Department of Human Resources

“Observations of a Portland People-Watcher”
by Amanda Robinson

Sitting at a table outside my favorite dive bar, a cold can of Pabst in my hand.  I flick the ashes from my American Spirit cigarette and watch people walk by,

Track suits, tiny terriers, tangerine tans- trust fund couple.

Burly, bad hygiene, beer belly, bag of empty cans, body odor, beard- bum.

A stray fleck of ash falls onto my meticulously worn-out Converse.  I pretend not to care, and order a vegan corndog from the apathetic waitress, who agrees with me that meat is murder.

Glamorous guy, groomed, Gucci shoes- gregarious gay.

Skanky, superficial, short skirts and sandals in September- sorority sisters.

I glance down at the tattoos on my arm as I fiddle with my newest piercing.  My adornments make me unique.  So what if a vast majority of the population of Portland has tattoos and multiple piercings?  Mine are personal and meaningful.

Hemp skirt, hemp necklace, hemp purse, hair in dreadlocks, horn earrings, high as a kite- hippie.

Business suit, briefcase, Bluetooth, bagel-to-go, getting into his black BMW- banker.

These poor, poor clones.  I pity them and I judge them for their willingness to conform.  Thank goodness I am my own person.  No one can define me.  I toss back the rest of my Pabst, snub out my cigarette on the underside of the table and check my reflection in the pub window.  Yep, I still make this look good.

The guy sitting at the next table is gathering his things and stands up to leave.  He has a star tattoo on his forearm, just like me.  Same torn black skinny jeans with the patch on the back pocket too.  At least my American Apparel t-shirt is the perfect degree of faded, while his still looks brand-new.  Well, I’m still unique.  No one can label me.  But I quickly label him:

Sunglasses, staring at me, scrawling on a napkin- stalker psychopath.

He ignores the napkin which has fluttered to the ground behind him.  Not caring to waste the energy to run after him, I condemn him silently for his crime against the environment and toss the offending litter in the nearest recycling bin.  Curiosity soon overcomes indifference, and I pluck the napkin from the top of the heap to read what the creepy stranger had to say about me:

“Cigarettes, Converse, conceited, covered in tattoos, can of Pabst, cynical- classic hipster.”

 

“Emo Emu”

by Aaron Zonka

 

“Ol’ G”
by Talos Virgin

“I’ma sit here for a minute before I do it. I brought this smoke and left my drink in the car. I really am crazy sometimes- this lighter is broke. I got matches. He said I might need ‘um, that mutha fucka… MMM, I like that match smell- NOW look at
that bitch! Every time you sit down, someone stays and stares at’chu.Tha’s hella crazy every fuckin time some racist ass assume you stealin’ an wanna be a good fucking citizen. It’s like when I startmaking food and someone’ll call and wanna buy. “Come on brotha I needthat fo a lick.  HELLO LADY. I need money for food I end up leavecold, when I go make more money. Hmm, I got it though. Shit. I ain’t beggin’-look she movin! She know; but yeah I ain’t beggin, that’s worse, I’m getting mine, bitch. You right to I am stealin’ you fuckin racist bitch, you was right for once in ya life. Look, look, shewalkin on cuz I smiled at her. Fuck you stupid lady. I smile and you loose yo mind, I’ma start pickin this lock, my smoke almost gone, thatlady got me mad. This lock is at the perfect height I can’t believe it-that stupid bitch. I can’t believe she left because I smiled. Fuck you white bitch, poo-putt ass- I see that bitch later I’ma rob ‘er. She don’t like black people ta smile at her. Yeah, I’ma smile all in her face when I got that fuckin money. And she’d be lucky if I rob ‘er to cuz I ain’t one’a them foul niggas that’s gone rape her after. I just want money keep the pussy.  I bet she got a TV at her house.

I almost wanna just go follow her and say fuck this. I am about done with this. I betta make sure so I’m not trying to open
it and it gets stuck: I’ll be hella mad, that’s just my luck to ha’dat shit stick. I’ma palm it while I stand, I don’t want people to see I got a pick wit me. Reach in my pocket and switch it with this key so it’s good. Now I’ll just walk through the store, and go out the backdoor, I got the car right there, I’ll grab the sack, get back, HAH, and get the big payback! I’ma get that track from Joe, that James Brown is soul! Joe sister cute too. That girl-she a fine bitch.

Where is this sack shit?! There. Fuck. Now, head back,the door’s still open, cuz it betta be, I still ain’t seen nobody that works here, fuck ‘um anyway. “Hey ya’ll, I’m the coin collector. I came through the store, hell yeah I work here what’chu think foo?” That’s pretty wild that it looks that way. That’s cuz no one knows about this little twist. Unless I hip ‘um to it they won’t ever know that all this money is right here, and they could take it, easy, if they just knew how ta hit it… damn now I kinda want one of those flat pennies, too. Fuck it, after I put this in the sack and tuck it away I’ma get one. Shit, it’s not like I don’t got change. I’ll give one to Joe sister; make her go out wit me. But first, I’ma go catch up to that stupid lady, and get me some date money. Can’t use quarters on a date –know what, fuck that, yes I can, we can go to the arcade … yeah that’s right … Shit, fuck it, I’ma still go get that lady first.”

OH NO! How will our hero get out of this one?

Will Joe be willing to lend his 45 record of James Brown’s hit single “The Big Payback”?

Are flattened pennies and a trip to the arcade enough to capture the heart of the foxy, Joe’s sister, future wife of our hero?

And, will he ever be able to catch up to “The Stupid Lady”?

Join us next time and find OUT, in his next new adventure: Sa La Vie, Creme de la Creme! or, “Stupid is as Stupid Lady Gets Robbed.”
Behind the Scenes

Son: Wow. So those souvenir machines really do flatten the pennies?

Father: Hmm? Yeah, you pay fifty cents and then you turn the crank and
they put Alcatraz or the bridge or, whatever.

Son: No, I just meant I secretly always thought that the pennies where
already flat like, inside the machine, and they’re making us, pretendwe’re cranking it.

Father: MMM…no.

Son: Ehr. Where did you get that sack, you just had it?

Father: What?

Son: That you put the money in, that bag.

Father: I just had it in the car.

Son: Is that what you used it for? Was that your “robbin’ sack”?

Father: MMM…yeah I guess so; I mean I never really used to think
about it. I was just running around actin’ wild but…yeah I do think
it was some Robin Hood shit. Huh! I was the poor, and then became the
rich. I was Robin and the poor.

Son: Oh. I didn’t know I meant that. I just thought, like, was that
the bag that you used for all crimes? Like “Hey, I got my bag with the
dollar sign on it. Next to my black and white striped overalls. Time
to go…steal from people I don’t know!” That’s funny though a “Robin
Sack”. Merry Men…

Father:…NAW. I had just picked it up from somewhere, and kept it.

Son: I think I might have been joking.

Father: Oh.

Son: Um, it’s funny that you thought the lady was stereotyping you and she happened to be right.

Father: Yeah I can’t stand that racist shit.

Son: Well, it wasn’t technically racist, you ASSUMED she thought that.

Father: Huh, yeah whatever.

Son: Yeaaah…well, I’ma go downstairs.

Father: …MMM. Alright, I’ll holla, son.

Son: Right on Pops.

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