Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sedaris Lite, Installment One

I came into work this morning, late as usual because 8:52 is the new I hate my life. I drove into the parking lot behind Widespread Panic Girl. I have no idea what her actual name is, but she has seven or eight Widespread stickers on her rear windshield so it’s no less fitting but infinitely more complementary than other potential nicknames like Dances With ProActiv or PocaHondas. Last summer I did a feature gig and stayed at a hotel teeming with Widespread fans in town for their concert, the parking lot full of similar cars.

It was close to one when I came back from my show that night, to find a girl wearing fairy wings passed out facedown on the luggage cart. Four faded sofas away, an overweight girl with dreads was trying to distract her glazed audience from the muted Weather Channel forecast long enough to listen to her story about the time she and her mom dropped acid and both of them talked to Jerry Garcia. They’d, like, never been closer and she wishes there was a way the three of them could have taken a picture together. I glanced at the front desk where the clerk was restocking a wooden bin with brochures about an outlet mall that was two states away. She shot me a look that said “I have a nametag and a vest. That doesn’t make me give a shit.” I hurried down the hall, dodging a guy who had his face pressed against the vending machine, whispering his confessions-- or from the look of his distended corduroy crotch, his come-ons--to the KitKats.

I cover twenty more feet without incident. I’m exhausted and oddly relieved to be in the elevator. Until I see the shit. Someone had taken a dump on the carpet. This was not the work of an amateur. It was perfectly coiled in the center of one of the flowers, pollination gone horribly awry. I wanted to write a country song: “I Pressed Number 4 But Did Number 2”. I mashed the Door Open button--the face of which was worn off--and headed for the stairs.

The next morning, it was still there. And so was Tinkerbell, who had rolled off the cart, her wings resting on the base of sign directing patrons to the PIZA restaurant on the other side of the lobby. An elderly couple was staring in her direction, debating whether they’d actually enjoy pepperoni for breakfast and if it was worth climbing over her for. They decided against it, took a map of the outlet mall and headed for the door.
- - - - - -
Widespread Girl pulls into the employee lot. I park in a space marked Visitor, because that’s a much more accurate description of my status than what’s written in eight point font on my business card. She opens her door and a half-eaten bag of Fritos rolls out onto the pavement. She bends down to collect the chips—even the ones that had been tossed dangerously close to a clump of mud that also may have fallen from her lap--and stubs out her cigarette at the same time. She crumples the package and stuffs it into her purse. We’re the last holdouts this morning, almost an hour of fluorescent light and feigned productivity behind the others. Widespread and I share the same apathy for our jobs. I respond by wearing inappropriate t-shirts and stealing other people’s sodas out of the breakroom fridge. She reacts by abandoning personal hygiene. I want to tell her that a little Colgate doesn’t make her a sellout but we walk into the lobby in silence. She heads for the elevator. I go to the stairs. Just in case.

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