Sunday, February 15, 2009

Subway Encounters

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Subway Encounters

by Camille Torres

CAST

CORPORATE MAN, mid-forties insurance man who loves his life and thinks he is “bomb”
CORPORATE WOMAN, early thirties woman who looks like she dropped out of a PhD program and would rather be anywhere else in the world
SUBWAY SANDWICH GIRL, recent high school graduate who is most likely taking classes at the community college down the road
SUBWAY CASHIER WOMAN, older retired woman who works at the Subway in order to get out of the house and have some type of forced human interaction

SCENE

A Subway (famous sandwich chain where Jared lost all his weight) in any mini plaza in any typical Connecticut “city.”

TIME

The present.

ACT ONE

(It is lunch hour at a typical mini plaza. The parking lot is full of sedans, SUVs, and minivans belonging to corporate workers in the insurance business. The Subway is the least crowded of fast food options, which is why there are only two workers (the Subway Sandwich Girl and the Subway Cashier Woman). The two women are casually chit- chatting with one another when two cars pull up. The first car is a Lexus (a car made for someone who knows nothing about cars but likes to spend money) while the second car is a 1998 Mercury Tracer (a car that has a dent on its side and sports an “Up the Revolution” bumper sticker). Corporate Man (wearing an outfit that is most likely from Nordstrom) quickly rushes out of his Lexus, walks into the Subway (does not hold the door), and jogs up to the Subway Sandwich Girl to beat the other customer, Corporate Woman. Corporate Woman enters the sandwich shop in the middle of his order.)

SUBWAY SANDWICH GIRL

And what would you like on that sandwich sir? (nervously, as she finishes folding some type of meat on an “Italian Combo”)

CORPORATE MAN

What do you think? (Pause) Why, “the works,” of course. (smiles, as he tucks his Blackberry into his jacket and begins to watch her make the sandwich)

(SUBWAY SANDWICH GIRL quickly and efficiently starts putting ALL of the subway sides on his sandwich.)

CORPORATE MAN

Wow! You sure know how to make a sandwich. (flirting, as he leans over the glass)

SUBWAY SANDWICH GIRL

Thanks. (smiles, somewhat proudly, at her customer)

CORPORATE MAN

Yeah. I really like how you handle that meat. (shamelessly, as if this is what any man would say to an attractive service worker)

SUBWAY SANDWICH GIRL

... (she is startled and starts to fumble as she quickly tries to finish the sandwich)

(Corporate Woman, who was standing beside Corporate Man reading the menu, turns to her side to give him a noticeable look of disgust. Subway Cashier Woman walks closer to her co-worker out of solidarity and has a forced smile.)

CORPORATE MAN

I wish I had someone like you at home making sandwiches for me. (brazenly, he does not realize how uncomfortable all three women are)

SUBWAY SANDWICH GIRL

... (quickly finishes the sandwich but is shaking)

SUBWAY CASHIER WOMAN

Sir, I can finish your order. Would you like a soda and chips? (she quickly grabs the sandwich from her co-worker to wrap it)

CORPORATE MAN

You’re awesome. (enthusiastically to the Subway Sandwich Girl as she begins to walk away from him and closer to her next customer)

SUBWAY CASHIER WOMAN

Sir, I said I would help you. (politely, while gritting through her teeth and leading him to the register)

SUBWAY SANDWICH GIRL

Can – Can I help you ma’am? (stuttering and is noticeably shaken)

CORPORATE WOMAN

Yeah – you know I will just have a turkey with cheese. (appalled and is still staring at Corporate Man trying to figure if she should do something in this situation --she cannot bring herself to look at Subway Sandwich Girl)

(Subway Cashier Woman finishes up Corporate Man’s order quickly. All women stop what they are doing to watch him leave. At the door he pauses and turns to speak to the Subway Cashier Girl -- because he is at the door all women hear the comment.)

CORPORATE MAN


This was great! See you tomorrow! (earnestly and enthusiastically)

End Scene

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Brief History of the Bush Era

2000 elections. It was only later, after he’d already lost, that we learned more about who he was, and saw footage of him bodysurfing, and we all liked him better. He went to Europe and came back with a beard, like a collegian. Some thought he might return, like Lazarus, to lead the party again; for some he became, more than before, the embodiment of their aspirations. Eventually he would appear on a late-night sketch comedy show, indirectly confirming that he would not seek public office again.

The internet did not follow through on its promises and no one made enough money. The internet would be called the internet, not the World Wide Web or the Information Superhighway.

Saudi Arabians attacked, and I had to change flights. I left three days later than I had planned.

The government could find out what books I checked out of the library, which included studies of the CIA’s subversion of democracy, histories of political violence, and novels about overeducated white guys in their twenties who didn’t know what to do with themselves. Yet this new governmental power was immediately anachronistic because the printed word was like the loser in an Old West gunfight, gut-shot and dying slowly, using its last breaths on bitter recriminations, and I spent less time in libraries and more time in front of screens.

In the evening I watched the war. It was being broadcast on TV. Correspondents were fuzzy, almost pixelated images. There were occasional bursts of sound and flashes of brightness, but it was hard to tell what was happening on the ground; you knew there were boots there, somewhere, but you had to listen to the correspondents. You could trust them, they were there, they were embedded, analogically somewhere between a pacemaker and a rhinestone. Perhaps closer to a rhinestone.

Bill O’Reilly yelled, sometimes less, sometimes more. Keith Olbermann’s talking voice moved asymptotically towards a yell, and his sarcasm became meaner and less funny.

Happy birthday, Iraq War! We were shocked. We were in awe.

It seemed as if all existence was inflationary. One thousand deaths in Iraq, gas above $2.00 a gallon. What are you doing to cut back? What is to be done? The questions applied to both scenarios. Other plateaux of thousands would be reached, and other dollar integers passed, but no one would raise the same fuss about it. Iraqis were, presumably, also dying.

The war on terror, the war in Afghanistan, the Iraq War, the war on high prices (that one was an advertisement).

The wars continued but television programming moved on. Cable news channels were continually breaking ever-newer news, treating it carelessly by hammering it into graphics, both statistical and three-dimensional, bounded on multiple sides by moving and static text. Like mobiles for infants, the clatter of flashes and colors attracted viewers, who went to the network that best helped them to discover what they already knew. They watched as large-scale natural disasters killed people, mostly brown, in both the global South and the US South, and cable news and charities summoned hummingbird levels of energy. They must have solved the problems because one doesn’t hear about them anymore.

For a while I was able to find Afghanistan on a map quite easily, but now it’s difficult again.

2006 elections. Some people, apparently, were still independent, having no distinct preference for either party. We were supposed to admire their dispassionate objectivity. These independent thinkers had their icon this year, the former Vice Presidential candidate and incumbent Senator who lost in the primaries only to establish his own party for the general election, all the while claiming to represent his former party. He won, thanks to how often he voted with the opposing party.

People do, in fact, vote in large numbers, just as long as the fate of pop singers are at stake and they can do so by text message.

Gas cost more, and my dollar was worth less; therefore, empty beer cans piled up on coffee tables, desks, edges of bookcases, and eventually the recycling bin. If I lived in Europe, I would have better health care, a limited set of career options determined by the sort of secondary school I enrolled in, and abundant proof that Europeans were just as racist as Americans, once you gave them a chance to show it.

2008 elections. Some people, even in the fall, were still supposedly undecided, not having heard enough to make an informed choice between (a) the elderly, hawkish, free-marketeer and veteran, and (b) the young, welfare-statist, diplomatic black guy and ex-law professor. Clearly never having consulted either one’s website, each of which contained pointlessly detailed policies on every major issue and quite a few minor ones. And this all before the pretty woman strode onto the national stage, putting us all into an open-mouthed, drooling trance. She seemed as scared as we were, and as eager to hide it. She smiled and looked pretty but when the other smiling woman asked questions her responses sputtered, and her words, which taken singly were blameless, spiraled out of one another’s orbit and landed wide of their mark, gruesomely, calamitously.

2008 elections. Americans weren’t racist anymore.

Numbers whose referent was wholly unclear dashed our spirits. We didn’t know what they were, but we wanted them high. How high? Higher than yesterday. Higher than ever before. But they went down, and money we hadn’t seen and hadn’t planned on spending anytime soon was gone, and we were sad. I invested in shoe boxes, and took my money out of the bank.

Riding off into the sunset, back to his ranch, he proved he was a cowboy.