i miss sleep, then sleep too much, but the sleep is just the sleep of tossing and turning, of staring at the alarm, wishing deep sleep was real, reading science stories that say no sleep makes me fat, and boy am i fat...
In life and at work I'm constantly being out performed by underachieving teenagers. I've never had a job that a high school dropout couldn't get, so you wouldn't think being outperformed by a talented teen would bug me, but I'm a petty man.
At work my back hurts again. I gobble down pain pills and my manager glares at me. "I shouldn't drink while I work" my manager reminds me and "I'm not smiling at customers," but that's because I can't fake cheer. A cripple comes through my line in a wheel chair. A strong black man who asks me how I am doing. And something makes me want to tell him. Maybe it was his eyes. But I tell him ok. But he sees right through me. I tell him my back hurts. He says he could tell. He has back pain too. And he tells me he understands. I tell him I am sure my back can't hurt as bad as his. He says cut the shit. When your back hurts it hurts.
I wish I was half as brave as this black man seated in the chair 3 feet below me. I wished I was half as kind as he is. To be able to reach out and comfort strangers. Where do you go to get a soul?
I overhear a poor mother talking to her child. She comes through my line with food stamps and her kid coughs and hacks away at me while I ring up her Ramen soups. Mom tells me that you can die from Ramen poisoning. Something about how Ramen doesn't have the necessary nutrients and vitamins, that poor people and college students need to be careful not to rely on Ramen as a staple.
I guess Dimetapp and cough drops aren't covered by WIC or Food Stamps because I 'm asked to void them off. She doesn't have enough money. I look over at the kid. Now the kid is begging for just the cough drops in a husky broken voice, "but Momma I really need the cough drops." But momma needed her wine and momma needed cookies, and momma needs you to keep quiet "cuz your embarrassing me."
Momma pleads with me through her eyes to get this transaction over with quickly. I'd like to buy the kid some cough syrup a little voice in me says, but instead I just tear out the receipt and hand it over to momma and mumble something about her savings from her value card. And I take mommas advice seriously. I add it to the list of things to avoid eating if stranded in the wild. Rabbits and Ramen soup will get you killed if that's all you eat. I join this bit of wisdom to life experience; sometimes little girls get to cough and sometimes little girls get to eat.