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Rock Street, San Francisco

When the floodgates open and water pours down from the sky there is nothing to do other than hope and pray that you are prepared for the storm, and what better a place to go for supplies then a Wal-Mart. People rushed in and out pushing up against each other like a school of fish swimming in tight quarters. In my sweats and hoodie, I strolled in trying to avoid getting pushed over while I noted a sign that read “open late, get your supplies today”. I wandered a bit until I found the perfect, most inconspicuous spot to sit; an eyeglass kiosk located at about 30 feet from the 15 checkout lines.

In the kiosk, there was a sole woman who wore a grey sweatshirt with a long white lab coat and white pants that set her apart from the customers. She had a very dark, black skin tone, and black curly hair. Instantly the sound got to me, there was a constant hiss of ungreased shopping carts and a rhythmic ticking of the checkout guns. Items rustled bags when placed back into their owners cart with a clank, while young children giggled and yelled at one another. With the exception of a few people, there was an abstract amount of families with children.

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The checkout clerks were all dressed the same; they wore navy blue polo shirts, khaki pants, black sneakers, and all donned a similar fake smile. At 1:55 one of the male cashiers and the woman that was working in the kiosk locked eyes and he walked over and said something in her ear. As they exchanged inaudible words, each broke out in laughter that spread through the whole store. One of the women cashiers, a heavyset black woman called out to someone in her checkout line and her stature changed instantly.

She outstretched her arms, and with a wide, beaming smile, she shouted “Hey love, how you doin!! ”. The person she was addressing was not visible to me but the way she ran around her station to greet that person signified someone important to her. Just as she was returning to her post with checkout gun in-hand and a wide, fake smile promptly on her face a young teen walked into the eyeglass kiosk right in front of me. She was dressed in bright colors, a lime green shirt, cotton-candy pink and blue shoes with green laces and jeans to match the denim vest draped over her shoulder.

When she turned to examine some glasses, she displayed her multicolored hair that matched perfectly with her clothes. At 2:00 a young boy in a cart screamed with joy as he was being pushed around the corner at high speeds, waving his arms left and right as if he was on a roller coaster. At 2:05 the woman in the kiosk eyed me up and down. I was greeted with a “How are you today sir? ” I looked up to see the woman standing in front of me. It was the girl who worked at the kiosk and on her nametag, in bright yellow lettering, Candace was spelled out. I am a little worried about my kids,” she said “especially with the risk of the power going out”. Candace wheeled back and forth in her chair, “I don’t get off till five, and I will just get my supplies here. ” She paused slightly and then erupted in laughter saying, “hopefully they aren’t all gone! It looks like these lines are never ending! ”. She touched her hair and played with a curly end in one of her fingertips. “No problem, I need someone to talk to since no one wants to buy glasses! ” then her same booming laughter echoed through the store one more time.

At 2:15 a man with long dreadlocks, jeans and a Wal-Mart badge on top of her shirt walked by quickly and stopped when he noticed Candace resting her head in her hand. “Long night last night huh, hahaha. “ she cackled as he walked away. The lopsided amount of generators, canned goods, milk, and cases of water continued to pour out and more people flooded into the never-ending checkout lines. At 2:30 I got up and began to leave, I felt as if I left the store exactly the way I found it, the hissing of ungreased shopping carts and the constant beeps of the checkout guns ringing in my ears.

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