It’s the dread of winter where I am right now, and it’s hitting us pretty badly with -20 deg C temperatures almost every day this week. Of course, this also turns out to be the week that my winter boots start falling apart… if only it were a hole on the side of the shoe, it could be fixed, but nope! It’s in the sole and as far as I know, “unfixable”.
Anyway, so faced with this predicament, I decided to wander into the mall today to do some window shopping and possibly buy myself a new pair of boots. I wandered up and down lengthy aisles, going form one store to another, department stores to boutiques. I can’t remember which store it was where this happened, it was one of those small shoe boutiques like Spring or Town Shoes. You know, the ones with mediocre looking shoes with $100+ price tags. Anyway, so the signs all saying “30%” so I decide to peek in. As I’m walking into the store, I notice two girls (presumably employees from their standard “tights are pants and we wear black all the time” uniform) standing near the entrance, engaged in an agitated “conversation”. It was basically one of the girls, holding a bottle of vitamin water, loudly complaining about all the work she’s had to do. In front of her stands what looks like either her junior or recently employed clueless person, looking terrified as the first girl berates her, going on and on about how she should’ve done “this and that”, all which had somehow piled up and resulted in girl #1 having to do “disgusting work”. Like you know, the stuff she gets paid for but is obviously well below her? Yeah, that stuff.
By this time, I’m so annoyed by these two girls having it out right there in the tiny entrance to this obviously over-priced and under-stocked (in shoes, not bitchy workers) that I’ve lost all interest in their merchandise. I would’ve left then, were it not for the obviously terrified and helpless expression on girl #2’s face. Now, you have to understand, these kinds of stores, more often than not, hire only pretty people. And this girl was just that. Easily 5’10, girl #2 was a honey blonde with a slim build and slim thighs that fit perfectly in her tna leggings and straight hair with nary a stray. People generally associate beauty with confidence, so one would assume that girl #2, with all the blessings of a modern day Barbie would be giving girl #1 stink eye, perhaps even outright ignoring her, but NOPE! Instead, girl #2 stands like a deer caught in the headlights, letting girl #1 walk all over her. When her rant is finally paused by the need to sip her drink, girl #2 finally squeaks out:
I know what you mean… that’s just terrible.
I guess that must have satisfied girl #1 because after a bit more bitching and moaning, she stomped out of the store. Now, I’m towards the back, having been watching this whole fiasco from afar with a mixture of amusement and mild disgust. Beside me is another employee (girl #3), who is doing pretty much the same, only with way more amusement. I guess this must be only news for her because the minute girl #2 re-enters the mothership that is the check out desk, this conversation takes place:
Girl #3: I hate her.
Girl #2: *still looking a little off her horse* Um… I think she’s like kind of fake, but that’s like… totally cool with me.
Me: (in my head) so I guess girl #1 must be the head honcho and girl #2 is a recent hire who doesn’t want to fuck up her chances by bitching about her boss behind her back… well played. Maybe girl #3 really doesn’t give a shit about girl #1’s opinions or maybe girl #3 is working with girl #1 to weed out “the weaklings” and “the traitors”. And hence begins a dark conspiracy…
Girl #3: Why? Because you’re fake too? *snicker*
Girl #2: *caught off guard, stumbling over her words* Um no, I’m not fake, I just…
And from then on it dissolved into meaningless talk and I moved away to finally leave the store now that the she-dragon had gone away and left the exit wide open.
As I walked away and continued my search for quality but affordable winter boots, I mused about the pretty girl too afraid to stand up for herself; the bitchy girl who obviously got to the top by bulldozing over everyone else; and the snickering troublemaker who lights all the matches and then sits back to enjoy the show.
And then I realized that these three people were the essential building blocks of any story: the protagonist, the villain, and the antagonist. They’re present in Othello, it’s in Star Wars, and yes, they’re also present in your favourite chick flick.
Art imitates life? In this case, I think so. This encounter could so easily be from some generic chick flick or another. Or if we expand it and make it a little more sinister, it could even exist in some greater, more complex story.
Life is all about perspective, and stories like these are great anecdotes to draw inspiration from and use as sounding boards to start your story from.