Friday, September 7, 2012
Made In China
The taste of mint chocolate ice cream still lingered on the back of her tongue as she wandered the aisles, looking at the assortment of pants and shirts and boots with an apathetic gaze that sometimes crossed over into brief curiosity. She rode the escalator up to the second floor and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirrored pillars that stretched from the ceiling to the white tiled floor.
Bright maroon lipstick over her lips, her wild mess of hair restrained by a furry white beret. Her oversized green pajama pants were tucked into the wide cuffs of suede boots. There she was, allowing the moon to travel above, for the night of blinking stars to pass unnoticed as she slowly walked through the two floors of metal racks and clear plastic hangers and more discounts than she could have ever wanted.
Every now and then she picked up something and held it for a while in her hands. These things were all cheap, her mind would immediately come up with several reasons to walk over to the registers, put them in a bag and take them home. There were lots of reasons: warmth, comfort, beauty, but the nagging thoughts kept coming in.
She looked at the label of the sweater tights she had picked up off the back wall by the shoes: made in China. She had heard a story on the radio seven hours before about the province of China where most of America’s cheap products came from.
As she drove to the warehouse to drop off her leftover pastries and bread from the farmer’s market, she listened to the stories of young Chinese workers whose hands had became deformed after several years of repetitive movement. They made the clothes, the hangers, the phones, every item that surrounded her. They wore out the workers, till death or deformity set in, then got new younger ones to fill the positions. There were just that many people in China.
Hours later she wandered the store and felt the hands of the workers on every item. Her seven dollar tights were paid for by those distant unknown lives. She took the elevator up to the second floor where the household goods were waiting. She picked up a shoe organizer and looked on the bottom of the label: made in china. She looked at a cutlery set that advertised itself as hand-crafted: made in china.
As she walked, looking at the brightly colored things, the shoes and jackets, the rugs and feather pillows, her face sunk more and more. Her feet shuffled along the ground as she began to absorb the meaninglessness of almost every item. The manufactured need, the desire for more and more.
She could feel it inside, she wanted that rug, those sweater tights. She could hear the voice in her head, she needed them to stay warm, some were even made of bamboo, was there really any harm? Did her small almost meaningless purchase really make a difference when there were thousands of stores across America like this one?
She could feel their hands, their eyes, their lost lives.
She walked through the aisles, killing time until she could leave and drive to the house were her friend sat with sweet smelling long black hair and stories of explored language. She walked, sinking, changing as the story she had heard earlier moved through her. She could feel the pull of the American need, the hope that with this one new thing everything would be better and change, change forever, change until she needed one more thing- until she needed that other thing, until a new desire clung to reality just beyond her grasp.
Just as one orgasm was ending she would pause and think about the next time it might happen. There was no rest for desire, for the want to fill it- she could hear the stories of the people in her mind, the deformed hands, the jumpers off the factory roof, the utter desperation to end repetition.
All done so people like her could buy those cheap sweater socks and discounted shoes. It was for her and millions like her. She walked and walked, hurt by what she saw, but unable to leave.