Slice of Life

Lines a mile long, extreme coupon hunting, and if there’s not a sale… Well than you may as well shut down for the months of November and December. That’s right, folks… It’s the Holiday season. And no matter how long you’ve worked at your place of employment, and no matter the precautions that led you to this time of year… Nothing will help prepare you for the chaos you are about to endure. How do I know this? Because for the first time this year, I was given the opportunity to partake in my first every Black Friday, or as retail refers to it “Green Friday,” experience.

“Jazz, clock in and hop on cash registers,” my boss tries to yell over the pulsating music and the chatter of customers shopping in our store.

It was 4pm on Black Friday. The mall had opened at midnight (16hrs earlier), and the sale we were having had started the day before Thanksgiving (2 days prior). Yet we already had a line forming around the store. I hadn’t even been in there for more than 10 seconds and I was already being ordered around.

I clock in, and hurry to the back room to grab my headset and nametag. I put my purse in my locker, and I head back out to the sales floor where I will embrace my fate at the ever-demanding cash register.

“It’s our biggest day of the year guys, let’s make sure we talk to every single customer!” my boss says as her voice can now be heard in my right ear thanks to my headset.

I take my post at cash register two.

“Hey, how are you doing today?” How I start 9 out of 10 conversations with customers.

“Good, good,” says the woman, “How are you?”

“Great! Getting all of your Christmas shopping done?” I ask.

We were taught to always be “friends first” with the customers, have real conversations, etc. So I try, although I’ll admit, I say pretty much the same lines over and over. It’s repetitive, but how many different ways can you really address a complete stranger?

“Sure am! Just have a few things left on my list, and this will all finally be over,” the woman laughs.

I shoot her a smile. I haven’t even started Christmas shopping. Is that pathetic?

The woman begins fishing around in her purse.

“I think I might also have a coupon around her somewhere… Didn’t you guys just send out a coupon recently?” the woman asks.

The entire store is 40% off this particular weekend for the big “Black Friday” sale, mind you.

“I don’t believe so… Our entire store is 40% off this weekend, so I doubt they would send out another coupon on top of that,” I try to say with my best customer smile I can work up. But really, this woman is asking for another coupon? She’s getting what a normal employee gets as a discount on a regular basis. That doesn’t happen often, and she’s complaining?

The woman is unhappy. I can tell by the way she begins to scrunch her face up. I try to think of something as quickly as possible.

“If you would like to sign up for our store charge card today I can save you 55% instead of the 40% everyone is saving,” I say.

Her eyes light up.

I’ve done it.

“Oh, alright! Let’s try that!” She’s ecstatic.

I typically hate pushing the charge cards onto people. I have my own reserved feelings about them, but the things people will do for a coupon these days.

I finished ringing the woman up, and sent her on her way having only paid 45% instead of the of the 60% a majority of other people were paying.

It didn’t stop there, though.

I stayed in that line, in the EXACT same spot for 3 hours. The flow of customers was constant through the cash register line, and almost every other person brought up the concern of more coupons.

It was like that book I read as a child, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. In this book the Mouse is given a cookie, but then it wants milk, and so on and so forth until it’s asked for just about everything.

These people were coupon crazed even after we were giving them the best deal we had had all year!

Finally 9pm rolled around, and I was the first to sprint to the front of the store to close the doors.

“We did it guys! We survived Black Friday! You all were great!” exclaimed my manager over our headsets. Then she started rattling off statistics for the sales we had accomplished that day.

The store was a mess, my feet hurt from standing, and I was scheduled for at least two more hours to help clean the store up. My first Black Friday in retail, and the last 6-letter word I ever wanted to hear again was “coupon.”

Art Review

Fall 2004 – Konno

Vibrant colors, large in proportion, and having several scenes are just a few general things the two paintings I chose to review have in common. The first is Fall 2004 by Tomomi Konno. The medium Konno used was oil on wood.
The colors are bright and catchy first grabbing hold of the viewer, and then drawing them in with all of the different scenes going on. It is located in MacCollin taking up a large part of a wall near the sculpture room and design classroom. People walk by it several times a day, but if one of those times you were to just stop and stare at this massive painting for a little while, you would be able to take your eyes off of it.
There are so many different interpretations of what is happening here. An ever prevalent

Portion of Fall 2004

theme seems to be abstract symbols of humans, in a duo or individually. In one portion of the painting there seems to be a little person sitting on a ledge under a tree, looking like this individual could quite possibly fall right off the edge into what appears to be a sunrise (sunset?). It’s a kind of beautiful catastrophe, as if this artist was experiencing every single emotion while creating this large painting, lonely and not. To the far right of the painting is another depiction of a person, but this time with another human being, one sitting and one lying on a park bench under a light. These are just two of several scenes that appear.

Untitled – Sergeant & Bowitz

The other painting/sculpture I observed was an untitled piece, or so it appeared because I couldn’t find a tag for the life of me. It was done by an adjunct to Morningside College, Shannon Sargeant, and the Chairman of the Art department and Professor, John Bowitz.
I say it’s a painting and a sculpture because it appears to be paint on many wood panels that wrap around into an oval shape with an opening at one end so that the viewer can enter the piece and be surrounded by the paintings. It’s in a sense interactive.
Like Fall of 2004 this untitled piece also draws the audience in with it’s vibrant colors, and then at a close glance, by everything going on within the colors. Each panel is something different, and sometimes there are several different sections going on in a single panel. The panels contained many depictions of people, and some emotion. However, unlike Fall of 2004, this emotion more so comes from the words, phrases, and sentences that also appear on the panels.
The question of whether or not either of these have a deeper meaning than what than just

Portion of Untitled

paint or oil on wood pieces is debatable. Oscar Wild once said, “It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.” Meaning art is whatever the spectator makes of it. If the viewer can connect and relate to the art, then they can understand the art. What one piece means to one person, may not mean the same thing to another, or even how the artist originally meant it at all in the first place. But that’s just art.
I really enjoyed both pieces, and found myself getting lost in all that was going on in both. It made me think about my life, and I took my own go at guessing what the originators intentions were of both pieces, but one can never know for sure. The artist may not even know, it’s all relative.

A portion of writing on Untitled by Sergeant and Bowitz.

TextReview#2_(Hell’s Angels)

Where there is the combination of beer, drugs, and sex in the ‘60s in the state of California, there was sure to be a Hell’s Angel, or fifteen. In his first ever non-fiction book titled Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, Hunter S. Thompson describes the gang from an inside perspective that no person had ever gone before.
Thompson spent a little over a year “riding, loafing, and plotting” with the Angels specifically the Oakland Chapter and their President, Sonny Barger, between 1964 and 1966. There were a lot of characters Thompson meant along the way as well: Tiny, Terry the Tramp, Mother Miles, Dirty Ed, Magoo, and Charger Charley the Child Molester to name a few, and their lifestyles were as wild as their nicknames.
The book spans a series of “runs” (trips the Angels would take for celebratory weekends to get away) that Thompson joined in on with the several hundred, if not sometimes thousands, of motorcyclists from all different chapters of the Hell’s Angels in California.
Thompson describes the Hell’s Angels as a brotherhood: one for all, and all for one. When one Angel has a “beef” with someone, all of the Angel’s have an issue with that person as well. What the President, in this case for the Oakland Chapter was Barger, says goes, and is believed to be truth by all other members. Nothing is their own, the Angels share everything. If one doesn’t have a place to stay, the others take turns putting him up in their homes for the time being. The same thing goes for food, booze, and even sometimes women.
Booze is always prevalent and drugs ranged from Pot to LSD. The Angels at one point in the book were looked at for possibly having business selling drugs, however, according to Thompson’s account, this wasn’t really the case. They were more into buying and using, and less into selling. There may have been some of that going on, but not much. And when the Angel’s decided to party, they partied hard. In the section of the book where Thompson describes the “run” to Bass Lake, Angels there were taking handfuls of pills they weren’t even sure of the names or the amount of milligrams being consumed. They did things to the extreme, and never held back.
Women were also seen as common trade. Thompson describes several accounts of rape, gangbangs, and general encounters the Angels had with women on a daily basis. The girls were sometimes as young as fifteen, and could be having sex with approximately 15 or 20 different men in one night. The accounts were repulsive and gut-wrenching, but not all necessarily true.
Actually, a main point Thompson drives throughout the entire book is the thought that maybe the Angels aren’t so different from the “average Joe” of those days and even nowadays. I think one of my favorite parts of the entire book is when Thompson defines “rape” :
But sex is only one aspect of rape’s broader definition. The word derives from the Latin rapere, “to take by force”; and according to Webster, the contemporary translation ranges from (1) “the crime of having sexual intercourse with a woman or girl forcibly and without her consent” to (2) “the act of seizing and carrying away by force” or (3) “to plunder or destroy, as in warfare.” So the Hell’s Angels, by several definitions, including their own, are working rapists… and in this downhill half of our twentieth century they are not so different from the rest of us as they sometimes seem. They are only more obvious. (249)
I know it’s long, but this particular passage is I think a large part of the main idea to this book. It really wrapped it up for me in a nutshell.
Thompson writes in a third person perspective from a lot of his first hand accounts, and rarely brings himself into the story. He also uses several news outlets circulating at the time such as Life, Time, and the New York Times. He takes quotes from poems, movies, books, and everyday people and places these at the beginning of each chapter to set some kind of tone.
I have a ton of admiration for Thompson for being able to live with these goes for as long as he did, even with having a family. He took a risk not many were willing to at the time, and it really paid off. This book was some of Thompson’s greatest work.
His accounts were raw, and I really like how he touched on not just the Angel’s involvement with the party scene (booze, drugs, and rape), but also their involvement with the political party scene with the controversy surrounding the Vietnam War at the time. He depicted the rise of this group of misfits rising to be public figures with somewhat respected opinions on issues that actually mattered. He weaved himself in and out of the story so fluidly that I had a difficult time trying to describe whether this book was written in third person or first person.
I would like to know more about his tactics. How did he recollect all of these events and quotes? Was his recording constantly recording? Hand constantly scrawling down notes? Did he ever get any photographs? How did he get in with them in the first place/How did he get so close? I think that some of this “Pre-Angel’s” would add a lot, or could possibly be another story in itself.
I did really like all of the technical talk about the bikes themselves. I understand how that could be important, but I honestly was in this book for the stories, not the technicalities of what makes a bike faster, flashier, etc.
Overall I would have to give the book a 4 out of 5 stars. I thought they Thompson remained pretty neutral about the whole experience, and gave great insight that people just couldn’t get anywhere else at the time. He was there to see the misfits at their lowest all the way through to their… “success”?