Photo credit: Genessa Gutzait

Don’t Tread on Me
Photo credit: Genessa Gutzait

At my other job I get to control the music all day. My shop sells kratom, a Southeast Asian tree that some opiate users take to kick prescription opiates. I work, more or less, in a closet. My little nook is a one room shop where the customer has nowhere to run. They’re forced to interface with me no matter where they’re standing in the store.

For this reason, I typically try and pick songs that are agreeable to everyone. I’ll play smooth jazz or lo-fi hip-hop. Sometimes, however, especially when it’s slow, I get bored of that crap. I’ll play explicit rap or heavy metal.

If a customer comes in to the store, I can see the uncomfortable look in their eyes. I know they just want to get their herbs and get out before something happens. Like what? Do you think Eminem is going to reach out of the speaker, grab you by the back of your neck, and bang your head against the counter. The counter is a beautiful solid piece of reclaimed hardwood. Perfect for head smashing.

Still, I love all my customers. I’m invested, in some small way, in all of their lives. I have one guy who comes in who climbs trees for a living. His father will come in and buy bags of kratom for him. He checks in on me and I check in on him. I don’t mean to make the people I’m trying to help, and with which I must find harmony, uncomfortable.

Still, I’m not going to compromise my sanity for a more pleasing environment. My shifts are typically nine hours alone in a  room. I like the small bursts of social interaction each customer brings with them. However, I’ve had to make the place my own, my home. This means playing the music I want to listen to. This means spreading out my school work on the hardwood counter. This means when a customer comes in they’re entering into my space, not their’s.

Don’t compromise for the people around you. Play the songs you  want to listen to. March to the beat of your own drum. Sometimes you need to play death metal and give people death looks. It lets them know: It’s closing time; get your shit and get out.

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