Due to popular demand (okay, one person asked), I decided to post one of my college short stories.
Note: This is based on my sister’s experience as a convenience store clerk. She is FedUp Fran in the story. My name in the story is Ima Offended for reasons that will become obvious when you read it. It was written early 1998.
Convenience Store Chronicles: A Night in the Life of a Clerk
“You told me to tell you when it’s six, so I’m telling you,” Ernie from the Infirmary said, glancing up from the book It’s a Risky Job But Someone’s Got To Do It: A Prison Guard’s Tale.
Fedup Fran groaned. She forced herself to put aside her experiment to find the cure for cancer. She figured out everything but one equation. If she found that, then she’d benefit humankind.
But she had to go to work. She put on her plaid uniform, making sure she put on her ‘Einstein Fan Club’ pin to ward off any people that might enter the store and ruin part of her brain with their stupidity.
When she arrived, Suckup Susie was licking Insensitive Ira’s shoes clean. “I want to make sure I get these shoes really clean and shiny.”
Fran rolled her eyes. “Why actually earn the assistant management position when you can kiss up to the boss?”
“Shh…Don’t say that so loud! Gertrude No-Apptitude might get ideas. She’s been eyeing the position for days,” Susie whispered.
They glanced at Gertrude who was counting the hairs under her armpits as a customer counted the pennies needed to pay for the gas and Twinkies he was purchasing.
“I’m clocking in,” Fran said. “Unfortunately.”
“Wait! Does Gertrude know how to make a cake?”
“No. She never cooks because she can’t follow the directions.”
“What a relief! I’m going to bake an original Betty Crocker devil’s food cake for Ira. See you later. I got to pick up Ira’s laundry.”
Fran clocked in. “You’re off now,” she told Gertrude.
“Huh?” Gertrude asked. “Hey, do ya think I outta wear deodorant?”
Fran sighed. “It’s my turn to work. You should go home now. You know, the place where you live.”
“Oh ya! Right. Well, ‘spose I’ll see ya later than. By the way, the new schedule is up. Bye bye.”
Fran groaned. A long night loomed ahead. She checked the schedule and was extremely displeased when she saw that Insensitive Ira had, once again, given her no days off.* Deciding to assert her worth as a person with needs and values that mattered, she called Ira.
Ira was in the process of painting her nails and catching up on the day’s soap operas. “You called?” she asked into the phone.
“I was going through the schedule when I noticed everyone else gets two days off and I get none. I was wondering if there’s a way we could reach a compromise on how many days I have to work this week?”
“Who is this?”
“Fran. Your employee.”
“I can’t believe you. All you ever do is whine. Wah, wah, wah. You want a job, don’t you?”**
“Everyone else gets a full two days off. Why is that?”
“I knew hiring a baby wasn’t such a great idea.”
“Look, I’m a human being who deserves respect. I-“
“I have to go. Susie’s coming over with a cake.” Then she hung up.
Fran frowned. One of these days, she was going to let Ira have it!
A few hours of mundane work passed before she realized Gertrude ‘forgot’ to empty the trash–again. A firm believer in the work ethic, Fran patiently did all her duties, including emptying the trash. All the while, she listened to her audiobook titled Crime and Punishment.
“One of these days,” she muttered.
An hour later, her sister, Ima Offended, showed up with a scowl on her face. “Once again my faith in human beings is destroyed!”
“What’s wrong now?” Fran asked as she stopped sweeping the floor.
“Are you implying I have a crisis every time I come here?” Ima demanded, hands on her hips.
“No. I’m not implying anything. It’s a known fact you have a crisis three times a day. So, what’s disturbing you this time?” She put the broom away.
“Why doesn’t anyone ever do the speed limit? I am the only person on this planet who obeys the rules of the road.” She put her hand to her forehead and muttered in despair.
“You aren’t the only one who does the speed limit. Dad does too.”
“Oh yeah. That’s right.”
“So, what brings you here?”
“I wanted to make an appearance in this story.”
“Speaking of this story, it wasn’t possible for you to write something about my getting out of this dead-end job and getting a real life?”
“No one appreciates me! It’s just like letting someone borrow a pen. They never give it back. They keep it. As if my feelings don’t count. Why didn’t you ever give me that pen back, Steve?”
Wary, Fran glanced at her. “Are you alright?”
Ima blinked. “Sorry. I was recalling a traumatic event I experienced in high school.”
“That was five years ago.”
“Just because something happens years ago doesn’t lessen its impact in the present. Psychoanalysis is a counseling therapy that deals with how past events affect the present, especially regarding memories that are suppressed in the subconscious mind.”
Fran chuckled. “You crazy Psychology majors.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. It was just a comment.”
Ima didn’t look convinced but let it go. “Oh, I also came to see the kittens. They are so adorable.”
“They’re at the house. I’m not allowed to bring pets to work. Ernie’s there, so he’ll let you into the house to see them.”
“You know, you could have done a better job of revolving your schedule around my life so I could visit your house instead of coming to this dump, but I’ll be nice about it and forgive you. Bye.”
And so Ima had made her appearance into the story, was satisfied with the amount of dialogue afforded her, and left.
Fran immediately took out her book, Sisters: You Don’t Have to Share Her Personality. She breathed a sigh of relief as she read it in her typical speed-reading time.
The rest of her time at work was spent serving cranky customers, stocking the shelves, and other mundane things that were beneath her.
Someday I’ll make my sister write a story about me doing something successful with my life instead of being trapped in this stupid plot.
* This really happened on several occasions to my sister.
** Her boss really complained about how she was a big baby who whined all the time.
(And yes, this was similar to the conversations my sister and I shared a couple of times in the past.)