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i am 7.
today was a day for me to get in trouble. not real trouble, like i've done bad stuff, but just little trouble, like i ought to stop being so impulsive. this happened all the time when i was little, but then i outgrew it, really. every once in a while (like today), some part of me forgets that i outgrew this, and i do something stupid like get stuck on the roof of the dorm, break the lights, get myself stuck in an elevator, flip the piano, etc.

i woke up and my stomach still felt a bit queasy. i went to work. as i walked in the door, terrie was heading out for break. she tells me, 'take over for irene. and that purple box is mine so don't put it back or anything.' i say ok. when i get in there, i see that the 'purple box' is a huge-ass box of tampons. tampons are approximately equivalent to sleepwalking and bra size in my mind, and even though nobody's said the word, i start feeling uncomfortable. maybe it's just because it's terrie and she's hot and i'm thinking about where she puts the tampon... i don't know. maybe i'm stupid.
irene has hershey's kisses. she says terrie had a bad morning, and took a few of them and left them for terrie. but she didn't know where to put them, so she put them in with the tampons, and asks me to let terrie know they're there.
then teena walks by and points to this huge box of tampons and asks why i have it sitting there. i tell her it's not mine; it's terrie's, and i can't stop smiling. it's a nervous smile, like the kind that comes when you get in trouble and you're so scared that you just start smiling and the principal asks 'is something funny?' in this evil tone of voice and you say no but even as you're saying it and trying your hardest to stop grinning, you're smiling bigger. i think she thinks i'm crazy. my stomach felt bad to begin with, but now it's got that nervous scared feeling too, just like i'm in trouble, only i'm not. plus all this is making me really fidgety. i am 7 again.
jim comes by and looks at the tampons and asks 'did you come unprepared?' and i turn bright red and tell him they're not mine, but i still can't stop smiling. i swear, she must have left them up there just to embarrass me. there are so many places that she could have put this stupid box, but she puts it right where i have to stand... when terrie gets back from break, i've still got this big dumb grin on my face, and it won't go away, but at least she doesn't know that it came from her tampons...

after about 15 minutes, she sends me out to get carts. i am relieved. i bring in a load, and then remember irene's candy. i picture terrie reaching in for a tampon and coming out with a hershey's kiss. that would probably be pretty confusing, and maybe even slightly frightening. i figure i'd better tell her, so i go back inside and say 'irene left you candy in there because she said you needed smiles.' (that's not exactly what she said, but i can't talk.)
she comments 'awwww, how nice,' and then she looks at me in surprise, laughs and asks, 'what made you think of that?'
i stammer, 'uhhh... i just thought maybe it would be... confusing if you didn't know they were... there,' which isn't actually what she asked. the actual answer would be that tampons made me think of it. and what made me think of tampons? well, they haven't left my mind since i first laid eyes on that bright purple economy size box of tampons sitting right in the middle of everything... but just like everybody else can talk freely about bras and sleepwalking, most people aren't this affected by tampons, so telling her that would just make her think i'm crazy.

hi, i just dedicated like half a journal entry to tampons. that's all. i promise.

i go back to carts. i feel like i need to go for a nice long run to calm down my stomach, so instead i just get carts vigorously for an hour, and by the time i'm done, my face and hands are freezing, my upper body is a little sweaty from too many layers, i'm out of breath, and my stomach feels a little better. i'm still fidgety.

i go on break and jim and murphy are back there and jim doesn't bring up skiing. i figure maybe he'll do it when murphy is gone. murphy is trying to do a crossword puzzle and jim keeps snatching the pen out of his hand. i steal it from jim and pretend to throw it across the room. then i see this open cabinet next to the door and say, 'i bet i can make it in there,' as i throw the pen. dana steps in the door to the break room and the pen whizzes by about an inch from his ear. (i missed the cabinet...) he jumps a mile, and then turns to me with a very angry look on his face. i'm afraid he's about to explode, so instinctively, i duck, scramble under the table, and cover my head. the next thing i know, jim, murphy, and dana are all laughing at me. i peer out from under the table, and dana just laughs, 'loser, be careful. you're going to poke somebody's eye out if you keep that up.' i tell him i'm sorry.

murphy reads us some clues for his crossword puzzle, and i get a bunch for him. then dana leaves, dylan comes in and starts kicking the pop machine, and i hear terrie over the intercom and i think she called me back up front. i swear i haven't taken that long... i ask if anybody else heard what she said, but all they had heard was dylan. i rush out to find dana, who hasn't made it downstairs yet. i ask if terrie had called me, and he says yeah. i go down there and terrie looks at me and asks harshly, 'what was that, a 25-minute break?' i get scared and say 'i don't think so. i don't know.' she walks away and then i hear dana talking to her quietly. he says something, and she says something about '25-minute break.' i hear him say, '...still getting carts when i came in... only 20 minutes ago...' and i know he's sticking up for me, which is pretty nice after i nearly took off his ear.

terrie comes back over and she's not mad anymore. now she's just sort of joking, and she says 'butthole.' i say 'sorry.' she jokes, 'you better be!' then she adds, 'hey, wanna hear a joke?' it's all good. terrie's not mad at me. dana's not mad at me.
(just fyi, if anybody ever wants a really dumb joke, here's terrie's joke: there were these two muffins cooking in the oven. the first muffin says 'wow, it's hot as hell in here.' the second muffin says, 'oh my god! a talking muffin!')

terrie goes home. i am bored and fidgety so i wander over to alyssa's register and flip the belts on and off and on and off. when the front one is on, i try to lean on it. if i could keep my balance long enough, i think it would be strong enough to move me. i comment outloud, 'i bet this could move me if i sat on it.' alyssa flips it off and says 'get on and i'll turn it on.' (if i had thought this through, i would have realized that it was probably not a good idea. but sometimes, i just forget to think...) i jump on and hang my legs off the edge, but lift them up so they don't scrape the side and i'm balancing on my butt. this is hard, so i tell her to hang on, and i climb all the way up so i'm kneeling on the belt. she flips the switch and i nearly lose my balance but i'm moving down the belt and it takes me by so much surprise that i yell 'hey!' helen and alyssa crack up and i scramble to get off the belt before somebody important notices. i'm a little too late. i hear amit scream from all the way up at the desk, 'loser! what in the world are you doing?!?' by the time he's done with his sentance, i'm back on the ground, looking mighty sheepish. he comes over and i tell him i'm sorry and alyssa looks the other way. he says 'don't do that! my god, are you stupid or something?' i lean into the candy rack and tell him sorry again. he rolls his eyes and walks away, shaking his head in disgust.

an hour later though, i get my next break, and i go up to get my paycheck. amit's up there, and he's being fine. he teases me that i can't have my paycheck, but it's back to normal and he's not mad at me. after he gives it to me, he asks 'so, what do you think about rashid?' i don't like questions that start with 'so what do you think about' and end with a guy's name.
i say 'uhh...' he says he thinks rashid likes me. i ask why. he says because every time he looks up, rashid is standing by me, or talking to me from across the store, or looking at me, or i'm over by him. i say, 'oh, that's just because rashid is cool.' he raises his eyebrows and asks, 'so you like him?' i say 'no i don't like him, but i like him regular,' and then i walk away because i hate talking about liking guys. i hope he just made that up. i hope he's not right.

ann and brian are gone for the night. terrie's not here either. it's just teena and amit. i can't help but think that tonight would be a good night for christine to come in. if she drove by the parking lot tonight, she would see that it was safe, and maybe she would come. i want her to come.

molly calls me to let me know that we're meeting at jack's house again tonight, as soon as i can get there.

jim left and didn't mention anything about skiing, still.

i'm over by eliza and helen and there's an extra cart. i jump up and sit in the baby seat, with my legs hanging over the handlebar. eliza comes up and pretends to yank the back of the cart and i squeal and jump down. she flips the front part of the cart all the way up, so it wouldn't hold anything because there's a big hole where all your groceries slide to. it looks like a nice-sized hole for my body to fit through, so i fit myself through it and my feet are on the ground and my body is in the cart and it's cool. if you wanted to be a shopping cart for halloween, this is how you could do it. then eliza comes up behind me and says 'get in.' so i do. she pushes me in a little circle and i laugh, and then she starts running at the door to put the cart back outside, where the extras go. she runs faster than the door can open, though, and the cart bangs loudly into the door, causing teena to look up. eliza mutters, 'oops,' and keeps going. once we get outside, i climb out, we put it away, and we practice our innocent looks before we walk back inside. we make it all the way back to our registers and we think maybe we're safe, but then teena calls us over. she says 'what, you think i didn't notice?'
eliza says 'we were just putting the cart back.'
teena asks, 'with loser in it?'
we shrug. teena sighs and asks 'are all the carts out of the lot?'
i say mostly. eliza asks if she wants us to get the rest. teena says 'yeah, since you seem to have so much extra energy...'
we go and bring in a load each, and then there's just a few ones in different places, so we're pushing them around and riding them towards the door. when we're almost to the crosswalk, she crosses my path and i shove two carts in her direction. the second one goes at her, but the first separates from the second and heads straight for a car. i stop my other carts and frantically chase this one. i grab it just in time, and when i look over to eliza, michelle is standing on the sidewalk behind her, looking at me, and she's not amused. she asks dryly, 'how about you girls stop playing and come inside and help helen take some of these customers now?' we do.

then there are no more customers, and i clean up eveything i can find and i'm still bored. i find a knife (like the stockers use) under my register. i bring it out and trace it over the belt lightly. i wonder if it could cut through the belt. i don't actually want to cut the belt; i just want to know if the knife could cut the belt. i forget to think it through any farther than that, and i try cutting it. (i never got to the point in my thoughts where i realize that if the knife can cut the belt, then the belt will be cut.) luckily for the belt (but not so lucky for me), teena was on her way over to get a final pick-up on me, and she catches me about to cut the belt. she screams my name and i jump and without thinking, throw the knife in the air. teena jumps back and it lands on the floor at her feet. i shrink back into the corner and mumble 'sorry...'
she asks what i was doing. i try to explain that i just wanted to see if the knife would cut the belt. she asks, 'so you were trying to cut the belt?'
i say 'well yeah, but not really. i mean, i didn't want to cut it. i just wanted to know if it could be cut...' it sounds about as stupid as it is. am i really that dumb?
she tells me that makes no sense, and i tell her i know, but i forgot to think about that before i tried to cut it. she sighs and says, 'my god loser, what is wrong with you? just clean or something, alright?'
i tell her i'm sorry, and then add that i did clean. she looks around. i had done a good job of cleaning and she can't find anything else for me to do.
she says 'yeah, well you're only here for 20 more minutes. do you think you can just relax until then?'
i nod. she says 'good, please do,' and leaves with the pick-up. i hear her say to michelle as she heads back, 'i think somebody forgot to take her ritalin this morning.' i think she's joking. i don't think she meant for me to hear. i still feel insulted and funny and bad. i am not on ritalin. i don't like to hear people say that i am, whether they mean it or not.

a few minutes later, there are customers, and teena tells me molly's on the phone for me again. i have a line of customers, and i don't know what to do with them. i close off to more, but i think i have to take these. it would be rude to leave now to answer the phone... when i finally finish them, i race over to the phone. as i'm about to grab it, i see the light go out (meaning she's hung up). i go back to register and hope it wasn't important...

i stay out of trouble and when my shift's over, i decide i better call molly to make sure we're still meeting at jack's. as i pick up the phone to dial, i realize that i don't know my own phone number. i've only needed it twice: once to give to work, and once to publish it in our school's directory. i never give it out to people because people who know me can look it up, and people who don't know me don't need to know my phone number. i try a number i think it is. i get a sleepy old lady. i try another number. i get a modem. i feel really dumb, but i need to talk to molly... i'm not riding the bus 10 blocks past my stop and walking all the way to jack's for nothing. i pretend like i'm not about to ask the stupidest question in the world to the two people who have done nothing but yell at me for the past few hours, and ask michelle and teena, 'hey, is my phone number back there anywhere?'
teena asks in disbelief, 'you don't know your own phone number?'
i look down at my toes and mumble, 'i forget...'
they look at each other, look at me, look back at each other, and then they start laughing. michelle laughs, 'i don't believe you, kid,' and teena adds, 'loser, you are too much...'
they are laughing at me, but the relief overpowers the embarrassment. they aren't mad at me. they're so busy laughing at my stupidity that they're not mad at me any more. teena gives me my phone number (i was only off by one digit) and i thank them both. they laugh and say 'no problem,' and 'anytime,' and i call molly. she's not there. i figure that means they're at jack's, so i go catch the bus.

i'm not sure where to get off for jack's, and the mexican on the bus is confused when i don't get off at my regular stop and instead stare out the window in concentration. he asks 'house?' and points to the place we've already passed. he adds, 'donde esta tu casa?' i tell him 'no voy a mi casa hoy. voy a ir a la casa de mi amigo, pero no se donde esta.' he laughs and understands and i think it's funny because him and holly are the only people who ever hear me attempt to speak spanish.

in our meeting, i mostly bounce around the room and listen while they discuss. i volunteer for part of the coding and i think we should be ok. then me and molly walk home, and she says she only called to see if i wanted a ride, but the bus ended up being just as fast, so it was ok.

so, all in all, i feel really dumb. i get disgusted with myself on days like these... i know how to think. how come some days, i can't remember to do it? i am such a 7-year-old... i'm going to bed before i start sucking my thumb...