Thursday, September 13, 2012

Challenge accepted!

My first real job after I was old enough to get off the farm and away from chopping cotton and picking okra was sacking groceries at a Safeway store in Dallas. I sacked groceries and racked coke bottles and mopped the floor at the end of the night.
This was before the electric eye doors that whoosh to one side. The ones that let a person walk in and out without fear of death or dismemberment.
What we had then were pivot doors that swung to the inside. The opening mechanism was engaged by your weight depressing a lever underneath a plastic mat in a metal frame laying flat with the sidewalk. What passed for a safety precaution was a lever under a mat on the inside. If any one stood there, the weight of them deactivated the primary lever on the outside.
 It worked well enough. The prevailing thought was that if you were stupid enough to stand next to a door that could suddenly open up and whack the bejesus out of you, you get whatever you got.
They were hard to activate. You had to really be centered well and be deliberate about where you stepped.
It took thirty five to forty pounds to work this contraption.
Which is to say that most toddlers couldn't.
About once a week I would watch some kid at the check stand veer away from his mother.
The woman with the lucky strike dangling from her mouth, kiting a check.
Her kid would bang around the check-stands like a pin ball, before ricocheting towards the doors and getting hemmed in like some addled dolphin beaching its self at Cape Cod.
Some customer would walk up.
See the kid.
Stop for the kid.
Wring hands and gnash teeth.
Someone should do something!
Some body should just DO SOMETHING! about this horror that is about to unfold.
It's too bad that this some body won't be me.
They would hang their foot in the air like the karate kid, then step on the mat.
Schwing goes the door!
Whacks the kid in his head
And all hell break's loose.
The kid was never any worse for wear.
But to hear him/her you would have thought they just got the news that Santa Claus died.
The mother would jerk the kids arm out it's socket to bring him back to her locus of control.
Apologies and nice nice's were exchanged between the mother and the perp.
And the kid got shoved in the trunk with the groceries.
I always thought this was a sign of the times.
I have always said that my parents treated me and the Sis like luggage.
Just useless appendages that they were waiting for evolution to dispense with.

Now I wonder if this was crazy shopping mothers crossing path's like two air masses of disordered thinking, and the kid just got sucked up in this vortex of dysfunction.
Like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ?

None of this would raise an eyebrow back in the day.


upsi said...

I burst out laughing at the bystander wringing hands, I can just see that righteous judgy concerned look, like well what the fuck is lucky strike over there letting her kid wander into, oh well I'm just gonna watch this unfold. I think too because back in those days society really believed that kids were more rubbery and resilient and imbustable. So oh well the little guy'll be just fine here's a cookie. Loved the images in this post. Luggage.

Anonymous said...

Seems like back in the day lots of adults just thought tragedy befalling children was nature's way of weeding out the gene pool.


upsi said...

And if it didn't kill ya, just toughened you up.

Calibans Sister said...

Ever see that episode of Mad Men where Sally, Don Draper's kid, is playing with the drycleaning bag? She walks up to her mom, who's chatting with a friend, and Sally's covered her head and upper body with the plastic bad. Her Mom gets angry at her for running around bumping furniture. Boy, those were the days. Children were Gumby's with gills, right?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes Mad Men gives me the creeps because it's so right on about how the parents were then. Always smoking and talking on the phone and ignoring the kids. Having their kids go to bed at 7 pm if need be to get rid of them.


q1605 said...

I have to check that show out. It's on ..AMC? A something.
I watched a couple of episodes but was working late every day and never got hooked into it.

vicariousrising said...

Good grief, this sort of thing gets my blood boiling. I'm pretty laid back, but bullies and liars? Stay the fuck out of my vision or I will gladly take you down.