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today was the last day of psychology class. i skipped it, but it was too warm to sleep, so i just laid around for a while and then i went to work. work was insane. everybody was bitter or upset.

jane called off.

terrie only ever closes one night a week, and she ALWAYS does it with jane. jane is her best friend, so she likes spending time with her, but she HATES closing when jane's not around. terrie is bitter on a good day, and today, having to close without jane, she was insanely bitter.

it is the first week of school for the high schoolers in the area. school doesn't start until later in the week, but since it's this week, they now have to have work permits. sam didn't have one. he showed up to work, and they sent him home. kinitra didn't have one either, so she couldn't work either. without her, we had no baggers and nobody to get carts from 3 p.m. on.

alyssa was still sick-very much so. she tried to call off, but without sam, jane, and kinitra, they couldn't take it and begged her to come in anyway. she did, but she sure wasn't happy about it.

marie was supposed to be off at 8, but since jane wasn't there, she had to stay until close to help terrie. this, combined with the mess we had without kinitra and sam, made her hate the world.

marie called molly up front to run one break, and that made molly mad. she hates dealing with people, especially when she's expecting to spend the whole day in gm. molly was mad at the world, and especially mad at marie. this made marie even more upset.

despite all this negative energy, i remained in a remarkably good mood, particulary after joel called me aside to tell me about a customer who had called to complain that i was rude about his salad. even after he gave details, i had no idea what he was talking about, and i just laughed. joel said the description the customer had given of me was something he would expect to get from molly or kiera, but for me, it just seemed out of character. i told him i didn't remember this at all, but i would try to be less rude from now on...

when i went up to turn in my drawer to marie, she stood on the other side of the low doorway and stared at me, looking rather despondant. my heart immediately went out to her. i have no idea why she's upset, or what's wrong, but i just want to make it better... i reach out and touch her scalp and stroke her hair and tell her lightly, 'smile.'
ayrik comes up to us and asks where the olives are. we direct him to them in unison and i turn back to her. she's still upset. i reach out over the door and hug her, and she rests her head on my shoulder. it felt nice, but it was a bit of a role reversal. i couldn't shake the feeling that terrie was staring at us, though, so when she sighed into my shoulder, 'molly hates me,' i let go and told her, 'molly hates everybody. don't worry about it,' and then left.

i came back later and she was mad. she told me, 'i hate the world.'
i asked, 'you hate me?'
she answered, 'i hate fucking everybody.'
i want to fix this too. i want to make it better. i want to be the exception. i want to be the one that can slide past that anger, massage it out of her, and fix everything... it hurts me that when she's upset at the world, she's upset at me too...
i tell her i'm sorry, and i'm extra cooperative. when she asks me to get carts, i don't complain, and i don't come in until she tells me to stop, a half hour later. when she asks if i'll take my break 45 minutes late, i say sure. when she tells me to take back some meat and milk and lettuce on my way to break, i don't get bothered by the fact that between the three departments (on opposite ends of the store), it will eat up a good 1/4 of my break time. when they send me out to register and tell me to give karen a break, i don't bother to tell them that the lines are out past the aisles. i just do it. it's only helen and me, and helen (on the express lane) doesn't have much of a problem. it's mostly just my line that's bad, which winds and twists to fit. at times, i count 8 full carts in line behind the one i'm ringing up... the customers are angry at the wait. i'd rather have angry customers than angry marie and terrie, though, so i don't call them. i just go as fast as i can. the customers notice, and complain to me, but not about me. they tell me i'm doing an excellent job, but somebody should put another cashier out here. they ask who they can complain to, and i lie and say that right now, there's nobody here, and all they can do is call tomorrow. they say they will, and they appreciate how i'm doing my best to get them through fast... i feel a little guilty. i could get them through a lot faster by picking up the phone and describing the lines to marie/terrie... i don't do it.

by the time karen finally gets back from break, nearly a half hour after she left, the line is manageable. marie calls me and asks me to bring up my drawer and get carts for the rest of my shift. it's fucking hot outside... but i just agree. by the time i get through the rest of my line, there's only 10 minutes left. marie tells me to get trash and get carts. there are two carts in the lobby. the rest are on the lot. terrie notices that and says, 'you won't have time. just get carts, as many as you can.'
'i'll try,' i tell her.
marie smiles for the first time all night. she answers warmly, 'i know you will. i love you, debbie.'
i skip out to the parking lot. she still loves me. it's ok. i'm a good kid... i get carts fast. i break a sweat, just to make that lobby look full to them... i'm slipping backwards. i used to be a good person, and now i'm just a good worker... but at least i'm a good something, i suppose.

i offer to stay an extra half hour to finish (i'll have to wait on the bus anyway, and it will make an even 8 hours if i do). terrie says sure, and tells me to put back returns when i'm done with carts. i figured it would take me mearly the half hour just to get the carts, but becuase she expects more of me, i nearly run around that parking lot. i get all the carts, do the trash, and i make a good dent in the returns.

when i leave for the night, i walk past the empty trash cans, walk across lot, and look at all the empty cart returns, and i feel a sense of satisfaction... i've missed that feeling. it's been a long time since i've worked that hard... i used to do it all the time, to earn praise from christine, because when i worked hard, she always noticed. when she left, billie sometimes noticed, and i sometimes worked hard. but without christine, my work ethic gradually faded, and by the time billie left, i wasn't so great. i did what was asked of me, but i did it all casually, with no sense of urgency. i'd stroll around the lot, gathering carts, or wander through the aisles putting back returns, but i was never in a hurry... as malik used to say, it all pays the same. and without christine to impress, why should i work harder than i had to?
this is why. because it makes marie happy. because my work ethic is the only thing terrie likes about me. and most of all, because i feel good about myself right now. i think i like me when i'm a hard worker... goofing off with rashid is fun, but this is good too. and tomorrow, when i'm tempted to get lazy again, i should remember this.

on a side note, this is a bad thing, i think. i mean marie, and the way i'm responding to her moods... i'm a little confused, but i know that happened with christine, and with alana... they get upset, and my entire life revolves around fixing it, in any way i can... this means marie isn't so different, not anymore... it's not just sexual. (was it ever?) i don't know... it's just that i liked christine. i liked alana. i didn't like marie. or i thought that i didn't like marie, but i did like her body. i thought that the conflict was that i hated marie but wanted her body... but i can't claim to hate her any more. i care about her. i want her to be happy, and i want to be the one to make her happy. i feel like i ought to dislike her, but the only time i ever feel anything negative towards her at all is when i'm jealous of the way she's flirting with guys... and that's not hatred towards marie; it's jealousy of them, and it doesn't change my feelings for her. if anything, it intensifies them... i like marie. i like the way she looks and i like the way she feels and i like the way she smells and i like the way treats me, but i also like just plain old her. liking somebody is generally a good thing, but in this particular instance, i don't think that's the case...