Sunday, March 09, 2008
Okay, Dude, Seriously, You're Starting To Freak Me Out

Yesterday, at work, I was making my normal rounds, pulling a cart full of books around the store and reshelving them. A guy walked up to me and asked me where the metaphysics section was. I led him over to it. "Are you looking for something specific?" I asked, as is the standard procedure. "Yep, here it is!" he said, taking a book about the Mayan calendar and the impending end of the world off of a display, seemingly at random. Ohhhhkay then, I said, and I walked away.

My next stop was the graphic design section. I hefted a few books back onto the shelves, turned around, and that guy was right behind me. "Oops, sorry!" he said and stepped aside. After that was travel, and after reshelving half a dozen I turned and there he was again at the end of the aisle. He wasn't exactly looking at me -- he looked like he was trying very hard to look like he was looking at something else. Then off to the computer section, and when I was done, there he was again, looking sidelong in my direction with a semi-smile. At that point I went back to the info desk and the safety of my fellow booksellers. I've learned better than to do anything that might encourage a customer. (If you ever want to know where that weird, overly-cheerful but obviously hollow tone retail employees use comes from, it's the product of a constant tension between having to be friendly while discouraging unnecessary contact.)

Then today, the same thing happened again, except this time it was at the supermarket. As I walked in, my path crossed that of some random dude, and we both hesitated before he made a sweeping gesture and said, "after you." I thanked him and went about my business. A couple of minutes later, I passed him again by the juice, and he gave me a big, shit-eating grin. The third time, he actually stopped and moved straight into my path to intercept me, trying hard to make the eye contact I was trying just as hard to avoid. At that point, I aborted the mission and headed for the checkouts. There's an exceedingly fine line between flirty and creepy, and it exists solely within the female mind. Neither of these guys ended up on the right side of it.

Which isn't to say that the line is an impenetrable obstacle. I can admit to some playful teasing back and forth with a guy at work, of exactly the kind I love best -- mock abuse with the goal of seeing who can be the most offensive without actually offending anyone. In fact, the whole vibe at work is very much like that, with everyone pretending the greatest hostility toward the co-workers they like the best. I receive and issue a great many threats of grievous bodily harm in any given week. My theory is that it's the natural counterpoint to the fake friendliness we have to display toward the customers. If we must be friendly to people we don't like, then we'll be playfully mean to people we do like.

In other news, I guess I've decided to take the place with the expectant couple. I met them again this afternoon (after a solid week of consideration), and while I'm a little anxious about the unknown, just about everyone I've talked to about it has told me to stop being silly and just take a good offer. The couple seems to actively want me there, so that can only work in my favor. I'll be making the shift in a couple of weeks. It will, at least, be good to finally be in a place for real -- it'll free me up to think about other things. I'm assuming at this point that I'll be at Fnorders through the summer (with, perhaps, a six week hiatus while I do the summer film education thing -- the good thing about Fnorders is that once you've been in, you can always go back. Having put in almost six months now, it can serve me as a continual fallback position whatever else I attempt to do.)

It has also occurred to me that if things pan out the way I expect them to, the just post-summer (and around the time the sprogling emerges), I might now be perfectly set up to try for a gig that would entail a lot of travel in the fall. I thought about doing it this last fall, but wanted to spend some time getting to know Portland first. Now, however, I might find myself with a job I don't mind leaving for a few months, and a rent I can afford to cover even while I'm away. And it would get me out from under the first months of new parenthood, if that proves to be an issue, while seeing a good deal of the earth's surface and getting some badly-needed professional experience under my belt. Of course, things may go completely differently, and that would be fine, too. Either way, by the end of the summer finding a better job is going to be at the very top of my list. I can't afford to live on my meager paychecks forever.
8:51 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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