Ode to Target
an essay about solidarity, melanin content, air travel, and action movies
I’m currently sitting in a Target Starbucks so there won’t be audio for this essay. I suppose one could call this Starbucks a coffee shop but it’s probably more accurate to call it a coffee shop auxiliary. I like this auxiliary because it’s highly unlikely that any other writers will be here. There’s nothing literary about this place and I think that makes it a more conducive environment for creating literature.
So, just now, as I sipped my coffee and read a book, I watched two Target employees—brown-skinned men in the famous red polo shirts—greet one another.
“Hey,” said the big man. “I didn’t know you were working today.”
“Yeah,” said the smaller guy. “Tim called in sick. And I need the extra cash.”
“You got summer plans?”
“Yeah, I’m going to Egypt.”
“Egypt,” the big man said. “Dude, that’s so cool. Why Egypt?”
“I’m Egyptian,” said the smaller guy.
“What?” the shocked big man said. “I thought you were Mexican like me.”
“No,” the smaller guy said. “I was born in Egypt. Came here for college. I’m an American citizen now.”
“Dude, how long we been working together?”
“About six months.”
“Dude, this whole time I thought you were Mexican. I mean, you have an accent.”
“Yeah, Egyptian accent.”
The big man laughed.
“You have no idea how many times I wanted to speak Spanish to you,” he said. “But I never heard you speak it. So I thought maybe you weren’t fluent and I didn’t want to put pressure on you, you know, that whole I’m more Mexican than you stuff.”
The big man shook his head. Both men smiled. Then they engaged in a complicated handshake ritual
“How long a flight is it to Egypt?” the big man asked.
“Takes about twenty hours,” the smaller guy said. “It feels like time travel.”
“Dude, I’ve never even been to California. And my parents are from there.”
“Yeah, I guess there’s the homeland and then there’s home. Could be the same thing. Could be different.”
“Dude, we gotta hang out more. What are you doing tonight?”
“Going to the movies with my girlfriend,” the smaller guy said.
“What movie?” the big man asked.
“John Wick 4. You wanna come with us?”
“Dude, I am so there.”
“Okay,” the smaller guy said. “I’ll text my girlfriend.”
“Is she Mexican?” the big guy asked.
Both men laughed hard and then they went back to work.