Thinner #3: Call Waiting


I get a job interview at a teleservice company. I go in the office and they make me talk to a Spanish lady over the phone. I read the script. I ask for her money.

“Yes. Okay.”

The manager and the person training me clap their hands. They’re cheering me on. I am the hero of the day.

They hire me on the spot. They ask if I can work today, now, until 6 pm. Their question stuns me like they hit me with a brick. This is unknown territory. Responsibility. People expecting things… from me.

Sure, I say.

They throw me into a cubicle and slam a headset on me. The calls start, one after another. I use a computer to connect each call.


“Hello, CVS pharmacy.”

I blink three times. Then I hang up. I hit “next call.”

“Hello, CVS pharmacy.”

I hang up. I call and hang up on CVS for the rest of the day.


Leaving the office, all of the people who are soon to be my coworkers stream out of the doors with me. We’re beautiful pigeons, released into the world.

One of the pigeons has a pockmarked face and hair that appears to be falling out. I think she is around my age, but she looks much, much older. She leans in and I smell cigarettes and barbecue sauce.

“New guyyyyyy. Neeeew guy.”

“Yes? Hello?”

“Got a cigarette, neeeew guyyy?”

I shake my head. The pigeon rears backs and hisses at me. I duck and my immediate thought was to throw an uppercut and knock her yellow teeth into the sky, but I just walk away.

“Whatever, new guy!”

It’s getting dark. It’s late October and the sun is pulling away. The trees are losing their leaves and the shadows grow longer.

I walk home. I’m very aware of my movements. The way flesh and muscles pull on bones until they move, an organic, mechanical monster. My teeth start gnashing like I’m biting the air, like the air is pizza and I’m ripping off all the cheese with my mouth.

I’m still doing this when I pass the blood donation center. I think about going in just to see pretty blood girl.

But my phone rings.


“Hello, CVS pharmacy.”

I hang up. My phone rings again. CVS is jealous because the telephone people wrangled me before they could.

A lot of things happened with CVS in that past life. At one point, it was my rock, my anchor, my tether to happiness. I had a friend there, Ali, who was the fucking coolest

But CVS was bad news now. They wanted to tie me down with those ridiculous receipts, they wanted to cut me open with their CVS discount card.

I needed a new ally. A new store.

Around the corner from my apartment, there is a Dollar Tree. It seems holy, pure.

It might be my salvation.


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