It’s dim in the stockroom. The floor is made of some kind of concrete, gray and cracked in places from being rolled over by carts filled with Arizona gallon-sized teas and so many two liters of your favorite cola. The walls are that aged yellowy beige color. It doesn’t smell too bad in here today. Sometimes rotting garbage seeps into the giant box, penetrates the room from behind the heavy metal door of the trash compactor, especially if we had to throw away dozens upon dozens of “expired” eggs the day before.
There’s room to move around, but there is so much shit in here. Overhead, stacked high on shelves the same color as the walls, there is Christmas everything, waiting for its chance to escape the stockroom and sell itself to people who believe they really, really, really need at least fourteen ninety-nine cent glitter coated metal Christmas trees for their mantelpiece. They’ve been shipping this stuff since early August.
And all the way in the corner, past the twelve boxes of Renuzit air fresheners, beyond the hundreds of packs of Energizer eight count AA batteries, and a little after the eight ounce plastic bottles containing the liquid purple sleep-inducing Zzquil is a girl. She is slowly losing her mind. I am that girl.
Today I send away as many of the back to school items we didn’t sell as they will allow. I don’t know who they are, and I don’t know where these items will end up. I climb a ladder to reach the colored composition notebooks, the uncool cousin of the perforated paged wire bound notebook. Nobody wanted these poor saps, even though they come in cool colors like green, blue, red, and classic black. I balance my weight on my legs, abandoning the proper safety procedure of three points of contact on a ladder, cradling the cardboard box displays carefully in my arms.
And then I sit cross-legged on the floor with a telxon in my hand, the weight of so many unfilled notebooks sitting in my lap. The slang for telxon is gun. You point it at a barcode and pull the trigger. It emits a red laser beam light that somehow collects information from vertical lines that only it can understand. You know you have been successful when the gun beeps. It goes “beep-boop.” To send back these composition notebooks, I have to scan them one by one. Beep-boop. Beep-boop. Beep-boop. Over and over and over again.
I fill six industrial-sized plastic warehouse bins with notebooks before I get to the item that unravels me completely. I have been trapped back here for an hour at this point, interrupted only by the delivery of candy, cigarettes, and frozen pizzas. When I pull the chains of the receiving door I am astounded by the brightness of the natural light, even though it’s cloudy. I am grateful to see the familiar faces of the delivery guys. Hello. Please talk to me. I have been trapped here for weeks.
They come and go and I am once again sentenced to my dimly-lit cell. On the top of three very large shelves, formerly concealed by the unwanted composition notebooks, there are highlighters. Millions of them. Okay. Not millions. But hundreds. They are held inside of plastic fishbowl displays, which I take a picture of and ask my friend if she could use for her craft supplies. Otherwise, they will get thrown away. She says she wants them, and I’m grateful I won’t have to add more trash to this already garbage-filled world.
They need to be scanned one by one. Beep-boop. Beep-boop. Beep-boop. I get about a third of the way through before the battery on my gun is about to die. I get to leave my prison, emerge into the blinding fluorescent light of retail establishments to procure another weapon to fight off these unsold neon markers. I enter the office. My boss is there. I tell her this is a sick form of torture and she laughs. It’s good that we’re getting them out of the stockroom though, right? She doesn’t care where they’re going, so long as they’re not here taking up space. I can’t stay to chit-chat, though.
My shoulders slump when I reenter the stocktomb, make my way slowly back into the corner where I belong. I empty the fishbowls onto the floor, highlighters rolling everywhere. Neon blue, green, yellow, orange, and pink cylinders all over the place. In my lap and up my sleeve. But I won’t let them escape. Beep-boop.
How many of these did we start with? How many of these cheap, plastic pieces of crap are going to dry up before anyone has a chance to highlight something that’s probably not all that important in the grand scheme of things?
I suddenly feel disgusted by things. All things. I think of all the things people already have and realize for as many things that are owned there are at least a hundred times that in things that will never be used, that’ll be thrown away. Mass produced so there’s enough. Just in case. Just in case someone needs twelve highlighters in every color.
I think about my cousin who had a meltdown on Facebook earlier this week because she couldn’t get a granite countertop to match the other granite countertops in her giant house that’s already filled with so many fucking things. It was like it was the end of the world, this countertop mishap, like there weren’t people on this planet who didn’t have a place to live, let alone nice granite countertops for their already beautiful kitchens.
I just can’t relate to people sometimes. I don’t understand the need to have an abundance of crap. I don’t see a reason for it. Probably because most of the things people have, including my own things, don’t add any value to life. They take up space and clutter the mind.
And my mind is already so cluttered.