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a long story: work, terrie, rashid, and a really dumb thief
i got up early and went shopping with molly and aaron.

then i went to work. terrie was there, and (surprise!) she was still hot. i actually did a little better today. she was looking through more gourmet cooking magazines by me, and she did most of the talking, but i said a little. when i made faces at all the meals that she said looked good, she asked me what i liked and i told her, 'normal stuff, like hot dogs.'
she replied, 'hot dogs make me fart,' and kept flipping through the magazine like that statement didn't deserve a second though.
i calmly choked on my reaction and added that hamburgers were ok too. i looked for good food in her magazines, and besides the desserts, the only thing i found was a bowl of shredded wheat in milk. after i pointed to it, i realized that it was an ad-the top half of the page was some gourmet meal and the bottom was the shredded wheat. there was some question printed across the page, like 'come on now, which would you rather have for dinner?' and the obvious answer was supposed to be the fancy meal. she laughed at me.

rashid came in, and today we found a temporary topic to replace terrie: billie. billie hadn't been to work in a while, and we were wondering if she had had her baby yet, or if she was on maternity leave, or what. we discussed this on break, and had quite a few speculations (both realistic and off-the-wall) going. just for fun, we threw jp and terrie into the mix-billie's gone becuase she was in charge of planning jp and terrie's wedding. or she had the baby, but she was having it for terrie.
about a half hour later, billie came in and went up to the service desk. she was talking to amit and terrie forever. rashid came right over to me, and we tried to see if she was still pregnant-looking. she was facing the wrong way, and she had on a baggy coat. we kept looking over there and then looking away, and we even found excuses to go over there, but no matter what we did, we were always at the wrong angle to see her stomach. at some point in our quest to see billie's stomach, we realized that we have successfully made terrie paranoid. terrie was with billie, and it was obvious that she thought we were talking about her. she kept looking at us, even when it required turning completely away from billie. rashid thought this was hilarious, and made a point of staring at terrie, and then turning to me and saying something about billie that made me laugh. i felt bad, but i couldn't not laugh...

then later, rashid was bragging to me about how he always got to do the fun things, while i was stuck on boring register. after that, terrie handed him a cart and asked him to collect the returns. the second she turned away, he pointed triumphantly at his cart and i rolled my eyes and half-laughed. terrie turned around just in time to see the end of his display of triumph and my reaction to it. she looks suspiciously at us both and asks 'what?'
i don't want to tell her because i don't want to sound like i'm complaining about the way she divides up the work. so i just shrug, and he doesn't tell her either.
she asks, more insistantly, 'what???' and at this point, i feel a little bad for her. she thinks we're talking about her. i guess i'll just let her think i'm a whiner... i say 'oh, he's just showing off becuase he gets to do another fun job while i stand here.' she's so relieved that we weren't talking about her that i don't think she stops to consider that i was sort of complaining.

jim was around, and i talked to him, but i worry too much to enjoy it.

there's this girl, kelly. she's maybe 20, not too bright, and she's really good at annoying lots of people. today, she made a sign that said kick me hard, and was putting it on people's backs. i was the first one she got. rashid came over to me and whispered 'there's a sign on your back.' i took it off and thanked him, and she comes over to us and whines to him, 'what'd you tell her for? it was funny...'
he says flatly 'no it wasn't.'
she says, 'it was, and now i'm going to get revenge on you.'
he shrugs and answers 'whatever, i don't care. get 'revenge' on me if you like. just leave loser alone.'
she says, 'oooooooooooh, you love loser!'
i am not good at telling when people like me (i was oblivious to jim for months), but i don't think rashid likes me. it doesn't matter, though. this is a hard statement to reply to because either way, it's awkward. if he denies it, he runs the risk of insulting me. but agreeing with her it isn't a good idea either, because if kelly thinks he likes me, she'll tell everyone, and everybody will tease him and me both, just like when marie found out jim liked me. he handles this dilemma without hesitation, in his heavy accent: 'she's my sister.'
she looks from him to me and cracks up. she laughs, 'she is not!'
i surpress a laugh and say seriously, 'yeah, he's my brother. right bro?'
he nods. she's still laughing, but she's not so sure of herself. her laughter subsides, and she looks back and forth between us and says 'noooo....?'
we both nod sincerely. her jaw drops, and she rushes over to ask malik if it's true.
rashid and i duck behind the counter and crack up. rashid is clearly 100% indian, and it's obvious that english is not his native language. i am a bit of a mixed breed, but there's not an ounce of indian in me... i almost feel bad taking advantage of her stupidity, but we figure she started it with that stupid sign...

then it was time for terrie to leave, and she had a pile of stuff that she was going to buy. she left it by me and asked me to watch it. she was wearing her coat and had her stuff, and headed to the door. i was pretty confused and asked 'huh?' she said she didn't have the money for it now. she had to go collect the money from her roommate, and then she'd be back to pay for it. i say ok, and after she's gone, i realize that last time i checked, her roommate was christine. did she just say something about christine????

when she comes back, i'm still thinking about this. she picks up her stuff and i ask her 'christine is your roommate?' she's heading over to the service desk, but she mutters in disgust, 'unfortunately,' and keeps walking. i don't know what to say to this, and even if i did, i never got the chance becuase she was gone.

i guess i knew they weren't getting along so well... jim and i had established that right after the last time i saw christine. it's just that hearing her say it is confusing, and it sort of hurts.

right away, it's time for me to leave, but i have to wait on the bus. i get my coat and go wait outside, watching for christine, and think about this. i guess this bothers me for two reasons.

the first is clear. christine used to come here to visit not just me, but the others too... like jane. i just connected those two events. jim and i had observed two things that night:
1) christine and terrie weren't getting along.
2) jane hadn't seemed to want to talk to christine.
for the first time, i realize that 2 wasn't just a fluke, and that the two are probably related. terrie is jane's best friend. of course terrie will tell jane about her roommate problems. jane sided with terrie. i don't know if jane sided with terrie becuase terrie's her friend or becuase she looked at the situation logically and decided that terrie was right. i don't even know what christine and terrie disagree on. all i know is that christine liked to visit jane, and if she's realized that jane doesn't want to see her, then maybe by myself, i'm not enough reason for her to come here. i don't like this thought at all because i want to see christine again.

the second reason is a little more complex. to understand it, you would have to spend some time in loser-land, which i do, all the time.
loser-land is a strange place. when i was little, it was my fantasy world, and i was always having adventures in loser-land. i could do anything-i could fly, or turn invisible, or communicate with animals. every day, i had a new magical talent, or had come up with a new scenario to use it in. i was constantly slipping off to loser-land, especially when i was supposed to be paying attention, like in school. i think everybody does this occasionally, and invariably, the teacher notices, and calls on you with a smart comment like, 'loser, what did i just say?' the problem my teachers had with me was that i could always recite what they had just said. it was usually meaningless to me, like it was in another language, but i had heard it and recorded it in my mind, and could play it back. this frustrated them, and eventually, they came to the conclusion that i wasn't actually daydreaming, and it just looked that way when i was concentrating on learning. because all my teachers eventually decided this, they stopped taking me out of loser-land, and i spent the majority of my school days there.
sometime, though, i think i outgrew my imagination. now, nothing in loser-land is magical. there are some situations that are highly improbable, but never impossible. loser-land has evolved into more of a virtual reality. i practice living. i came out of the closet to christine hundreds of times in loser-land before i actually did it in real life. i play what-if. what if jim tried to make a move on me? what if marie thought of me like she thought of christine? what if i tell molly i'm gay? what if terrie secretly wants me? (that one's easy. i let her have me, and i enjoy every second of it... you'd think that since this is the most unlikely scenario of them all, and since i already know the answer, i wouldn't spend much time thinking about it, but mmmmmm... for some reason, it's my favorite... sometimes it's nice to dream about those things...) what if i get to talk to christine? (this is probably my second favorite, and it's the one that's relevant.) i dream:
i talk to christine. i tell her that i think i want to come out to my family or molly, but i'm scared of their reactions and i have a lot of trouble saying those words. she practices it with me, until i can tell her, but i'm still afraid that when i'm saying it to somebody who doesn't already know, and hasn't already heard me say it a hundred times, it's going to be different. she agrees, and suggests that i first practice on somebody who i know won't care... somebody like terrie, who just happens to live with christine... so christine gets terrie to hang out with us one night, and we talk...
things go differently from here. it's open-ended, again, but i almost always end up feeling happy and comfortable becuase i am talking to two girls who date girls, and we're the only ones around. i am clearly in the majority and it's nice.

did i ever really think this would happen? no, not really. but there's a fine line between 'highly improbable' and 'impossible.' if terrie and christine have such an awful relationship that terrie can't resist making an evil remark to a question as simple as 'is christine your roommate?', then this scenario has crossed the line into impossible, and i don't like that. impossible situations aren't allowed in loser-land, and i liked this one. it was not half as dirty as the terrie one, and it helped me towards what i think my goal is-coming out to the world.

so i'm sitting outside, thinking about all this. i'm right next to the door, but just around the corner. if you're heading into the store from the parking lot, you can see me and i can see you. if you're heading out of the store, i can see you, but you never notice me because if you take one step outside the door, i'm already behind you. then, this guy steps outside the door, and instead of heading out into the parking lot like the rest of the world does, he takes a sharp left and runs right into me. his arms are crossed and are holding up his coat. he jumps back, looking startled and guilty. i apologize, and he says he's sorry, adds 'have a nice night,' and quickly walks past me and over to the side of the store. the first thing i think is 'i wonder why he's going over there... all that's over there is a dark alley...' the second thing i think is 'i wonder why his arms were folded under his coat like that... it was almost like he was holding something in there...' the third thing i think is 'damn, i bet he was stealing something,' and right as i finish that thought, the cop on duty races out the door. he looks left, right, and then turns around. i silently point to where the guy is about to dissappear around the side of the building. the cop looks where i'm pointing, steps towards the guy, and screams 'freeze!' the guy turns around, sees the cop, and takes off running. the cop charges after him. i jump up and hesitate. i hear the cop calling 'put it down,' but he's still running and i know the guy didn't listen. i know i can't be of much help here, so i run inside and babble to tasha and art at the service desk, 'the cop! a guy who stole! chasing the alley him!' art gets excited and asks 'the cop is chasing somebody who stole something?' i agree, and he exclaims 'i'll go help!' and races out from behind the service desk. he runs outside and i follow him. he looks around and asks where they went. i point to the alley. i hear nothing and think maybe they're gone. art tears off down the dark alley, and i get scared thinking that there are thieves roaming around out here, so i go back inside.

malik, rashid, and tasha all want to know what's going on, so i tell them everything i know. in a little bit, art comes back inside, out of breath, and still on the adrenaline rush you get from being a temporary superhero. he tells the story to me and tasha. the cop had caught up to the guy, but the guy was trying to fight the cop. the cop was winning, but the guy was still trying to wrestle him. art came up behind the guy, taking him by complete surprise, and put him in a headlock and then a full nelson (i don't know what that is...). from there, the guy didn't have much choice but to give up, so they got the stuff out of his coat and brought it back. it was meat. a ton of really heavy, really expensive meat. it totalled up to almost $200 and weighed well over 20 pounds.

rashid clocked out and we took the meat back and put it away and then went out to the bus stop. we decided that this had to be the dumbest crook ever, and compiled a list of tips for theives...
1) if you're going to steal something, do it at a busy time, not nighttime, when there are no customers or distractions in the store, and there's a cop on duty whose only job is to keep things safe and to watch for shoplifters.
2) in general, the smaller the item, the easier it is to steal. if you want to get something small, but still worth a lot, try film or batteries or cigarettes, not meat.
3) don't run from a cop, idiot.
4) if you're planning on running from a cop, don't steal heavy awkward stuff, because it will really slow you down.
5) don't try to fight a cop, stupid.
6) if you're going to try to fight a cop, you better be sure you can win.

so i won't make the papers for helping to capture a thief, but i was there and i did play a very minor role... and it was interesting enough to take my mind off of christine and terrie, which was nice...