Gingerbread as a Profanity

Today has been all kinds of interesting. Mostly in a bad way, but then again I’m not here to balk at writing material. It was kind of like a three strikes-you’re out type of day, but then I just kept getting strikes. If today was a bowling match, I’d be winning. Alas, yet again, it was just a game I walk into with a loose understanding of the rules and try to roll with it.

It all started with the tossing and turning I opted for instead of a good night’s rest. I read a horrific science fiction story before bed yesterday. It was well written, but was creepy and did its job in giving me the heebie-jeebies before I lay down. (See “Unseen, Unfeared” by Francis Stevens for a good goose bump experience) I pressed play on this month’s Mix Tape (CD) I made for myself, Ken and Lanks and tried to drift off. But I’ve never been one who could fall asleep while music was playing. My brain tries to follow the words and beats too closely, I think.  I dreamed that I was stuck at work and Lanks kept visiting me, but couldn’t talk to me because a school bus of children were trying to place their order…and they all had twenty questions about the menu and what their options were. This is ironic because of what actually happened at work today. 

An associate from the Redneck Candle Company came in today and almost made me lose my cool. It was a busy day of training the timid but intelligent barista I had aforementioned, and my lunch was an unmitigated disaster. I sat down for a 30 minute lunch break and was called by the milk man. I tried to sit down again and my assistant called me about plates. Tried again and my boss wanted to talk to me about cookie decorating. Tried again and the PR person wanted to chat about media relations. I got a call from an Asian woman asking if I was interested in an undisclosed job based on my resume. And amidst all this, I was trying to microwave my soup for 2 minutes. My brain turned off somewhere here and I accidentally punched in 20 minutes on the microwave. Now that I had lava for lunch, I tossed it in the trash and bought a pretzel. 

So after all this had happened, the candle associate comes in. She had two separate orders. She wanted to buy a newspaper. She wanted to know how long a pretzel had to cook for. She wanted to know the price of every drink on the menu. How many shots were in each. What was the price to add a shot to this drink…and this drink…and this drink…and this drink. I was trying to not look at my co-worker barista because I feared if I met her gaze I would reach over the counter and slap the candle associate for the time she was sucking from my life. Eventually, she just decided to get what she always gets. Cue the eye roll. 

It’s not that I mind helping people…I mean, that’s my job. I just really don’t like thinking for other people because they are too lazy to do so. I’ll suggest a drink, but c’mon, help me out with some decision making power here. To much to ask apparently. 

Strike two on today was I did not go climbing yesterday nor today. Climbing is apparently in the foreseeable future, but with the craziness of holidays and work life and planning a wedding, I don’t blame Rachaele for needing some flexibility on this schedule. And besides, I’m still trying to psych myself up to go do this crazy climbing thing. So any excuse I can make to delay it is fine by me. A lot of things seem to be in the works for me, but nothing is really panning out too quickly. I suppose that’s OK if life meanders around a bit as it develops. I’ve been offered a possible position at the used bookstore where I (mis)adventured with Stumps, which would be great for my stress level but terrible for my pocketbook. Plus, I hate to admit it, my future promotion and career is probably safer where I’m at than in a similar position elsewhere. My dream of actually using my degrees is just slipping further and further away.

I spent most of today playing catch up, but in between this I tried to prepare for my visit from the boss tomorrow. The boss lady visiting the boss lady as Lanks said. After my 9 hours was done at work, I decided to surprise Lanks at work since he said he’d been feeling cruddy. I bought him a coffee and trekked over to his location on the opposite end of the mall. I said I was going under the guise of seeing the “Ninjabread Men” baking kit that his store was selling, but I don’t really think I was kidding anyone but myself. Breathing deeply and fingers trembling, I walked around this department store, looking for his lanky frame from which his namesake comes. I eventually found him and gave him the drink, exchanging some banter and a hug. He was wearing a striped cardigan and I told him he looked good in it. I’m always telling him he looks good in something. If nothing else, I’m a valuable ego booster. One of his co-workers stood very close by and just stared while we talked. I didn’t know if he was a supervisor or what, but the weirdo just kept eyeballing me so I didn’t stay too long.

Upon leaving Lanks, I didn’t want to go home quite yet. I felt…kind of empty inside. It wasn’t anything Lanks had said or done or not done. I just felt a bit lost. Passing all the mall kiosks and stores where employees within would look out and wave at “their favorite barista” I felt well-known and semi-valued for my position, but still quite alone. Sitting in my car, I propped my red notebook up on the wheel and wrote a stupid vignette. I tried not to think about my worth and I tried not to think about the 50 year old fellow cafe owner that came in today with the sleeves of lids he was letting us borrow and how he asked me out again for the fourth time. I tried to not remember the way he touched my buttons on my cardigan and told me how we should have dinner to discuss how “our partnership” may enhance both our cafes. There was a strong tang of alcohol on his breath. 

Minutes later, at home, I didn’t even put my purse or keys down before I slumped over my kitchen counter and just let myself feel that strange empty feeling and wonder what it was all about. I don’t think I feel lonely, but I don’t feel exactly wholly myself at this point either. It’s almost like I’m on the precipice of learning something very important (about myself I imagine) but I can’t quite grasp the scope of the knowledge all at once. It only comes to me in fragments, and end pieces of a puzzle that I’m slow in putting together. 

Could just be too much coffee. I’ve definitely been hitting the espresso pretty hard today. 

Here’s a funny story. Maybe not too much will be lost in translation. So there is this barista I used to work with, and at this place we worked (there were so very many many books there if that’s enough of a hint for you), we had the Monin brand of syrups. Now, Monin syrups, for the layperson, are a strong brand of syrups. And their holiday flavor of Gingerbread is a bit stouter than the rest. A lady was asking my co-worker what the gingerbread syrup was like and as he was explaining it he said that it was quite a strong flavor like, he paused, and then shouted “GINGERBREAD!” He was heard as far away as the back of this very large store with very many books. The mental picture of him screaming GINGERBREAD and this old biddy jarred in fright was quite funny to me. So, when I was making a gingerbread drink today and the top to the syrup squeeze bottle fell off and started pouring molasses into the drink, all I could think to do was loudly scream “GINGERBREAD!” As though it were a curse, or maybe a summoning for all the holiday gods of retail to come to my aid as the thick black sugar poured into the drink and pooled at its bottom, creating a sludge that the waiting customer eyed with slight nausea. I wasn’t even mad about remaking the drink. My primal scream of a holiday flavor had released a lot of tension I had been holding. My developing migraine even seemed to shy away from my brand of crazy. The assistant manager walking by wasn’t too pleased with my shouting, but meh…can’t win them all. 

I mentioned my job offer at the used bookstore to Ken and he said, “I support you in whatever you do.” I mentioned my job offer to Lanks and he said, “Do what thou whilst.” (No shit…this is how this guy talks to me. I eat it up with a spoon, unfortunately) And I’m going to take these as support for whatever I get into. At least I can count on that whatever I do, screaming at inanimate objects that offend me or talking shit to a pretty sunset, I’ve got a good bunch behind me. My family is really good about this too. I’ve got co-workers that support me as well. And I guess that’s why when I come home and flop my body’s upper half over my kitchen counter, I really can’t stay down for too long. I’ve got too many people pushing me up and calling me just to check on me that there’s no where to go from here but onward. This holiday isn’t going to defeat me, and I probably won’t remember it as anything remarkable years from now. So here’s to raising a glass to change in small steps and pushing for that unknowable future that holds such mystery, but also such promise.

Oh, and a very heartfelt GINGERBREAD to you all.

-Anna R. Kotopple 

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