Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Memory Remix: #15 - What’s Love Got to Do with It?, Part 5

Okay, I didn’t really blow all the fuses in the building just by saying my name during a polygraph test. Although it sounds exciting and all, that was just a bit of creative freedom. It was getting late, I was tired, and I needed to end the blog post so I could get on with my current life.

Now that I’ve had some sleep, let’s jump back into things, shall we?

Eventually, Greasy Man asked enough boring questions that he was finally satisfied that he had some baseline values for the rest of the polygraph. In his mind, it was time for him to trap a possible criminal, using his superior wordplay and deductive skills so effectively that I would completely break down and confess to all known crimes committed in a three-state area.

Much to his un-bathed chagrin, this did not immediately happen. In fact, not much of anything happened at all, as far as figuring who was taking the money from the store. But in terms of that little graph-chart thing of his, there was a whole lot of something going on.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I’m not the most laid-back person on the planet. In fact, I’m basically a walking bundle of rapid-fire nerve impulses just waiting to implode. I get worked up about EVERYTHING. It doesn’t matter what the situation might be, my mind is racing in twenty different directions as I consider all possible ways that there could be impending death and destruction. If I’m awake, I’m worried about something.

This type of mind does not interact well with machines intended to measure body responses to stimuli in the form of questions. Especially if I’m aware that some of those questions are designed to trip me up and potentially send me to jail, even though I haven’t done anything. There’s the tiny possibility that something I say could be misinterpreted and lead to me dropping the soap in a prison shower, so my body is instantly on level-red freak-out alert.

So once the “serious” part of the polygraph test came into play, I physically responded to every question with a mad rush of adrenaline that caused the damn needle to spike like I was Hannibal Lecter. Is your name Brian? Yes. (Spike!) Is today Tuesday? Yes. (Spike!) Have you taken money from the store register and then manipulated the books to cover your tracks long enough that you could start a new life in Cozumel? No! (Spike!) Have you ever had intimate relationships with farm animals? Not that I remember. (Spike!)

It didn’t matter what the question was, my response was the same. A massive pulse of energy shooting through the machines. I was surprised that the graph needle didn’t just snap off and crash through a window, killing somebody in the parking lot.

Finally, Greasy Man just turned his machines off with a sad little click, hanging his head slightly because he knew the results weren’t going to be any good. (They better not be, anyway. He turns THAT chart in and the FBI will be knocking on my door. And the SPCA.)

Greasy Man just sat there, sighing and despondent, a state which made him look even more unattractive than I had originally thought possible when he and his funk walked in the room. Poor guy. He is NEVER going to get a date. I mean, I truly believe that there is someone for everyone out there. Unfortunately, there are cases when that “someone” requires a bicycle pump for activation.

G-Man then pulled a large book out of his briefcase and began flipping through it. Was he trying to figure out what to do next? “Chapter Seven: What To Do If Your Subject Continuously Shoots Electrons Out Of His Ass.” He turned a few more pages, sighed again, then shoved the book away. I guess they weren’t close.

He looked at me through his Coke-bottle glasses, an image that was both startling but slightly fascinating. “Well, I think we’re done. I’ll just turn this in.”

What! Oh come on, if a seismologist took a gander at that chart he would know instantly that California was now in the ocean. He couldn’t be serious.

But he was. He started unfastening things so he could get the roll of paper out of the machine. “You can go now.”

“Uh… can you take this stuff off of me?” I wiggled the wires hanging from my various body parts. “Or is this a gift of some kind?”

He looked back up at me. “Oh. Yeah. We need to take that off. One sec.” The roll of paper was putting up a fight. There was a brief struggle, followed by a surprisingly loud ripping noise and the record of my electrical flares was suddenly in two pieces. He stood there holding both sections, completely mystified.

Where the hell did he get his training? K-Mart?

He sighed again, tossed the damaged scrolls to one side, then approached me in his cloud of wretchedness. This man had no bedside manner whatsoever, ripping all the devices off and throwing them in a box. Once I was released from the electrical cocoon, he just kind of nodded at the door. I was free to go out and assault the world as I saw fit.

As I worked my way back through the maze of hallways and cubicles, I was not as intimidated as when I had first arrived and made my march of shame to the Polygraph Room, marked as a possible future convict. Not only were the test results most likely inconclusive, I had discovered that I possessed a superpower, which was kind of nice. I was Electro-Man. I glared at the office workers who had been snooty the first time I shambled through. Don’t mess with my or I will fry your ass. And your little dog, too.

Anyway, as expected, I was not branded as the culprit by the test. But nobody else got fingered, either. Corporate finally just dropped the issue and wrote off the loss. Which meant that somebody on our store team was a really good liar. They were still free to continue with their mayhem. And that’s not a real comforting thought, when you pause and reflect.

A few nights later, and the store manager showed up early for his morning shift, meaning he would have to spend some time with me. At first, I was not pleased with this arrangement because he was a boring man with little of interest to say. But then he slyly hinted that he could talk about the investigation now that it was over.

Really? I quickly shoved my mop bucket in the back room and raced to his side in 2.5 seconds. Spill.

Him: “I knew it wasn’t you.”

Me: “Of course it wasn’t me. Who do you think it is?”

Him: “Um, well, um… You know I really shouldn’t say anything, but, um…”

Me: “It’s George.”

Him, after his jaw hits the floor: “How did you…”

Me: “Oh, come on, man. He’s lazy as hell, the store is never clean when I get here, he never pays for anything he eats, and he eats a LOT. I’m surprised there’s anything left to sell on MY shift. He calls in sick all the time and I have to do a double. He’s a total worthless pig. Are you saying you haven’t noticed this?’

Him: “….”

Me, suddenly realizing something: “Why’s he never been written up?”

Him: “….”

Me: “TELL me. You owe me. I’ve done right by this place.”

Him, looking everywhere but directly at me: “He’s my wife’s cousin.”

I was floored. And pissed. This weak-ass jerk had put innocent people through a bad experience because he couldn’t man up and fire somebody that deserved it. I could have potentially lost my job just so he can keep his wife happy. I was done. “I’ve got things to do.” And I stomped off to get the mop bucket in the back. Bastard.

A few nights later, Justine popped in. She was in a foul mood, saying overly-bitchy things and getting on my nerves. When she whined about the coffee I had JUST made tasting old, I realized something was wrong. “What’s going on?”

Justine: “They’re sending me south. For sure. This is my last week up here.”

Me: “Don’t they know you want to stay here?”

Justine: “Of course they do, I tell them all the time. But there’s… there’s some people that don’t wanna work with me.”

Me: “Why not? You’re great. What’s their problem?”

Justine: “It’s the… well, you know….”

WHAT did I know? And then it clicked. There were some guys on the force who didn’t want to work with a lesbian. I sort of knew all along that Justine probably liked the ladies, but we had never talked about it. It was 1986. You didn’t talk about these things casually. Your entire world could still be ripped apart if the wrong person found out your secret and decided to use it against you. That’s why we got along so well, with us recognizing each other for what we were, wordlessly, and seeking companionship in that. Comfort in numbers, that sort of thing.

People today don’t know, or don’t remember, what it was like to be gay 25 years ago. The constant fear.

Me: “Oh my God. Justine… I… I don’t know what to say. You’re SURE that’s what it is?”

Justine: “Oh, yeah, I know. It’s pretty clear….”

I started walking around the end of the counter, headed her way to give her a big hug, screw the fact that she was in uniform. But she stopped me.

“No, don’t, cause I’m gonna lose it if you do.”

So I stood there, just a few feet away. “Are you sure? Cause maybe one of your redneck partners will drive by and get an eyeful. I can be butch, really. They see you gettin some tongue action from a stud like me, they’ll figure out something else to bitch about.”

Then she laughed, which was music, and the hard part was over and we eased our way past the hurt. For the rest of the shift, she would stop by for coffee and “some of that man tongue.” It was a good time.

I never saw Justine again. Wonder about her from time to time, and hope she’s happy. We all deserve that, don’t you think?

A few days later, my friends called about the Tina Tuner tickets. (See, I bring everything back around eventually. Just have faith in the blogs. Sayin.) Could I get someone to cover my shift the night of the concert?

Well, as I’ve previously whined about, I couldn’t. Nobody in my store cared about Tina or my desire to see her live. Nobody in any of the OTHER stores cared about Tina. Poor Tina. All those years with Ike and she still couldn’t get a break.

So it was the afternoon of the concert, and it was crunch time. I had couple of reasons in mind when I called the store manager. Foremost, of course, I intended to take the night off. Secondary to that, and it was very pleasing, was the fact that I waited until just a few hours before my shift, meaning there would be little time to find a replacement for me. The person currently on duty would be the one expected to work a double for this last-minute issue.

And who was on duty right now? George. The lying pig. My fingers were crossed that he would be stuck with it, after all the times I had covered for him.

I dial the phone.

Manager: “Yello?” (Can’t stand it when people answer like that.)

Me: “You are not going to believe what has happened.”

Manager: “What are you talking about?”

Me: “You are talking to a man with a collapsed lung.” (Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the drama queen in me surged forth when I made this call. I didn’t settle for something simple like pneumonia. Nope, I had to go off the charts with something dumb-ass but original. God, I was stupid.)

Manager: “A collapsed lung? Shouldn’t you be in the hospital?”

Me: “Oh, I was. In the emergency room. See, I have asthma, and I just got this new inhaler, and I had a reaction to it, and it shut down one of my lungs.”

Manager: “You have asthma? But you smoke.”

Oh crap. The asthma part was true, but I hadn’t had an attack in years. I just can’t stick to the supposed facts, I always have to embellish and it bites me in the ass. “Well, the asthma comes and goes. I usually don’t have a problem unless I’m really stressed. I guess I’ve been stressed about work lately.” (Trying to throw the issue back at him, natch.)

Manager: “What are you stressed about at work?”

See, why can’t I just SHUT UP when I’m trying to lie? Get to the point, and get off the phone. Geez. “Um, I don’t know. This whole thing with George.” (Ooh, that was good, personalize it with a slap at one of his family members.)

Then he surprises me. “Well, I kind of expected you to call in, with that Tina Turner concert and all.”

Totally busted. I had no response.

Manager: “But you get some rest. I’ll get somebody to cover your shift for the next couple of days. Maybe George. I think he could use the extra pay.”

So he knew exactly what I was doing. I think. And he was fine with it, even taking a subtle slam at George. I guess he was decent after all, in a roundabout way.

We said our goodbyes and hung up.

The Tina Turner concert was incredible, as anyone who has ever been to one of her concerts can attest. I was totally mesmerized way up there in my nose-bleed seats, surrounded by a bunch of queens just wanting to be her, if only for a moment.

Three days later, I called the store manager again. I was quitting, wouldn’t be back, sorry for the short notice. He wasn’t surprised. “Kind of tough down here, ain’t it?”

Yes, it was.

But it also made me strong. In some surprising ways.


And love to Justine, wherever she may be….

1 comment:

  1. Calling all cars.. calling all cars.. come back Justine! She was the cheese to your macaroni, hahaha!