Sunday, 30 September 2007

Creationism v. Evolution: Why I Don't Care (A Rant)

Perhaps it is about time that I make my views on this clear. There may be a few of you who are reading this not because you know me but because you've found your way through external sources likely don't care all that much, but then I don't suppose that you actually exist at the point of writing this. If you do exist, I'm pleased indeed and ask that you show this to all of your friends, if you think it's worth it.

Those of you who do know me have occassionally asked or wondered aloud about this, but I doubt I've given a straight or complete answer. One of my housemates asked the other day, and I gave something similar to the following answer. Having discussed it aloud with them, I figure I can broadcast it to the world, provided the world listens. (I know; there's a gap in the chain of reasoning. Watch me not care.)

I have posted a link, called "A Rather Upsetting Turn of Events," or something like that, under my Interesting Links section. This will take you to a newspaper article concerning the Rally of Reason, a protest against the Creation Museum in Cinncinnatti (did I spell that correctly)? That museum has exhibits of the Garden of Eden, with naked human children frolicking with dinosaurs, a model of Noah's ark and an explanation of how the Grand Canyon was formed by the Deluge, and other literal interpretations of Genesis. The Rally of Reason consisted of scientists and Christians who disputed the literal interpretation of Genesis protesting in front of the museum on the grounds that it a) would corrupt the minds of their youth and b) gave Christians a bad name as silly and ill-informed.

I should note that I have been unable to find evidence for this, but if I recall correctly, a little while earlier an Evolution History Museum was protested by a group of Christian activists.

My immediate response to this was that the Creation Museum was being silly and giving Christians a bad name, and that the protesters were being silly and giving non-Christians and liberal Christians a bad name. Overall, I think that protesting about someone else's freedom of expression is both idiotic and ironic.

Upon examining that response, I've come to understand that maybe the Creationists have a point and aren't completely ridiculous, and that the 'Reasoners' should be worried about the spread of misinformation, provided that Creationism is misinformation.

It is in the wake of this event that I more firmly articulated, to myself, my opinion of the Creationism v. Evolution Theory debate. That opinion is that both are true and that which is 'truer' is utterly and completely irrelevant. To claim that you know which is true and which is false is gross arrogance, and we all know where pride takes us.

Here's my reasoning:

To all of our knowledge, the scientific explanation is usually quite good at predicting phenomena in the physical and natural universe. Science is a really good heuristic device, and, used as such, we can talk about a theory being 'true.' By true, I mean that it accurately models what will happen in the future, so far as the physical world is concerned. Evolution theory helps us understand the on-going changes in organisms; we can hardly deny that evolution is at work today. Looking at the fossil record improves our understanding of the process, and therefore is useful and 'true' within the scientific heuristic. At this point I am not claiming that it is historically true (ie. that it actually happened in the past) that all life evolved from micro-organisms. I'm just saying that it is useful to discuss evolution as true when we make predictions.

To all of my knowledge, ethics, morality, and spirituality do not exist in a void, but within a context. For Christians, part of this context is the Old Testament. The Genesis myths (note that I do not mean myths in derisory sense, but in the sense that they are actually meant--if you don't know what that sense is, go look it up) explain spiritual and social realities to us: that we are fallen, true goodness is inaccessible without God, that God punished sinners and rewards believers, etc. It is obviously a more complicated picture than that; I'm just giving examples. In this sense, the Creation account(s) are true. Here 'true' means 'has meaning that is relevant in reality.' At this point I am not claiming that it is historically true (ie. that it actually happened in the past) that all life forms were created as they are now in the Garden of Eden some 6000 years ago. I'm just saying that it is useful to discuss Creation as true when we make moral decisions.

To all of my knowledge, we will never know which is historically true. Of course, we will never 'know' in the same sense that God is forgiving, just, omniscient, or even extant. So, you may say, if you are willing to take one on faith, why not take the other?

For a while there, I had believed that both were historically true; Genesis explained the whys and the whos and evolution explained the whens and the hows. This, I think, is a fairly moderate and fairly common stance among the average non-vocal Christian. Vocal Christians tend to lean toward a strict Genesis account. Non-religious people, of course, more than lean toward the evolutionary account. I thought this was a perfectly reasonable synthesis, a perfectly pious synthesis, and a perfect safe one, too.

Then I realized that even this had some holes. While I was inclined to say that forcing a literal interpretation on the Bible was limiting God, a lot of the old poets (read Donne) point out that not allowing for a literal interpretation was what really limited God: must God bow to science? Here, of course, we enter the delicate dance of spinning the truth and arguing both sides and other forms of sophistry. The notion of the best rhetorician taking the prize of Truth disturbs me, so I refuse to participate. They could be right; I could be right; who's to judge? That is, how am I to know, in this world and not the next, which is true? Looking at the Bible doesn't seem to help here, since what I'm concerned about is the proper interpretation of the Bible. It would be working in circles to try and get that information from the very thing I'm trying to learn to read. I needed another way.

What eventually occured to me was that historical truth was irrelevent. I would never be able to know what is Truth in this case. I do know, however, everything I need to know to work with. If I want a prediction in physical phenomena, I'll turn to the heuristic of science. If I want spiritual and moral lessons, Genesis (and the rest of the Bible) will contain those answers, as will fervent prayer. I really don't need anything more. If I tried to assert one account or another, one interpretation or another, it would be akin to asserting some detail about God that God himself hasn't revealed (ie. whether He speaks in metaphors or literal truths). It is when you make an assertion at all that you are limiting God and robbing Him of His mystery. This, of course, is pride. I would like to avoid pride.

So this is where I sit: both creationism and evolution theory are useful, and therefore 'true'; anything else is irrelevant to my life and I actively refuse to care or commit. In doing so, I become that much more comfortable with the mysterious nature of God and surrendering everything, even my curiosty, before Him.

After this realization, I really began to understand why I felt that both the Creation Museum and the Rally for Reason were silly and destructive. They made assertions they had no right to make. If everyone had this feeling of pious apathy, there would possibly be less conflict and more harmony, and really, is that not one of Christ's primary lessons--peace?

I suggest that you seriously think about this. Come to your own conclusions--don't let my rhetoric persuade you of an untruth.

After all, I have no right to assert even this lack of commitment as right.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Vesper of Mythology

Did You come to see me last night
in a dream?
I dreamt of many things
between the churning of buried thoughts amid the sheets
and my alarm clock’s clarion buzz
I did not recognize You among them
but You might have been there nonetheless

Last night I dreamt of her before I slept
last night I rolled with my burdens in my bed
last night I sprawled on my trove of ambitions
before I surrendered

Somewhere between the light shutting off and the cold cereal
I climbed a hill
passed grandparents prime ministers and pharaohs
dragging a stone slab behind me
staggering to a peak obscured in cloud
that rained ash and sulphur and the smell of oil

Last night I dreamt of her before I went to sleep
Not by her latest name
she has been unchristened
she is not forgiven fruit

and she follows wanderers in the desert

Somewhere between the pillow’s collapse and consciousness’ rush
As I scaled the mount
I witnessed a fierce wolf with galactic jaws
chained next to a knifing river with a ribbon formed
of a spirit’s spittle a seraph’s footfall and a ghost’s breath
ripping a dwarf star with its teeth

Last night I dreamt of trouble before I went to sleep
My lies’ feather weighs heavily against my heart
as the jury of my peers
imagines my trial
and I concoct an alibi for every faith and each infidelity

Somewhere beneath the bat’s first fall and the fresh socks
while I ascend the rock
a woman approaches with a fair face
but for the right half’s cadaverous pucker
the locks of seething hooded snakes
and her tail’s scorpion whip

Last night I dreamt of power before I went to sleep
From an obsidian tower I commanded
a babbling multitude
an army of rats with claxon pipes
and jealously drummed a monolithic name

Somewhere between my glasses’ encasement and my legs’ resurrection
I broke beneath the world on my shoulders
I gave up my load and the black mist entombed me
In the fog I saw my forebears divide
the hound retch up the sun
and the woman’s faces petrify each other

And my eyes opened to the sun

Until tomorrow night’s old miseries

I don't even understand what half of this means. I get most of it, but I'm sure not going to suggest it's supposed to be accessible. It's not a Hymn of Confusion, though it might be confusing. And it is pious . . . it's just really dark. Not what I usually write.

If you're looking for what inspired this nightmare (though it ends well, technically), see T. S. Elliot, Greek myth, Norse myth, Egyptian myth, Milton's PL, Biblical tradition, and fairy tales. But don't try too hard.

I don't even know what I'm supposed to make of this.

Status Update: End of September

This is a brief status update:

I added some pictures to the side to make this page more interesting visually. Maybe I shall refresh these more often and add a gallery of photos as a post sometime.

I am thinking of some new psalms and sonnets, so hopefully I will get a few new ones written and posted soon.

And that's about all . . . for now.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Psalm of Distraction (A Hymn of Confusion)

O Lord
I try to keep You before my eyes.
I open my throat with song and mouth Your praises.
I try to remember Your name
and think the words that rise from my lips.

But Lord
my mind wanders.
It moves on its own; it creeps from the hymns
and visits the slopes of her hips in the pew in front,
the radiant locks of the girl under the many-hued glass,
the silken hands on ivory keys.

O Lord
I try
to catch the sermon’s words
and stop my thoughts on Your gospel
to reflect and to plan to bring it into my life

Yet Lord
my thoughts
catch on a certain word
and spin a rambling chain of disconnected chords.
Myths and explanations of my vice and lust
revolve about my mind, apologizing.
I dwell on my transgressions, on my thoughts that focus
on the rise and fall of her breath beside me,
sitting on the laminated pew.
Ineffable aroma arises from her skin
and her hands twine neatly in her lap.

O Lord
I hold Your flesh in my mouth
and want to taste Your suffering.
Like wine I savour Your blood
and try to know Your sacrifice.

And Lord
Your blood reminds me
of the scent of midnights.
My lips cry that another’s flesh would touch them.
I want to turn the million thoughts that keep my brain alive
into memories.

O God
I want to keep my mind upon You,
to shepherd it home.
But God
it is sometimes so hard.

O God

Snapshots of the Fall Fair: Short Fiction

For this one, it seems I took a flying leap into sentimentality. My apologies in advance. Also, the format isn't publishing correctly, so I apologize for any inconsistencies there.

A Ferris wheel car, seen from the ground. Empty, against a block of blue sky.

A woman watching a merry-go-’round, while kids were shaded and blurred on the polished mythical beasts.

On equal level, an ugly purple elephant doll, left in a mud puddle.

From behind, a nicely figured high school girl with her arm stretched forward, having just thrown a dart.

A lone man in the parking lot, smiling to himself as he gets in the car.

Proud and blind, a dog and his boy, inseparable friends.

A seagull wheeling in the sky.

The yearbook photographer flipped through the pictures in his digital camera. It had been a good day. Several shots of the fair, several different stories, unattached but all at the same day at the fair. This was his first assignment of the year, and he thought he had good material from this annual, traveling fair, erected temporarily in the local mall parking lot. He put his camera into his pocket and went home.

~ ~ ~

So the four of them went to the fair that Friday afternoon. Who cared if they were too old? Nothing ever happened in this boring town, so whenever something new did come by, they’d check it out, even if it was just the fall fair. At least, that’s how Don looked at it.

And it was interesting enough, wasn’t it? There was tons of cheap junk food, especially those hot dogs. And most of the town showed up, so they kept running into friends from high school. Most of the rides were kiddie rides, but they went on the Zipper and the Pirate Ship. Best of all, the other schools came here, too, and those Catholic girls looked real nice dressed for the warm weather.

The guys were just passing some kid tugging on his dad’s sleeve when TJ spotted the blind kid. Don couldn’t really think of why a blind kid would want to go to the fair, but there he was with that dumb-looking dog, smiling around at everyone and not seeing the weird looks people gave him. The other guys were still working on their caramel popcorn because they couldn’t figure out you had to shut up to eat something, and this gave TJ an idea.

“Hey, isn’t caramel corn supposed to stick in dog’s mouths or something?”

Don didn’t think that was right, but Garret said he might have heard that somewhere, so they went up to the kid and his mutt and asked if they could pet the dog.

“Sure,” the blind kid said, not suspecting a thing.

So TJ bent down and scratched it behind the ears, and all it did was wiggle its tail a little. TJ put the popcorn in his hand, and Garret and Mark started laughing, but tried to keep it behind their mouths so the blind kid wouldn’t know. But the dog just ignored it. TJ never was that bright, so he pushed the corn at the dog’s face, but it just turned its head away. Mark was really starting to crack up, and the blind kid started to pull his dog away, but Garret got bored and Don noticed him looking around.

Don saw them at about the same time Garret did. They must have been Catholics, because Don didn’t recognize them from school. Four girls were at a booth, and one was throwing darts at balloons. Don figured they would have been grade nine, grade ten. Two of them were okay-looking, wearing tank-tops and jeans, and one was that skanky-ugly kind of girl who thought she was hot and really wasn’t. But one was a serious head-turner. She was the one throwing the darts. Her figure was more like a grade-twelve, and she wore a girl’s t-shirt that was tight in all the right places, over a pair of short shorts. Don knew what Garret had in mind.

“C’mon, guys,” said Garret, “let’s go say hi to those girls.”

So the four of them went over to the booth, and quickly saw a good sign: there were already five darts in the board, and none of them anywhere near a balloon.

“Hey, ladies,” Garret said. “How’s it going?”

One of the two decent-looking ones, an Asian, gave Garret a look of death, and Don knew she could tell what his friends were right off. But the other two’s eyes perked right up, and the hot one got a kind of look in her eyes that said she was willing to play keep-away.

She threw her last dart, and it popped a balloon. The carnie shrugged and passed her a tiny teddy bear.

“Here, let me give it a shot,” Garret said.

He gave some tokens to the carnie and took his darts. One, two, three, four, and a miss. All the practice whacking pebbles off the backs of junior-high heads paid off right there. Even though the Asian rolled her eyes, the other three squealed and clapped. The carnie took down a hideous purple elephant and gave it to Garret, who gave it to the girl.

“Now, I have a couple of rules,” he said, “and one of them is to never give a pretty girl anything if I don’t know her name.”

“Ashley,” she giggled, and shook his hand.

“Well, I’m Garret. That one’s TJ, the guy who never talks is Don, and the stupid one is Mark.”

TJ nodded stiffly, while Don smiled and Mark kept looking at the girls’ chests.

“Thanks so much for the prize,” said Ashley, forgetting to introduce her friends, though Don could tell the Asian didn’t mind at all.

“You’re quite welcome,” said Garret, taking her arm. “Now, let me tell you about another of my rules . . .”

~ ~ ~

Something buzzed on his hip.
The office.
“Here, honey, hold this,” he said, and passed the balloon to his wife.
He tried to ignore the glare she gave him as he unclipped his cell and answered the call. Toni was supposed to call this evening, but he’d thought it would be easier if he didn’t tell his wife he knew that.
“Brett Lewis speaking.”
“Hey, Brett, this is Toni,” answered the phone. “Is this a bad time?”
“Not at all.”
“Good, good. About the Kavinski firm . . .”
Five minutes later, Brett bid his secretary goodbye and hung up.
“Look, honey, I’ve got to go,” he told his wife.
“But, dear, you promised Michael you’d win him a teddy bear,” she replied.
“Liz, we can’t go over this every time. This is a big deal right now, we need this client. I simply cannot leave the office hanging right now . . .”
“Brent, come on. You promised your son.”
Against his will, Brett looked down to his eight-year old. Mikey’s eyes were big and pleading. To stop himself from feeling guilty, he felt annoyed by his son’s childishness. The kid needed to grow up and let go of his toys and tears; that was the only way he’d start making friends.
“Big guy, look,” he said, trying to get this on a more man-to-man level. “There’ll be other fairs, okay?”
Michael still looked sad.
“Tell you what. Tomorrow, I’ll buy you some comic books. How does that sound?”
“Alright,” Mikey said, but he didn’t sound as excited as Brett thought he should.
“Alright,” Brett said, ruffling his son’s hair and turning to Liz. “Give me a kiss.”
His wife pecked him on the cheek and looked away.
As Brett left the fair, he thought irritably about how little they appreciated him.
~ ~ ~

This place had all sorts of smells: bread, meat, sugar, people, big animals, oil, smoke . . . He wanted to go run and investigate these scents, but he knew he had to stay by Master, because Master couldn’t get around without him. He wanted to be a good boy more than he wanted to go see where those smells came from. Good boys stayed when they were told to stay, so he stayed.
He looked around a little, and everything was noisy and busy. So many people! There were little ones and big ones and fast ones and slow ones. There were male ones and female ones and cleaner ones and dirtier ones. Sometimes they came by and patted him, and that was okay. Sometimes they would try to give him food, but he was a good boy and didn’t ever take it.
Over there he saw some big males ones who tried to give him sugar. They were making noises at some female ones. He could tell that one of the female ones didn’t want to be there, but the others were in heat. Two of them were closer together; the male one was holding on to the arm of the female one. She was happy, he thought.
He tried to listen to the sounds they made, but he didn’t know any of them. He knew lots of people-noises, but he only obeyed the ones Master made. Heel meant he was supposed to sit by Master’s feet. No meant he was supposed to stop doing what he was doing and not do it again. Max was what Master called him. There were many others. But he didn’t know what noises these ones were making.
Now the female one was unhappy. She was trying to move away, but the male one was holding on. The other female ones were all trying to leave, too. Two of the male ones were laughing, and the other one went over and put his hand on the first one’s shoulder. The bigger one shrugged, and touched the female one on the top of her leg. She hit him with a purple furry thing, and walked away with the other female ones.
He didn’t know what happened, and he was a little confused. Something said he should protect someone, but he didn’t know who needed protecting. Besides, this had nothing to do with Master, and Master was his business. He stayed where he was.
A seagull flew by and caught his attention.
~ ~ ~

Liz pushed her hair back, and tried again. The bright plastic ring wobbled in the air and hit the peg sideways, bouncing off and falling to the ground.
Bastard husband.
He had promised Mikey that he’d win a teddy bear at the fair for him, and he had promised her that he’d keep his promise this time. Just like every other time, though, he broke his word and went to the office. IT seemed to her that Brett just didn’t want to be a father any more. She already knew he wasn’t all that interested in being a husband. He didn’t know she knew that his secretary had replaced her in some way, but she did know. She didn’t know if the slut had replaced her in that way, but she was replaced. Of course she knew. What made her mad was that his clients were now replacing her son, too.
She threw the last hoop, and it just bounded off the backboard.
“Try again?” the nice gentleman behind the counter asked.
After a moment, she responded, “No.”
A little hand slipped inside hers. She looked down at Mikey, his eyes big and the yellow balloon bobbing next to his head.
“It’s okay, Mom,” he said. “I couldn’t do it, either.”
“I’m sorry, Mikey, I’m just not very good at these games.”
He nodded and examined his shoes.
“You want to go on the merry-go-’round?”
Mikey smiled and nodded.
~ ~ ~
They didn’t talk about it until the Ferris wheel had started. It was Rachel who brought it up.
“Don’t worry about it, Ash, that guy was just a jerk.”
Maggie nodded and put an arm around Ashley. Jenn turned and looked down at the fair below, so she wouldn’t be tempted to say anything, like how Ashley had all but invited the guy to touch her.
“I mean, like, who cares,” Rachel went on. “He probably couldn’t get any, so he thought he’d try on you.”
Ashley stopped looking traumatized long enough to shoot Rachel a suspicious glance.
“I mean,” Rachel recovered, “he obviously went for the sexiest girl at the fair.”
Appeased, Ashley resumed her injured sulk.
“You know,” said Maggie, “you should be flattered. I wouldn’t have minded if one of the other guys, like, did the same to me.”
Jenn tried very hard not to laugh, but gave up once the others started, too. Maybe she laughed a little too hard, though, since Rachel looked at her funny.
“You could have got that stupid-looking one to, if you wanted,” said Ashley, speaking for the first time. “He didn’t stop staring at your chest.”
“I’m surprised you noticed that, you were so distracted,” Jenn couldn’t help herself from saying.
The others looked at her askance.
“Well,” said Rachel, “I noticed that the quiet one was pretty interested in you, Jenny.”
Jenn blushed and looked away. They knew she hated that name.
“Ooo, she’s going red!” Maggie squealed.
Ashley smiled. She seemed to be coming to herself again.
“He was kinda cute,” she said.
Jenn wasn’t sure which one Ash was talking about, but she supposed it didn’t matter. Either way, Ash was right.
“I notice,” Jenn said, “that you still have that stuffed elephant.” Ashley looked about herself and saw that she did.
“Oh, I do. Kinda ugly, isn’t it?”
Rachel and Maggie giggled.
“Hold on, I know just what to do with it,” Ash said.
And with that, she threw it right over the edge of the car.

~ ~ ~
The afternoon was finishing up when Michael walked with his mom back home. They left through the gates and walked around the fair on the sidewalk. Neither he nor his Mom won any prizes. He wasn’t mad at Dad, but he did wish Dad had stayed and won something. Bear back home was getting lonely on the pillow, and needed a friend. But Mom did let him go on the saucer ride, even though she said he wasn’t big enough last year.
It was as they turned the corner, the Ferris wheel high in the sky above him, that he saw the purple elephant in the puddle. He stopped, but his Mom kept walking.
“Come on, Mikey, it’s getting late.”
“Hold on, Mom,” he said.
He walked over to the puddle. The elephant was weird-looking. It had big eyes and a stubby trunk, with its mouth hanging open underneath. Mikey knew it was kind of ugly-looking, but he thought that, more than anything, it looked lonely. He bent down and picked it up.
“Someone left him here,” said his Mom. It only vaguely occurred to him that this was a silly thing for her to say.
“I’m gonna take him home. He can be friends with Bear.”
They started walking home.
Maybe it was a good day after all, thought Mikey, ‘cause now Elephant and Bear can be friends.

Monday, 10 September 2007

A Different Tonight: A Ghazal

We could have been sitting at the table, reading each other’s tea leaves tonight,/
could be predicting the stories that will happen after your train leaves tonight.

I could have made you a salad, dicing tomatoes over the sink as you sing/
a naughty lullaby and look for bad spots among the lettuce leaves tonight.

The trees are gilded, now, and we could have walked among the birches with/
our gloved hands in our pockets and our feet wading in the leaves tonight.

People in the store would have asked what we are doing buying ice cream/
and as I counted out the dimes I would have said that “he leaves tonight.”

Yesterday, I bought those novels that you liked as a kid, and we could be/
reading aloud to each other as we smelled the newness of the leaves tonight.

Today we are spending time apart from each other because neither of us/
asked to spend it together, and I think the last chance we have leaves tonight.

Stocking Shelves on the Night Shift

EDIT: 4 May 2015: This post has received some traffic lately, which brought it to my attention. I realize I had included a description of a character in this story which could be read as racist. As far as I can recall that was not my intention, but my only defense is that I was ignorant at the time that I posted it that it could be read that way. (At the time I wrote this, "brown arms" was suggest to me a well-tanned white person. I cannot overstate how much of an idiot I was about this at the time.) No one's called this to my attention or anything like that, but I'm nonetheless horrified to see what I had written and I wanted to admit it.

Spaghetti. Costelle’s. Small.

Where was I? What was I thinking about?
It doesn’t really matter. Eventually I’ll think about whatever it was. That’s all I do here, think. Stew in my own juices, while slicing open boxes and putting packages on shelves. Two-hundred and twenty-one. Two hundred and forty when this cart is done. And then break will be soon, because it will be three, and I’ll go and sit down for a while.
Break. If my legs weren’t tired I wouldn’t bother. I have nothing to say to them, and, as far as I’m concerned, they have nothing to say to me. Yesterday Chase was hassling the newbies, and he’ll do it again today. He’ll ask them for their piece count. What a pain, being a newbie. He used to do that to me. “What’s your piece count, Matt.” Like that, “What’s your piece count, Matt.” Not a question, a statement. “What’s your piece count.” Then I’d tell him, at first not knowing what it meant, and then being ashamed, and now he doesn’t bother anymore, because he doesn’t care. I’m Matt, and I’m here, and he can count on me for that. I’m always here. So it doesn’t matter if I do four hundred or two hundred by the end of the night, because he knows I’m not going anywhere for a while now, because it’s already September, and I’m not in school, so he figures he’s got me for another year. If he even thinks in that fat head of his. He probably doesn’t even really think I’ll be here, he just sort of assumes it. It’s been more than a year, now, right? Around here, that’s a record. Well, I suppose not. Alfie and Pete and Marge have been here longer than that. Alfie’s been here for a few years, I guess, and he’s probably been hyper and moody the whole time, throwing pieces around, and ripping them open, and slapping product on the shelves with those long brown arms. He looks like a monkey hustling across the ropes at the zoo. And then there’s Marge. If she’s not having a smoke, she’s squawking about the coffee pot, how the day people always leave it empty. She has been for a whole year now, and no one’s ever done anything about it. I guess she never told anyone. She must’ve been here for ages, seen lots of people come and go. I don’t think she liked one of them.
Pete’s a nicer guy, but that doesn’t mean anything in the break room, not with Chase and Alfie sitting there, hassling the newbies and looking over the newspaper, making gay jokes and black jokes and tree hugger jokes. I can never understand what Pete says. I’ve been working with him for more than a year now, and it’s still like he speaks another language. “Where’s de parcel at, bye?” He’s not stupid--Newfies usually aren’t--but you can’t tell if you don’t know what he’s saying.
Most of the newbies are gone, though. Off to school. That new kid, one with the early grey hair, he’s still here. Don’t know what he’s up to. Real quiet. He won’t be here long, though. I don’t think he knows what he’s doing with his life. I could tell him all about that. I’d say, “You’re just out of high school, aren’t you? I bet you’re working for a year before you figure out where you’re going? You’re not from here. I wasn’t either. I came up here from Vancouver for the same reason you did. Easy to get a job, easy to make money. Save up a bit, and then school. Well, watch out. You save that money, and you work on getting to school. Guy who lives next door to me spent all his money, and now he’s stuck. I heard him on the phone, yelling so loud I could hear through the wall. Spent all his money, and now he’s trying to get back to wherever he comes from, but doesn’t have enough to afford the plane ticket, and clearly doesn’t own a vehicle. Well, he’s got the four-wheeler he wasted his paycheck on, though I’m surprised he can afford that between the bar and the casino and the porn. You want to be careful, because this is the first time you’re away from home, and lots of guys get stuck. You save it up, and get yourself out of here in one piece.
And get started early looking for schools. It’s real easy to wait and wait, especially when you’re on nights, and in order to get to a computer on your day off, you have to be awake at ten in the morning, which feels like it should be three in the morning, your clock is so screwed up. It’ll suck for you for a little while, but eventually you’ll figure out how to sleep in the daylight and amuse yourself at four in the morning when the rest of the world is sleeping and you’re up and trying to spend your day off doing something fun. But during the days, you get to the library and rent out a computer and find some schools, and apply well ahead of time, because its so easy to put it off until the middle of the summer and by then it’s too late, you’re stuck here again for another year. Sure, you could start in the winter, but it’s better if you make a full year of it. You be careful. Now don’t worry, I’m getting out of here next year. I’ve got money in the bank, that’s for sure. Rent’s a lot, but I don’t drink much and don’t gamble much. I watch TV, mainly. Rent movies. Sleep. I used to try to read, but now it’s usually TV. But I’ve got money in the bank and I’m gone next year, off to school, to make something of myself. I won’t be like Alfie or Marge, who hate their jobs but don’t know what else to do. Or like Chase, who’s stuck looking after these losers, checking their piece counts, slowly getting sloppy and fat. How long must he have been here? Almost as long as the manager, there, Taylor. Poor, miserable Taylor, trying to run this store with no competent staff and a turnover rate of one a day. How’d he get stuck here? Got a degree in business, and got just high enough in the company to warrant store manager, but unimportant enough to get shipped up north to northern Alberta, and now he’s here for the rest of his life, just like Alfie and Marge and Chase will be here until they retire. None of them thought this would be a last stop, but it was. They came here expecting to leave soon, but there you go, it was a last stop, because they didn’t watch themselves. They didn’t get out before this place got to them, and now they’re here for good. So you get out of here, kid, before you get stuck.
Oh, that’s the last one. Break’s soon, anyway.
Where was I? What was I thinking about?

Major disclaimer: You know how works of fiction are never depicting anyone real or dead, and any coincidence (as in co-incide-ence, or two things that happen together and seem related) is just a coincidence (as in two things that happen together and aren't related). You know about that? Well, that's true of the above. Only that I think that all of these people really do exist, I just have never met them.
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