My mom told me she has a friend who has a daughter-in-law, or something like that, who owns a Shell convenient store, and they’re always needing people to do the night shift.
My friend Beau’s got a good job as a customer care person at a well known business. He just answers the phone and what not. I asked him If I could work there and he said, “Maybe at the loading docks.” He insinuated they would not want me working in their building, and if they did I’d have to shave my beard, and wear long sleeves all the time (covering up my tattoos), and most probably a turtle neck as well.
My dad said the new Cookeville bus service might be hiring, but it might not be the most secure position because they might not be running after this year due to all sorts of buerecratic stuff.
I went to buy Kanye West’s new album today at Sam Goody and a sign on the door said, something to the extent of, “We’re looking for bubbly applicants who have great people skills, and are happy all the time, and just can’t get enough of smiling. Smiling should preferably be your hobby.” Don’t quote me on that. I worked up my most enthusiastic voice, walked in and said, “Hi there. I’m a real people person and would be great for a position here.” I ended up sounding a little bit like Jim Carrey. The lady gave me this little slip of paper where I can apply online.
I ate lunch with my dad and afterwards we went to the hardware store. The dude behind the counter looked a little bored. I said, “Hey. Are you guys hiring?”
Dude, “I’m not really sure right now but I can give you an application.”
Me, “Can you have a beard and work here?”
Dude, “Well, we’ve never really had anyone with a beard like that. But I think it would be fine…as long as there’s no birds nesting in it or whatever.”
Me, “Nah, only mice.”
Dude, “Well, that’s alright.”
Me, “And what about tattoos.” I rolled up my sleeve a bit.
Dude, “That should be fine.”
Me, “Great. But one more thing. Do I need to know how to build stuff to work here? Cause I can’t build anything.”
Dude, laughing, “Um, no. No, you don’t have to know that. I only know how to build with legos. That’s the extent of my building skills.”
Me, “Well, I can’t even do that.”
Dude sympathized, then asked, “Should I get you an application?”
Me, “Nah. Save a tree. I’ll get one when I’m ready to be hired. I’m around.”
A job where I can have a beard and tattoos? Perfect! And then my dad said, “Yeah, and you don’t stand a chance of getting shot like you would at the Shell working the night shift.” I never thought of that. Convenient stores are always getting knocked off. I would stand a good chance of getting shot in the face, or at least the arm if I worked there. The Shell suddenly seemed like the best option.
When I realized I was moving back to the States for a while I knew in my heart that if I did not get a fur coat, I would not survive. Not just the cold of winter, but everything. I tweeted about it and people thought I was trying to be cute, or funny. Not so. I knew, in the depths of my inner most being, that if I was to keep body and soul in tact during this season in the States, it would only come through wearing a fur coat.
So today I went out in search for one. Thank goodness my mom was willing to drive me around because my driver’s license expired and I haven’t gotten it renewed yet. Our first stop was Goodwill, where the fur coats were scarce and overpriced on find. No luck. We headed across town to a fine little establishment on 10th street. I knew, right when I walked in, that this was like no other thrift store I had ever been in in my entire life, and I felt in the air that potential was there for all my wildest dreams to come true.
The sweet old lady behind the register asked, “Are you looking for anything particular?”
I was thrilled she asked, “Why yes, yes I am.”
“Well, how can I help you?”
“I would like a fur coat.”
She looked me up and down, “Is it for you?” I expected a little bit of sarcasm, or resistance at my response.
She was not phased in the least, only slightly worried they might be out of stock. She looked apprehensively towards the back, “Well, I think we might have one left way back yonder on that furthest rack back there.”
I was ecstatic, but also nervous that it was either gone, not my size, or any other danger one might come across when buying a fur coat. Eli and I headed to the back, past the sweater section, and beyond the old sweat pants. It truly was in the farthest of far, right there in the back next to the hand written sign that said, “We cannot be held responsible for any accidents that may happen in this store.”
Eli pointed the sign out with a scared look on his face, “That’s creepy.”
I agreed. We both stared at the sign, for what could have been seconds or eternity. Probably seconds. I then turned my attention over to the back rack. And there it was, a beautiful dark brown synthetic fur coat. Eli became more excited than me. I quickly took it off the rack and tried it on. It fit perfectly, apart from the arms being short when I move in certain ways. I don’t always have to move in every way.
I looked at Eli, “What do you think?”
Eli, “It’s awesome!”
“Uh huh!!” He could not hold back and began rubbing me down like a dog owner would show love to their beloved pet.
“I agree. This is me.”
Eli, “Yes it is.”
Eli, “It’s perfect.”
Me, “Yes it is. You are experiencing destiny right here Eli. How does it feel?”
He kept rubbing, “It feels great!” I think he thought I was talking about the coat.
I checked the price tag and it was a reasonably priced $15. “Fifteen dollars is a good deal right?”
Eli, “That’s a great deal!”
“I thought so.” I looked in the mirror and took it all in. “So I should get it?”
“Yeah!” Eli said, with fiery coveting eyes, swirling with excitement.
I patted him on the arm, “Don’t worry. I will hand this down to you one day.”
He looked relieved.
I went up to the counter and paid. The lady said it doesn’t even need a wash, and that I could even “hang it out in the sun to get rid of germs”. That was exciting news. So exciting I just decided to wear the coat out. I don’t know if that lady knows what a hero she is. She may never know the impact she had on my life. But I now have a reason to go on, and I know I will be strong enough to brave both this metaphorical and literal winter season of life. I own a fur coat. I own this town. Boom!
The Waffle House waitress told me some guy “got his arm broke and nose all bloodied up” yesterday at the Cookeville Wal-Mart. It’s amazing what people will do for stuff they don’t really need, or at least stuff they have convinced themselves they need, at low low prices. That’s Black Friday for you; the infamous day after Thanksgiving where all the stores do crazy sales, for those of you overseas people who have no clue what I’m talking about.
Being back in America is weird. I mean, it’s always different, but this time it’s more strange than usual. It’s like I’m seeing things through a different filter. Normally I’m here for a few weeks to visit and then I return to Cape Town, my home. Now I’m here, and not sure when or if I will go back over to Cape Town, still sure I am supposed to be here for now but not sure what is next. I feel like an alien of some sort. And people here don’t really know what to say to someone who doesn’t know what is next. I think it freaks them out. And I’m a bit freaked out at times. So, I’m a bit freaked out, freaking people out and it’s all a bit freaky. But I think it’s going alright.
Thanksgiving was funny; the mixture of eating loads of food I haven’t eaten in years, and jet lag, and a bunch of family that I haven’t seen in ten years, and little cousins I’ve never even met was a great concoction. At one point I was sitting beside my grandpa. I said, “Papa, I don’t know a lot of these people.” He lovingly patted me on the leg and answered in a really loud voice, “Ryan, I don’t know half of them!” That was great. I later became appointed his official translator because his hearing has gone from bad to worse and he was struggling to hear people. Someone would say something to him and he would turn to me and say, “Was what they just said important?” I would either sum up what they said, repeating it loudly, or just say, “Not at all!” That was good clean fun.
Then later, I was chilling on the hammock with my cousin Thomas, who I’d never met before. Thomas is seven, I think.
Me, “Hey Thomas, what’s your brother’s name?”
Thomas just looked at me with a confused look, like I am an alien. Seeing that I feel like an alien, or could have had some turkey stuck in my beard, or might have been speaking funny, I pointed at the kid in question, “Your brother over there.”
Thomas realized that I had no clue what I was talking about and felt pity towards me, “That’s not my brother.”
Me, “Oh! Really? I thought he was your brother all day!”
Me, “Well, who is he?”
Thomas, “He’s Burt.”
Me, “Burt huh?”
Thomas, nodding his head, “Yep.”
Me, “Well, who is Burt?”
Thomas, very confident, “He’s Eli’s brother.”
Knowing very well that I was the only brother of Eli at that Thanksgiving gathering, I just allowed Thomas to be “right”.
Me, “Aaaah! Ok! That makes sense. Thanks!”
Thomas, “You’re welcome.”
So thanks to Thomas and Papa, I didn’t feel so bad for not knowing all my family.
Ok, so first of all, this is the first blog I have ever written in mid-air. I mean, I am on the internet right now! hard to believe! Anyways…
Atlanta airport was a trip! My gate was full of characters: soldiers returning from Iraq, a dude with a crazier beard than mine who might very well be a member of the Avett Brothers, a nun, and the likes. Sitting there waiting for my connection to Nashville, they kept coming over the speakers saying we are “on high terror alert” and it is all the way at “orange”, whatever the heck that means. I was smacked in the face with the reminder of fear people live in here. And then the second blow came when the lady beside me got a phone call from her husband.
Lady, “…yeah, and God! There are two terrorists or something on my flight! (pause) No, I don’t know what they are. They are draped in this orange shit, wrapped all around them!”
They were Buddhist monks. Yep.
She continued to talk and I considered moving, but the gate was full. Sigh. When she got off the phone I guess she thought I looked like an expert in the field and she turned to me and asked, “What Nationality are they?!” Referring to the monks. I said, “Well, I really have no idea but possibly Tibetan, or Burmese. They’re Buddhist monks.”
Lady, “But they’re wrapped in orange material! I’ve never seen that!”
Instead of telling her she should get out more, I just settled for the more polite, “Yeah, they tend to wear orange.”
Lady, “But why would they be going to Nashville?!”
Sigh again. Me, “Um, I really have no idea. But they probably have friends there,” to which the ladies eyes almost popped out of her head, “Or they might even live there. I don’t live far from Nashville and I’ve got Buddhist monk friends.”
Lady, “Oh my!”
Thankfully they called the first class passengers and the lady jumped up to board. Shew! Maybe she thought the orange level or terror meant the terrorists literally drape themselves in orange material. I don’t know. But it was pretty hectic.
So I’m sitting here at the airport. Yep. I think I had a mini panic attack in the car on the way here, but I tried to hide it from my friends and act like nothing was going on. All that spurred it on was passing a group of school kids on Klipfontein Rd. in Athlone. Yeah, I guess it doesn’t take much.
Cape Town has really spoiled me! Not in the Paris Hilton kind of way. I mean, I’ve been eating out of garbage bins and what not. But Cape Town has given me a life that, well, is pretty much indescribable. My “normal” is sooo far from normal these days it’s not even funny; but it’s great for me, and I love it. I mean, I’m not phased by guns and knives and daily excitement. If I don’t do something totally spontaneous and random in a day then I continue to wait for it to come, because it will. Heck, I could see a homeless guy walking down the street wearing nothing but a thong and a rubber ducky floaty around his waist and I would merely greet him with a head nod and an “Aweh!”, and probably a slight smile.
I’m sitting here wondering if I can handle America for more than a visit. I’m sitting here wondering if America can handle me for more than a visit. This could get really interesting. But I’m asking you nicely America, please be nice to me. I’ll try and be nice to you. Deal?