K-mart | Menories Journal

K-mart | Menories Journal

A Story by Haley
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Working at a big box department store always comes with it's quirks, but the breaking point? Guns, condoms, and some beer.

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            I had only worked at K-mart for two weeks before I called it quits, or, more appropriately, ghosted a corporation and then reappeared to collect my last check with a smile. While that is not the way to quit, and two weeks seems like nothing, it was two weeks at K-mart, which in itself was a lot. In a small town, where I had returned for a brief intermission between my stunt in college and moving to the Bay Area, where nothing was open past 7 PM, and many needing to find entertainment would find solace in the few stores still open those being bars, IHOP, Safeway, and K-mart.

            I didn’t really even need the job at K-mart, being that I usually worked mornings at a small deli and market nestled downtown, and a few days as a special education teacher’s aide. I was busy; however, when you and your best friend devise a plan at 2 am to work together but not actually do any work, you go along with it. We had even tried something of this nature before, back when I held a job at an ice cream shop in high school, and it had failed. The owner, a sweet old woman who for some reason I thought I could outwit, knowingly, put us on opposite shifts, like passing ships in the night. I dimly recall seeing her leave as I arrived one time; however, this time we had promised ourselves we would “somehow make it work”.

            Within days I had secured a job after a lack-luster interview and a drive down to a drug testing center, which I had smoked right before going to. My mother assured me that they mainly look for the harder substances, but still, it felt as if I was playing fast and loose, smoking on the road to be drug tested to work at a place where most of the consumers were on drugs. For those unfamiliar with people who would frequent a K-mart, K-mart, similar to Walmart, is a big box department store where the parking lots are always dim and scary, the people working generally don’t care, and the shoppers do as they please, no real rules of civilization in place. It was a small town where most people generally float between being a dreadlocked, patchouli scented hippie to the hard-core conservatives who wear the Constitution printed on their shirts (the area was actually two small towns jammed side by side all sharing the same high school, grocery, fast food, and shopping areas, with each respective side seeming to have their own town) and these two extremes would often collide at K-mart.  

            The few days that I worked there I was usually shuffled back and forth between soft lines, aka clothing departments which no one explained, and checkout. Working in the clothing departments was usually uneventful save finding a diaper or random food items shoved into pockets and purses and was a time to gossip with coworkers. Checkout was a different animal though. Checkout put you face to face with the shoppers, forced to make small talk, smiling and nodding at whatever they say. I didn’t mind working checkout, it made the time go by faster and I was unusually good at small talk. For some cursed reason, I have always been good at small talk and connecting to people, once being referred to as disturbingly charming by a hook-up in years’ future, and when working a register at any job would noticeably bring in higher tips (a $10 tip on a $2 scoop of ice cream, or at the deli, coworkers would move the tip jar from the deli to the register and by the end of the shift it was usually 3/4s full). The trick was to listen and to not actually talk, or to ask simple, but open questions. Regardless, checkout was the breaking point.

            I had already decided to quit; I had romanticized working that much and with my best friend because as one could guess I became overworked, tired, and never actually saw, or worked with the person I had begun working there for, and was also moving in two weeks’ time. Additionally, there had been an incident where one of the special needs students that I worked with had come in with his father, immediately ran behind the register to hug me, and then proceeded to tell me all about his day and remind me of a girl from school that he had a crush on. His father, unhappy that his young son was hugging some random K-mart checker, tried to pull him away unaware that I had worked with his son every day for the past few months, upsetting the son and launching him into a full melt-down. At that point, I felt as if the child seeing a teacher’s aide outside of school had shook him out of his normal routine and now made things difficult to go about a normal checkout process. Part of me used not wanting to upset the kids I worked with as a reason that I could actually stand as to why I was quitting rather than just quitting because I was tired or didn’t work with my friend. But even when wanting to quit, regardless of the reason, I had always planned on leaving the right way. Leaving the right way was something that I explicitly remember being taught by my father, though I don’t know why that seemed to be so important for me to know as a teen, regardless, when leaving all my previous jobs I had always typed up and handed in a resignation letter for documentation as well as talking with the boss in at least a mildly respectful tone. The plan to quit this time was no different until I checked out my last shopper.

            It was late and ten minutes until the store closed when the store called for any last shoppers to checkout. Trying to kill time, I had already half-closed my register, doing the cash count and prepping everything so I was able to run out and be free from the evils that was working retail. I had my back turned, tidying a mess of bags when he slammed his items onto the conveyer belt. I’ve always been a jumpy person, the tiniest noise being able to cause a reaction, so when the weight of the stack of gun magazines hit the belt, I jumped and he laughed. Trying to play along and play nice, I let out a short laugh and turned to face him. I told him the conveyer belt was broken and asked if he could hand me his items, without an emotion on his face, he took his hand and slowly pushed forward a six pack of canned beer, the gun magazines, and a supersized box of condoms (a large box, not a large size) towards me, the cans and boxes catching against the rubber of the conveyer belt.

            As I began to scan his items, without attempting to make any small talk mainly due to the items he happened to be buying and the time of night, I could feel him sizing me up and studying my face. “What are you doing after this? The store closes in a few.” He spoke slowly and with a southern like drawl, which in a small Northern California town would seem out of place, but there was an even smaller town a few minutes away where a seemingly fake southern drawl was normal, or at least more frequent. I smiled but kept focused on ringing him up and getting him out. At this point he was nearing, if not, the last customer in the store. I told him his total and run his card before handing him his receipt and bagged goods, hoping that he had had enough and was ready to leave. He took a few steps towards the exit before turning around one last time, “I’ll wait for you outside.” Without waiting for an answer, he left. We closed the store and a coworker who had parked next to me and I walked to our cars after clocking out. Wishing her a good night, I scanned the parking lot as I entered my car. It didn’t seem as if he had waited as promised, but there was still an unfamiliar truck lingering near the side of the store.

            The next day, as I was napping on my parent’s couch, the alarm rang telling me it was time to leave for K-mart, I hit snooze. I continued to nap and hit snooze, nap and hit snooze, which soon became nap and silence the ringing phone, and repeat. The following shift I was supposed to report to, I replaced with a warm bath and turned my phone on airplane mode, all messages, calls, or otherwise waiting until I was ready to deal with it, or not deal with it in this case. Within an hour of not reporting in for the second missed shift, I had a text telling me to pick up my last check. It’s a job I often forget I even held, most of the other days I worked there were interesting but all around not noteworthy; however, a man, with a stack of magazines, condoms, and some cheap beer managed to work his way firmly into my memories, and is one that I look humorously back on as the reason I ghosted K-mart.

© 2020 Haley


Author's Note

Haley
Thank you for reading!

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Featured Review

Ah, Walmart, the cesspool of everything. This is a great little story and your sense of humor is awesome and weaved in the story very well with a great balance. Now I’m not qualified to critique writing by no means but I know what I like and I like your writing. Keep the ink flowing and nice to meet you and happy holidays

Posted 2 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Haley

2 Months Ago

Thank you so much! Happy Holidays :)
Patricia

2 Months Ago

So sorry you wrote KMart but Kmart Walmart all the same to me and you are very welcome
Haley

2 Months Ago

Hahah, no worries, they're definitely the same!



Reviews

Humor is hard to translate onto paper. This is a fun story well paced, simple and loaded with humor. I enjoyed reading it.

Posted 2 Months Ago


Haley

1 Month Ago

Thank you so much! Hope you had great holidays. :)
You are good. I enjoy these. I'm pretty picky on what I read too. You write with energy and enthusiasm, without being annoying.

Posted 2 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Haley

2 Months Ago

Thank you so much, I appreciate it.
Frankie

1 Month Ago

I look forward to reading more of these Haley.
Ah, Walmart, the cesspool of everything. This is a great little story and your sense of humor is awesome and weaved in the story very well with a great balance. Now I’m not qualified to critique writing by no means but I know what I like and I like your writing. Keep the ink flowing and nice to meet you and happy holidays

Posted 2 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Haley

2 Months Ago

Thank you so much! Happy Holidays :)
Patricia

2 Months Ago

So sorry you wrote KMart but Kmart Walmart all the same to me and you are very welcome
Haley

2 Months Ago

Hahah, no worries, they're definitely the same!
What a great story! I really like your writing. The story is light but not so light it is weak in tone. The tone is strong and entertains.

Posted 2 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Haley

2 Months Ago

Thank you so much! I have a journal of notes from years back and this story had maybe 3 lines of not.. read more

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4 Reviews
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Added on December 16, 2020
Last Updated on December 17, 2020
Tags: nonfiction, short story, quick read, dating, lifestyle, romance, humor, satire, retail, small town, night life

Author

Haley
Haley

CA



About
Menories - Memories or Stories about Men Detailing encounters I've had with men in my life - from short run-in's to those who have had long lasting effects. It's the story of getting into a Lyft at.. more..

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