Life in Kickapoo Center at the Turn of the Century
Ya, Ya-the name for a fellow employee at Wal-Mart. Everything that came out of her mouth was preceded by or followed with;
You know what I mean?
She wasn't so much dumb as lacking in social graces. I knew I was in trouble when I first met her. Bending over stocking shelves, I could see she was wearing Bugs Bunny underwear. Now, I'm not going into a long discussion about drawers-God knows I'm afraid to hang some of my shorts on the clothesline outside. In winter I'm fortunate I can hang them in the basement. The wood stove dries them quickly on the three lines I've strung from two by fours and large screw eyes. One pair has so many holes, I momentarily lose my thrifty sense and consider tossing them. At least I don't use them for rags like a former boss in Arizona. Imagine your boss bringing you underwear to use in refinishing furniture. Better yet, imagine one of the assistant managers at my former Wal-Mart-the one with the Butch haircut and swagger bringing in a pair of her BVD's. Oh I have strayed so far off course, I have become lost. God help me, Jesus.
Ya Ya. In the employee break room she makes a phone call. Her voice is loud. It carries out to the hallway. Fellow workers in the small room lined with booths and folding tables look at each other and roll their eyes upward. Someone in a rear booth makes a loud, quick, shh, sound. She is blissfully unaware. Every phone conversation ends with, " I love you." That would be to the petard boyfriend.
Some would say I am an uncharitable person. Unfeeling, even. There's a 270 day span without an accident. Ya Ya manages to end the streak by injuring her hand lifting cases of orange juice. She also works at Mickey D's. Funny but she doesn't wear the special brace at her other job. Petard boyfriend comes to the store to discuss her condition with the dairy manager. "I'm responsible for her," he says at one point in the conversation. Responsible? Later the manager mumbles something about never wanting to speak to this person again.
As a couple, their exploits rival those of Ma and Pa Kettle. In the movie The Egg and I, Fred MacMurray meets Pa Kettle. Pa's a lazy ne'er do-well neighbor with a nasal twang and dozens of wild looking, dirty children. Ya Ya and Petard outdo Pa Kettle in finding the wrong way to avoid work.
The manager of the hardware department tells the story of the crazy couple fixing the cloth ceiling of their automobile. In and out of the vehicle they're a menace. The cloth has separated from the ceiling. They buy spray adhesive. Then, in a fit of pure inspiration, one( probably Ya Ya) holds the cloth up while the petard sprays the inside of the ceiling cover-the one that's above your head-with the spray adhesive. The thinking is that the spray adhesive will soak through the cloth and attach itself to the roof of the car.
I need to get out of the house.
It snowed during the night. Blowing snow swirls around the house drifting in places I have already shoveled. The 30 mph wind chills you as if it were 54 below zero. It bites your face and numbs your fingers. It's been like this for days. Winter hasn't officially begun. We have two weeks to go before the shortest day of the year. Woe betide me. I fantasize about going back to Arizona. It's a short fantasy when I remember that most of my neighbors moved there after retiring. In essence they were sitting around waiting to die.
The Pooch hides under the steps waiting for an unsuspecting bird to land at the foot of the bird feeder looking for spilled birdseed. We need celery for tonight's chicken soup, a movie to rent and-what the heck-how 'bout turning in that $3 off coupon(a postcard of a turkey holding a sign that says eat ham!) good only at the Cheese Corner in Viroqua.
In the grocery store, someone peruses the produce section. Her cart is parked next to the graduated shelves. A woman stands between refrigerated produce shelves, the shopper and the free standing produce bins to the right. She's humming along with the speaker system which plays Do you hear what I hear? She's blocking the aisle. Her brain is somewhere between here and the North Pole. I glare at her as I push myself through a narrow opening.
There's a fortyish man standing near the automatic doors. His hair is cut in very short crew-cut. He's shaped like a pear. I run into him often at the market. He's having lunch at tables between the entrance to the movie theater and the outpost bank. His lunches alternate between the grocery store and Subway out on the highway. To imitate his voice, I'd have to pinch my nose so tightly that it would hurt. "Is it cold out there?" he asks at the same time holding out his hand waiting for a handshake. I shake his hand and reply, "Yeah, really cold." "How cold is it?" he asks. "I don't know,"I mutter, walking off to the bathroom. He's a friendly,harmless person from one of the local group homes. I enjoy talking to him and rather than avoid him,like some people do, I'll take the time to listen to what he says. The woman blocking the aisle is a Ya Ya. This man is not. Later walking out he asks the same question, "How cold is it?" "Really cold I answer."
Two women stand next to a SA kettle. When I came in, one greets me loudly with a Merry Christmas. I want to punch her. When I came out, the other says, Happy Holidays in a voice so loud other people stare at you. They're thinking, "The cheap-skate didn't throw any coins into the kettle." I want to hit her also. Surly.Mean. Must be the howling wind. The windshield washer fluid freezes creating a miniature ice floe at the small black plastic risers coming out of the hood of my car. To be able to see, I have the wipers turned up to frantic.
Yes, it is winter. Keep your stick on the ice, to quote Red Green.
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