The Garden Center

Training for a lifetime of subservience.

Photo by Adobe Stock/Arina Habich.

Daniela can’t stand Lisa. Exactly why, I’m not sure. I can see her criticizing Lisa, who is her boss, but Daniela’s anger goes well beyond mere criticism. I suspect her rage stems in part from their age difference: Lisa is twenty-nine. Daniela, I assume, is in her late fifties like me, and she’s been at this Big Box store for five years to Lisa’s two. And Lisa looks like a teenager, with her oversized sunglasses, bob haircut, and perpetual pout.

Lisa also has a political-science degree; that may be part of it. She assumes Daniela and I didn’t attend college, and this assumption bothers Daniela. She didn’t go to college, but for Lisa to presume so irks Daniela.

—Just because we haven’t gone to school, she tells me, doesn’t mean we’re stupid.

Daniela supposes I’ve not been to college, either. What would she say if I told her I have a master’s degree in journalism? The Great Recession ended my career as a daily reporter at The Kansas City Star, and after a year of trying to find work, single and with no family ties to Missouri, I returned home to the North Shore suburbs of Chicago to live with and care for my elderly mother. My father had died two months after I’d lost my job. I knew my mother would appreciate my company, and I’d appreciate not paying rent while I got back on my feet — which proved much harder than I’d anticipated. The job market in Chicago was no better than in Kansas City.

So here I am in 2013 at the Big Box not far from my mother’s house. I’ll never tell Daniela that, despite having a graduate degree, I couldn’t do any better than this.

4/12/2019 5:42:03 PM

Beautiful. Thank you!

4/12/2019 3:51:39 PM

Damn good bit of writing. Typical of big box stores that none of these people know, or care, anything at all about plants...and they're all working in a nursery. Shop at small family run nurseries, if you can find them.

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