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.”

Personal Narrative_PartII_Opposite

“Jazmine, I have a confession to make,” says G-Boy.
It’s roughly 2o’clock in the morning in Portland, Oregon. I’ve been trying to go to bed for the last hour and half, and he will not shut-up.
“If this is a ploy to get me to stay up later because you unfortunately can’t seem to fall asleep, it’s not working,” I groggily respond. I’m in a half comatose state.
“No, I’m serious!” he says.
“Okay, what?” I ask.
“I’m gay,” G-Boy confesses.
And it’s then he has my attention. I’m intrigued.
“Really?” I ask. Then I just start spouting off questions.
“How long have you felt this way?”
“Have you came out to your parents yet?
“How many other people have you told?”
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
He was hesitant at first, but he answered all of them.
“Well I’ve always thought I was bisexual, but then I got to a point last year where I was just like… No, I don’t like girls,” he explained.
“I haven’t told my parents yet, but I want too. I don’t think they’ll be too surprised.”
“I’ve only told four or five people other than you.”
“And no, I currently do not have a boyfriend… But that’s an entirely other story in itself.”
Then he turned the questions on me.
“So really Jazmine, you had no idea I was gay?” he asked.
“To be quite honest, I guess I didn’t really care either way. It’s not something I generally the first thing I question when I become friends with someone,” I answered.
Then we got to talking about how weird it is that people who are bisexual or gay have to have a “coming out.” Why does there need to be a “special event” for people to say whether they’re into males or females. It makes zero sense to me, and after I explained that to him… It made zero sense to him either why he was making it such a big deal.
My sleep exhaustion started settling in, so obviously I started making jokes.
“Does this man I can start referring to you as ‘Gay-Boy’ from now on?” I asked.
“Only if it’s between us,” he replied through laughs, “Not everyone knows yet!”
We were laughing for at least another 45minutes until we cried, and the atmosphere changed a little bit.
“I don’t think I have ever laughed at myself this much,” G-Boy said after our long laughing fit.
“Well I’m glad I could help,” I said.
And that’s all I could say. It was 4o’clock in the morning at this point, and I was beyond tired. However, I couldn’t help but think how happy I was about how this entire situation unfolded.
I got him to laugh at himself for having put so much stock into “coming out.” It wasn’t that big of a deal. I felt like I had reminded him that all-in-all… He was still human. And there was nothing wrong with that.
That’s what makes me happiest. Helping others to laugh at themselves for taking things in life too seriously, and discovering themselves.

Personal Narrative-Alarming_Refined

It’s the incessant needy “BEEEP,” or maybe it’s a song I once really liked, but have now grown a hatred towards. Some days it’s my roommate getting ready to go workout, a bad dream, some times I’m not even sure what it was… But it’s what wakes me up from my magnificent slumber that really irks me.
This particular morning I woke up to my first alarm, which was set to 6:45am. I had some homework I wanted to finish up before my class at 9:15am. I looked at my alarm, and then at the comfortable bed in which I lay.
The bed won. I went back to sleep until my snooze went off 7minutes later at 6:52am. I hit the snooze again and dozed off back to sleep. I woke up somewhere around 7am to my second alarm. I decided to set an entirely new alarm for 7:25am. I fell back to sleep.
I woke up to this third set alarm, and began my homework.
I was in my bed typing away, really getting into my writing when my roommate walked in to the room. She had gotten up early to workout, and had just gotten out of the shower. She had 8am class.
“What time is it?” she asked.
I looked to the clock in the upper right hand corner of my laptop.
“7:53,” I answered.
She rushed around to change, apply some make-up, and had barely enough time to add some finishing touches to her hair.
I continued with my writing until about 8:30am. I figured it was about time I start to get ready for class. I walk out of my room into the hallway where I see another one of my apartment-mate’s door is open. I peer inside to see her sitting on her futon.
“What time is it?” she asks.
“8:30,” I reply.
“What time do you have class?” she asks.
“9:15,” I respond.
I think she just wanted to know what my plans were for that morning, I don’t think she had class until 10:30am or so… But she did say something about having to study for a test and finishing up a paper.
I figure I have 40ish minutes to get ready, and that’s if I want to be in class “almost” on time.
I’m never on time.
I know that seems disrespectful, and trust me, I try, but I just feel like I never have enough time. I’m always trying to finish something up, putting some perfecting finishing touches on a paper, or my hair.
I got to class at 9:16am, improvement from the past couple of times that I’ve actually been 5minutes late or more.
We talk about what seems like a bunch of random things, but they all pertain to our class in someway. My thoughts start to drift off. I begin making a mental list of things I need to accomplish later in the day, then for the rest of this week.
I look at the clock on my computer screen, it’s 9:58am. We still have 22minutes.
I join back in on the conversation.
I start stressing even more.
We’re talking about two stories we’ve recently had due, neither of which I’ve turned in quite yet. I felt like I haven’t had enough time to spend on them. That I haven’t put together enough information for them to be complete.
It’s 10:20am, I pack up my things and leave the class.
I need to hang up some posters I made. I told the people I would have them hung up last week.
I won’t be going into work today. Not after that class.
I’m stressed out. And there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all the things I want to accomplish.

Time is my enemy, but I want… No, I need more of it.

Personal Narrative-Alarming

It’s the incessant needy “BEEEP,” or maybe it’s a song I once really liked, but have now grown a hatred towards. Some days it’s my roommate getting ready to go workout, a bad dream, some times I’m not even sure what it was… But it’s what wakes me up from my magnificent slumber that really irks me.
I set three alarms a night because I’m afraid I’ll sleep through all of them. I end up hitting snooze anywhere from 3 to 10 times a morning. I’ve set alarms for 6:45am, me and my wishful thinking. I’ll then proceed to hit the snooze until 7:45am, maybe even 8am.
It sets the tone to my day.
Every thing being timed.
Be on time. Don’t be late. Allow enough time for this or that.
Time. Time. Time.
I never feel like I have enough to accomplish the things I want to in a day. I end up spreading myself thin, wanting to do so much, and then not allowing myself to do any of those things to the best of my ability. I allow enough “time” to just get each thing done, but it’s never enough.
I want to surpass expectations and be better than “good enough.”
Time is my enemy, but I want more of it.


Charles Bass is like a carefully wrapped present at a 12yr olds’ birthday party. The present that sticks out from all the rest because it’s in a box the size of a refrigerator. The 12yr old obviously saves it for last, but the entire time is just wondering in the back of their head… “What could this large box possibly contain inside of it?” The 12yr old reaches this gift. She peals back the wrapping paper. She opens the box. She FINDS… Another carefully wrapped box.
This is the life of Charles Bass.
Setting up a meeting time to interview Bass was a task within itself. The 20yr old college student is a busy one this semester with a full load of credits, participating in clubs, and having a leadership role in several of the said clubs.
I got the interview however, and after sitting down with Bass to peal back the first essential layers, I realized he wasn’t going to make this easy.
He has shorter brown hair, a kept beard that extends to his neck, black framed glasses, and can typically be seen wearing a turtle neck or sweater, especially this time of year. Bass has a “hipster-esque” style, that can lead anyone to be curious to know what is inside this carefully wrapped refrigerator sized box that stands out among his fellow undergraduate classmates.
I liken Bass to this box, but that’s a little misleading. He’s actually not that large at all. Bass is about average height and has a thin frame with little to no muscle mass. He refuses to work out, but still manages somehow to stay that thin.
However, this is just what a person perceives by looking at him. This is where the curiosity first roots, and from here only builds.
“I don’t like this postmodern attitude that what I broadcast, or even what I assert, is the absolute of my being,” says Bass when asked how he would “like” others to view him. “While I accept the right of someone to assert their identity in this way, I think that it’s limiting to pigeonhole myself in the same way it’s limiting for us to pigeonhole other people. I can learn things from the way other people view me and no matter what they project on to me, it has nothing to do with who I really am.”
Bass responds to my questions with vague generalities that only lead me to more questions. People are so curious to know his thoughts on issues, and to know what is in his core that makes him tick.
“I’m not some special person with a special mission. My goal is the same as the goal of any other randomly selected person. If I’m alright and you’re alright and everyone else I meet is alright, then I guess I’ve done a pretty good job,” says Bass.
If I haven’t already mentioned, Bass is beyond any intelligence I have ever come across. He knows people want to know more about him and the way he thinks, but he doesn’t make it easy.
“I don’t know what I’m doing. If it looks like I know what I’m doing, it’s a clever façade,” says Bass in his “About” section on Facebook. “I’m going to school to get a degree. If I once knew why I was doing this, I’ve now forgotten. But I’m going to school for free, so I suppose I might as well keep at it. It’s something to do.
I did some stuff at one point and it was pretty swell, but now I’m out of that phase. Now I mostly just think about doing stuff. It isn’t exactly as swell, but it’s a lot less work.”
In the same way you’re trying to figure him out, he’s trying to help you figure yourself out, and where you stand on the issues… Not just himself.
“Come and talk to me. I’m serious about that. I’d welcome the intrusion. At any given point of any given day, I’m probably pretty bored and could use some conversation,” says Bass.
If questions aren’t worded just right, you’ll find him going off in a completely different direction than you intended.

Election Day Rant-Chew On This

I exercised my “right” to vote this year, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. I voted early, so all that Election Day really meant to me was a day free from the restraint of a classroom.

Obama, Romney… Who else was running in the election this year? Not many people can answer that question. I couldn’t even answer that question before I looked it up. Democrat, Republican… Are we still in a democracy when we’re basically only given two options?
Although the candidates “pose” and promise so many actions they will take if elected, do they really have the power to follow through? We have Congress and the House… Is the President really just a figurehead?
What is a lie, and how can you tell when the President and other government officials are telling the truth?

That’s all a lot to take in, I realize. This is the exact reason why I have remained “ignorant” about the entire topic for so long.


 Charles Bass
“Who is that?”
“Oh, that’s him! I see him all the time in the library.”
“He’s really smart isn’t he?”
The three most common answers I get when asking people about the visually and intellectually interesting Charles Bass.
He has shorter brown hair, a kept beard that extends to his neck, black framed glasses, and can typically be seen wearing a turtle neck or sweater, especially this time of year. Bass has a “hipster-esque” style.
“I’m an 80 year old man stuck in a 20 year olds body,” says Bass.
Not too mention, he’s also stuck in a 20 year olds generation. A generation where Apple products rule the technology scene, Bass will choose a PC over a Mac any day, and a phone that claims to be “indestructible” over a smart phone that claims over 100,000 apps. He takes notes on a yellow legal pad in cursive, and reads… for fun. Books like Apocalypse Culture, which he claims is a “gross” and “messed up” book that changed the way he looked at a lot of things in life, and many “classics” that have been long forgotten by other people of Bass’s generation.
Bass values quality.

Scary Story

Dear Reader,
I was asked to write a “scary story.” Some instance in my life when I’ve been afraid for my life… or something along those lines. Given this idea, I began to think of all my near death experiences. I was once dragged under water by a faulty rigged tube in Lake View, IA. I have stepped on rusty nails, accidently cut by knives, stepped on hot coals, severely sprained my wrist… Okay those may not all be near death events, but at the time they felt like it. Right now, I just have a hard time comprehending those to be scary. Then there was the time I had to be taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning, in which case I never really got the opportunity to be “scared.” I was incoherent, people! Did I have anxiety about having to talk to my parents, my coach, and my teammates about what had happened… Yes, but even then I wouldn’t say I was necessarily scared.
What instills a fear in me the most, I think is the idea of losing someone close to me. The first time I had ever gone to a funeral was in the second grade, it was my grandfather on my dad’s side of the family. I wasn’t sad at all at first, I didn’t even cry. That was until I went to the wake.
I saw my grandpa lying in his casket, motionless. He looked peaceful, like he had just dozed off into another famous nap of his. I often came home to him asleep on our couch after school sometimes, so this wasn’t anything new to me.
As I looked around I saw other children my age and younger running around, coloring, playing with blocks, etc. Basically anything to keep an average child distracted. Then, I remember looking to the parents and all other “grown-ups.” They were crying. Why wasn’t I?
People began approaching the casket and paying their respects. I figured this was something I should do as well, although none of the other children were doing it. I asked one of my aunts to go with me.
I walked up to the casket.
Not a tear was shed.
I stared at his face.
Still nothing.
I put the picture that I colored for him in the casket.
Why wasn’t I crying?
Then I grabbed my grandfather’s hand, like I used to do when we would visit him at his house. Why was he so cold? I jolted backward, and that’s when the tears started.
I asked my aunt what it meant to be dead? I asked her to explain what grandpa was going through, and why we were all there?
It was in this moment I realized what “death” really meant.
As a second grader, this was the scariest thing in the entire world.
I ran away from the casket and hid in a back room. I came to terms with what was going on, and I think that it was at this point I chose to grow up a little. I started questioning everything I had ever heard about death.
Was there a really a star added to the sky every time someone died?
Would my grandfather be reborn as something or someone else?
Was there a heaven and hell? Which one opened up there doors for my grandfather?
I questioned my faith, something I don’t think many second graders ever do, or should ever face at a young age, but I did it.
I began exploring the ideas of there not being a “God,” and that maybe things just happened… No rhyme or reason.
Not knowing, the future being so unsure… That’s what scares me.