Friday, March 04, 2005

Supermarket kids

Back from a supermarket trip. The mud we were breathing for days (a combination of humidity and dust in the atmosphere) finally went away yesterday. While Europe is covered with snow or glazed with black ice, the dusk here was definitely vernal, all mellow colours and at a fine balance between chill and warmth, the first in the form of a slight breeze, the latter fuelled by the afterglow of a sunny day. Once more, I remembered strawberry eating on the grass in the English garrison town's mid-July.

I bought some oyster sauce and it would not go through at the check out. So I had a little more time to observe the supermarket kids. These are invariably immigrant underage boys (once eighteen they can work in construction, or elsewhere) from the ex-Soviet Union. They help customers with filling our many bags and follow us to the car, sometimes helping out with the trolley. If you cannot bother returning the trolley, they earn the 20c piece by docking it for you. Otherwise they never ask for anything from customers and most of them get excited when thanked for their help.

Hence, one of them was summoned by the checkout person to look for the shelf I got the sauce from in order to check the price. In the meantime, the checkout person stared wearily in the distance. I felt, not really thought, two things: I am privileged to have done similar jobs for only a total of 18 months in my life; moreover, these people are beyond the reach of lofty political vision (practical but not very effective and slow-moving) or the soothingness of art (dramatic and life-changing, but less practical, it also requires dedication and, ultimately, money), so they rely exclusively on human relations to keep human after 8 hours of this...

On my way out two of the supermarket kids were debating which is the second best Outpost football team.

5 Comments:

Blogger Jinx said...

Why are they beyond reach?
Are you not just being slightly prejudice? They could be the next child genius, stuck in a dead end job with no way out.
If you would talk to every single one of those people, on all shifts, at least one would be able to converse with you on your desired level.
Maybe someone would surprise you.

4/3/05 20:27  
Blogger Loxias said...

Nobody in their right mind would deny the inherent creativity of every human being.

It's just that politics moves too slow (recall how long it took to abolish slavery: generations after generations of slaves had only each other to cherish them as human beings...) and to 'understand' and 'appreciate' art you need education ( = money, alas) and leisure ( = money) and being able to break free of oppressive mentalities (this also involves money, sometimes).

That's all

4/3/05 21:20  
Blogger sissoula said...

That dust was really sth, wasn't it? Here too the sky was totally opaque. And white. It was warm but chilly at the same time, exactly as you said. Spooky, eerie, lovely, sick. It was either the best or the worst weather for a DITF, which is why I never had a chance to thank you for the cat. So thanks. I and my fellow teenagegrrrl blogrollers express our sincere appreciation. What is about a cat that just can't resist a box?

On the subject of outpost supermarket class politics, I'm curious: are the kids free agents, or are they actually employed by the supermarket? If sth doesn't scan in my supermarket, the checkout girl just SHOUTS from one side of the shop to the other til she gets the code she needs. I don't think art could soothe her.

5/3/05 08:54  
Blogger dystropoppygus said...

I like surprises.

L., you manage to somehow chronoteleport me to foggy areas of the mystery called Past. There was a dreary Tesco's I recall everybody loathed: we'd drive the extra mile to visit Sainsbury's. But July was Wivenhoe month. And strawberry picking at Oliver's Orchard. Two cats. Nail me.

I also like jinx's trains.

5/3/05 14:09  
Blogger Loxias said...

By the time I left, the Tesco's had become the area's shopping omphalos, while the dusty Sainsbury's in the pedestrianised area was steadily declining.

7/3/05 00:09  

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