People watching is the best show on earth...

Jan 31, 2008

Rudeness Jeopardizes Your Food

. Jan 31, 2008
21 Whispers

After a year of insisting Monster energy drinks will explode my heart, I drank one yesterday in desperation. I was falling asleep in front of my computer monitor at work after a restless night of hacking and wheezing. There's no turning back now; I am in the 7-11 convenience mart for another today.

I see the tops of brown-haired heads gathered in the next aisle over as I walk down mine toward the cold cases. The girls talk and I hear youthful giggles. I select just one Monster can, close the case and turn to walk down their aisle. They are Hispanic teens deciding between different flavors of sunflower seeds. One is talking about her shift in the drive-through. Not expecting much, I circle the Twinkies and Ding Dongs at the aisle's end and come back up the adjacent one. I'm confronted with toilet paper, napkins and paper towels. Taking particular interest in quilted two-ply, I kneel down and listen to the girls on the other side:

Voice 1: Man, I hate that job. It sucks!
Voice 2: Haha! 'Hi would you like to try our macho tostado today?" Haha!
Voice 1: Shut up!
Voice 3: Yeah! 'How about a combo, today?'
Voice 1: Whatever. Drive-through sucks. Damn people are rude, you know?
Voice 2: So mess their order up or something! What are they gonna do, drive back from home?
Voice 3: Yeah! What are they gonna do? Why do you take it?
Voice 1: Well you know what? Sometimes? If they're a total jackass we tear their taco shells.
Voice 3: What?
Voice 1: You know, split the shell down the middle a little bit. Then wrap it up and -
Voice 2: Oh! Ha! Then they go to eat it and crash!
Voice 3: Yeah, the whole thing falls apart! You know that's messed up, man, when you go to eat a taco and it breaks all up. People are so rude, though. They deserve it.
Voice 1, 2, 3: Hahaha!

Jan 24, 2008

Fried Chicken in the White House

. Jan 24, 2008
29 Whispers

I've come to the mall against my better judgment. I promise myself to restrict spending to my loot of holiday gift cards and enter Macy's department store, wide-eyed. I've purposely arrived in the early afternoon on a week day to avoid crowds. Stumbling into a completely empty dressing room with an armful of clothing, I'm very pleased with myself.

I choose the corner stall in the back because it's big enough for my own private fashion show; I don't much like twirling in front of the paneled community mirror. A small flat screen TV is on the wall close to the entrance. The volume is a little high and Wolf Blitzer's voice booms from the CNN channel. In between two pairs of jeans (on sale!) CNN cuts to clips of the recent heated debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Two female voices enter the dressing room. They talk to each other as friends do. One says how happy she'll be if the jeans fit. The ladies choose stalls midway down the row. Two doors open and close. Hangers clink and conversation continues:

Friend 1: It's great shopping this way! No kids hanging off us. No crowds!
Friend 2: Yeah. Look at this! We have it all to ourselves!
(I freeze, jeans in hand)
Friend 1: We should take a day off every month for shopping.
Friend 2: Definitely. Oooooh...I love these -
(Barack quips about Bill Clinton. Hillary snaps back at Barack.)
Friend 2: Oh god. Again. If I have to hear this one more time...
Friend 1: Ugh! Can you believe him? How he picks at her? Like a little chicken.
Friend 2: Yeah. Pick, pick picaaaw! Hahaha!
Friend 1: Can you imagine him president? What are they gonna serve at White House dinners? Fried chicken? Grits?
Friend 2: Ha! Yeah! And he'll make us pay the Blacks restitution for slavery -
Friend 1: Uh, we already do that. It's called welfare.

Jan 17, 2008

Piercing Pain

. Jan 17, 2008
28 Whispers

Warning: This Post is Rated "R"

I trudge to the mall to buy a gift card for a friend's teen daughter from her favorite clothing store called "Forever 21". Funny, I still feel like I'm in my 20s (I am not), so the store's name sits right with me. Browsing the clothes, I'm struck by how incredibly small everything is; the skirts are maybe one foot long, the jeans about the width of my arm, the tops fall off hangers at the slightest nudge. Their stringy straps don't hold. It's official. I no longer dwell in the blissful decade of carefree styles and fashion magazines. I'm all grown up.

Young girls' chatter brings me back from my reverie. Two teenagers pour themselves into a selection of doll-sized furry jackets the next rack over. Black, pink, baby blue and white jackets form a tight ring and the girls try on each color. They look high school age, with bright eyes and easy smiles. They are white, one blond and one brunette. They each wear jeans. One sports a white and pink "Roxy" surf top. The other wears a red t-shirt with lips outlined in silver rhinestones. Their own lips are heavily glossed. One has glitter spray in her hair. They model their choices in front of a mirror, the puffy jackets rack separating us. I bury my nose in a rack of brightly colored ponchos, my back towards them. After a few seconds of fashion talk:

Girl 1: Oh my god! I saw Jenny's sister's nipple ring!
Girl 2: No way!
Girl 1: Serious. I totally did! She showed it to me and I'm like -
Girl 2: NO WAY! Was it gross? What did it look like?
Girl 1: It was soooo cool. So cool. It's silver with two ball thingies on the bottom.
Girl 2: Ew! I am never doing that. I mean, in your boob?
Girl 1: It's so hot! You have to be totally brave to do it. She said it hurt like FTF.
Girl 2: Like what?
Girl 1: FTF.

Girl 1: You know, F-T-F?
Girl 2: What's that?
Girl 1: Oh my god! You don't know what FTF is? Haha! You really don't know? First time fuck! Guess I know what you are.

Jan 9, 2008

Beaten by Girls

. Jan 9, 2008
28 Whispers

This afternoon I want something spicy for lunch so I go to a bright little joint called "Cha for Tea". They serve all kinds of exotic teas with "boba" or gelatin pearls, curried chicken and noodle dishes of every variety. I order and luckily find a seat in the green and yellow shop packed with students from CSU Long Beach across the street.

I scan the crowd and listen to my neighbors hoping to catch something interesting, but the restaurant plays music videos on a wall-mounted flat screen and it's hard to hear anything else. Loud guffaws draw my attention to three young Asian boys in a corner booth. All wear caps, two have positioned the bills to the side and the other sports his backwards. Two wear sports jerseys, the other a white t-shirt that hangs to his knees. All three wear long silver chains with links an inch or two wide and enormous medallions. They hold their chains out with two hands and slide their medallions back and forth. One has a design shaved into his short black hair, partially visible under the edge of the cap.

The boys are jumpy and now slap their hands on the table in tune to a cell phone or other device that plays a hip hop song on speaker. Slap.....slap, slap! Slap....slap, slap! A few patrons shoot over-the-shoulder glances at them. They laugh louder. Slap....slap, SLAP! The young couple in the booth next to them begins packing up laptops. One of the cashiers now looks tentatively at the boys and bites her thumb nail. They explode in exaggerated laughter again.

The bell on the door handle jingles faintly under the din. Four young Asian girls enter. Two wear short plaid skirts, long socks and tight sweaters. The others wear jeans and puffy jackets. One walks on black boots with stiletto heels. Their hair is long, shiny black. Black boots wears stylish red prescription glasses and carries a Mac laptop.

The couple next to the boys has packed up and exits their booth. The girls walk over to take it. They pass the three boys who bounce wildly to their music, swing their medallions and look the girls over. The girl in the boots stops in front of them just for a second. "Haha HA!" she says and nudges her friend in the back. The girls sit down and whisper together. They laugh conspiratorially and Boots looks at the boys again. She shakes her head and opens the laptop.

The boys fall silent. Their hands cease slapping. The medallions fall back to their chests. The cell phone is turned off. About 15 minutes later, they leave. As they pass through the door, one turns his sideways cap forward.

Jan 4, 2008

A Hypocritical Combo To Go, Please.

. Jan 4, 2008
21 Whispers

It's cold tonight in Southern Cal and I follow my nose to a nice little place for a hot dinner after work. The large tropical fish tank glows in the entry way. Customers are lined up to order about seven deep. I fall in line behind a white couple. The man is mid-40s with thinning brown hair but a very full, dark beard. His lady companion wears a tight ponytail that brushes her waist. Both are heavy-set and wear track suits slightly modified for his and hers.

Happy music plays on the stereo speakers. Diners chatter and a few small children cavort near tables. There is some confusion with a customer's order. A cashier turns to the cook staff behind her and yells orders through the opening above the counter. One cook returns fire and they joke for a few seconds, talking loudly above the din. The customer joins in the banter.

The couple before me shifts in place. The woman sighs. The man looks at the ceiling. The woman tightens her ponytail. The man puts his wallet back in his pocket. The woman nudges him, turns toward him and talks under her breath:

Woman: (sucks her teeth) These Mexicans. They're so damn loud.
Man: Humph.
Woman: Look at this. We're all waitin' here while they have a good old time. I'm tired of these people. They're nothin' but trouble. Look at the border. Look at all our stuff translated into Es-pan-ol.
Man: Uh huh. Well. I'm just hungry. That's all.
Woman: Well that's what I'm sayin'. Look at this. We're all waitin' on them and they're messin' around. They're no good (sighs). I don't like anything about 'em.

The joking ends. The line advances. The cashier smiles warmly. The couple orders lobster tacos and an enchilada combo. I am at Rubio's Baja Grill, enjoying Mexican food.

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