Mitch was staring at a case of auto air fresheners.
Really staring at them. He was having some deep thoughts, wondering who came up with the idea of freshening the interior of a car. Mitch’s own car smelled like gas and pot smoke and mold, which was fair enough, because the roof leaked and the carpet was always damp, and he hotboxed a joint out there every day during his lunch break, and the car ran on gas. That was what an old car should smell like. He knew if he put an air freshener in it, it would smell like gas and pot smoke and mold and a chemical approximation of a pine tree, which wouldn’t really be better, just different.
He and Charles had gone out at lunch and fired up a joint and Charles had told him that he had nine brothers and sisters back in Lagos, Nigeria, and two of them had been killed by the secret police. Mitch hadn’t known what to say. In a way he envied Charles for having had a life so shitty that working at Accu-mart was a slice of heaven. He wished he had stories about having come from somewhere merciless and tragic. Instead, he had stories about living with a distant father while attending public school in Queens, and by comparison those stories shrieked of insignificance. Even he found them dull, and because of this, working at Accu-mart was even duller, a mind-numbing slow torture that was turning his brain into lifeless putty. Work, cable TV, smoke a bowl, sleep. Try to hide from suffering in all its many forms and wind up envying people whose families were getting killed by the secret police.