As a security guard you had to have known where the security cameras were. From above they watched banally as you weaselled your way into coat-check, rummaging through the other bar-goers belongings until you found my friend’s bag, unzipped it and slipped his laptop out and took off. Why you didn’t expect that he would report the theft to the bar and that your boss would check the security footage is something I don’t understand. It’s like you purposely missed the last ten steps on a well-lit flight of stairs.
You wound up handing over the computer and your job. The bar manager seemed genuinely upset with what happened and personally took a taxi to my friend’s place to deliver the stolen goods. The first thing he found after making sure his files hadn’t been wiped was that you tried unsuccessfully to download Fast and the Furious 7. Was the 7th instalment of Vin Diesel mumbling about family and driving impossibly clean sports cars into airplanes really worth all of this? Probably. It is a quality franchise.
“Brazilian women have the biggest, most beautiful asses in the entire world.”
You said loudly and like you were not just doing us a favour by sharing this insight, but the entire worldwide fraternity of men as well. Then you leaned in closer, the grey hair spackling your beard a reminder that tact doesn’t come stock with age, and told us that you’d traveled all over Brazil––apparently on a butt safari––and found that the biggest, roundest asses were in Fortaleza. You spoke of Fortaleza like you’d just revealed a secret or given us a treasure map, as if the Ark of the Covenant was just the tanned glutes of Brazilian women––which probably would have made Indy’s job a lot easier, or at least limited the amount of Nazi’s involved.
All we wanted to do was pay, leave and drink our beer without having to be subject to your unsolicited, demeaning, Attenborough-esque descriptions of these women. But we were stuck behind you in line and not even our muted stares off into the distance dissuaded you. When you finally paid and left you said goodbye with a knowing look, like we’d just formed the sacred bond of Men; now inextricably linked through your knowledge of worldly backsides. But you were wrong, the biggest ass wasn’t in Fortaleza, it was right in front of us.
How much enthusiasm is a sign-holder expected to display when on duty? Is there a way to quantify an appropriate level––a gauge? Does it vary between what the businesses are offering? Does a pizzeria require its sign-holder to promote with the same intensity as the cook tossing dough inside? These are all questions that I was genuinely curious about for roughly the duration of a dog fart. Which isn’t very long. But what did sit with me was how you lackadaisically held your arrow shaped sign that read “INSTANT CASH BACK” not in the direction of the H&R Block I had just walked out of, which the logo on your sign would suggest you worked for, but pointed at the street’s sun blasted asphalt.
Was this some sort of silent protest against the “man”? A metaphor for the flaws in our capitalist system? A wry wink from someone who believes that the only way to close the income inequality gap is to uproot the existing infrastructure that supports it? Maybe you were just a bored teenager who doesn’t know how signs work? Or was I upset because I just paid an exorbitant amount of money to do my taxes?
You were sleeping in the operator’s seat of the forklift, arms crossed with the hood of your sweater pulled nearly over your eyes as I walked past. Cars whipped by on Clark St. and I hoped you wouldn’t get in trouble from your supervisor for the public snooze––you looked so serene, like whatever it was you were dreaming about was worth the risk.
Were you dreaming about lifting things with your machine? Bringing objects from one area to another? Perhaps moving large mounds of ground beef slapped haphazardly on a pallet to the top shelf of your elderly mother’s kitchen pantry––meat bits flittering to the ground like ashes. Maybe you were raising an entire people from oppression, the forks of your machine tearing skywards through centuries of systemic social and economical prejudice. Or were you speeding down a long, open desert highway, stopping only to move deceptively large and immobile tortoises from one side of the road to the other, securing their safety from the merciless tires of the other drivers who just didn’t give a shit about the gift of life.
Whatever was making your eyes jump back and forth like a protracted game of pong behind their lids, I hoped it was worth it, as the man who had been watching you with his arms folded from the large front window of your building began to make his way outside.