Just over a mile away from my apartment is the largest and most bewildering nest of genetic rejects and bizarre societal castoffs that you can imagine. It's a grocery store, as unassuming as any other with a bright sign reading "Dominick's" outside. One of a chain - a quite decent chain I might add - this particular establishment contains the knotted cyst between the shoulder blades of Chicago. To say that the management has employed some dubious people as cashiers, baggers, and customer service representatives would be to dramatically understate the situation. The management hasn't hired these people; it has willingly infested its store with them. I've seen opium dens in 19th century Hong Kong with fewer suspicious characters than this particular grocery store.
First off let me tell you a little something. Nothing is more ominous than darkness in a grocery store and this place has a spot that separates the produce from the rest of the store and is in nearly total darkness. The reason for this is that it's adjacent to the bakery, which closes in the afternoons and turns off its lights. It's too bad that those are the only lights in that area! Enjoy your journey through the haunted supermarket the management has created with its apathy.
This shadowy thoroughfare would be merely a footnote if it weren't for the fact that I am constantly waiting for one of the miscreants who works at the store to leap out at me and try to eat parts of my body that I prefer remain uneaten. And what a cast of characters it is that could be lurking behind every display of cookie dough flavored cookies from Nabisco!
Like Megatron on an Energon bender, the Meth Maven is a hyperactive, chatty, and rough-edged leader of the pack. She's in her early fifties I would say, with a pale face that looks like it's seen the roughest half of a century since that meteor that wiped out dinosaurs hit. She has several crude tattoos of the ink pen variety that lead me to believe she spent a good chunk of time in prison, possibly for crimes related to either methamphetamine or being an annoying cunt. When the Meth Maven rings up your groceries you can be sure she will rattle off bizarre comments and suggestions about every fifth item or so.
"Dial Soap, you can whittle this down to a shiv and then it dissolves in the shower drain."Other than being hyperactive and intrusive the Meth Maven's favorite past time is screaming about her bagger. No less than three times when I was waiting in line she went absolutely crazy because her "bagger run off again". What a surprise you crazy harpy! I would bury myself in cesium to shirk my duty as your bagger.
"Count Chocula, huh? I had a boyfriend named Baron Custard but he didn't look like this guy that much."
"Strawberry jelly looks almost exactly like what a heroin junkie pukes up during an overdose."
"Wow, ten pack of Sudafed. I love this stuff! Did you know you can cook it down and mix it up with some acid and stuff and it will really pep you up not that I would know or anything because I have a court order it's you know part of my parole that says I can't buy Sudafed anymore hey I don't even know if I'm allowed to touch this hahaha just kidding it ain't like that."
What's scarier than a seven foot tall stone-silent Latino man? A seven foot tall stone-silent Latino man with a full face of shotgun whorepaint and stiletto heels that click on cheap linoleum like teeth rattling in an old skull.
The Dominick's version of Ru Paul is quite possibly the most terrifying thing I've ever encountered. I can understand that freakishly tall and introverted minorities need employment as much as the next person, but is it really necessary to let them dress as women when they come to work? Apparently so, because nothing other than legal precedent could explain the wig-shaped shadow that covers the entire checkout lane. Ru Paul doesn't seem to care that people stare at him. In fact he doesn't seem to care about much of anything, he just sort of gazes off into the distance into some special imaginary world where a Paul Bunyon-sized Madonna impersonator is writhing on his leopard-print comforter.
Ru Paul is so detached from what's going on around him that I almost feel tempted to prod him or drop a jar of olives on his feet just to see if I could prompt a reaction. Almost. There's the fact that he can turn my chest into a fine red mist with a backhanded slap that is kind of holding me back.
The only things extraordinary about Trisomy Tina are her giant forehead and her inability to grasp the concept of moving things over flashy red thing to make beep-beep. While she doesn't exhibit any of the normal traits of retardation the evidence is all there in the inept way she does her chimp-simple job as well as the blank expression fixed on her features. We tried to buy a gift card for some store in her lane one time and she was unable to scan it properly. Perhaps that wasn't her mistake, although she repeated the scanning difficulty shtick enough times that I'm willing to pin it on her too.
What really exacerbated the situation was when Meth Maven caught wind of a snafu on her watch and rushed over blabbering about mainlining gift cards to see god or something. She then rushed off faster than we could scream "no, forget it!" and returned with all 100 gift cards for that store hanging on the rack. If there is a channel on the radio between two static channels that is like a super static channel then the absolute blankness rolling off Trisomy Tina like fog at that point was 99.999 FM.
Luckily I chose that moment to be brave and risk a shiv wound from Meth Maven to interject and dismiss the gift card avalanche. Trisomy Tina thanked me for settling the situation by shuffling dully forward and failing to correctly scan the next six items.
The Sob Story
The Sob Story is the most depressing fucking person on the face of the earth. I have seen episodes of Maury about 300 pound five year olds that were less depressing than this guy. He's almost completely blind, and I don't mean that in the exaggerating sense, I mean that in the "he has huge thick glasses and holds items less than two inches from his face" sense. The Sob Story's skin is so pasty and lumpy that the guy looks like he came out of a tube of Elmer's Glue and ran away from a giant piece of red construction paper. He stutters when he talks and he becomes painfully upset at the slightest problem, going red in the face and getting all sweaty.
When we first encountered The Sob Story he was our cashier. He would pick up each item from the conveyor belt, hold it two inches away from his face to see where the barcode was and then attempt to scan it. When he encountered a problem ringing up one of the items we had purchased he started getting all flustered, like I might start screaming and punch him in the face or something. There was also a sort of pathetic madness to him, an intensity in his eyes and mannerisms that suggested he hated everything he came into contact with including himself. I just wanted to say something to reassure the guy or maybe even give him a hug, but of course I was afraid that pieces of his gelatinous skin might adhere to me and pull free from his body.
The Sob Story could not interact normally with a human being. He whispered sharply and jerked his head around like one of the puppets on Thunderbirds. Every instant waiting for a hideous harpy-like floor manager to come yell at him for being a gluebody fuckup was an eternity of torture.
Probably the most depressing thing about The Sob Story is imagining him trying to live a normal life the way he looked and acted. My mind has a way of betraying me like that. It forced me to see this sack of near-blind kindergarten glue with the self-esteem of rat turds on a date with a gorgeous blond woman.The Sob Story: (holds face two inches away from date and then speaks in a whisper) You look very evenly colored tonight.Then he would stand there for half an hour with a clump of weeds he thinks is a bouquet of roses, holding it up to a street lamp, praying for it to love him. I swear to fucking god if I see that guy again I am going to have to hang myself.
Miss Pretty: And, umm, your skin looks especially damp.
The Sob Story: Th-th-thanks, I… (shifts head around and then stares at a street light he thinks is his date) would you like to go to Taco Bell now?
Miss Pretty: (backing slowly towards her car)
The Sob Story: I-I-I got you a flower.
The cast of characters at this grocery store is pretty close to a parody of a super villain's entourage. There's still a little room for improvement there, so allow me to make a few hiring suggestions for the human resources idiots at Dominick's in the future.
A talking carnivorous plant.
A man with a face composed entirely of boils.
A 10 gallon pickle bucket full of live rats.
A severe burn victim hooked up to a breathing machine who communicates by ringing a hand bell.
A huge melting block of ice with unshielded high voltage cables frozen inside it.
A log covered with honey and surrounded by wasps.
A woman who gets badly beaten by her drunken husband just before coming into work and has a bloody nose and mouth. Halfway through ringing up your groceries her hulking husband would charge in and starts screaming at her.
A man who insists on playing Russian Roulette while he's ringing up your groceries, spinning the cylinder and pulling the trigger with each item he rings up while looking at you accusingly.
A man who looks and dresses like Hitler and speaks only in shouted German phrases complete with wild gesticulations.
A sobbing old woman whose teardrops keep falling on everything you're buying. If you say anything to her she abruptly stops crying, looks up at you, and squirts blood out of her eyes like a desert toad.
A broken jukebox stolen from the Waffle House that keeps playing the Waffle House theme songs at maximum volume.
The horrors of this particular Dominick's are not to be underestimated, but damn, their produce is really good.
Big Red is Coming For You
Hey folks, Taylor "Psychosis" Bell checking in with an all-new Rom Pit Review! I took time out of my busy day, which involved a heated game of three-puck air hockey and a fairly violent collision with a concrete barrier after sliding off the on-ramp to I-90, to indulge in a terrible game based on a terrible movie based on a terrible premise based on a terrible sci-fi cliche. I am of course speaking about The Lawnmower Man, a cinematic meltdown matched only by Waterworld.
The main game is a remarkably bad platformer that requires you to run through the street firing a weird blue frisbee launcher and picking up data discs that fall out of trash cans. In a role reversal that’s great news to pretty much everybody but you, the enemies all take several hits to kill but a single hit causes you to transform into a clump of white pixels that float away like flakes of dandruff. Occasionally you will find a trash can on the ground and you will have to shoot them and collect all the AOL trial CDs that fall out, at which point Jobe will appear at the bottom of the screen and start making faces at you. Every now and then you’ll run into a gateway to Virtual Reality represented by a floating “Access Denied” sign, but don’t worry, you can just shoot the gateway a bunch of times and it will bow to your gun’s code-cracking skills and open.
I'm just gonna leave the review right here, you'll know what to do with it. Don't break it.
The first phase of The Olive Garden's cyber rollout will introduce their Neverending Pneumatic Pasta Tube. This works on the same principal as bank drive-thru deposit tubes, but with unfrozen linguini and spaghetti.
Do you remember the crazy clothes and hair of the 1990s? Do you remember Crystal Pepsi and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Do you remember where you hid the box your mother gave you?
It's still okay to like Ben Stiller, guys.
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.