I dread customers who inquire about our Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.
I’d sooner deal with ignorant customers who look at my body and decide that I don’t know anything because girls don’t game. I’d sooner tell the teenage boys on the computers to stop using “gay” as a slur for the five millionth time. I’d sooner scrub the toilet, wipe down the keyboards and sweep the floor, even after the day a bunch of boys, for some reason, broke up, scattered, stuck, dropped and flushed jelly beans everywhere.
The customer will say something like “Can I get that Zygarde?”, sometimes with “please” inserted somewhere and sometimes without, and then look at me as though they’ve asked me to do the simplest thing in the world. I mean, it’s not hard, right? They name a card, I pull that card out, I register the transaction, they pay. Job done. People who have never worked retail make unfair, unrealistic and uneducated comments about unskilled labour, but the process is not assumed to be difficult, at least in theory and with an assumption of non-disability.
What I hear, though, is something closer to “Nn uh get th Aard?”
This is when I start to panic, because I don’t know the names of any Pokémon that aren’t Pikachu, Charizard and Mewtwo.
I haven’t said it here, yet – there are a great many things I’m yet to speak about here on the matter of finding my way back to myself – but I started freelance work this year designing event flyers and administrating the Twilight School website.
The Twilight School, run by Bruno Lettieri (of Rotunda fame, one of the most amazing and generous people that ever lived) is the community outreach project of the Salesian College Sunbury. The Salesian College sponsors something quite unique: an after-hours education service providing classes, guest speakers and other community events, at low-cost, for the Sunbury community. Most of these conversations involve literary personages and community health workers, and the classes run from cooking to writing and gardening to photography. The Twilight School also sponsors the Good Man Project, which is about fostering and developing healthy and open emotional dialogue with, between and among men. Barn Owl Journal is another of Bruno’s pet projects for getting creative writing out into the community, and you can read the current issue here.
(For an event example, you can go and see actor, comedian and writer John Clarke this month for $10 plus drinks, and all you need to do is bring a plate of food for the communal table. We’re talking an evening with a seriously famous, at least in Australia and New Zealand, seriously clever satirist for $10 and however much it costs you to bring a plate of sandwiches or cake. If you’re in Melbourne and this interests you, book now, because places are filling up. If I were living anywhere reasonably close to Sunbury at the moment, I’d go.)
I can’t overstate how important this sort of thing is. The Twilight School is offering and allowing real connection, expression and education in a world where the privileged have an infinite number of avenues in which to communicate yet we are still discouraged from being honest and vulnerable in the company of others.
(When your feminist goddess of a friend is telling you that she’s not sure she should have written about her experiences with depression and anorexia because it’s not appropriate to tell that kind of intimate story, on her own damn website no less, we have a problem with communication.)