Josh and the City: A Letter to Miss Trunchbull

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Dear Miss Trunchbull,

Today, the air was cool with the scent of confused seasons and the prospect of changing times. I hope, since you are oddly fond of sniffing things, that you follow my meaning. If not, allow me to put it into terms you will understand.

The past week has been a whirlwind for me. In my new place of work, I have had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of people every day and I must say that they’re all as unique as they are fascinating to observe. They bring with them a wealth of experiences, agendas and things to say, and a great many of them make our brief time together at the checkout counter a pleasant experience.

And then there are the others. The ones related to you.

I tried to ignore them at first, but they just kept coming back, most times wearing other people’s clothes. They trudged up to me, bringing with them their negativity, their hurtful comments, their repulsive behavior and their highhanded opinions. In fact, the material they gave me was so poisonously good that I had to write it down – surely it will be good for a television sitcom someday.

But then things got a bit out of hand. Customers started demanding things that no respectful person would think to demand, scolding employees for no good reason and attempting to assert their holier-than-thou opinions where they were not needed or requested. The ones who bore the brunt of this ill treatment, of course, were us. The peons. The ones doing the work to keep the store afloat while the rest of society moseyed on through, throwing things wherever they wished and arguing – no, not arguing; throwing temper tantrums that made their own children stop and stare – when they learned that their coupons had expired the day before.

These people come in all shapes and sizes, all colors and backgrounds. They occasionally approach with a smile, perhaps even a laugh or a friendly nod. And they stay that way until things cease to go exactly as they want them to.

As I experience these people, I am often reminded of the duality between those with big dreams and those with hammers, namely the ones with a particular knack for knocking things – or people – down a few pegs. This is standard in the theatre world, practically a rite of passage one must go through in order to succeed in any level of the industry. Sometimes performers get lucky and find ways around the overwhelming obstacles; but more than likely, someone somewhere has wrapped his ignorant fingers around a tool he only thinks he knows how to use and has chopped and pounded away at said performers in an attempt to make himself walk a little taller.

Speaking as someone with enormous feet and a skin that has thickened considerably since we first met, Miss Trunchbull, I have a few things I’d like to say in light of recent events.

The first is this: knowledge, perseverance and belief in oneself are, and always will be, more powerful weapons than a dinky metaphorical hammer. I know this because one of my coworkers, someone with a fierce fascination in art, literature and humanity, brought a book to my attention that launched me into the final stages of my current creative work. This book is entitled Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, and chronicles the daily habits and lifelong consistencies exercised by some of the world’s greatest artists, philosophers, inventors and human beings. I flew through the book much like one would a work of Roald Dahl’s (have you read anything of his?) and was immediately inspired to jump headfirst into a series of healthier habits that will bring me that much closer to my artistic goals for this year. After one particularly fulfilling day of round-the-clock work, I know that I am closer than I have ever been before. I not only have the author of the book to thank, but also the dozens of contributors who took the time to study the habits of these artists and help Mr. Currey compile them. I thanked my coworker today while working a joint shift, during which we both experienced our fair share of creatively toxic beings. The difference between a typical workday and today is that I knew I wouldn’t dwell in the realm of retail forever; I saw, quite clearly, where my art could take me and that is far from the likes of unpleasant people like yourself.

The second thing I have to say is this: being on one’s own in a city bustling with varying degrees of energy can cause a person to find himself running the entire gamut of emotions in a series of hours, minutes and yes, unfortunately, sometimes even seconds. (Nothing is impossible in retail, after all.) But there is an energy that far surpasses that of others’, Miss Trunchbull: mine. By “mine,” I mean “ours” and by “ours,” I do not mean yours. As another coworker pointed out to me today, seeing the epitome of what it means to be an unkind human being – one with no regard for anyone but him or herself – shows you how not to be by highlighting all of the things that you are. It shows you that even in the darkest of moments, there is a light within you that shines brighter and with more intensity than any of the negative thoughts carried by a single surly individual ever could. Though we sometimes forget it, this fact never changes and, as much as it probably pains you to hear this, it never will.

Finally, Miss Trunchbull, there’s the matter of what we’re going to do about the aforementioned items. You see, there’s only so much bullying and ill-treatment a person can take in one’s life and it is within that realization that one can find more magic than she ever dreamed of.

Her voice.

I’m not a child anymore, Miss Trunchbull, and I haven’t been for a long time. I see how the world works and I recognize the resistance to my kindness and the opposition to my art. I understand that there are many, many people out there – villains, one might say – very much like you: monsters who will stop at nothing to fill everyone in sight with the same misery that they harbor inside. I’ve seen people like you try to rear their ugly heads (even when some appear to be quite beautiful) and try to stop me from being the happy, positive, star-grasping person that I am.

And I’m not going to tolerate it any longer.

I have a voice and it has been maturing every day since I was born, Miss Trunchbull. If I have something to say to you, then you better believe I’m going to say it and say it with class. I might get a look of disbelief in response, I might even get fired, but if nothing else, I will get the respect that I deserve as a human being and a respectful one at that. I am an artist and my voice means something. If you don’t like it, you can go teach at another school, shop at another store and pick on someone your own size (though I imagine that would be difficult, given your physique).

And so, Miss Trunchbull – and to all the Miss Trunchbulls out there – you may think you have the “pushovers” of the world in the palm of your hand, but it’s time to wake up and smell the chocolate box. The world is tired of dealing with people like you and we will not tolerate it any longer. We have dreams and goals and destinies and no matter how many javelins you hurl or tantrums you throw, you will never stop us from creating our art and achieving what is rightfully ours.

Snaps for trying, though.

 

Yours Most Sincerely,

A Boy Who Loves (And Will Never Stop Eating) His Cake

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