“i don’t mean to freak you out or anything, but you have a sticker stuck to your ass.”
this he mumbles in my general direction from underneath his mustache. he is sitting in the chair next to me in the english department office, where i have just walked across the room to the desk and back. his face turns red when he says it, and he is carefully not looking at me.
“oh,” i say, standing up. i turn around and look, but i can’t see anything. where did i sit today? what kind of sticker could it be? what does it look like?
“i think it’s a price tag or something,” he says.
“how horrible,” i say. and it really is horrible, as i stand there in the middle of the waiting room, groping my own butt and twisting my body around in a futile attempt to see what he’s talking about. i search my ass for several excruciating moments, but i can’t find the sticker.
“it’s, um, lower.” he covers his mouth with his hand as he says this, and turns away. everyone else in the waiting room stares.
“oh my god,” i say, running my hands over the backs of my thighs, still not finding anything. he says nothing. he has abandoned me.
i give up. “fuck it,” i say to no one in particular, flopping back onto the chair. a few minutes later, when the waiting room clears out a bit, i pull myself up and find the sticker immediately. it is, in fact, a price tag. it’s bright yellow. it says $5.99.
on the way to my car twenty minutes later, i am accosted by a maintenance worker in a utility cart. he flies past me down the footpath, weaving back and forth and shouting something unintelligible at me. he doubles back when i reach the parking lot, and drives alongside me as i walk.
“hey, i’m bored,” he says as he takes off his headphones, sweat pouring down his face. “do you go to this school?”
“yes,” i say, smiling politely. i can’t hear what he says next but i don’t want to ask, so i smile again and look away.
“you like eminem?” he asks as he leans over the steering wheel. “you know. slim shady?”
“nope,” i say.
“how ’bout, um, blink 182? you like them?”
“nope,” i say again.
“what kinda music you like?” he asks.
“obscure indie rock,” i say, hoping to turn him off or weird him out so that he’ll leave.
“oh,” he says. a pause and then, “you already gotta man, dontcha?”
“yes,” i say, relieved.
“i could tell,” he says. “well, it was nice talking to you. i’ll see you around.”
“‘bye,” i say as he zooms off hollering, headphones on.
a red bull truck approaches as i head for the exit of the parking lot, and i recognize alex in the driver’s seat. i hadn’t known he worked for red bull. he stops and rolls down his window, and i do the same.
“hey, alison, want a red bull?” he asks.
“sure,” i say.
he jumps out of the cab, opens a cooler in the back, and dumps four cans of red bull into my outstretched arms. “put those in your fridge!” he says as he jumps back in the truck and drives off.
where else, i wonder, as i pop one open and take a sip, would i put them?
later, i get a job as a waitress. i start tuesday.