Black Friday Story

This wasn’t my first rodeo. Black Friday is an American Tradition. An unnecessary evil to some and a beautiful monster to others.

My eyes felt heavy as the morning began to slowly roll in. Midnight to eight in the morning was the worst time If the shift. Things ran slowly as the best and worst shoppers slept soundly in their beds. I stood behind my counter using the glass cases to support my heavy body. I had to be mindful of the cardboard covering a large crack in one of my counters. A mishap from the week before. Apparently it couldn’t be fixed before Black Friday. My body ached wishing it could sprawl out. It craved the sleep it had been robbed of. I tried to pace. I even jogged around the store during those slow hours. Keeping a watchful eye on cosmetics at all times. No one came. It was silent. Only a few lonely stragglers went about our departments.

I dealt with only one difficult customer around nine in the morning. She was older, and wanted to do separate transactions with certain coupons. Not a problem. We do that frequently. She wanted to pay with a check for each. That isn’t a problem either, but it can be a hassle. We have to scan a drivers license for each written check. I asked her to leave it out, because it would have to scan her ID for each transaction. She didn’t listen. By the third transaction she started yelling at me and the poor seasonal associate for constantly asking for it. “I gave it to you once and that should be enough!” She yelled. I told her as sweetly as possible “The system doesn’t hold information, only per transaction. This is to protect your checkbook and identity.” She grabbed her wallet and threw it at my face. It missed and fell to the floor. A few customers behind her gasped and swore at her quietly, making an example of her to their children who seems silent and terrified. I picked up her wallet and quietly said “Here, you dropped this.”

I let the other customers shame her as I completed her transaction in silence. I handed her her bag dismissively calling “Next!” to the customers waiting behind her. I kept it from being a big deal. Telling the other customers that this kind of thing happens and you just have to push through. No big deal. But inside, it was a big deal.

The seasonal worker with mr was shocked. It was her first Black Friday, and from the exhausted look on her face it would probably be her last. I sighed feeling worse for her than I did for myself.

I began to realize how long and short a day is for a human. How numbered our moments are. How wasted they feel on nights like this. Black Fridays were the essence of greed, not just for the desire of things, but for the time it steals from those who work them. Consumers do not just take home gifts for family, but rather, they take up the time of those associates, sleep deprived, and giving up their families, their spouses, their very selves. The breaths of our numbered lives wasted on explaining coupons. Wasted on getting verbally and sometimes physically abused by customers. Wasted. For what? Dollar amounts. Mortality traded for dollar amounts.

I know it would probably never happen, but I often wonder if someone could convince ever person in a company to not show up to work on Black Friday, just to prove a point? Just a dream.

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Black Friday

Spent far too short a time with friends, and then was whisked away by Corporate Authority to sell out for Black Friday. Too tired now, even after a four hour nap post-shift. Twelve hours is far too long to do a shift. Will tell you more tomorrow about the adventure that is Black Friday.

Followers

It isn’t very often that I get those kinds of messages. Honestly I didn’t realize that people paid that much attention to their Instagram followers to notice one is gone, much less which follower specifically is gone. But, I had stopped following him, and no more than a few moments later I got the message.

“Hey, noticed you unfollowed. Why?”

It was an account of poetry. But lately he kept posting text messages he sent a guy friend complaining about how he hasn’t been laid or kissed in two years. It was hard to respect a person who was so consumed with falling in love that they forgot to live a little. Not even that, but it was harder to respect a guy who didn’t even seem to want to fall in love, but just have sex with whatever would come his way. His account oozed desperation and he wrote nothing but love/sex poetry. It was getting obnoxious. So I told him what I thought. I told him I couldn’t respect a person who was not content alone or with someone. I told him that as strong as love or feeling in love was, there were other ways to love. I told him that his poetry was slipping in his desperation and his obsession would ruin his talent. He was going slack. Wasn’t as on top of things as he used to be. I was losing my ability to enjoy his account. So I was giving up.

Then immediately I blocked him. I didn’t want a reply. I didn’t want to be flirted with. I didn’t want to be told what a “bitch” I was. I didn’t want to deal with his desperate emotions and his desire to have sex with another human being. He was attention seeking. Any way he could get it. I wasn’t going to give it to him. I refused to feed that fire.

So that was it.

Sorry Not Sorry, Thanksgiving Stuff

I have little to say today. Just as I have had little to say yesterday. I have spent a great deal of time preparing for friends to come visit for Thanksgiving, and I work a great deal. I will report more when the holiday dies down a bit. Until then the posts you see will probably be shorter, and less interesting.

Thank you all and happy Thanksgiving.

Random…

If I were to do anything illegal in my life, which I wouldn’t, but if I would, I would probably be a drug lord. But I I would be a nice one. The kind that offers health benefits to my drug runners, and a ton of security from other drug lords. I would probably run it out of some kind of large company that owns a sky scraper.

Just a random contemplation that isn’t well thought out.

Ministry

He started at me as he spoke, and within me a fired burned from embers into a furnace. I knew why he asked it, I saw his intentions, and I wanted to rebell against them and remain silent. But apparently I was unable to hold in such a deep truth. So as the words rolled out of his mouth: “Do you guys agree we live in an authentic church?” I immediately shook my head and replied “No.”

I regretted the moment I uttered the words. Not because I didn’t want others to know how I felt. I thought quite strongly that they did need to know the opinion of one who had become ashamed of being in the kind of church that felt fake. I regretted, because the first rule of trying to fly under the radar in a church is you never tell a pastor the truth. You smile and nod keeping your feeling deep inside, and only speak of them anonymously in blog posts, journals, and of course to God.

But the words had been uttered, and I knew from the smirk that came across his face that I was in for a treat. “Im glad you say that. Stay for a little while after group. I want to chat about that.” I knew what I was in for. I had been approached before about such things. I had been spoken to about my feelings…and they all resulted in the words I was so incredibly afraid of.

“I think you need to start a ministry.”

“I know.”

I said it because I knew it. This wasn’t the first time I had been told that. Several times I had been told I needed to start a ministry by at least 4 other people, even prior to coming to this church. He nodded and asked me to contact him so we could set up a meeting. I told him I would, and I had every intention of doing so….but I dragged my feet.

A week went by, and I thought about it a ton. I thought about it until I couldn’t stand it, but still I couldn’t bring myself to text him. Another week went by, and I found my sleep becoming more restless and my heart heavy. I wanted to ignore it. I didn’t want to respond to the call. I wanted to let it all disappear. To let it all go. To forget he had said anything. I wasn’t qualified. I swear too much. I work too much. I wasn’t built for ministry.

What if I failed?

The week after I found a text from him on my phone. He had asked to finally set up a meeting. All my foot dragging had come to an end. This was it. This was affirmation that this wouldn’t go away…which meant that this was probably meant to be. We set up a later afternoon appointment a couple weeks from that day.

In our meeting he had told me. “I never do that. I don’t just call or text people I want to put in leadership. I usually just let them choose what they want to do and let God work. This time…this time I did it because I had to. God wouldn’t let me rest until I did. I had been looking for someone like you…and suddenly there you were.” I didn’t know what to say. It isn’t often someone tells you that they felt God leading them to you, especially for a leadership position. I laid out my story. I laid out my personal life. I told him my excitement combined with fear and doubt. He soothed those. We prayed. We talked a bit more about what kind of ministry I wanted to begin. He offered some resources. Just like that it was all over.

Afterward I went out for a late lunch of Fish and Chips at one of my favorite local diners. As I waited for my food, I began writing a list of what I wanted and didn’t want in this ministry. My goals list. Something to help me build a direction. A ministry was just an abstract design. First figure out your goals. After that, figure out your competition…your enemy/ your list of don’ts. Next figure out your name, look, and feel.

I began realizing how intense this was going to be. How much I would change. How much I would hurt. How much I wanted to bail out. The normal feelings one goes through when dealing with inner conflict. I was going to have to read my Bible more, which was going to be easier said than done. I was going to have to find a devotional or some kind of curriculum to begin our study with, which would take a lot of time, and a lot of reading. I was going to have to emotionally prepare myself for a ton, like people getting angry about something I did or said…from outside and inside the church.

It was going to be painful…but it was going to be worth it.

Fond Sadness

I had found it in the deep dark depths of my closet. Hidden away in the bottom of a cardboard box, where the rest of my life was being kept. I pulled it out upon recognition and decided to throw it in my car. Maybe one day I would go through it and pick out one of those discs and try to remember who gave it to me and why as I listened.

Just yesterday I pulled out my first CD. I hadn’t recalled who gave it to me. I still can’t. A combination of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Blue October, some songs from the August Rush Sound Track, and a little Chris Rice. I recalled the summer, in Chicago working for my aunts wife at her “boutique” store…which consisted of several multi-purpose rooms for rent, a nursery for child care, a large art gallery, and an even larger retail space. I had worked that summer to my utmost loneliness. Both my aunt and her wife work…a lot. So I spent a great deal of time alone. I quit working a week early. My boss didn’t like it. The I had to go back to their house, and still deal with the drama that should have been left at work. It was infuriating.

Music got me through that summer. It was all that kept me going. Perhaps that is where the CD came from? Perhaps it was a gift to myself? I still didn’t recall. All I knew was it helped me survive…and that was enough to evoke a fond sadness.

I know I talk about sadness a great deal, and I’m sure you’re all sick of it by now, but I do have a deep fondness to sadness. You can become addicted to it, but only the ones that were a combination of nostalgic sorrow. The sadness of missing someone long lost to you. The sadness of remembering a bitter sweet memory. The kind of sadness that has beauty to it. It’s not traumatic, just poetic and lovely. A warm kind of sorrow that fills your soul with the kind of emotional release humans often need and deprive themselves. Not the kind that drives people to drink, but the kind that makes them take long walks after a glass of wine. We focus so much on happiness, we often forget to allow ourselves to mourn things. To miss things. We tell ourselves good riddance, but the riddance isn’t without it’s own pain.

Music often brings me back to those moments.