Dealing With Grandma's
I walked down the bright, busy, downtown street with perfect posture - as if I had something to be proud of. In fact, I was trying desperately to keep my sweating back from staining the fabric of my only dress shirt.
It seemed like a futile effort. People kept shoving past me, smearing my shirt with the sweat and dirt they had accumulated at a hard day of work. At least they had a job. Apparently, guys with long, bushy hair had a hard time getting one.
Today had been a reckless day. Three job interviews that all plummeted with that fatal question: What work experiences do you have?
They acknowledged that I was a physics major in University; heading down the bright path towards becoming a computer engineer; that I had devoted all of my time and effort to maintaining a 3.7 GPA.
But they all stopped sympathizing with me at the same point: I hadn't had a job since flipping burgers at the local Burger King back in 2006.
Sure, you're educated, able-bodied, and able-minded; but apparently, none of that matters unless you've been paid to flip something in the past few months. Bastards.
Shove. "Excuse me."
I was starting low on the evolutionary job ladder. First, I got called in for a job at an insurance company, but they demanded a training fee of $125; apparently, you had to be screwed over before you were taught how to do so to others.
The other two call-backs were telemarketing companies. After seeing my lacking experience, both said the same thing: You sound like you've got something to be proud of… Customers won't appreciate that.
It made sense: they were paid to lie, so they had to be good at it.
Shove. "Sorry." The crowd was practically impossible to maneuver through. Rush hour: People with jobs went through this every day. Scary.
I stuffed my hands deeper into my pockets. I came up with fifteen cents of change and pocket lint. I had used my mother's emergency two dollar loan on coffee. Without a job, I wouldn't be able to pay her back.
I could just picture the glare I'd get from her. She had a way of incorporating her thoughts into those eyes: That useless pile of crap! Nine months I carried him – stretch marks, swollen feet and all! And twenty-three years later, I'm still carrying his weight; in laundry and food! When is that stupid boy going to get a job and move out??
Okay, she's my mother. She probably didn't consciously think that.
My dad, on the other hand, wanted me out of his basement as fast as possible. He said I had to be out living the good life: parties, girls, drinking. And I needed my own place to get away with that.
... I think he was a telemarketer in a past life.
The crowd of people walking ahead of me on the side walk dispersed. A clear path in rush hour? This had to be part of a divine message! I knew I had a higher purpose!
Beepbeep. Something buzzed behind me.
I turned to meet the end of a walking stick, poking into my rib. The wielder of the weapon was a wrinkly, white-haired, little old lady.
Her motorized wheelchair buzzed with activity. I was momentarily absorbed in her eyes - surrounded by wrinkled folds of skin - was the softest of sky blue. Her expression, however, could have mirrored that of the devil.
"Move..." I heard a hushed chorus of mumbles from the people that had opened a path for the wheel chaired woman. I stayed in the middle of the sidewalk, glaring back at the old woman. The others slipped past in their hurry.
"You're on a wheelchair, why do you have a walking stick?" I asked her, pivoting to release the end of the walking stick from my side.
"You're a human - why's there a bush growing out of your head?" she asked, her voice slow but brimming with meanness nonetheless.
"Lady... It's an afro..." I hissed back, offended. It had taken months of tight braiding -thanks to my savage mother- for it to reach this valeur.
"Since when do white boys have curly hair?" her eyes narrowed.
"Lady. I'm mixed!" I grumbled.
"'Lady', he calls me... Interesting..." she said to herself, "You looking for a job, boy?"
"What?" I asked, how did this creep know? "Yeah..."
"What's your worth?"
"What do you do?"
"I'm a student, doing a bachelor's degree in physics..."
"Maybe you'd be fit for this job then..."
"Pays one dollar over minimum wage... Long hours... Hard work..."
Hallelujah! I might have landed myself a job after all!
"I'll do it! I need the money! Just tell me who to talk to!" I pulled out an extra copy of my resume from my bag.
"Jeremy Walters... What a perfect name..." she grinned as she read off the top of the page, "Oh, there's no one you need to talk to. I'll be your supervisor and manager."
She continued scanning through my resume.
Then, with a pause, "You're hired!"
"As what?!" I gaped at her, letting my jaw hang open in confusion.
"My personal assistant!" the woman said with a smirk. God knew what was on her mind.
"Uh, lady..." I started, confused.
"'Lady' was fine five minutes ago but now that you're my minion, it's 'Madam', capiche?!"
"'Minion'? What happened to person assistant?"
"The 'lady' comment demoted you."
Okay, this lady's nerve was really starting to bug me.
"Jeremy!" she called out as if I wasn't right in front of her.
"Bring me a cup of tea. One spoon sugar." she replied in that high-and-mighty voice of hers.
I must have looked at her like she was crazy because a second later she snapped, "There's a Tim Hortons across the street! Get me something warm and drinkable before I fire you!"
Didn't women go through menopause in their fifties? Was I hallucinating? 'Cause this seemed like a typical case of PMS to me. I hurried across the street, with the lady tailing behind me in her shiny high-tech wheel chair.
"Bessie!" Someone called out as we walked into the coffee shop.
"Winifred!" My manager called back sweetly. The other skinny, old, white woman coaxed us towards her table by the window.
"Well, I'll be damned! You weren't lying about that family of yours!" The woman named Winifred sneered.
"Right you are! Meet my dear grandson, Jeremy Walters Trudeau the Second." she stated with pride, her wrinkly hand landing on my shoulder. What? 'Grandson'?
"Well..." Winifred started.
"Well...?" Bessie challenged.
The two women glared at each other, and then extended their right hands to shake.
"A deal is a deal." they said simultaneously.
I looked from one stern, wrinkled face to the other. What exactly had I gotten myself into?