"Europe 2004-05" story # 34

Pas de la Casa, Andorra           January 8, 2005

Hey, everybody!
     My new job in the supermarket is really a lot of fun, and here´s precisely why:
     ... Do you remember when you were one-and-a-half years old, how much fun it used to be to play with blocks? ... (I apologize to all my readers younger than one-and-a-half years old.) Being a super-market shelve-stocker is the exact same thing. All day long, I just stack things and push things around until they look nice. I don´t get to suck my thumb, but I think a female Spanish customer caught me drooling the other day when I was bent over checking out the wine stock.
     Really, I was feeling a lot like Homer Simpson tonight. Did you ever see the episode where Homer was working in the bowling alley as a "pin-monkey" before Maggie was born and he had to go work in the nuclear power plant? All was right with Homer´s world; the sun was always shining, he made just enough money to get by, he was surrounded by spherical and pin-shaped blocks ...
     Today, I was busy at work rearranging the socks and panty-hose section. Great music always plays on our speakers. Today, I was chilling out to Depeche Mode, including the great song that goes, "Iii´m taking a riiide with my best friend." I´m left to do my work, and every fifteen minutes or so a chef or bartender friend from one of the French restaurants will come in and greet, "Comment se va?" (How´s it going?) "Bien," I say.
     My favorite song which plays at our supermarket is called, "La Belle Journée." Good male and female singers collaborate hand-clapping and rising and falling voices to sing, "Belle ... la vie est belle," (Beautiful ... life is beautiful) or "C´est la belle journée!" (The beautiful day is here!)
     The job´s going quite well. Yesterday, however, my boss saw me drinking beer.
     First off, you should know that any and all bosses terrify me. That´s probably because they end up firing me 75% of the time. Whenever they´re around, I don´t know if I should look at them, look at the ground, or just look like I´m doing something that´s going to biseptuplouble their daily profits. My current boss is Andorran, which is an even better reason to be intimidated.
     Native Andorrans can most often be seen driving their SUV´s ignoring hitchhikers, honking their horns at pedestrians and other cars with impatience, and speeding in a hurry. They have a lot of money, but they don´t seem to particularly enjoy themselves that much. They love bureaucracy and rules and lots of police and treating the foreign workers badly. I do feel for the locals in one way, because so many foreigners are in their country and no one (me included) bothers to learn anything in their language, Catalán.
     Anyways, last night, our supermarket received a shipment from a Spanish truck. The Spanish trucker was the type of guy who lets a fart, then laughs about it for a minute non-stop, then calms down to carefully give that fart a rating from one to a hundred, then continues to laugh at or talk about that fart for as long as that was the last fart there is to talk about.
     My boss offered him a drink from our supermarket. He selected a "Leffe," a Belgian beer. A short while later, the Spanish trucker and I were alone together, and he offered me a taste.
     As I tipped back the can of beer, my boss materialized in the snow-cooled night behind the trucker.
     I looked him in the eyes because I was too off-guard to do something that would immediately quadruple his daily profits. The look I gave him said, "I know I probably shouldn´t be doing what I´m doing right now, but I don´t particularly care too much about it."
     His taken-aback look, in response, said, "I never thought I´d see an employee of mine doing what you´re doing." His mouth also involuntarily shriveled up small, in a look that said, "You know, that is kind of funny though."
     The Spanish trucker gave a look that said he was thinking, "(empty thought) ... (nothing) ... (emptyness again) ... Man, these guys are boring. They never fart!"
     We drove together to go unload. My boss noticed two empty Leffe cans were present, not one. "Tu has tomado dos cervezas," he asked the trucker. (You took two beers?)
     The silly trucker laughed. "No! Yo tomé una, y el chico tomó una." (No! I drank one, and your employee drank one.) The trucker had of course drank two. I just kept quiet, feeling my innocence would justify me, figuring my boss could see past the trucker´s jokes. Also, I kept quiet because I was a bit drunk. I´d only had one sip of beer (honest! yuh´godduh buhleeve mee ... I´luv´yoUUU! look, when I stick my ponytail in the air I´m a king!), but the whole situation had psychologically intoxicated me.
     The rest of the night, my boss was particularly unfriendly with me. That´s perfectly normal. But, it scared the crap out of me.
     I didn´t want to get fired ... again. My job had just begun providing me with the oh-so-important FRENCH INFILTRATION STEP 3 - Live with the French.
     My job has lent me an apartment, which I share with my co-worker Cyril. He´s the short and chubby Frenchman with shaggy hair. He has the humble, playful personality of a fourteen-year-old.
     The first night I stayed with Cyril, he came into the apartment late at night and woke me up.
     "Je t´ai réveillé?" he asked, concerned. (Did I wake you?)
     "Oui. Mais, c´est pas problème." (Yeah. But, it´s not a problem.)
     "Oh," said Cyril. "Tu joues au guitar?" (Do you play guitar?)
     Why was he asking me that now? "Non. Et toi?" (No. Do you?)
     "Non. Mais, j´ai un. J´apprends." (No. But, I have one. I´m learning.) A guitar suddenly appeared in his arms, as I layed below him in bed. He fiddled the strings with his fingers. "C´est électrique." (It´s electric.) He played a bit more, suddenly a lot less concerned about whether he´d waken me up or not. For a beginner, he wasn´t half-bad: a bit soothing, really.
     In further roommate bonding, Cyril made us a really good dinner on another night. We ate pasta and garlic bread and tiny niblets of delicious pork meat on bones and tart Bordeaux red wine.
     So, I don´t want to get fired. The night my boss saw me drinking, I had to be extra careful not to break any bottles while I worked. Any big accidents could´ve labeled me convincingly a "boozer."
     My job appears safe. Twenty-four hours have now passed since my night of on-the-job alcoholism, and I´m on the next schedule. "I´m keeping your dream alive, pin-monkey Homer!" My boss still tolerates me.
     I´ve had to tolerate a moderate cold as I´ve been working. During my afternoon work breaks, I often go outside to the ski slopes to read French children´s books. The sun shines on the snowy mountains most days, and sunlight can maybe heal me better than anything.
     When the sun´s not shining, it snows. One day, a wicked wind whipped the falling snow so tiger-ferociously that my face was stung from the cold in mere seconds if I tried to walk in the "white night" daytime.
     On a kinder day, huge snowflakes parachuted down like furballs. I stood out hitchhiking, and my hooded sweatshirt and backpack became coated in white fluff before I got a ride. A beautiful day.

later - Modern O.

Much thanks to Martin & Ricky for the place to stay while I got on my feet!

"I´m taking a ride with my best friend. I hope he never lets me down again." - Depeche Mode

go to the previous story                                                                                   go to the next story

J. Breen's modern-o.com