“There is no such thing as paranoia.Your fears can come true at any moment.” Hunter S. Thompson

I’ve never felt paranoid, simply a healthy fear of people which I characterize as a strong dislike. You might call that paranoia. I call it a safe assumption. And safety is an asset. The world is a jagged place strewn with twisted metal agendas and psychic vampires. My fears come true more often than not. I’m great at finding fox holes when the shit blows the roof sky high.

I work in retail, a side job until I figure out what to do. But now I’m at the end of what I can stand and I still have no plan. As I drive in for my shift I brace myself for:

“Amy, we need to talk about your goals for Beauty Week. We’re each supposed to book 20 appointments and presell three thousand dollars. How are you doing?”

“Uh, I’ve only worked twice this month.”

“You’ve only worked twice.”

“Yes, you only scheduled me twice since the first of the month. It’s now the 22nd.”

“Today is the event. How many appointments have you booked?”

“None.”

“You’ve known your goals. We talked about this.”

“I’m supposed to come in on my days off and call people?”

“Everyone has to meet their goals. You find a way to do it.”

“I’m the only one who hasn’t?”

“Mindy has booked 25 appointments and she’s part-time as well.”

People do go in on their days off in order to make their goals.

Next month, for my annual review, I’ll sit down with my department manager in the dingy hallway he calls an office. Three cluttered desks face one cinder block wall, one for him and two for his assistants. On the opposite wall stands 20-foot shelves overflowing with hundreds of tiny little beauty brick-a-brack: plastic animal print cosmetic bags are shoved in corners, and candles, clay masks, and nail polish bottles teeter off edges.

He’ll show me my score card, a pie chart with gray and black slices. The biggest slice of the pie will demonstrate how much I’ve sold for my cosmetic line. I’m supposed sell 95 percent. I sell 60 percent. And even though my annual numbers have increased 50 percent. I’ll still be in trouble. I don’t have enough return customers. I haven’t opened two credit cards a month.

And it’s true. I couldn’t give less of a shit. I don’t call customers.

And I rarely presell, which means incentivizing purchases with gifts so people pay the day of an event. Instead, I sell whatever people want the day they come in for my three percent commission and my shitty hourly. The store has made $145,000.000 off me this year. You know what I’ve made? $15,000.00.

I’m anticipating the conversation I’ve outlined at the start of this when I go in tomorrow. I always brace myself, and I don’t mean tensing up. I mean full body armor, combat boots and a steel-plated helmet.

Yet, it’s the customers who are the worst. A white woman accused me of racism when I didn’t help her with a lipgloss purchase. It’s true. I walked away when it was clear she was annoying. But any complaint at all, no matter how outrageous or who witnesses it, is weighted. She wanted me to lose my job, I guess, because it was Christmas. She pulled my manager into a twenty minute rant and claimed she’d go to the store manager. She must not have. I never heard about it again, but I sweat about it for a weak.

I’m not tempermentally suited for this.

There is no upshot, no conclusion. And so that’s where we are. The store I work in was once high end and serviced a wealthy and upper middle-class population. Well, the wealthy shop elsewhere and the middle-class shop on Amazon.

Our clientele purchase products they can’t afford, and return them after use. And if you think returning worn makeup is gross, you should hear the stories in the lingerie department. My favorite involved a red lace teddy crusted with dried body fluids. The store took it back for a full refund when the customer insisted she’d bought it like that.

I’m not paranoid, just ready for whatever is comin’ down the pipeline.

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