Nothing is more tragic than forcing a privileged seventeen year old to experience working life. The shock can be fatal. Digging through my computer, in a folder labelled “Creativo,” I found a word document from 2003. In this document I detail the horrors of my first job. I was forced to sell candy to tourists on the Santa Cruz wharf! But was I selling candy or a piece of my soul? I remember thinking it was particularly significant that they called the boss “the Candy Man.” Also, I was apparently sexually frustrated and fond of the word “hunger.” There were fantasies about some bad boy fisherman, but they were too embarrassing to include. Everything is as I wrote it, at seventeen.
“Hello.” “Have a nice day.” “No, thank you.” “out of twenty.” “Sixty eight cents is your change.” “would you like a bag.” “Can I help you.” “Does anybody need help?” “I can help the next person in line.” “Can I get you anything else?” My voice raises two octaves and I am completely empty. I exit my body and hover. I see myself only as the customer does. Sometimes they don’t even say thank you. My eager perky energy forgotten forever as they disappear out the door. At least that is honesty, then they don’t live the lie of “Hun, can you get me this.” Or “darling, thank you.” At breaks I move quickly along the wharf hungry for fresh vegetables or fruit. I have scurvy. I buy cheap and walk fast but there is only tourist food. I am one of them when I eat french fries and corn dogs.
My hands are covered in chocolate ice cream, mysterious black gunk, and caramel syrup. The smell doesn’t wash off and I hunger for somebody to notice that I smell of sweet brown sugar. I search for someone to make me human. My hair hungers to be let loose from it’s perky pony tail. It wants to curl in the salt air and send romantic strands across my face. I want desperately for someone to recognize me: a mermaid.”
A mermaid shouldn’t have to sell candy. It’s just wrong.