by Jacob Guajardo
Working retail in the Midwest in the near distant future will not be all it could have been. A tech-scare will undo all of Bill Gates’ hard work. Brilliant men will roll their eyes at us from their graves; all their years of research will be squandered by a few years of rogue machinery. The death toll will only reach one hundred and thirteen, but this number will be enough. Production on all new forms of technology will stop; millions will lose their jobs, and the Midwest, with its fertile lands and honest people, will begin to thrive. The future is bright for farmers. There will be a surge of people to the square states, all looking for jobs and houses, excited to start families, to shoot them up like crops. It will mean sickness that will catch like gum to a shoe. Gum will have been outlawed for causing cancer, and will be a rare commodity. If gum gets stuck to the bottom of your shoe, you bet you will sit for hours on your couch scraping it off and finding someone to sell it to, because retail still does not pay well. Minimum wage will increase to fifty dollars an hour, but with inflation, fifty dollars will be barely enough to live on. No one will trust robots. I will tell everyone about the time I saw a tumbleweed plié past an ATM. Shopping malls especially will be way behind. Cashiers still tap dirty touchscreens and scan barcodes. There is still a beeping noise, though studies have found the beeping decreases levels of patience exponentially. The beep is so standard on every register that we are scared to do away with it. The Midwest is angry, but what can we do? We are hunters, gatherers, hillbillies, rednecks. We hang deer out in trees in our yards to drain their blood. We sit, knees touching, when there is room on the subway. We like to be close to someone. We are not made for retail, its long hours, its pricy garments and fanciful names for things that have names already. Who decided we should start calling sweaters, warms? We are not made to negotiate the price of an item for the hole in its sleeve. We are made to sew up those holes. We have been made so our brows stick out a ways, so the sweat will drop past our eyes. Does no one appreciate the imperfections in a bar of soap? My mother once asked me as I complained that, indeed, a woman today had found fault in the skin of a cherry scented soap. A chip, a scrape, a bruise in the soap’s flesh that would melt away under water, bubble up and disappear. Retail in the Midwest in the near distant future is not for those of us who would take the side of a bar of soap, but right now, it is all we have.
– Jacob Guajardo is from St. Louis MI, not MO. He currently resides in Grand Rapids, MI where he is pursuing a BA in Creative Writing from Grand Valley State University. His work has appeared at Hobart, Necessary Fiction, Literary Orphans, and elsewhere. He was rooting for Tiffany. Find him on Twitter @mrsaintjacob