Title: Little Grocery Store of Horrors
Pen name: tuesdaymidnight
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or any of the characters. Rated M for language.
To see the rest of the entries in this contest, please visit the FML C2: http://www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/community/FML_Contest_Fics/77195/
Author's Note: This is crack!fic... but based on real life events. A big thank you to the fabulous OnTheTurningAway for previewing this insanity.
The FML prompt is given at the end.
Oh, and the Shelley in this story is Shelley Cope. Can I get a Twi-nerd award for knowing Mrs. Cope's first name?
I couldn't believe I was spending my winter break back in this godforsaken place.
The booming metropolis of Forks, Washington only had one grocery store. When I was in high school, I worked my way up through the ranks. I started corralling shopping carts at the tender age of 14. Then, I moved up to bagger. Once I turned 16 and was legally allowed to sell cigarettes, they put me at register. I spent four years of my life in this stupid store to save up for my shitty Buick and then for college. I missed homecoming dances and basketball games and a lot of potential dates spending my evenings and weekends scanning barcodes, making small talk with the residents of Forks, and keeping myself abreast of town gossip. When I left for college this past August, I thought I was free from this horrible soul-sucking place. But, now that I was on winter break, I knew I shouldn't pass up the opportunity to earn some more dough. The holidays were always busy and they welcomed me back, because I was one less person they had to train.
It was getting closer to Christmas, but the high school kids that worked here weren't on vacation, yet. It was Friday evening and most of the brats had asked for it off, so they could go to the boy's basketball game against Port Angeles High - our biggest rival.
So far, it hadn't been very busy. Of course, as soon as that thought passed my mind, the automatic doors parted and droves of shopping carts emerged from the entry way. I glanced up at the clock and realized it was five. This was the after-work-on-a-pay-day crowd. That meant there would be huge orders to scan and bag with irritable shoppers who just wanted their weekend to start and get home as soon as possible.
Not to mention, it was a week before Christmas, so everyone was stressed out with the approaching holiday. I don't know what it was about Christmas, but the supposed holiday cheer and good will toward men was noticeably absent when people were shopping. For some reason, they had to take out all their stress on the innocent grocery store clerk.
The very first customer of the five o'clock rush had a cart brimming with groceries, including about six dozen cartons of eggs. Even though she was elderly, and I knew for a fact that all little old ladies check their eggs carefully before putting them in the cart, Shelley, the floor manager, was hovering around, and it was store policy for the cashiers to check. So, I proceeded to open the first carton of eggs and inspect them, none of which were cracked, confirming what I already knew. I hurried through the rest of the cartons, but apparently I was going too quickly, because the last one slipped out of my hands and fell to the floor at my feet with a sickening "splat."
"Motherfucker!" I exclaimed, getting egg all over my shoes.
"Edward," Shelley hissed as she turned around from where she was standing, doing nothing.
My face turned red, and I looked up at the customer. Even I felt bad cussing in front of someone's grandmother.
"I'm sorry, ma'am," I started.
Shelley rolled her eyes at me and approached the woman.
"I'm so sorry, Ms. Whitlock. What Edward means is that we'll get you a new carton, on us." She turned to glare at me and said in an excruciatingly slow voice, "Just finish ringing up her order. I'll call the custodian."
She turned back to Ms. Whitlock with a phony smile, "I'll go get you a replacement, dear."
Did she have to talk to me as if I were mentally challenged?
Once that disaster was dealt with, it was like a never-ending stream of shopping carts. No, not a stream, it was more like a deluge.
The biggest order that came through my conveyor belt belonged to a really surly old man buying an abnormally large amount of white bread, ground beef and beer. I rang through it pretty quickly, but there was so much piled at the end of the aisle, I had to help my friend Eric bag. Eric was also a college student returning for the holidays. We had worked together during high school. He had been a cashier before, but they were so short-handed tonight, they were having him bag and get carts.
I tried to lighten the mood a little and tossed a big container of meat into a plastic bag hanging on the holder closest to Eric.
"Two points!" I called, as Eric laughed at me.
Needless to say, the customer wasn't amused. He snarled at me, "Stop being a smartass and do your job! I don't need you throwing my meat around and bruising it. I'm paying for that!"
I tried not to laugh at the phrase "throwing my meat around" and successfully avoided making eye contact with Eric.
When I looked up to see the customer's menacing glare, I swallowed the laughter in my throat. This was exactly the type of guy who would complain to the manager, and I already had Shelley watching me like a hawk after the motherfucking egg incident.
"I'm sorry, sir," I said as meekly as possible. "I really didn't mean to bruise your meat."
I didn't fully realize what I had said until Eric made a stifled snort and bolted from the bagging station. He sprinted over to the customer service desk and ducked behind it. I could hear a muffled guffaw escaping from my now hidden friend.
I just shrugged my shoulders at the man and finished bagging his groceries, silently cursing myself and my big mouth. It seemed like the only time I ever opened it was to put the other foot in. The surly customer glared at me the whole time, but thankfully, he left the store without seeking out a manager to complain to about his bruised meat.
I checked out a few more customers without incident, chatting casually about the upcoming holiday and the meals that they were preparing. A few of the customers recognized me, and I made the obligatory small talk about what I was studying, and graciously received the inevitable comparison to my father, the town surgeon. I had to deal with a couple people, always angry middle-aged women, complaining about the long lines, crowded aisles and high prices; as if it was my fault that their minds were so warped into thinking they had to create the perfect Christmas that their spite came oozing out at every opportunity they had to talk down to a complete stranger. A complete stranger whose line moved at least twice as fast as the other open lanes, thank you very much.
Finally, the crowd had thinned considerably, and I was able to take a second to catch my breath. My feet were starting to ache and my back hurt from standing for so long while bending forward slightly to reach the scanner. Whoever designed these things was not 6'2".
I reached my arms behind my back and leaned forward a little to stretch it out, when I saw a box of tampons coming toward me on the conveyor belt.
I looked up at the buyer of the tampons. Well, fuck me, it was Rosalie Hale. She had been two years ahead of me in school, and I was friends with her younger brother, Jasper. When she still lived at home, I'd often suggest hanging out at his house so I could ogle her. I think he caught on to that fact, but he never said anything, opting instead to make the occasional eye-roll. She was leggy, blond and had just about the nicest set of tits I had ever seen in my life. She was always a mega ice queen to me, though, and pretty much to everyone actually. Even though I loved my girlfriend, Bella, and really preferred brunettes who didn't sneer at me, I couldn't help but drool a little over Rosalie. She was just that fucking hot.
My mouth dried up and I wracked my brain for something clever to say to her.
I was going to ask her how Jasper was doing, but I had already spoken to him earlier today. He had gone to college back in Texas, where he grew up, and we were planning on hanging out later over break. By the murderous gleam in her eye, I guessed that small talk was probably out of the question anyway. Usually, I could get the customer to crack a smile by joking with them about their purchases, but she was buying tampons after all, so I kept my mouth shut.
I told her the amount, and she swiped a card.
"Credit or debit?" I asked.
"Debit," she snapped back, tossing her long blond locks over her shoulder.
Yes, Rosalie, you're still gorgeous, but you're also still a raging bitch.
I pressed the correct button and waited as she entered her PIN.
"Well, have a nice flow," I blurted out as I handed her the receipt.
"Excuse me?" She turned with a raised eyebrow to me.
"Shit!" I said out loud. I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks. "Uh... I meant 'Have a nice night.'"
Rosalie just snorted, looked at me like I was a kindergartner, rolled her eyes and stalked out of the store.
I knew that she was going to tell Jasper about this, and probably her boyfriend Emmett, whose family was friends with mine. Fan-fucking-tastic. I was never going to hear the end of this.
I was still bemoaning my slip of the tongue when I heard my name.
"Edward," Shelley's voice sliced through the embarrassed silence. "Could you take your break now and meet me in my office?"
Great, some break.
I trudged behind her passed the customer service desk and up the stairs to where the offices were located. She sat down behind the desk that the floor managers shared and gestured at me to sit down.
"Edward, this is the second time I've had to correct your language on the clock today. I'm going to have to write you up."
This is the place where an ounce of dazzling charm would come in handy. Of course, being me, I had none.
"But, I don't even really work here anymore!" I blurted out the first asinine thing that popped into my head.
"Then what are we paying you for?"
"Sorry, er, you know what I mean. Do you really have to write me up? I'm only here for a month."
I knew I wasn't really in any danger of losing my job, and anyway, with any luck I'd get an internship or something this summer, so I wouldn't have to come back to this hellhole. But, with too many write-ups I could lose the Christmas bonus. Part of the reason why I returned was because Mr. Banner, the store manager, had told me that I would eligible for it. He liked me. I wasn't sure what crawled up Shelley's ass and died. The bonus wasn't very big, but it was the principle of the thing. If I was going to work for next to minimum wage, I was damn well going to get that extra $50.
"I'm afraid I do, Edward. I'm sorry, but you're older than a lot of the other cashiers, and I need you to be exemplary. I know you have a good work ethic, but if my other employees think that they can get away with bad language, then they'll act out."
She wasn't sorry at all. She was just bitter that I was getting out of this town, and she was one of three floor managers at the local grocery store and went home to a brood of screaming kids every night.
"So, you're just doing this to make an example out of me?" I asked, failing to keep my annoyance at bay.
I managed to bite my tongue on pointing out that none of the "younger" employees were even working tonight. Of course, I'm sure they'd hear about my write-up through the idiotic gossip network that ran through this store.
"Well, yes," she smiled sweetly. "It is a rule in the handbook, Edward."
"Fine," I hissed, admitting defeat, careful not to let my mouth get me in trouble again.
"Now, get back on the floor, your break's over."
"But- but-" I sputtered, the lines from the employee handbook that indicated all employees working longer than four hours got at least two ten-minute breaks sat unsaid in my throat. It was probably for the best anyway, being a smartass would have inevitably gotten me in more trouble.
I trudged back out to the floor to endure the next three hours of my shift.
There was a fairly steady trickle of customers, but once the major rush was over, Shelley made Eric do more grunt work; so, he wasn't there to talk to during down time.
I had just finished checking out my second grade teacher, who I thought was going to pinch my cheeks, when I heard a high-pitched squeal resonating through the front of the store. I turned to see Shelley rushing toward some woman holding a toddler at her hip, and then enveloping her in a hug.
I was sure that I had seen the woman before around town, so it wasn't as if they were long lost sisters or something. Yet, for the next ten minutes, I had to try and drown out the high-pitched squawking happening ten yards from me. Try as I might, I couldn't block out the talk of children with the flu, projectile vomiting and waiting at the doctor's office. Eventually, it dulled into an annoying buzz, and I checked out another customer.
That's when I heard Shelley's voice ring out, "Well, shit!" she exclaimed, then dissolved into a girly giggle.
I stopped my work and turned to glare at her. Not only was she talking to one of her friends when she was on the clock, but she just used the same word I did that got me written up. She met my eyes and motioned for me to turn around at get back to work.
"Bitch," I muttered under my breath.
The customer I was checking out thankfully just chuckled.
A couple minutes later, when her friend finally decided that she needed to get her grocery shopping done, Shelley came up to me.
"I'm taking my meal break now," she informed me. "You're in charge now, Edward, until I get back."
She handed me the register keys and tottered off, probably to go out and have a cigarette. Her passive aggressive bossing style was giving me whiplash. Did she think that giving me the keys would make me not complain to Mr. Banner about my write-up after I just overheard her committing the same offense?
I was interrupted out of my internal rant by a man who looked exactly like Michael Moore.
He set a few items down for me to ring up. Then, he handed me a bag of pre-packaged frozen salmon.
"Do you know if this salmon is farm-raised or wild-caught?"
"Uh, that's not really my department, sir. I'm just a cashier."
"Well, there's no one in the meat department to ask," he said in a nasally voice that really did sound like Michael Moore.
I picked up the package and turned it over to read the label. Couldn't he have done this himself?
"Well, it says here that it's freshly caught."
"But, that could mean either farm-raised or wild-caught."
"Oh, yeah, I guess it does," I gave a nervous chuckle.
"Well, where does it come from? Is it actually from Alaska or is it caught in China and shipped over here frozen?"
"Uh... I don't know."
I pretended to scrutinize the package more, as if it would be helpful.
"Well, it claims that it's from Alaska..." I started.
"You can't believe the packaging! Do you know who your distributor is?"
"I'm not in charge of the order, sir." I couldn't hide the exasperation much longer. "Does the distributor really matter?"
"I just want to know where my seafood comes from," he snapped.
"I'm really not sure I can tell you any more about the fish, sir. We've reached my limits of knowledge, here."
"But, you haven't answered my questions!"
"Well, uh, I can get the floor manager for you?" The words came out as a question.
"Please do," he said, crossing his arms.
I turned my head to the side, looking for Shelley, when I remembered that she had gone on break.
I turned back to face the customer and grinned.
"For the time being, you're looking at him. How can I help you?" I said, trying to sound apologetic and failing miserably.
"Just forget it!" he said and thrust some bills at me to pay for the rest of his groceries.
After all that and he didn't even get the damn fish!
The next hour passed by painstakingly slowly.
Even after Shelley had returned to the floor and I relinquished the keys, I had given up any pretenses of doing the busywork tasks we were supposed to do between customers, like cleaning and sanitizing our conveyor belt, making sure we were stocked with enough bags, and refilling the cigarettes. Instead, I was doodling on a pad of paper that one of the other cashiers had left behind under the register.
I was working on a cartoon of Shelley getting her hair caught in the conveyor, when a group of high school students, decked out in Forks High colors burst through the front doors, hooting and hollering in an apparent celebration of a Forks' victory. I recognized them all as being in the class two below my own. Apparently they recognized me, too, because they by-passed the grocery section entirely and headed toward my lane.
Great, this was going to be awkward.
"Can I get a pack of Marlboro Lights?" a brat whose name I couldn't remember boldly asked.
"Dude, I know you're not 18."
"Come on, Edward. You know me," the brat whined.
"Yeah, and that's how I know it's illegal for me to sell you cigarettes."
What a fucking idiot.
"It's just a pack of smokes. It's not like I'm asking you to buy me beer."
"My boss is standing right over there," I justified, not mentioning that even if she weren't, I still wouldn't sell the jerk-off cigarettes, or that I was, in fact, too young to buy him beer.
"You used to be cool, man. I guess college changes people," he huffed, as if I cared.
"Edward's always been a goody-goody," one of his douchebag friends chimed in.
"Yes, I've always been a goody-goody. I get off on trying to prevent the store from getting a fine, me from getting fired and you from getting lung cancer. Now, unless you're buying something, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"Whatever, man," the brat said. "Come on," he gestured to the douchebag twins.
I looked up, but Shelley hadn't paid attention to the interaction.
Finally, a bit of luck.
I took the opportunity to lean against my register, facing the clock at the customer service desk, counting each tick of the second hand. One time I swear I saw it tick in the reverse direction.
Eventually 30 minutes became 15, and Shelley let me go count my till. I went to the office and counted it as quickly as possible, weighing out the coins and bills and filling a bag with my take for the evening. I sealed the bag and put it in the safe.
I asked Shelley if there was anything else I needed to do, but she said "no" and that I could clock out.
Finally, I was free! Free at last!
I nearly skipped to my car in the back of the parking lot. The horrible night I had at work was about to be erased by the fact that Bella's dad was out of town for the weekend and my parents didn't know.
I broke any and all traffic laws I could in making my way to the Swan's house, barely throwing my car in park before I leaped out of it, braced myself against the cold and ran up to the front door. I rang the door bell, but the door swung open a split second later, and I knew that Bells had been waiting for me.
"How was..." she started to say.
"Don't even ask," I groaned, cutting her off. I threw my arms around her waist and began to plant sloppy wet kisses up her neck.
She giggled as I continued my playful assault on her, moving her into the living room and tackling her onto the well-worn sofa.
We made out awhile until I couldn't take it anymore and began to let my hands roam over her body. My fingers were about to slide deftly under the waistband of her jeans, when she sat up abruptly, knocking her forehead into my nose.
"Dammit," I cried out, grabbing my nose.
"Oh, Edward, I'm so sorry!" Bella looked horrified, which was not a good sign for me getting laid, so I tried to ignore how much it fucking hurt.
"Can I get you some ice?"
"No, no, it's fine, love. It'll go away in a second."
I leaned down to kiss her, hoping that she didn't notice me wince when my nose brushed against hers. I brushed my lips lightly against hers, reassuring her that all was well. Then, I let my hands drift back down to her waist.
Again, she started to shrink away from me. I pulled back and looked at her.
"Not tonight, Edward,"she said, shaking her head.
A rush of neurotic thoughts bombarded my mind. We never got to spend any time together over break, and I was craving her body. Between working, her dad taking extra time off to spend with his "little girl" and all the family crap my parents were making me do, I hadn't gotten any play since we got back to Forks. I felt like we were back in high school. Even though we started dating junior year, it took forever for our physical relationship to progress in any way. With the frantic rush at the end of the semester with papers and finals, we had only had sex, like, twice in the past two weeks. Now we finally had the chance, and she was pulling away from me? What the fuck?
"What? Why?" I sputtered.
"I started my period today."
Today, at work I was ringing up some tampons for a woman, and I try to interact with the shoppers as much as possible. I was trying to think of something witty or funny to say but drew a blank, so I decided just to say "have a nice night." What I actually said was "have a nice flow". FML.