Feb 25, 2011

Protests End Quickie-Mart Tyranny

Today was another slow day working at the quickie mart because it snowed yet again. Snow means all schools are closed, which means no students are skipping classes. No students, no business. That’s how it goes in the fast-paced world of convenience stores.

My boss, Mr. Patel, recently found out I have a blog, so he said I can write it at work as long as I mention his store and catchy slogan. So please stop by Patel World, “Home of the giant, eight-ounce slushie, where your service makes our living.” I know that makes no sense. Mr. Patel has a bad grasp of English, but he was so proud of his dumb slogan that he wrote it on the front pockets of all our uniforms in permanent marker.

Anyway, work has been oppressive for a while. Mr. Patel’s inability to communicate combined with his quick temper make for stressful days. The man knows only a few words of English, and the words he does use don’t form clear thoughts. When we don't understand him, he yells at us in front of customers. He called me lazy once in front of a group of third-graders who have taunted me ever since.

Another time he chastised me in front of teenagers, shouting, “You can’t tie box if someone holds gun in head.” See? I have no idea what that means. He’ll yell one minute, and then he’ll be friendly the next, asking us to teach him new English words.

My coworker, Fred, and I got tired of these mood swings. We decided to sabotage Patel’s efforts to learn the language. For Christmas, we got him a biology word-a-day calendar so we could teach him new words. We made up crazy meanings so he’d look like an idiot. We said “zygote” is a synonym for cereal. There were other words, "mitochondria" (customers who can't pay), "cytoplasm" (people who browse without buying), etc. That was great entertainment for a while, but then things got ugly.

A few weeks ago, I had just come in for the night shift and was trying to make my way around a large stack of boxes in the stock room. Mr. Patel popped up from behind one of the boxes and gave me my assignment for the night. “Jokey, your please to check in the freezer,” he said and pointed to the boxes.

I assumed he wanted me to check the freezers to make sure they’re working. They often break down, and then our food goes bad. That would be an easy task. I immediately checked each freezer and saw the temperatures were just fine at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Mr. Patel stared at me with his usual look of disgust, so I smiled and gave him the two thumbs-up sign.

He sighed and said, “I become black at 7:00 morning.” I didn't correct him. I just kept smiling and rolled my eyes as he left.

I spent the rest of the night shift sitting at the cash register. I didn’t do any work. I filed my nails. I whistled for a while. Then I took a nap at the register while sitting on my stool. Not a single customer came in. At 7:00 a.m., I awoke to the familiar jingle of the back door bell, which announced that Mr. Patel had just walked in.

“YOU PLEASE TO CHECK IN THE FREEZER!” he started shouting. I tried the two thumbs up and a smile again, but he ran to the boxes in the back in a panic. He ripped one open and held up a package of leaky, overly thawed chicken parts. “Check in the freezer!” he yelled. I suddenly understood. I was supposed to put the chicken in the freezer! Oops. I was about to apologize when Patel shouted at me in Hindi right in front of the morning coffee crowd. Then he mimicked me filing my nails at the counter and whistling.

“I don’t need this,” I said, and walked out.

“Blastocyst!” he yelled after me. He kept screaming it as I walked out the automatic front doors, but I refused to look back. I was trying to storm out, but the doors open too slowly for a dramatic exit.

My anger surged. I called Fred on the cell phone from the parking lot. I told him that was the last straw. We weren’t going to take this tyrannical rule anymore. Fred was angry too. He said we should protest exactly like the Egyptians did, except we should use violence.

Before I knew it, Fred was outside of the store with me, watching Patel walk out the sluggish automatic doors with his broom. He was probably going to sweep the sidewalk. As the double doors creaked open, Fred swooped on Patel and knocked him to the ground face down. I yelled, "You’re the blastocyst!” and took his monacle and poncho. Patel whimpered under Fred’s 300-pound frame. Fred turned him over, and what we saw made our jaws drop.

It wasn’t Patel at all! It was another Indian whose name happened to be Patel too. We just beat up an innocent man and were guilty of racial profiling. What had we done? "Noooooo!" Fred cried out to the heavens. Our eyes widened in fear when we heard police sirens behind us. I'm too pretty to be in jail, I thought.

A second later, the real Mr. Patel ran out to us smiling and patting us on the backs and grabbing the "broom" that the fake Patel had been carrying. It wasn't a broom after all. It was a machine gun.

“Endoplasmic reticulum!” Patel kept repeating while he hugged us. He held up his camera phone and snapped a picture of us sitting on the still-tackled Indian guy.

It turned out that the man we tackled was an armed robber who had been holding up stores all over the Midwest. We were hailed as heroes and appeared on the local TV evening news. The police gave us reward money, and Mr. Patel gave us each a fat bonus for increasing business through this publicity. He hung a framed photo of us attacking the robber in the entrance of the store and wrote a sign above it, “Chlorophyll Beware!”

So the next time you’re thirsty, make sure you come visit us at Patel World, where your service really does make our living.


Amanda said...

I feel there has been an oversight, perhaps in the way of biological profiling, that the Golgi apparatus was not included in your post. Since it is one of my favorite cellular devices, I feel responsible for looking out for minority Golgi rights and their right to assembly.

Jackie S. Phillips said...

Golgi? You mean that little troll guy on The Lord of the Rings? I'd never discriminate against him. I like ugly people. They can assemble anywhere they want.

Anonymous said...

You are wrong Jackie. Golgi is an organelle found in most eukaryotic cells. Amanda explained in her comment that it is a cellular device.

Microbiologist, Gilmer, WV

Anonymous said...

Glad to see that you had an "outstanding" Bio. Instructor. Be sure to add a picture developing station in the store called, Photosynthesis. Whenever you need a break just tell Mr. Patel, "Mitosises hurt real bad and he'll probably let you rest.