Good Night, Irene.

February 1, 2017 § 4 Comments

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I was tempted to say good night to Irene, my check out lady, as I left the grocery late on a Tuesday night, but I figured in her 50 or so years, Irene had heard that plenty and might get a little annoyed. Instead, I asked her about the noise, the jack hammering into the customer service counter that was pulsing down my spine.

“Does that bother you?” I asked.

“I’ve got the headache,” she said. Irene did not elaborate.

She figured I’d know about the headache. I did. She kept scanning my groceries.

“Any idea when they’ll be finished?” I said. “Every time I come in here, they’ve moved everything around.”

Irene shrugged. “Tell me about it,” she said.

She endured my many brought-from-home-bags, but insisted on double bagging my meat in plastic, as if to say, Plastic Island will engulf us, whether you bring those or not. Do you really want chicken blood on everything? I had confidence that I could make it 3 miles and into the house without the chicken package exploding, but Irene did not, and here, I deferred. Irene had seen a lot.

In the magazine rack, Us featured the “first family,” which is to say, the Trump children from all the marriages. One of them was pulling another by the necktie, in a jovial way. I hadn’t thought they’d be featured in magazines, but they are, as some kind of Brady Bunch that spans forty years. Of course they are. Still, I thought the necktie thing might be subversive. On another shelf, the paper screamed about the insanity of Bannon.

It could have been the chicken blood that nearly brought me to tears in my car once I’d returned my cart to the “corral”; maybe it was the plastic bags. Right now, anything could do it.

The world was going to shit, and still I was buying groceries. I regret not standing up about the plastic bags. I worry about the necktie. I wonder why I am here on a Tuesday night, when I could be doing anything else—some small thing to resist.

But we all need to be fed. My children can’t wait. Nobody’s children can wait. That’s why I’m here. Why we all are, I suppose.

Irene was here last week, and I figure she’ll be here next, when our food runs out again. She works nights, despite the headache, the constant blast of unpleasant noise, the disruption with no apparent end. I’ll have to too.

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