Night Shifts (After Seneca)
There I stand behind a counter that blocks me from this world. I hear the customers chit-chat in a high pitch only known as frustration. Which will she buy for the dress, she declares, seeing her daughter. The daughter responds in a tone maybe only dogs should hear that she hates every last option. In the background you get the white-out noise of a dissatisfied huff which could only mean that they they’re going to argue when they get to the front. A small little carriage squeaks as it passes, sharing that the lady will be leaving soon. I stand not sure whether to roll the cart to put away the fabric or to stay and help my friend. He mumbles to himself how he needs a smoke and a good coffee as he stomps his feet and forcefully puts the fabric on the table with a smack. He has some type of old and whimsical music playing from a not so timeless radio. A couple asks for assistance in the jewelry section, and he with his overly alert mind, has a rapid response. I hear him walk away from the counter from which we stand. The manger is quickly speaking Spanish (which she does not know all the words to) in an attempt to talk to an older gentleman about how to make a gift to surprise his youngest. She with her loud voice can be heard from a few rows away–a sing song-y voice that rolls into laughter. Handing me the fabric he needs cut, I try to find the groove for cutting and the sound of metal meeting itself ends with a clunk. As the scissors now snip into the fabric, she continues to talk louder as she steps into the next aisle till she finds what she was looking for. You can now hear my friend returning from helping the couple; I can almost feel his scream as it hits my ear when he sets off the seasonal motion sensor products. He overly complains that he isn’t paid for a heart attack but really is now fighting the laughter that won’t stop, seeing this will be the second time this night he mimicked a small child’s scream. Now to quiet the store, he gets on the speaker and announces that we will be closing soon in attempt to have everyone stop commenting on the last event. As we begin to close, you hear the final carriages being put back into their homes with the sound of them forcefully being put back together. The soft chatter of each customer leaving the store begins to die out till only one or two are left. The time is coming close to the end with each announcement booming over our heads; you can hear each worker’s desperation to finally walk through the doors to start their journeys home. One co-worker has begun the deep sighs of exhaustion that can tell the story of what life has thrown at them. It is finally closing time.
As the last few customers head to the front, so do the employees. One of us heads to the door to lock it as each person finishes their transaction. One girl checks out the rest of the line as the manager begins to close the draws. You can hear many good nights and final questions. Trying to close as fast as we can, we escort the last one out. The store haves everything lock and ready to rest. My friend calls over the manger, and they go out for a last smoke before the real work begins. Being outside in the bitter air, you can almost hear the soft hum of the highway and even more closer the street with cars stopping and starting every few minutes to the rhythm of the light. There is a family coming out of the restaurant a few stores down, and the kids are squealing as they run to the car. They shout encouragements to their parents who fall more and more behind. My friend slowly talks about art and the meaning of life as he quickly starts whaling at the moon–as if his problems were going to be fixed by it. My manager sits on the curb, only making sounds of agreement, and pings are coming from the devices in her hands.
Inside there is a lot of work to be done. There is fabric to be put away and trash to go out with a timer cause someone forgot a lunch break and can’t stay any later then asked. The sound of each employee turning on their music starts so each corner of the store seems to have a taste of each type. It’s more livelier everyone is talking about their day and happy to share what been happening at home. The sound or the click of all the radios turn off as each one decides that yelling and hollering to each other is a better choice. I go back to the cart I didn’t know if I wanted to put away earlier, knowing I have to drag it as the heavyweight of it makes it crash into each end cap. The sense of working near someone is comforting as each does their own thing, hearing the sound of breath if not the music of choice first. The sound of the light switch clicking slowly starts, and the carts squeak back to their homes as the alarm beeps, warning that anyone left isn’t wanted company, and with that we close for ourselves.
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