Enforced Job Break ~ fiction by Jim Meirose

The store’s closed for two hours. The show window glass’s being replaced, so an unusual, never happens, first time in God knows how long, forced idleness’s settled in on Sandy and the Rudimentary Substitute shoe salesman. After tiring of idly hanging around out front half-watching the workmen wrangle up great sheets of thick plate glass, Sandy went back to the break room, opened a soda she’d brought in for lunch, and sat at the in every dimension quite cheap quite thin unsteady slightly wobbling really cheap fake grained four-foot square table. As she sat, the other came in, and took the tin chair cattycorner from her, empty-handed.

She eyed him secretly without turning her head. Truly, and truly, not quite bizarre, but quite enough, face. Set straight ahead as a plastic face of the blank sort in windows to sport the latest headwear and other things, too; eyeglasses, perhaps, and—for sure not many more things, because the means ot adorning the head in men varies widely over the globe, but hereabouts does not vary much from man to man, but; there you go, there, you see; was wise of me to keep that little child’s globe and ah yes uh o, No! Do not nod off! The worst time of day it is for idleness—the first one to three ‘fter lunch in every stale-aired workshoppe ‘cross the nation—do not nod off try not try not if only work were possible this must be ‘ome torment-test measuring your ability to stay awake when the pressure—and the boredom—and the silently bland loss of fresh air’s—striving to take you; hey, Sandy.

Jump-what, him; said Hey Sandy must have been because he’s he’s the only—

Shake-wake! Yes! Look! Watch him saying like he never said before, You know, like—look at this table. This break room table. Why’s it like this? You know? Get what I mean?

No, not really. What do you mean? It’s just a table. Sort of normal, to me.

Eh ho hah we never have yet had this talk like this he’s he’s, he’s he’s he’s sp he’s—so nice. But, it’s wrong—

Yes, yes. That is very true. Normal. It is very normal. But—think this. What if it were out in the store-space proper, set in the middle of Dell’s luxurious carpet, with shoes set out on it? How normal would it be then?

Uh, well—perfectly normal. It’s a table.

No, stop, think. This kind of table? A plain cheap table like this? Out front it would just look—out front here in Dell’s—where all’s supposedly some rather large cuts above?

Sandy bristled an instant at his gruffness but then—no, no, no; this is the substandard man came in half-unconscious by some clerical mistake, it seemed. Only fit to sweep. Needing to be kept in back out of sight. This is the man that drove customers away. This is the man who was useless and mute, barely in control of his limbs, and now here he is philosopherizing ‘bout what is or ‘s’nt suitable to suite the Dell’s shoes stores image. Quietly stimulated without knowing so, she studied the table, and narrow-eyed for an instant, saw it out front showing shoes for Dell’s. Yes, he has a point, yes—

He moved in fast, with, I’ll say, I’ll tell you. This sort of table’s the kind that one always sees stacked with books selling off for a penny each out front of a going out of business book store, with blue sloppily felt-markered up price sheets scotch taped to the table edge, blowing over half ripped off in the wind! That sound right?

I, yes, it does seem—right.

And also, he said, more excitedly—it’s also the kind one always sees in the don’t give a shit how it looks back break room of most if not all fake facaded retail stores. Like this Dell’s. And probably every other Dell’s, too, as well. Something, huh?

Nodding thoughtfully, Sandy stepped back inside looking seeing not speaking a bit, but hard thinking, this is odd. I have not spoken to this man before except in terse polite work-related terms. Like good job. Nice sale. Just one thing, advice; you could have offered a few similar styles from out back. Yes. No. Good job, but this casual off work conversatione never for me not quite correct to me but to him; to him; its like hey look old pal here’s what’s what this that there and those—you know—but t’wa next ‘nstant she said quick to catch up with herself, that’s true. I never thought of that before. All break rooms are like that. Very true.

His eyes lit, and he sped off into Yah, and you know, that probably—well, not just that, no—most probably definitely true, that these are not places in which to spend the day. Or to do the work. These are places to use intermittently here and there during the overall spending of a work day. Or of doing the work. This, but, oh. Like in Dell’s case. If Dell’s were not trying to blow up their look into something grander than they are, would this be the look of the entire Dell’s store?

What do you mean?

Well. Instead of the fine carpet—would there be cut-rate dull linoleum? Instead of crystallinely sparkling tasteful ceiling light fixtures, would there be unevenly dangling harsh bare bulbs? Instead of chrome framed plush leather obviously expensive customer seating, would there be battered steel grey school cafeteria-style folding chairs?  Instead of a beautifully decorated wall between the worn green steel backroom stock racks, rip it down, make all one big room. The same with the break room—this downscale less than plain break room—set in in a corner of the large space, in full view. Burnt out coffee pots overflowing trash cans wobbly cheap table tossed down candy wrappers crushed coke cans and all yes that, and—even more; the entire back wall; expose the loading dock—the diagonally black striped yellow safety bumpers. The filthy dirty rubberscuffed rough brick walls. The stinking truck black smoke drifting in, over, and through—and the swarthy sweat-drenched unshaven grimy truckers idling, smoking, grab-assing huff-puffing rough laughing rough truckers w’ no manners, and no shame. Down to that level; down to their level. Dell’s would then be perfectly true real ‘n undisguised! And then; would be an example for all! Buh; up! All’d be wonderfully level out then; the truckers who could very well be customers in disguise and the customers who could very well be truckers in disguise would drop down into their reals; and ‘cross all the multiplicitial spectrum of whose before between and past those two ‘xtremes will lie did lie will always and every lie, will stop. Those like you and me, will stop; who lied to fit in; fit in the slots; in the slots like this, no more lying’s required, ‘cause, at bottom. At bottom. At bottom, all’s the same; all jobs equal money and thus are the same, all thoughts, being all the brief wisps that they are, are also, well; pretty much the same. In fact, very simply, all things are the same. All this prose ‘s unnecessary. What if all saw this? Then all showed true, at last, in the world? What if all, ‘d everything everyplace dropped their confusions?  What kind of a world would that be?

Do you think?

Sandy jerks as if wakening and all that yes no, but—there they were. Still sitting, still set crossed-off from each other; he with the look of having not said one word.

But something had been yes it had—


Dazed, she stumbles up—look, she says, while silently thanking God—look. The windows are in. Customers are gathered. Let’s go. Let’s open.

Back to real life now. You know.

Jim Meirose’s work has appeared in numerous venues. His novels include “Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer”(Optional Books), “Understanding Franklin Thompson”(JEF), “Le Overgivers au Club de la Résurrection”(Mannequin Haus), and “No and Maybe – Maybe and No”(Pski’s Porch). New work “Audio Bookies” is forthcoming from J.New Books. Info: www.jimmeirose.com. Twitter: @jwmeirose.

Show Jim some love via PayPal at jmeirose(at)optonline(dot)net.