The Smirk of God



Most of Vince O’Shea’s boyhood friends not only had summer jobs, but winter and fall ones as well. Vince was to continue to live the life of Riley well into his teens. He soon began to wonder if the ‘corporate world’ intended to make him pay for his “early life of sloth.”

I didn’t have a job -a real job- for the longest time. I wasn’t lazy, really. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I didn’t do much of anything.

I finally got a part-time job working in a record store.  It was an actual record store. We sold records.

One of my duties was to accost people when the alarm went off. It meant they had stolen something.

I hated doing it. It was embarrassing. I always thought: Why should I be punished? I had not done anything wrong.

And I was also worried the thief would take one look at me and punch me in the face. I was well under 100 pounds.

But they kept pestering me to do this thing. They said everyone else had to do it, so why shouldn’t I?

Fine. The next time the alarm went off I ran out of the store and caught the thief and told him to “accompany me” back to the store. He sort of smirked at me. But at least he didn’t hit me.

I took him back and told my manager that I had “apprehended the thief.” He looked over at the thief and then back at me and then back at the thief. He was in a true state of misbelief.

For a moment I thought maybe I had it all wrong all along. It was the manager and not the thief who was likely to strike me.

“He’s a priest,” he said to me.

“I know he’s a priest,” I said. “I’m not stupid.”

I had a funny feeling he did not agree.

He walked over to the priest. He had his tail firmly.  He told him it was all a misunderstanding. He could leave.

The priest looked over at me and smirked. The Smirk of God, I thought to myself.

The alarm went off once again as the man of cloth left the store.

The manager told me never to apprehend anyone again. He said someone else would take care of it. He meant anyone else but me.

I tried to keep a low profile from then on but it wasn’t easy. It was like I ran the risk of being fired just for being alive. Or for putting too much cream in my coffee. Or for choosing ‘druggie music’ when it was my turn to pick the in-house music.

It was getting close to Christmas and I asked if I could have some time off to shop. The manager said he would get back to me.

The next day he told me that he had some good news and some bad news. He said the good news was that he was going to give me time off to shop before Christmas. In fact he was going to give me loads of time to shop because he were firing me. At the end of that very shift.

I asked him if he was going to tell me the bad news before I finished my shift.

He did not reply.

Later that day I handed the cute cashier an album along with two dollars and asked her to play one of the songs in-house. I didn’t think she would. It was late afternoon and the store was busy and they only played happy music for that crowd.

She refused. She said my “name was mud.”

Fine. I resealed the album and put it back on the shelf.

It was “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” Too bad. I would have been home and in bed long before the song had even ended.

© 2016 James Porteous

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