[Review] Two People Smoking Behind the Supermarket

post by lsusr · 2023-05-16T07:25:10.511Z · LW · GW · 1 comments

When I was a teenager, I worked as a street performer on Seattle's waterfront pier. A good street performer can make a good income. I wasn't good. I performed near a fish & chips restaurant. I couldn't afford the fish & chips, but if I packed a peanut butter sandwich, it paired perfectly with the $2.69 soup bowl crafted out of the unidentifiable leftover scraps. That paper bowl of soup was the highlight of my day.

Canvassing is one of the worst jobs in the world. You go door-to-door asking someone to donate to a cause, and you get to keep a fraction of it. It's like telemarketing, but face-to-face, and you have to feign excitement all day long. I attempted it once, but I wasn't competent or desperate enough to survive beyond my second day. I could go back to street performing if canvassing didn't work out. The real canvassers couldn't.

The young woman training me dealt with the soul-crushing drudgery by smoking weed. This was before legalization, so you couldn't do it in public. But you couldn't do it indoors either. You had to find somewhere like an alley where you weren't too visible. It was a pleasant evening. I joined her on some out-of-the way concrete steps.

She could tell that I wouldn't be canvassing for long—that I had other options. But I had held my own that first day. I wouldn't be fired until after day two. We weren't comrades, like the Marxists would like to believe. We were just two people getting by in a crummy, slightly-demeaning job, weary, with nothing to prove, and little hope of advancement.

There's something raw about that smoke break which I've never encountered among well-off people. I haven't had that special kind of human connection in many years, because my life doesn't suck anymore.

Two People Smoking Behind the Supermarket is a manga about a middle-aged salesman and a young convenience store worker who's bright spot each day is chatting with each other in the back of her workplace.


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comment by benjaminikuta · 2023-06-08T22:56:10.294Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When I canvassed for a political campaign, it was one of the most fun jobs ever because we all lived and partied together.