Volume 3, Number 5
Breakfast at.... 7-11?
By Fiona Jane
Forget Tiffany's as the most beautiful store in the world. Holly Golightly got it wrong. It's not a designer clothing store and it's not a luxury department store. The most beautiful store in the world is your closest 24 hour convenience shop.
Admittedly, the staff aren't as upmarket as your local Gucci or Chanel boutique but they're all part of the experience. Take Sue. She works at my local Circle G during 4:00 am to midday shift, (which should indicate how strange she is immediately) and she's always happy. Not just smiling, you understand, but seriously freakishly happy.
Every time I go in there, it's like she's been waiting all morning just to see me. Then she starts conversations about how nice the weather is or how much fun she's had working that morning. No chemicals involved as far as I can tell, just a grown woman who's happy to be working the worst shift in the world.
Just like the Simpsons, there's always plenty of Indian workers at 'my' Circle G. More bemused than amused, they work the night shifts. While they are yet to unearth a 'head bag - chock full of heady goodness' ala Apu, they still provide plenty of amusement for locals, as they give pitying looks and shake their heads... little do they know that the joke may be on them!
Phil was a favourite of ours. Colloquially known as Phil My Cravings, Phil Me Up and his special name from Susan, Phil My Tits, he was always good for a joke. Never quite in sync with the convenience culture, Phil had the air of a uni student who was merely passing through. OF course, Circle "You'll never get out of here alive" K, isn't particularly conducive to this sort of exit, preferring to age their staff's service as extended as their 'fast-foods' shelf life (average age: 7 years). Anyway, one day Phil just wasn't there anymore. We hoped he left of his own free will, and found it more than a little disturbing that after his disappearance FRESH rotating wieners appeared in the heating trough of the ages!
This leads to the question 'Where do you go after such a 'fulfilling' job?' Does this sort of employment actually qualify you to do anything else? Imagine the mortification of applying for a job at a normal garage (open only 12 measly hours a day) and being told that you were over-qualified for the job. I doubt there'd be any common ground between a convenience store worker and your average McDonalds worker. The Big M staff reputedly throw their burgers out 10 minutes after wrapping them, whereas your convenience store owner will refuse to take stock that is under 10 months old.
Not that eating the food is that bad. I know from experience that the 'Death Dog' only goes down once
What about those hot lamb rolls in satay sauce, I hear you say. Well, um.. the hot and the roll part of them seem to be OK and I'm still waiting for the lab results on the 'lamb'. Maybe 'grey meaty stuff in a radioactive yellow sauce on a roll' would be more accurate but I guess it'd take up too much room on those dinky plastic name tags.
Sure, you can chip a tooth on the pies and sausage rolls have been in the heating oven a few years to long, and it isn't unknown for someone to get septicaemia from the salad sandwiches, but hey what else is close and open when you roll home from a big night out?
The decor doesn't differ from store to store. You can travel interstate or overseas and still find yourself under a highly unflattering fluorescent light in front of a red vinyl bench debating which packet of Pringles to pig out on. The same kind of duuuuudes will still be bumbling towards the candy aisles, and the unfortunate attendant will still say that they are unable to issue you with the key to the toilet as they've just been vandalised. Aah, there IS a place like home.
Run out of condoms at 3:00 am? Not a problem. Forgotten how the Never Ending Story did? Come on down. Actually inhaled and feel the need for chips, chocolate and soft drink? Don't worry about it, it's all there 24 hours a day. You can't say that about Tiffany's.