my time with this job is almost at an end. as Dickens wrote, and is oft times true, "it was the best of times. it was the worst of times." i met some nice people. i have guests who come in looking for me. i have also met some of the worst people, some of my staff included.
i have shared stories of some of these people. here is the last.
a woman comes in with 8 children. are they all hers? who knows. she sits down to text while these children systematically destroy the store. they reach into the acrylics and threw whole bunches of clothes for the bears into the air. they grab the skater display dog and cat and have "races." they throw panties into the air. they terrorize the few guests who were still in the store, too far into the process to run out. i walk in, ready to start my shift, and see my manager and an associate NOT doing anything to stop this. i get our birthday party bell, very loud, and ring it halting all activity in the store. "who is with these children?" the woman texting says, "they're with me. they're just blowing off steam." i tell her to get them and leave the store while she has the chance. the chance being i am picking up the receiver and calling security. she whistles and they all come running, continuing to tear things up as they go. fortunate circumstance, security is right outside our doors. the children go flooding past him but he grabs the woman and the youngest child. he tells me to call back to security for back up. the woman is furious and struggles. the child screams. i explain the situation and that 7 more children are loose in the mall. security sends out people to cover doors. the PA system blasts out a warning that these children are loose and destructive, and "wanted." it was a bloody nightmare for all concerned.
and it took 3 of us 45 minutes to put the store to rights.
there is a girl, 20, who works as a part time manager. she moved here with her sister, her sister's fiancee, and her own fiancee after the death of her mother. she has been here for well over a year and a half. she broke up with her fiancee and started in a lesbian relationship with her immediate supervisor. because of this relationship, our boss moved her to my store so she could continue working for the company, but she, her lover, and our boss are treading on a minefield. our company does not like relationships within the company being so close. our boss is the boss over my store and the store where this girl's lover is. not only that, but our boss is best friend's with this girl's lover. the three of them hang out a lot outside of work. my problem with this is the stealing of company time. the girl, now my part time manager, is always late getting to the store, even when she's opening that day. late, as in 15 to 20 minutes late, but our boss covers for her. and by cover i mean she clocks her in on time so that she gets paid. to me, and to our district manager, this is stealing money from the company. yet if i complain or call attention to it, it is me against them. yes i can call up the computer evidence of time being approved by our boss, but our boss has worked for the company for 6 years. her word against mine. it grates but there is nothing i can do.
a girl came into the store close to closing time. the mall does not allow children to be in the mall alone after 6 pm. she said she was not alone, that the man in the suit standing at the entrance was her driver and responsible for her. she chose her bear, put in 3 sounds, chose a lot of clothes. it was late and i excused myself to shut the doors. the mall was closing. both the girl and her driver were very correct in their behavior. the girl said little. he said less. as she dressed her bear and gathered up all she had collected to purchase and started ringing her up. it came to over $700. yes, you read that correctly. she pulled out a platinum card and paid for it. it had her name on it. she showed me her ID, not a driver's license, merely photo ID that allowed her to use the card. 4 big sacks later she was ready to go. she only picked up her bear. the driver came over and quietly asked, "ready to go, miss?" "yes." she thanked for me staying late and allowing her to shop. she said, "i don't like being on the mall with regular people." i smiled. she asked, "what?" i told her i was "regular people." her comment? "you're a worker bee. i have to speak to you to get what i want. you did a good job. you have dignity. thank you again." i opened the door and let her and her driver out. she walked with a maturity i have never seen in a 10-year old.
and now for the antichrist. this one still has me rattled.
i was alone in the store. we do not have anyone come in to help out until 1 PM. a woman and her 3-year old son came in. they were buying an "i'm sorry bear" for his 9-month old brother who was in the hospital. i asked what happened to the little one. mom said, "Baker here had an accident and his therapist thought an 'i'm sorry' gift would help him understand he needs to set things right. he had an accident with the iron. i was ironing and left it to answer the phone. Baker unplugged the iron and took it down the hall into his little brother's room and dropped it in is crib. Ben got burned." it was all i could do to keep my face from showing my horror at this story. Baker stood there looking at me with eyes that held no emotion. he scanned the bears and grabbed one. we went to stuff it and i asked if he wanted it soft and cuddly or stuffed really full. he reached out and pinched the hell out of my leg and said, "don't ask stupid questions." keep in mind this child is 3-years old. his mother clucked -- i have read that word in books all my life and never really understood it until this woman did it -- she clucked, as if this was merely a dropped towel, "oh, Baker, sweetie. she wants to give you want you want." hearing those words the little boy asked me, "you want to give me what i want?" in pain, i said, "i want to stuff the bear like you would like it." "fine. soft." all through the process the mother was telling Baker that the bear was for his brother. it suddenly dawned on him as they came to pay out that this really wasn't for him. he stood in the middle of the store and screamed in outrage. he stopped all action of people outside the store who looked in at this child's tantrum. his mother ran to the wall and said, "Baker, honey, i didn't know you'd be so upset. come pick one for yourself!" Baker cut himself off, smiled at me, and went to pick out a bear for himself. it took me 10 minutes of adjusting the stuffing levels to make this child happy. in the meantime i found out that this woman had had both boys by different fathers, was not married, and believed men were filthy. but if she was to be "cursed with boys" she would "raise them right." apparently raising them meant that Baker could do what he wanted when he wanted how he wanted. he controlled the entire show. his mother whispered to me, "please don't make him mad. he'll take it out on me." she "protects him" by locking him in his room at night so she can sleep. she "protects him" by doing everything she can to keep him from getting mad.
as the bears were being rung out, Baker took the bear meant for his brother, held it by its legs, and starting beating it against the counter. his voice was raspy and deep as he said, "i wish Ben would die." he said this over and over. his mother just smiled nervously and said, "i think someone needs a nap." he screamed no for the longest time. he carried that note loud and long. a Navy SEAL would have been impressed with how long he held his breath with that word.
the mother and child left the store and i just stood there, feeling so cold inside, and worried. in about 10 years or so, i think i might be scanning the news for the name Baker, to see if he's done anything yet with the blackness and hatred he carries inside himself.
i hold these stories inside. there is really no one to tell. i tell my children bits and pieces but, you know, those daily things you wish to share, you share with your spouse. "oh, my Lord, you won't believe what happened today." and you talk. they make you feel better. they hug you. they make you a hot cup of tea. they laugh. they comfort. they are there.
i miss him. with all that i am, and all that is happening to me right now, i miss him. i do talk to him. i do tell him all this. there just isn't any answering voice. there are no hot cups of tea being made for me. and there are no hugs to be had.
how did i get here?
my husband, my beautiful Dragon, died suddenly at 12:03 AM on 9 February 2009. there was a cold, lovely full moon and 3 feet of snow on the ground. i "slept" for the following 10 months and "woke" to the physical and emotional pain and torments of deep grief. i "woke" to find i had moved the day of his funeral and that i am lost. i am looking for me while i figure out the abstract, unanswerable questions that follow behind any death. my art has evolved. his death changed that as well because i am forever changed and will forever bear the mark of losing the only man i can ever love.
there is alive and there is dead and there is a place in between. i am here wholly in my heart for my children, but i feel empty inside at this time. i miss him. i have not gotten very far in my grief journey. i make no apologies for this.
this is my place, my blog, where i write to tell the universe that i am still here.