Wed, 18 Dec 2002

So I’m sitting in the break room, reading my book, and two of my female co-workers are complaining about the Indians. “I’m not a racist, but…” one of them begins, and the discourse unwinds predictably from there. I’m ignoring them, trying to concentrate on a boring passage in Herodotus where he describes the religious rites of the Egyptians. Finally, one of the girls pulls out this rhetorical capper: “You always hear these natives going on about how they deserve this and that because they were here first. But, you know, by that logic, then we were here first, because of Adam and Eve!” And she bangs her coffee mug on the table, satisfied that she’s made her point. Even her friend – the one who’s Not A Racist – seems a little confused by this outburst, but she just shakes it off, and they continue. Eventually they get sidetracked onto a discussion of how we’re too soft on pedophiles, but unfortunately our break ends before I get the chance to hear their opinion of queers and the French.

A little later, I listen in as the woman who works at the cosmetics counter calls McDonald’s to complain that the counterperson took too long assembling her breakfast muffin, and that as a result, she was late for work. She’s shouting into the telephone: “I want your name! No, your last name!” I’m in the oral hygiene aisle, hanging toothbrushes on pegs. “Silver Bells” is playing over the intercom. The cosmetics woman is shouting, “How long does it take to make an Egg McMuffin?” I notice that there’s a toothbrush on the floor, underneath the bottom shelf. I crouch down to retrieve it, and I notice that a few other stray toothbrushes have been kicked under the shelf. I get down on my hands and knees and reach in to get them. The floor is dusty and sticky. Fifteen more minutes, fifteen more minutes.

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