Watch

This is a biased, bigoted assumption, but I think the last person using this public microwave was a guy. There is rice dumped all over the inside of it. Curiously, it’s all over the table I wanted to sit at, too. I take the glass platter out of the microwave and sweep the rest of the rice onto it and empty it into the trash. When I put the platter back, I used my cleaning napkin to pick up the piece of chicken sitting by the microwave, too. Then I wipe the table of it’s rice, too, while my food heats. Why not? I’m on a roll.

There is a game I play with myself sometimes. If I were to have to survive off of the sustenance of vending machines, what would I eat? Trail mix. That popcorn is probably okay. Pretzels are safe, but pretty void of nutrition; that jerky claims to have protein but looks anything but safe. At least there is still water. Actually, there is water, and orange juice and grapefruit juice and V8 juice and milk–2% and whole. This is the sign of a first world, isn’t it? Clean water and milk from every handy machine. I don’t think it gets bought here much, though.

There is a guy over there, demonstrating his own survival skills. The machine won’t take his money. He folds his bill, smooths it, flips it around. Nothing. Won’t take it. He isn’t thwarted. He finds another machine that will accept it, and buys a pack of gum. The machine spits him back quarter after quarter. He won’t put weight on his left foot; something hurts him. I wonder what. Now he’s using his quarters to buy hot coffee syrup and water.

I have some survival skills, too. Like where the cleanest bathrooms are at. Never use the ground floors; top floor or basement. No one wants to deal with all those stairs. I left my knapsack unattended today, while I did three flights of stairs. Because I trust people. My knapsack is like, more than 30 pounds. No one wants to be bothered with that kind of work. Not here.

He speaks slowly, almost slurring his words. About how he has to play Candy Crush every day. But he started over. “Because. . .there was a level. . .that I got stuck on. . .soo. . .it was, like. . .boring. . .and stuff. . .so I started over.” I wish I could believe he was drugged or something. Developmentally disabled. He doesn’t look it. And this is not unusual behavior.

Everyone is bent. Huddled over devices. Little ones, tiny screens. Or bent over desks too low, or slumped in chairs. I scan. . .no eye contact, from anyone. What are we afraid of?

There’s this walk I keep seeing, a shuffle-slump-swagger. The head is still up, but the neck is forward, the shoulders are collapsed. The feet are careless, but the steps are guarded. Always the same expression on the face–“yeah, I could probably take you”–but the smirk doesn’t make it all the way across the face. One side always falters, exposing the doubt.

I see the scissor cuts in her jeans. To make them look worn. I guess maybe it takes too long get there naturally. Maybe she gets bored of them before then. She has studs all over her boots. And all over her knit cap. I’ve never seen a knit cap with studs before. I wonder if it’s meant to be ironic, or if there’s something I’m missing.

When we stop at the light, there is such a stream of cars. All the people hurry-scury-ing about, going their places, doing their things. I wonder if all the people are happy?

One Response to Watch

  1. The people are my passion…and you have captured so many passing essences so well here.

    I sometimes defend, and sometimes despise the devices. I sometimes think the undefined ‘they’ are happier than I am. Sometimes I am certain that I’m happier. All that to say that I have no answers, but I appreciate the aesthetics of what you have to say. Also, it reminds me of this: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/455637687272087470/

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