As the week wore down to its nub, I figured I could gold-brick a little more than I had been, as they mainly had kept me on for loading the trucks when the warehouse sale was over.
The first morning when we were all eagerly unloading the huge racks of cheap coats (drastically reduced), to sell in the worn and dirty old fairground exhibition hall, I'd noticed I could do the heavy lifting as good as anyone, better than most, as I was still in my 20s, and we were a ragtag group of unemployed, unskilled temp workers. Frail tubercular-looking older men, red-faced alcoholics, and scrunchie-wearing big-haired women who were there to work the registers, as their grocery and drug stores had shuttered when the new Wegman's opened. Everyone desperately wanting to be good at something.
I lingered by the break room on the last day, and ran out of cigarettes. I was thoroughly exhausted, and a little giddy at the prospect of one of the aristocratic-looking bald men--who spent the week locked in a makeshift office where the register drawers were delivered and counted--stacking on my palm a crisp assortment of the first cash I'd seen in at least a month. The police officer who'd been hired to catch shop lifters was in the break room smoking. He had blond John Denver hair and yellow aviator sunglasses. I'd noticed he'd not said a word to anyone all week, and observed the workers just as hawkish as the shoppers. I asked him for a cigarette and he said "How 'bout I just stomp on your chest and save you the trouble?" I just stood there, maybe too tired to laugh or be insulted, maybe I smirked, I don't know, but after an awkward silence, he begrudgingly gave me a cigarette.