I’m not a bad guy, I’ve never hurt anyone. I got a wife, I got a kid, I’m a good dad. Here’s the thing though, I’m a good dad, and I can’t bear to see my kid suffer like this. I’m maybe not the greatest husband though. It ain’t hard to be a bad husband, especially when your wife’s always railing at you for not being the man she fell in love with, or about how her mother was always right about you. My kid, she’s great though, it’s a wonder that something so wonderful could have come out of something so awful.
Times have been tough lately, I want to be able to take my little girl nice places. The park, Disneyland… those sorts of places. But I haven’t got the funds. Times have been tough, and I just lost my job. I try hard to find other places, but I’m not the most qualified guy in the world. People are always looking for those young hip guys to take the jobs, not some washed up, down on his luck 30-something year old guy. That’s never the kind of guy people are looking to have represent their companies.
My wife’s really been on my case about jobs, about not having one that is. It’s not like she’s much help, she doesn’t work much anyway; she’s convinced that mothering’s a real job. It’s not that I haven’t been looking. I mean, I was looking for the first while that I was jobless. My daughter’s always there for me though. I think she gives me more than I can give her. That’s why I gotta do this.
I walk into the grocery store, my baseball bat in hand. It’s a small sort of place, a bit dirty with too many shelves that are arranged as efficiently as possible, which is not very efficiently at all. It kind of reminds me of home. The cashier sits behind the register, carefully watching a screen that seems to be playing some Bollywood movie, I can tell by their garish costumes. He doesn’t seem to pay attention to me, far too drawn in by a spontaneous dance number or some other spontaneous action happening on screen.
I walk up to the counter trying to imitate that swagger that those teevee thugs always have and hold my baseball bat up. “Give me all your money,” I say, echoing the guys on television as I wave my baseball bat threateningly in front of the cashier. I feel like television thugs set an unreachable standard for the everyman robber, they’re all young buff minorities. There’s nothing threatening about a scrawny slightly balding white guy – I know I’m slightly balding because my wife likes to remind me about it every now and then. The acting helps. Knowing that it’s not really me, just some cheap imitation thug, well it makes the whole experience more bearable. Really keeps my morals in check.
Either way, I think I must have had some sort of effect on the cashier because he ducked under the counter. I mean, I kind of expected him to open the register, but maybe there was a safe down there too. After all there are a lot of things television doesn’t tell a man. The cashier straightens up, and points a gun at me. I feel a pang of betrayal. I expected him to pull out some cash, but instead, I’m face to face with the barrel of a shotgun.
The first thing I think of doing is standing my ground – Say that he’s bluffing, be a real man’s man – But then my base instincts kick in. I break down crying. Have a full on breakdown, I get on the floor and roll around and everything. I can’t help thinking about how my last moment is going to be as a criminal. I worry about my daughter, how’s she gonna grow up without a dad? And then there’s my wife… well she’s a bit… but then she wasn’t always.
“Please don’t kill me,” I hear myself sobbing, “I got a wife, I got a kid. I got not money, I got no job! What else was I supposed to do?” I wonder how pathetic I must look right now. This’ll probably never work, I mean, I came in here with a bat and I threatened him. He’s probably still thinking about that. He’s probably gonna blow my brains out.
Oh god. My little girl’s gonna know what a shit her daddy is.
If I ever get out of this, I swear to god I’m gonna try and look for a job again. I’m gonna treat my wife real nice. I’m gonna take my little girl to wonderland. I swear to god.
I hear some shuffling above me as the cashier seems to move around; I’m not exactly looking, I’m too busy begging for my life. One of those obnoxiously blue wonderbread bags slips in my field of vision along with forty dollars of cash. I look up at the source of these objects, surprised.
“You’re never going to do this again, right?” the cashier looks at me, he seems to have this digusted expression of pity on his face and I’m instantly reminded of my wife. I feel like he’s negotiating with me, you know, you ain’t getting any bread unless you suck up to me. He must feel real good, watching me humiliate myself right about now. Probably feels like such a hot shot, like he’s saving my life.
I take the bait and nod. My tears stop and my sobs subside into hiccups.
“You’re never going to do this again, right?” He repeats, forcing me to speak to him. “‘es” I mumble back at him through hiccups, barely audible. He looks at me again with that disgusted look. “Good now get out of here,” he says, or rather sort of commands me to do. I rush out of convenience store, clutching my newly acquired forty dollars and bread, only stopping once it was out of my sight. Catching my breath and feeling considerably sobered up, I look at my goods.
What a tool, I couldn’t help thinking. If all convenience store clerks were like this, I think I found my new job.