Tales of American Life

Falling through the universe at the speed of life

By David Glenn Cox

I saw an eviction today. My first in three years in this apartment complex. The people were not in the unit; they’d probably already bugged out. No point in hanging around waiting on the inevitable. So, the maintenance staff was clearing the apartment of the items too large to fit into an automobile. Not far from here is a brand-new strip mall completed last year. I suppose you could claim the Covid-19 is responsible for a year going by without the first tenant being signed. It’s all too familiar and makes my blood run cold when the busiest guy in town is at the liquor store and the U-Haul dealer.

Colorado has that panache, the mountains, the scenery, the weed. Sipping champagne in a hot tub after a day on the slopes in Steamboat. Or climbing a fourteener and knowing that when your body is discovered they will all be impressed by your athletic prowess. But the truth is that Denver is expensive, and wages haven’t kept up with the cost of living, so they’ve installed a revolving door at the state line. I lived in Atlanta in 2008 and watched the world melt down there. That is what got up next to me, PTSD, not again.

I’ll be leaving Denver next month for less expensive digs. Looking for that American dream. A good job. A nice house and statutes of limitation! Driving that U-Haul across the lonely desert dragging an eight-year-old car and a ten-year-old shaggy house cat. There are more goers than comers here at the complex, nothing you can really put your finger on really. Just people leaving with that hint of 2008 in the air. Afraid to go to work for fear of being sent home. Every place that you would ever consider taking your life over before working at is hiring. But with $1,600 rents, it’s pointless to take a job at Arby’s. Unless you have a good supply of Meth to keep you working the eighteen hours a day and seven days a week required.

It makes me wonder, am I moving away or running away? I’m a Sagittarius the wanderer and have put that theory to the test. I never planned to live all over the country it just sort of happened that way. And it’s always worked out until Denver. Failure rings the bell of self-doubt and keeps you on your heels. You feel a failure despite knowing that you never could have succeeded. There were things going on that you don’t know. An internal power struggle at the company. Two sides pulling back and forth changing the rules and changing the territory daily. American industry, head meet sphincter and insert! I went to a store that sounds like Doffice Max to buy a printer. On display were two, count em two, store aisles of printers on display. The store’s one employee told me she would check to see what was in stock.

She pulled out her phone and went online to tell me they had nothing in stock under $350.00. But was quick to add, “I could order it online!” What I didn’t say was, “I know I can order it online. I’m a high school graduate, but I was kind of looking for something like…now. Like in the next hour or two. That is why I came to your store in the first place. I would like to complete this transaction today and move on to something else.”

Let’s pull this apart; you have eleven thousand dollars in printers on display but none in stock. You basically operate an S&H Green Stamps redemption center for office products. A twelve thousand square foot showroom with ballpoint pens and markers available for pick up today if you order online. “And don’t you ever come back! If you ever come back to this store, I swear you’ll get worse! Yes, of course we have printers! But not here! Not in a store!” Some executive earning a six-figure salary thought that up, maybe my old boss. “We can save a fortune if we strip the shelves bare!” I don’t even know if this is a publicly traded company, if so, divest. If I go online, I might find a better price. From someone else selling printers, who didn’t just piss me off.

I needed a door handle assembly, the parts house told me fifty bucks and they would have to order it. I went home and found it online for twenty-five delivered at the same time. What are they there for? What lesson did they teach me? Don’t come back here, we don’t have it! Order it online dumbass! We have quarts of oil, tire pressure gauges and fuzzy dice for the mirror anything else, we have to order.

The most amusing aspect to me is people buying a car online. I would no more buy a car online as pick one out with my eyes closed. I want to touch and feel. I want to smell the new car smell and look under the hood. Wrap my hands around the steering wheel and play with the radio. Instead, a tow truck driver drops a car in front of the house. “It looks different than it did online.” But they have a seven-day return policy, but I’ve returned a toaster to Walmart before and have better things to do with my time.

I don’t know and fully accept the possibility that it’s me. I buy stuff online when I need to buy things online, but I want to try on my blue jeans. It doesn’t matter what the damn tag says, they’re all different. I don’t want to spend my Saturday trying to figure out how to put that Queen size mattress back into that vacuum sealed package and waiting in line at the UPS store.

Tales of American life, the deal that is not a deal and grass that always looks greener. With promises of plenty and excuses a many. Your hamburger doesn’t look like the one in the picture and this unit is for display purposes only. Trying to function in a world in flux, just trying to get the DeLorean up to eighty-eight miles an hour and get the flux out of here.

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