This is too much. I mean, way too much. Responsibility for someone my age is a bad investment, and frankly, it’s a total waste of my time. And yet, here I was, a damp application in hand, walking up to the checkout counter as sweat began to trickle down my face and arms. The green house section was sweltering with the heat from the summer day, which failed to improve my mood, at all. Nonetheless, I still spoke the dreaded eight words that every teenager hates to say.
“I’d like to apply for a job, please.”
The cashier, who had been texting on her phone before I interrupted her, looked up at me with melodramatic eyes. She chewed on her peppermint gum, blew a small bubble, and popped it loudly, returning it lazily into her mouth by scraping it off of her lips with her teeth. She was one of those I-desperately-need-a-job punk-rock teens, with piercings in abnormal places, a weird and unfitting fauxhawk, tattoos up and down the length of their arms, and covered in black this, black that, black everything. She was no exception. Her voice was a smidge gravelly, indicating that she also smoked; often, from the sound of it. “We aren’t hiring in the greenhouse, sweetheart. We could use some shelf stockers in the main store if you’re interested.”
Normally, I would concede in these situations and leave, but Mother’s words were clear and stern: Don’t take any bull from these people. They’ll do anything to keep you out of that place. Get the damn job so you’re not lazing around my house all day. “I said, I would like, to apply, for a job, please.” I reinstated firmly.
Having been provoked, the girl now shifted her weight to her left leg and crossed her arm, the offensive stance of an offended teenager. This was about to take a terrible turn. “I am well aware of what you said. And if you had listened, you would have heard me tell you that we aren’t, hiring, in, the greenhouse.”
I knew I’d get a tough ball. That’s just my luck. Nothing I want or needs comes easy anymore. “Okay, I feel like an agreement could be reached here, just not with you. I’m sure underneath your… ballistic exterior and potentially poisonous tattoos of crushed baby skulls, there lies a kind heart and deep appreciation for others and their desires, but clearly you don’t enjoy displaying that kindling love to the public eye, so I don’t believe anything will come of this conversation that will benefit either of us in any way, shape, or form. So, may I speak to your manager? I’m sure he or she is much more cooperative than you will ever be.”
She stood there with the same uncaring glare, pushing her left snake bite in and out of her skin with her tongue. With her mouth slightly ajar from the space created by her tongue, I noticed a chipped tooth. Guess her and her boyfriend had a bit of a falling out. Rough, tough, and to the point; she was everything that made up the modern American woman, all in one person. “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason, hun. So, please, get out of this greenhouse.”
Fed up with her stubborn attitude and the heat that seemed to exuberate with each passing second, I slammed my hand on the counter and glared her straight in the eye, which was surrounded by a heap of black mascara that I noticed had been poorly applied. “Bring your damn manager out here right now or I’m going to punch you in the mouth so hard that it’ll chip your other tooth, hun.” I threatened, not letting the fact that she could easily defeat me in any sparring match hinder my blazing temper. I needed this job. Hell, I almost wanted it.
Another pause, more playing with the snake bite. She reached down and pulled up a pager from her waist, the circular cord straining as it pulled up. She pressed the button on the side, sending her voice across the speakers in the entire store. “Security, please come to the checkout counter in the greenhouse section. Code 164.” She let go of the pager, the cord snapping it back into place, and put her hand, which sported solid black nails decorated with white skulls, right on her hip. Same uncaring gaze, different attitude. “Unless you want security to come over and toss you out on your ass, in turn embarrassing you in front of every person that just happens to walk by at that moment, I recommend you leave. Now.”
My other hand slammed down on the counter, sweat dripping down my forehead. I had had just about enough of this unintellectual behemoth. “Get me. Your manager. Right. Now.”
“And what if I don’t?”
I opened my mouth to protest and realized that I was not in the best position to bargain. I had yet to plan this far ahead, and two burly policemen were probably on their way to toss me out the greenhouse door any minute, right onto the unforgiving concrete. Think of something, Rose. Something, anything.
“Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa!” Suddenly, an unfamiliar voice sounded from nearby, and as I turned, I noticed a boy about one year older than me running towards the area of conflict. “We don’t need to do all of this, Julia. She just wants a job.” He pulled out his own pager and spoke, “Security, cancel that request please. Issue is being resolved.” He then turned to the girl, who had her soul-biting glare pointed towards him. “Take your break, okay? I’ll handle this.”
Julia, as she was called, rolled her eyes and threw her SmartMart apron on the counter. “Finally. I’ve needed a smoke for ages. Good luck with Habanero Head here.” She scoffed at me, doing the classic up-down look to check for any revealing attire to backlash me with later. Too bad sweetheart; the only sultry thing on me is my attitude, which I can tell will be used against you often.
The guy sighed heavily after she left. “I’m sorry about her. She’s… well, yeah, you know. So, you want to apply for a job here? What position were you interested in?”
I surveyed this mystery guy very carefully. As usual, he was wearing the traditional dark-lime-green SmartMart apron that all employees were required to adorn, overtop of what I assumed was a plain white t-shirt and khaki shorts. Facially, he had decent eyes and a somewhat defined structure, although it wouldn’t kill him to drop a bit of weight off of his chin to bring out his jaw line. My main interest, however, was his mouth. His lips were sleek and well pampered, causing my curiosity to kill the cat, or at least tease it with a toy mouse on a string. Most guys have terrible lips; chapped and disgusting, and peeling at random spots, or sporting that ridiculous cut-like mark that so many tend to have on the right side, which looks like a bad attempt at inserting a lip ring. On top of that, he didn’t disgrace it with any protruding or distracting facial hair or jewelry. It was odd to find a guy who kept his mouth in such great shape. He was dissimilar.
I suppose now I should tell you, I have… peculiar methods that I use to learn about people. Many, when meeting someone for the first time, notice something really superficial about that person. Their eyes, their hair, their muscles or breasts, or both if they’re ambiguous, their clothes; all of which are very shallow things to base any relationship, friend or more, off of. For me, I notice people’s mouths. You might think it’s weird, but have you ever stopped to consider it? You can learn a lot about people from their mouths. If they have piercings, it means they’re edgy and rebellious; they live by their own rules. If their lips appear well moisturized, they’re very responsible and take good care of themselves; the kind of person your parents would want you to bring home. If their lips are chapped, it means they don’t hold themselves properly; which probably means they fail to do other things, like shower or use deodorant. If their lips have bumps, move on, because that’s probably herpes. And not just lips, too; teeth are a big indicator. For example, Julia? A chipped tooth could mean that she’s a fighter, and she can take a hit. Or maybe she’s clumsy, and falls into things a lot (although her demeanor doesn’t give off that impression). The cleanliness of teeth can also point out qualities in a person. Grimy, yellow teeth belong to those who are forgetful, or lazy, or careless, or all three. Teeth that are so white they look artificial often indicate that the owner is far to concerned with their looks, and rarely care about feelings. However, it can depict a person who keeps up with their personal hygiene, which is so hard to find in today’s society. Or they could just be a bleach drinker. You never know. I recommend that you take a look at the mouths of your friends, your family, your co-workers, and even the people you hate. You might discover something and reevaluate your decisions.
I pulled my application off the counter and handed it to him. “I have no clue. Whatever my mom wrote down is what I can do, apparently.”
He took the packet from my hand, giving me a questioning look before reading over it. After a few moments, he paused and squinted at the words written down in my mother’s handwriting. “Um, what is that supposed to be? Is that a V?”
I looked at the letter he was indicating to with his index finger, which I noticed had a class ring on it. I found out that the graduating year on it was the same as mine. He’s in my grade? That’s perplexing; why haven’t I seen him before? Someone with a mouth like that would surely catch my attention. Returning my focus back to the application, I found out that I was not a V that my mother had written on the line beneath Interested Position.
“That is an evil smiley face, bro.”
He took the application back and gave it the same questioning look he gave to me moments ago. “Well, okay… Guess your mom has it in for you, huh?” He laughed a little at his own joke, and then cleared his throat when I didn’t share the humor. “Well, uh, the cashier positions are filled at the moment, so I guess you could help me with watering the plants and hanging up the pots and assisting the customers. I guess that falls under the category of Anything.” He grinned. His teeth, while not being pearly white, were not very yellow. I was impressed; this boy knows how to treat himself like a human.
“Well, that’s great. When can I start?” I asked, impatient to get this over with (more so to get out of this smoldering plant containment center).
“I wish I could say right now, but you have to go through the store manager first… and she’s not gonna be here until tomorrow. So I guess you’ll have to wait until she interviews you to start working. If you want, I could call her and get the whole thing set up so you don’t have to wait too long, since I guess you want to go ahead and get started, right?”
“Not really, but if you would do that, it’d be fantastic. I don’t want my mom breathing down my neck for entire weekend.” I responded with a playful wink. He shifted in an uncomfortable manner and pulled his collar out to let his body breathe, suggesting that girls of my caliber (which I’m assuming is low by average male standards) don’t often flirt with him. This should be fun.
He clapped his hands together awkwardly and chuckled. “Yeah, I… I can do that for you. Oh, and, uh… I’ll need your phone number, so I can give it to her so she can, y’know… call you back and stuff.”
I decided to tease him a little more. His reactions made the consequences of flirting with another guy while having a boyfriend feel like meaningless, hollow threats. “Aw, are you sure it’s not you who wants my number? Not that I’d protest, but it’s quite a forward move for a girl whose name you don’t know. We haven’t even had our first date yet.” I joked in a seductive voice, writing my number neatly on a note that I pulled from my bag.
A tint of red filled his acne-free cheeks at the suggestion. “Oh no, no no, it’s just for my manager. Yeah, no, that’d be, uh, kind of pushy. I… I wouldn’t do that. Oh, but, uh, I know your name. Your name is, uh, um…” He scanned over my application, obviously just looking for a distraction since it was clearly located at the top. Typical boys; no confidence in themselves.
“Rose. Rose Fisher. Nice to meet you too –” I looked down swiftly to his nametag. “– Jason. Hopefully I’ll get to work alongside you. It'll be quite... endearing.” I fake giggled, making his blush grow larger. “Au revoir, luvah~”
As I departed, I noticed Jason fanning himself with my application and panting heavily. I flipped my sweat-drenched bangs out of my face and began to move across the parking lot when –
“I highly doubt you’ll get that job, hun.”
Turning on my heel, I faced the source of the taunting words to find Julia gazing at me once more. She held a dwindling cigarette between her two fingers, and out in the sunlight, her previous black hair was revealed to be a brusque auburn. With the poise of a confirmed interview and the ironically cool air flowing through my tresses, I responded with a simple, “Thank you. I look forward to working with you.”
She flicked the stub of her used cigarette onto the black pavement, tiny sparks jumping up on impact. She began to push herself up off the side of the greenhouse wall. “Look kid, I don’t know what you think you –” Before she could finish, her feet tangled together, and she stumbled into a stack of flower pots, knocking many to the ground. A few shattered against the parking lot. Her previously uncaring gaze became filled with anger as she absorbed the result her own mistake. “Dammit! Why does this keep happening to me?!” She shouted, stomping her right foot onto the ground and drawing the attention of some passerby. “Jason! Get your ass out here and help me clean up this stuff!”
Guess I was right about her being clumsy. Don't judge the smoking, angry book by its completely black cover, I suppose.
Satisfied with my deeds, I pivoted back around and started to walk off, adding in a sadistic comment to Julia in an attempt to make her angrier. “Don’t worry, sweetie. When I start working here, I’ll help you clean up those pots when you spill them again. Consider it a favor. Au revoir.”
I was going to have a lot of fun with this.