maybe sketch out a character or two. You really never know where these things'll lead. After all, my Green Card came in the mail today, and that's such a weight off my mind, that for the first time in a while, I actually feel like writing.



Blogger John said...


9:46 PM  
Blogger jennifer said...



although, i'm a bit disappointed that it's not actually green.

lying cheating bastards.

6:54 AM  
Blogger Jams said...


I was really screaming that, too. Do you think there's any way you heard me in cali? :)

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenn made me snort! I thought it was green :-/ I can't wait for Hallowe'en. I'm going to be the paper bag princess! Wooo Hooo! And I'm sprung from being a Towel Bitch at LNT, I am now a receiver. And it rocks. Mwahahahaha. I didn't even get trained on the till! Phew! Oh, right, its Juan by the way. *slinks off*

7:13 PM  
Blogger PMK said...

I can't believe I missed this one. You're now officially a yank? Holy crap dude, it really doean't seem that long ago we were sitting in Ant's flat talking bollocks.

'Presentation shift'? Is that in the same league as 'stock replenishment operative'?

1:24 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Not officially a Yank, no. It'll be another three years before I'm eligible for citizenship, and even then I may not actually go for it. We'll see.

And yup, 'presentation shift' is perilously close to being identical to 'stock replenishment operative', with the only difference being that presentation also involves an element of...well...presentation. Backgrounds and the like.

It's still shit, mind.

2:14 PM  

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