I went out with my wife and her coworkers. It wasn’t easy. My wife had pushed me to get out of work early. My boss had agreed to let me out at five instead of six. At four though he called and told me to start compiling a list of emails and physical addresses of all of the DNC state departments as well as those of the members of a group called the Democratic Freedom Caucus. He wanted the addresses so that he could send his petition to them. He wanted it in their hands before the second super tuesday.

He’s the one replacing me at five. I knew that he wouldn’t be on time. He was so concerned with those lists. He’d told me that someone at the DNC had promised to personally show the petition to Debbie Wasserman Schultz. That was making him really nervous. He kept calling to check on my progress, all the way up to the very last minute.

Are you going to be here by five, I asked at around four fifty.

Yeah, if you get me those names, he said.

Being somewhere around Guam, I told him that it was impossible for me to get them all.

He told me to send him what I had and to keep working on it.   

He didn’t arrive until ten after. A customer had walked in sometime shortly before that. He shouldn’t have been my problem. I hadn’t been too concerned about him. Most of the time when a customer comes in I don’t have to do all that much. The customer usually takes care of themselves. Often times I can get a customer out of the shop within five minutes.

I asked the guy what he was looking for and he told me that he’d just broken his one hitter. Easiest thing in the world. We’ve got those right here on the front counter. Right next to the register. Five dollars and you’re on your way.

He tells me that maybe it’s time for an upgrade. Something bigger. A pipe perhaps…

Okay. No big deal. I take him to the table. They’re all marked according to their row.

He fingers through the pipes, picking them up, investigating, asking questions.

Maybe something bigger, he says. Perhaps a water pipe.

That’s where things get complicated. It’s an intensive procedure helping someone pick out a water pipe. They’re all kept behind glass. Most of them cost over a hundred dollars. They’ve got all sorts of different percolators. Some are used for dabbing, some for dry herb, some have stems, some are brand name, etc.

My boss finally shows up as I’m showing them to the guy. He just stands there watching me, knowing that I should have been out of here something like fifteen minutes ago. I’m giving him the stink eye, trying to get him to take over, but he doesn’t.

He says that he’s going to go get a coffee.

I can’t believe it. The nerve of this guy.

I have to keep helping the customer. What choice do I have? He’s having me pull one pipe after another. He’s really scrutinizing, this guy. Totally indecisive.

I’m pushing pushing pieces into his hand, telling him that they’re perfect for him.

My boss returns right as I’m making the sale.

He’s like, didn’t you want to leave?

By this point I just want to finish.

I wrap the pipe and take the guy’s money. My boss starts telling me about his feelings. I’m inching out the door, saying things like, uh huh and that’s crazy.

The door shuts, and I’m outside, finally cut off from my boss. I check my phone. Six missed calls, all from Musette. The plan was to meet at the G, but she’s here now, walking to my work. She’s very upset. We meet up. She chides me on the sidewalk before dragging me to the train. She’s walking really fast and not talking to me. I transition into prisoner mentality. What else am I supposed to do? I’m guilty. I could have tried harder to get my boss to take over the sale. I’m resigned to my punishment. I don’t have to act excited about this dinner. I don’t have to be apologetic. There’s no rule forcing me to do that. I can go through situations cooly if I want to. There may be consequences, but if I can continue acting cool then what’s such a big deal even about those repercussions?

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