I’m Just A……….

24/11/10 11:03 AM

Here I am, causing a retail store cash register line to back up like a bad toilet—-AGAIN.

There is an art supply store I shop at. I know where everything in the store is located. I know pretty much what to do with over two thirds of what they sell (A pallet knife? Isn’t this a TSA banned item? Well pat me down! Scan me on the busiest travel day of the year—-in a suit of medieval armor). Every time I shop at this particular art supply store, they offer me a job.

My shopping carts (plural) looked like those cardboard recycling trucks I see while combing San Francisco streets when I’m shooting night photography. These trucks are massively overloaded, balancing like a strong, yet tender ballerina, on her toes, looking as if she is about to topple over; but she doesn’t. From being associated with the dance world I’ve learned ballerinas may look tender, however they are very strong women. I admire strong women.

 I also admire recycle trucks.


ONE) The underemployed get money from cardboard left by merchants on the curb to be recycled. TWO) The cardboard doesn’t go into landfills. THREE) The byproduct from cardboard recycling eventually comes back to me in the form of a birthday card. I get to have a Hallmark moment. Ahhh.

A win, win, win situation.

People get all “pissy pants” when standing in long lines at cash registers. I once told a person who was hissing, tongue clicking, watch watching, foot thumping, and using the Lord’s name in vain—-“Imaging if this were the Former Soviet Union? Why this could be the ONLY line in Moscow to get BREAD !” I went on to say…” Next stop, the MILK line.  After that, the MEAT line. Oh my goodness! I have to get into the CHEESE line!  One cannot forget EGGS. Back to the MEAT line to get bacon to go with the eggs.”

I could not stop. I think it as after “the ASPARAGUS LINE,” line, the impatient man stormed out of the store. Yet, before leaving, he felt the need to have “the last word.” He told me to do something to myself  that was very, very  naughty. Mr. Bubble, anyone? Someone needs his mouth washed out with soap.

Back to art shopping.

The cashier at the art supply store did NOT get all bent out of shape, like a Gumby doll, regarding the growing line. (Last count, there were 19 people behind me.) She rang in my $350 plus order three different ways. This was so I could take full advantage of coupons I accumulated for being a loyal customer. I enjoy being loyal. One coupon per transaction. So she did three distinct transactions.

I always fill out comment cards. I filled out a very favorable comment card for S (Name withheld for privacy) who rang my order. Praise good work. People often neglect to do so.

Reinforcements were called in. More cash registers opened. The uber long  line “I” helped create dissipated. Only one woman chose to remain in same register line.  Others bolted as if someone opened a bag of chips. Get my drift?

We struck up a conversation. My ultra close friends would say, “Gee, that surprises me, Ben chatting?”

 They can be sardonic—and get away with it .

I do talk to strangers. Strangers are potential friends–unless Ted Bundy or the Craig’s List Killer shopped at art supply stores. 

I spoke to this patient woman who did not run like  Jackie Joyner Kersey when the other cash registers opened for business. This gave her the opportunity to be SECOND in line. Go for the silver! It is that season. Silver and gold. Get it?

Have you noticed that life in the USA is often all about the Olympics? We run. We train for the big moment. We race. We make false starts. We win. We loose. We are in the middle of the pack. We ski off the trail. We stay on the trail. We fly off the ski jump. Wow, do we have to  jump higher these days to be competitive!  We pant. Our lycra suit tears. We fall. We get up. We get heckled. We sweat the small stuff. We collapse at the finish line.

 My new chant is— I’m number 4!    I’m number 4!  Does this give me the aluminum medal?

The kind customer who was next in line inquired about  what I was going to do with all the  art materials in my shopping carts (plural people). I gave her my business card. She exclaimed….You are a photographer! You are an artist!  Her voice then lowered.  She commented, “I guess I can’t afford to hire you to take pictures of my children (or it might have been her grandchildren. Sorry if I am now inadvertently aging y0u. I apologize.) . She then said something that stuck a nerve …………….”I am JUST a secretary.”

I though……”Just a secretary?” That devalues the work of secretaries. I find  secretaries hold corporations together. They are often the pulse of an organization. If it were not for secretaries, who pick  up ringing phones, I would have to listen to despicable music, while placed on hold for long periods of time, as I age like Vermont cheese. 

She laughed. I laughed. For a moment we forgot the Christmas music playing 4 days before turkeys all across America get shoved into ovens. Thanksgiving is also a day when  big men throw small footballs, on large fields, and jump on each other. Ouch. Pass the gravy. Cranberry sauce, anyone? Does anyone else fantasize about a Macy’s cartoon character balloon getting loose—and landing in Uganda? Hello Betty Boop. Welcome to Uganda! I imagine Ugandans uttering, “Who is Betty Boop and where did SHE come from? Did she enter the country legally?”

I value the work of all individuals. From cash register ringer “S,” to workers who comb the streets of San Francisco to recycle cardboard, to secretaries, who are the glue–like the special epoxy I use–who keep their cool when being yelled at by rude callers on the other end the line. Secretaries are often on the “front line” when having  to put “important people” on HOLD—-and Blog-O-Sphere readers, have we noticed lately EVERYONE is IMPORTANT and needs IMMEDIATE attention? (Do I hear an Amen, Reverend Cecil and Janice?)

I am all for job creation. Work build self esteem. Good jobs that pay good wages fuel our economy and creates deficit reduction revenue. Yet we must pay a decent wage to workers to afford to live in America— a country growing more expensive to just ‘get by.” Bring back manufacturing jobs. Stop outsourcing. Hire older/mature workers. I am witnessing ageism is on the rise.

Here is a message to the secretary standing behind me in line on Blue Monday—–contact me. I will do a photo-shoot of your family, and donate the money to charity. I will know you because you will know what I was buying, where we were, and  my latest art/motion picture work.

After all………I’m just an artist.

To my loyal readers of by blog, collectors and admirers of my artwork, and to those who see their lives projected on the silver screen of life—-Happy Thanksgiving.

Brendan Ben Feeney

156 Comments on “I’m Just A……….”

  1. Geophysics Says:

    Great post, BBF. Thanks!

  2. S. Manning Says:

    Thanks. You got it right here.

  3. Pylant Says:

    Real clean website. Regards for this post.

  4. Sosby9 Says:

    Nice post. I love your website.

  5. 12Borstad Says:

    Keep them coming. Thanks

  6. Jim Says:

    Enormously challenging. Bless you. Maintain the hard work.