Friday, December 21, 2012

At the Crux of Hope and Death

Notes from a sunny fall day too long ago…

There were only three long isles full of mostly generic brands and products the poor are too desperate to refuse.  The name brands (or normal goods as I learned in econ class) were tucked away amongst all kinds of familiar yet, foreign-looking labels (not Cheerios, but Rounds); when you saw an authentic Kellogs or Post, you thought you were looking at a mirage.

My gregarious father chats up the workers…none of these white people understand what rolls off his Nigerian tongue, but they nod and chuckle politely.

He bought his usual…whatever you would find at a Nigerian open market except boxed, canned and bottled.

We get to the register where a man had just paid for his purchases…he repeated the total; his tone was that of one who thought he’d been cheated. Bandana, loose khaki shorts, a screen printed black t-shirt…white trash trying really hard not to look like white trash.  The cashier read back the total and his change very carefully: $60.61. He backed away from the register, still inspecting his receipt.

Moments later, banter about gas prices…a loud gasp from the women as my father announced the lowest price he had found: $3.16.

The man decided he had been cheated and approached the cashier again…the price of those bunt cakes wasn’t right; he had bought two Danish ones thinking they were on sale, but upon investigation, it was actually the cinnamon ones. He returned one of the cakes.


An older white lady approached the sliding doors and read the sign stating EBT cards were not being accepted today. “Forget it,” she said, as she headed back towards the parking lot.

At Kmart, I stood behind a woman with a mullet and a hunchback next to a man with long wavy hair secured with a pink ponytail holder. The line was moving too slow thanks to some black trash that didn’t have their food stamps together.

I switched lines and I stood behind the cream of Michigan’s waning crop: some generic collegiate chattel of the Caucasian male breed. White v-neck tee, alma mater emblem, khakis, cargos, Nike's, and boat shoes--the uniform. I caught snatches of their conversation where they detailed the alcohol poisoning of a young woman at a party...nothing they do will diminish their potential.


As we drove back, we passed a large cemetery of people who probably witnessed the glory days that now live in stories of the past. I smell the stench of my wasted mortality as I live above it all, but no better than those decaying beneath the ground.
AA twist scarf and disco shorts, AE shirt UO tights and bag; loafers were sold so it doesn't matter.


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