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I have always depended on the goodwill of strangers

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In the late ‘90s, many years of working as a dishwasher, farmer, and ice cream peddler, I finally developed the kind of work experience and self-esteem that pushed me to apply for my dream job: Assistant Manager at the local Goodwill. “It’s the perfect job,” I used to think, since the second-hand store provided a steady supply of records, films, clothes, bad art, and a little bit of money — basically all of the essential goods a restless, anxious teenager needs in order to survive the vicious boredom of the American suburbs.

Cristina, a friend of mine, held the position I was applying for. She was getting ready to move away for college, but homegirl put in a good word for me before she left. After lighting a few veladoras (Catholic Mexican candles) to La Santa Virgen de las Tres Marías de Thalia Sodi — a saint to many, but a horrible fictional character to most — I got the gig.

I still remember the first day I stood in front of the Goodwill with keys to the store in my pocket. It was like standing in front of the gates of heaven, except my Saint Peter was not a bearded apostle in a luxurious silk robe, but mildly drunk homeless man who wanted to purchase “a cheap sweater” and needed me to “hurry the fuck up and open the store.”

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Taking selfie by shooting a ceiling panel with a DLR camera I found in a donation box. Surprisingly, the camera still had working film.

Gutter punks, theater geeks, older hippies, and low-income families made up most of our clientele. The average shopper was polite, but the occasional eccentric, such as one middle-aged woman whose dark, runny, evil urges led her to take dump in the dressing room floor before wiping her ass with an old Garth Brooks shirt — the latter being entirely understandable — kept us on our toes (or knees, scrubbing).

Even more delightful than our clientele was our own staff: a volatile concoction of backgrounds, age groups, and creeds. I met a lot of characters while working there, but the most intriguing was Jeff, our sixty-something-year-old garbage man. All my coworkers hated dealing with Jeff because he was mean, angry, and foul-mouthed.

I never took offense to Jeff’s disposition. I liked him because he would come up with hilarious insults. Once, as I opened the rear door of the building so he could access our stash of trash, Jeff gawked at my outfit from head to toe and quipped: “Oh, God — does a color-blind, mentally-challenged clown stock your wardrobe!?”

Oh, Jeff. You did a great job at ridding us of our garbage, but you really should have been a drag queen.

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Angry Jeff taking out the trash. Photo by Yourstruly.

Although working at that particular Goodwill was great, it was still located in Dixon, a humble, mundane cowtown (or lambtown) in northern California. By then I was hanging out regularly in the Bay Area, since I loved getting my counterculture fix straight from the source, or Sacramento’s Midtown area, which had its on set of fun weirdos. Dixon is close enough to Sacramento, but commuting back to the Goodwill for work became a nightmare, so I quit.

I moved to Manhattan in 2006 and still live in New York, but I go back to Dixon every other year, give or take, to visit friends and family. Shopping at my old job during my visits used to be a must, but the original store was shut down. The last time I shopped there I bought a pair of shoes, which I paid with my credit card. Even though the shoes cost less than five dollars, the cashier, an older woman, asked for my identification card (California employees always card).

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The view from the office window. Photo: Yourstruly

“New York! Well, aren’t you a long way from home, young man,” said the well-mannered lady after she suspiciously examined my ID. I smiled but didn’t immediately reveal I already happened to be home. “Does Jeff still work here?” I asked while she bagged my shoes. “Jeff… the garbage man? Well, uh, yes,” she replied. Before waking out of the Goodwill, I asked her to relay a message: “That’s great. Can you please tell that bitter asshole that a color-blind, mentally-challenged clown misses him dearly?”

“Ha. I’ll tell him,” she promised.

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María Rubio was so good as Catalina Creel, an iconic telenovela villain, the role ruined her career

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According to sources on Twitter, and also TvNotas, the holy bible of Mexican gossip, María Rubio, the legendary actress best known for her role as Catalina Creel de Larios in Cuna de lobos, has passed away. She was 83 years old.

Thanks to her role as Soraya Montenegro in María la del Barrio, Itati Cantoral has been dominating the internet with an insane amount of memes, gifs, and even a House of Cards promo special. Itati blew up in the mid ’90s, when older millennials were still teens, and she’s that generation’s go-to character when it comes to Mexican telenovela villains.

Yes, Cantoral was great as Soraya, but the top dog in the telenovela villain game was — and has always been — María Rubio. The Tijuana-born actress was so good in Cuna de lobos that, according to an interview she did with Cristina Saralegui, the role ruined her career:

“[Catalina Creel] was a difficult, beloved character. I enjoyed playing her, but she also hurt me a lot. People completely forgot about María Rubio and now it seems that, after 40 years of being an actress, I’ve only done Catalina Creel.”

Catalina, a murderous matriarch, was known for having some of the best one-liners in telenovela history. But in the same interview with Saralegui, which was filmed over 20 years ago, María proved to be just as cunning and smart as her infamous character, but also incredibly funny:

“[Although I played a villain], I’ve received nothing but compliments, love, and admiration. Never aggression. I think viewers do attack the bad ones — bad actresses, that is.”

If you understand Spanish, check out the hilarious interview below. Watch María viciously own everyone in a panel of full of young telenovela villains:

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Traumatic advice from aunt Rosa: “Don’t torture your Care Bear, Mijo. Or else.”

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I was 6 years old when I yelled at Tugs, my Care Bear. I put him in time-out for not agreeing to the rules of an imaginary game I had just created.

I built a little time-out fortress for him to stay in while I played with my other toys. Coincidentally my tía Rosa was visiting that day. I urged her to see all my toys when she came into the house. I also explained to her that Tugs was in time-out, to which she replied in shock, “Mijo, mira, You have to be nice to your toys.”

I replied, “Tía, I am nice to my toys, but I’m teaching him a lesson.”

She contested nervously, “No, Mijo, you have to be nice to your toys or they might not be nice to you.”

I wasn’t following her logic.

Mijo, if you’re not nice to your toys, then at night time they might wake up and crawl into your bed to cut your toes with tiny razors,” she said slowly while staring at my imprisoned Care Bear.

“What?!” I whispered to her while looking at Tugs from the corner of my eye.

“Yes, your toys might do very bad things to you if you don’t treat them good.”

I stared at her in disbelief.

She stood up and walked towards the doorway.

Mijo, I brought you some tortillas. Come in the kitchen and let’s warm them up,” Rosa said casually.

From then on, Tugs sat on a tufted pillow on my dresser while I slept in velcro shoes for the next year. Growing up in my Mexican-American family meant that everything was possibly alive and watching you.


Felix III – Journeys the cosmos via Holy Hands Vol. 2. Rents a one-bedroom on Neptune. IG: @Futurefelix / Twitter: @thefuturefelix


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