Drugstore Job

The drugstore job was easier than school. My direct supervisor was never around and the work was mindless enough so that I could focus my energy on my comic books. It was quiet and usually empty, and put me into a Zen-like trance which fell off not so gracefully when I stepped outside into the blinding sun and bustling pedestrianism of the city. It was my sanctuary, the drugstore — I could observe the chaos and activity of the outside world while maintaining a calm, distant center, or I could opt to not look at all, instead absorbing myself in the usually predictable world of my brain. I preferred it there, and the non-stimulus of the sterile ordered rows of health and hygiene products and fluorescent downlighting allowed me undistracted access.

It caused me to think about why I’d left school in the first place. Awful bloody concept, institutionalized education. I would consider it Hell if I was a Christian — and it made me glad I wasn’t a Christian because if I was I was surely headed to the underworld and I’d had enough of it for the three years and two days of suburban public high school, thank you very much.

That’s right, I said two days. I went two days of my senior year and opted not to return. As John Goodman said in Raising Arizona, I felt the establishment had nothing more to offer me. Oh sure, the nervous breakdown helped — I was in a pretty bad state of mind; Hell can have that effect on a 17-year-old, the burning fires of the principal’s office and the repetitive monotonous hard labor of the classroom. It was depriving me of the very essence of my humanity by feeding me insignificant facts and training me in the wretched robotic art form of the standardized test, in hopes that I would become a zombie to suit their malicious intent of globalization. I knew that they were after. World power. What self-respecting Satan wouldn’t be? Evil bastards.

The place reminded me an awful lot of the scene outside my sanctuary, the teeming city. Straight, uniform, dreadfully unoriginal scenery, entirely too narrow for their post-bell population, and which only got narrower the more you were forced to weed your way out of them. I dreaded leaving class as much as I dreaded class. The classroom was quiet, organized — even if it was evil — while the disorder and insanity of the hallway was too childish and undeveloped and confused to be anything of intent other than really fucking aggravating. My brain reached a new level of non-functioning when I entered that hallway and proceeded downward the closer I got to my next class or worse yet, my locker.

Oh, yes, the locker. Brushing up and smelling all those fellow teenagers in passing was bad enough, but being still and with a purpose other than getting the hell out (no pun intended) was bad enough. It was inevitable, the bumping and bruising that occurs when one is at one’s high school locker. Cat fights interfering with your space, the guy next to you smelling like yesterday’s wonderfully undercooked cafeteria food, bullies coming up, taking shit out of your locker — perhaps that really cool picture of your girlfriend — and running off, guffawing hysterically, laughter that was just as mixed up and chaotic as the rest of the hallway. Laughter that seemed to go along with the sick twisted cadence of the entire high school experience. My brain would warp just a tiny bit each time this reality would clash with my own, until that final day when everything came tumbling down…

But, I thought optimistically, I am finally out. It took an incident like that but it’s finally gone. And never to return. I was still adjusting but I would be my old self again soon. I didn’t know if that’s what I wanted but I was sure it would happen. Those last few days continued to play out perpetually in my head, distorting more and more each time until I was battling a fiery demon who was 50 feet tall and with three heads and eyes on his fingers. Such evil, evil eyes those were. I couldn’t stand that. Constantly peering —

I forced myself to stop. I shook my head viciously until the clattering inside was too loud and painful to bear. I grabbed my comic book and read for a while, but invariably my eyesight would rise.

I looked out at the passing scenery. It was passing, not me. I remained here, still, stagnant, trapped in this mind, this paradigm, this cycle, this sanctuary. Trapped and happy to stay.

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