– posted by lily.  designed by isaiah dufort and conceived of collectively with ellen cronin.

Triple Milk Threat #1

June 25, 2008


how i deal with retail.



There is a great quote i am reminded of in the early morning, as i find myself traveling downtown to work, sitting squished and silent between calloused tradesmen, still-drunk and stinkin’ hipsters, old asian fishermen carrying gallon buckets to the Bay, and the rest of us variously weird-looking and insane San Francisco inhabitants; everyone stoic and silent and the only things moving in what feels like the stillest place in the world. We pay our respect to the dawn by paying our fare, tiptoeing down the aisle, and not talking. Not making a sound. I mean, really: we every one of us know what we are lumbering towards on that 6am bus, in our silence and stillness and lingering drunkeness. It sounds and feels something like:


the sun is rising! a new day approaches! and with it, the Blank Slate, the chance for something new, some change, The Big Break!, a promotion, a plane ticket, a blow job on your lunch break, a free bottle of wine, people win the lotto, right?, maybe i’ll quit, i’m going back to school, i’ll find my motivation/passion/love today, i’m splurging and buying myself a nice lunch today, ANYTHING, something please god let it be today i don’t even know what i need want should need or want but it’s gotta come soon please let my boss get hit by this bus if i catch him/her sleeping with someone they’ll pay me out won’t they? if that one asshole bothers me again today i’m gonna lose it for sure where’s my vicodin? clonopin? whiskey? i can’t wait until cocktail hour if i just survive today and make it until tomorrow everything might change i’m not wearing that fucking nametage today what ever happened to graduate school? and holy shit it is so completely and totally silent on this bus what the fuck? what is everyone else on this bus thinking about?


And your actual entire brain, and with it the ability to pull the cord and step off the bus and walk up that hill to the supermarket that you work at, begins to rot away into the mess of hate and disgust that you have for your job and your boss and especially that old british lady with the cornichon obsession; and also the creepy old fuck who only eats “young” cheeses. When you can’t even get it together enough to get off the damn bus anymore you certainly can’t draw or write or lay in the sun with a boy or even sleep, what for all of the “ifs” and “and thens” and “i’m gonnas” that are constantly running through your head. But the brilliant thing about riding the bus at dawn is that you really hear yourself for a minute, and later you have this fantasy that everyone else hears themselves, too, in that very significant silence that you all create. You remember that while today may not be the day that the evil bitch face boss drowns in an ocean of bubbling gooey gruyere, it might still be a day that you get some kind of pathetic satisfaction that will calm you until tomorrow, or even the day after tomorrow. Maybe you clock back in for lunch before you smoke a cigarette. Or you remind yourself that you work with cheese, and cheese is amazing. Or it can be the day that you run into an old friend or professor and are reminded of the “ifs” and “and thens” that went through your head before you were a retail-lifer, before you bought stuff for other people to buy. Before buying and buying to buy existed. Before you realized that you are and were always and continue to be a part of the web of purchasing and purchases and purchasers.
And that brings me, finally, to the quote: on the bus to work at dawn, it’s the ever-popular Buffy the Vampire Slayer i am reminded of. Now mind you, it’s not the tv show i’m talking about here, it’s the real thing, the true blue: it’s the 1992 classic hollywood picture starring Kristy Swanson and the ever studly Luke Perry. As Buffy describes her vision of the future to her guardian Merrick, like, instead of slaying vampires, she muses “I’m going to be a buyer. I just think it sounds cool, you know? Buyer, buying, to buy…”


I don’t know if “cool” is the word that i would use. But I’d agree that it certainly sounds as though it’s bordering on “needed” or “important” to the functioning of the store, as though to do the job successfully one would need to know a lot about certain things, like, what they are buying (cheese, in my case). The other aspects of the job include lessons in both patience and post-work binge drinking. I might as well wrap up the stupid boss with all of the shitty customers and throw the whole lot into a pit with all of the annoying people i’ll meet over the course of my whole life. But what about the cheeses? The most important part of the whole buying thing I am doing? Those glorious, sweating, unforgiving crottins and 80 pound wheels of rotting, delicious goodness? They don’t seem to be going anywhere, because they are, in fact, really fucking cool. And, maybe its kind of cool to be paid to hang out around them. And talk about them with other willing and interested quesophiles. If cheese were just another passing fad, then gorgonzola wouldn ‘t have a history stretching back to the 9th century, Sardinians never would have declared larvae-infested pecornio a delicacy, Uniekaas cheese makers in Holland never would have slapped my ass on their business trip to the states, and and i’d have nothing to write about on the internet. Next time i’lll write about the ass slapping.

– ellen cronin.