sign of the times

There is too much flash in this new century. There is too much advancement in technology; too many apps, too many cellphones, and too many empty playgrounds.
There are too many ways to communicate, yet our communication with each other seems to be dwindling and left in the less personal hands of text messaging.

A young girl with a piercing in her lip looked over the cash register while I was on line at the drug store. Her eyes rolled as she told the next customer on line, “Next,” and of course, the next customer on line looked around the store as if she were hearing voices, or was unable to understand the simple instruction.
“I think she’s ready for you,” I said.
“I know,” explained a middle-aged woman. “I’m just looking around because I don’t usually allow someone to speak with me with such an obnoxious tone.”

I stopped for the moment and thought about what the middle-aged woman said. It was true. The young girl behind the register spoke out with an anti-society voice. She rolled her eyes as if the customers were an inconvenience, or as if she hated her job.
The girl behind the register asked, “Did you find everything you were looking for?”
“Do they make you ask that,” questioned the middle-aged woman.
The girl behind the register looked at the middle-aged woman with a deep stare.
“Because if they do, it’s supposed to sound like you’re being helpful, and not like you’re annoyed.”

The transaction was quick. The young girl with a pierced lip exchanged money with the middle-aged woman, rolled her eyes, and then proceeded to call out, “Next.”

This time, it was my turn.
“Did you find everything you were looking for?” asked the girl behind the register.
I noticed her cellphone was on the counter. The black screen was lit with different colored captions, expressing different text messages.
The phone itself shook from a series of vibrations, and as the phone vibrated, the captions added, one text after another.

“It was easier in my day,” I told her.
“Excuse me,” she asked.
I told her, “When I was your age, all we had were beepers.”
“What’s a beeper? You mean, like a pager, right?”
“Something like that,” I smiled.

I paid for my things and took my change. The girl behind the register, checked her cell phone, rolled her eyes, and then she called out, “Next!”

I am not so old that I have forgotten what it felt like to miss out. As a teenager, I worked at a fast food place. I refrain from saying which one, but the restaurant still stands and I still have the same fears of eating their burgers.
I recall how I felt. My friends were probably doing the same thing as always, but in my eyes, I was missing out.
Something was happening somewhere, and all I could do is ask, “Would you like an order of fries to go with that?”

Because I had long hair, the manager made me tuck it underneath my hat, and because I was often too high to understand the buttons at the register, the manager would ask me to sweep, or cook French fries.

My last day on the job, I had eaten two tabs of LSD, otherwise known as Chill Pills.
Upon my arrival, there was an overflow of customers and without thinking, the manager directed, “I need you to help out in drive-thru.”

As it was, my hearing was distorted by the noises of psychedelic side-effects. My mind was too shaken to work the cash register, and every time a car would pull up to order, I could hear the customers speaking into my head-set.

Needless to say, every order I took was wrong.
The customer would drive up to the window and say, “I didn’t order this.”
“Just take it and go,” I told them.
I stuffed the bags with different burgers, fries, chicken nuggets, and whatever I could find; then I handed it through the drive-thru window and yelled, “Just leave,” in a deranged voice.
And when the local law enforcement pulled up…………I told them, “Hold on, I got something special for you.”
Then I proceeded to give them free food with ‘extra special’ attention.

Shortly after, I was pulled away from the drive-thru. I was put back on French fries, but the LSD was too much and the fries looked more like wiggling worms than something edible.
The frying oil bubbled….the fries wiggled…and all I could do was stare at my station with a demented, yet, astonished look on my face.
“Maybe you should go downstairs,” suggested the manager.

In fairness, he was being kind. However, the manager was only kind because he knew my older brother and that frightened him.
And though my memory of the downstairs is hazy, I do remember a tall bottle of helium, which was intended to blow up balloons.
Naturally, I decided to inhale some of the helium to change the sound of my voice, and naturally, I took too much.
I did not know the helium would make me pass out. And lying on the flat of my back in a mess created by my fall, I opened my eyes and saw my manager standing over me.
“I think it’s time you go home,” he said.

This ended my month-long employment….

With all my heart, I believed the adult world could not understand what life was about.
Old people are old people….what do they know?

I have not seen the girl with the pierced lip at the drug store since that day. Suffice to say, she quit or was fired. Suffice to say, she saw me the same as I saw the adult world at her age.
But I say fortunately, at least she was not handling or preparing my food….

I suppose there will always be a generation gap.
But who knows? Maybe with today’s advancements in technology, they might come up with an app that solves this for us.

Then we wouldn’t have to speak at all….

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