Clerk Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Clerk. Here they are! All 100 of them:

I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others--young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)
After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. But I hope you will remember this: A man walking fast down a dark lonely street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need. A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.
Robin Sloan (Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, #1))
I like to change liquor stores frequently because the clerks got to know your habits if you went in night and day and bought huge quantities. I could feel them wondering why I wasn't dead yet and it made me uncomfortable. They probably weren't thinking any such thing, but then a man gets paranoid when he has 300 hangovers a year.
Charles Bukowski (Women)
I love seeing the bookshops and meeting the booksellers-- booksellers really are a special breed. No one in their right mind would take up clerking in a bookstore for the salary, and no one in his right mind would want to own one-- the margin of profit is too small. So, it has to be a love of readers and reading that makes them do it-- along with first dibs on the new books.
Mary Ann Shaffer (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society)
There's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I'm too tough for him, I say, stay in there, I'm not going to let anybody see you. there's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I pur whiskey on him and inhale cigarette smoke and the whores and the bartenders and the grocery clerks never know that he's in there. there's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I'm too tough for him, I say, stay down, do you want to mess me up? you want to screw up the works? you want to blow my book sales in Europe? there's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I'm too clever, I only let him out at night sometimes when everybody's asleep. I say, I know that you're there, so don't be sad. then I put him back, but he's singing a little in there, I haven't quite let him die and we sleep together like that with our secret pact and it's nice enough to make a man weep, but I don't weep, do you?
Charles Bukowski
As I look out at all of you gathered here, I want to say that I don't see a room full of Parisians in top hats and diamonds and silk dresses. I don't see bankers and housewives and store clerks. No. I address you all tonight as you truly are: wizards, mermaids, travelers, adventurers, and magicians. You are the true dreamers.
Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret)
It was amazing to me then, and still is, that so many people who wander into bookshops don't really know what they're after--they only want to look around and hope to see a book that will strike their fancy. And then, being bright enough not to trust the publisher's blurb, they will ask the book clerk the three questions: (1) What is it about? (2) Have you read it? (3) Was it any good?
Mary Ann Shaffer (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society)
Aren't fairy godmothers supposed to be nice and make you feel better about yourself? ...No, you're confusing fairy godmothers with sales clerks.
Janette Rallison (My Fair Godmother (My Fair Godmother, #1))
If I were a poet, that’s what I’d write about. People who worked in the middle of the night. Men who loaded trains, emergency room nurses with their gentle hands. Night clerks in hotels, cabdrivers on graveyard, waitresses in all-night coffee shops. They knew the world, how precious it was when a person remembered your name, the comfort of a rhetorical question, “How’s it going, how’s the kids?” They knew how long the night was. They knew the sound life made as it left. It rattled, like a slamming screen door in the wind. Night workers lived without illusions, they wiped dreams off counters, they loaded freight. They headed back to the airport for one last fare.
Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
Olive's private view is that life depends on what she thinks of as "big bursts" and "little bursts." Big bursts are things like marriage or children, intimacies that keep you afloat, but these big bursts hold dangerous, unseen currents. Which is why you need the little bursts as well: a friendly clerk at Bradlee's, let's say, or the waitress at Dunkin' Donuts who knows how you like your coffee. Tricky business, really.
Elizabeth Strout (Olive Kitteridge (Olive Kitteridge, #1))
Gonna rain like a cow pissin' on a flat rock" [drugstore clerk to detective Virgil Flowers] Dark of the Moon, p.7
John Sandford
They were...well, Beautiful People! - not 'students', 'clerks', 'salesgirls', 'executive trainees' - Christ, don't give me your occupation-game labels! We are Beautiful People, ascendant from your robot junkyard.
Tom Wolfe (The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test)
By God, if women had written stories, As clerks had within here oratories, They would have written of men more wickedness Than all the mark of Adam may redress.
Geoffrey Chaucer (The Wife of Bath's Prologue & Tale)
Sir James waved a gnarled hand. "They're nothing but feral file clerks, dragons. They used to alphabetize the coins in their hoards.
Rachel Hartman (Seraphina (Seraphina, #1))
Who gets the change?" the clerk asked. "You or...your fella?" Oh, he's not my boyfriend," I said. "He's my mother.
Wally Lamb (She’s Come Undone)
Death is a bored clerk, with too many orders to fill. There is no reckoning. No profound moment. It creeps up on us from behind, and snatches us away while we shit.
Joe Abercrombie (The Heroes)
At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others - poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner - young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)
I began to like New York, the racy, adventurous feel of it at night and the satisfaction that the constant flicker of men and women and machines gives to the restless eye. I like to walk up Fifth Avenue and pick out romantic women from the crowd and imagine that in a few minutes I was going to enter their lives, and no one would ever know or disapprove. Sometimes, in my mind, I followed them to their apartments on the corners of hidden streets, and they turned and smiled back at me before they faded through a door into warm darkness. At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others—poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner—young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)
It is easier to rob by setting up a bank than by holding up a bank clerk.
Bertolt Brecht
He looked as if he'd stepped straight off the cover of one of those romance novels she ordered from Amazon.com so she didn't have to be embarassed by some supercilious male clerk in the bookstore.
Karen Marie Moning (Kiss of the Highlander (Highlander, #4))
Corporate types love to pretend their life is exciting. The whispers, fist-pumping and animated hand gestures are all designed to lift our job description from what it really is - that of an overpaid clerk
Chetan Bhagat (2 States: The Story of My Marriage)
Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every real advance in science.
James Clerk Maxwell
You need not see what someone is doing to know if it is his vocation, you have only to watch his eyes: a cook mixing a sauce, as surgeon making a primary incision, a clerk completing a bill of lading, wear that same rapt expression, forgetting themselves in a function. How beautiful it is, that eye-on-the-object look.
W.H. Auden
Some crime against nature is about to be committed. I feel it in my veins. These men and boys are grocers and clerks, gardeners and fathers - fathers of small children. A country cannot bear to lose them.
Sebastian Faulks (Birdsong)
Parents always forgive you. Like sometimes, you see parents on the news, and their kid just got busted for murdering a 7-11 clerk, and they're like, 'But my Bubba's a good boy. He'd never hurt a fly.' So I'm sure your parents would forgive you for whatever you did.
Alex Flinn (A Kiss in Time)
The librarian isn't a clerk who happens to work in a library. A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.
Seth Godin (The Library Book)
The land belongs to the future, Carl; that's the way it seems to me. How many of the names on the county clerk's plat will be there in fifty years? I might as well try to will the sunset over there to my brother's children. We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it--for a little while.
Willa Cather (O Pioneers!)
[The doctor] peeked into the trauma room and saw the situation: the clerk - that is, me - standing next to the orderly, Georgie, both of us on drugs, looking down at a patient with a knife sticking up out of his face. 'What seems to be the trouble?' he asked.
Denis Johnson (Jesus’ Son)
He is dead and I, the self serving coward that I am, still live. Life is not fair. There is no pattern. People die at random. Something everyone knows, but no one truly believes. They think that when it comes to them there will be a lesson, a meaning, a story worth telling. That death will come to them as a dread scholar, a fell knight, a terrible emperor. Death is a bored clerk, with too many orders to fill. There is no reckoning. No profound moment. It creeps up on us from behind, and snatches us away while we shit.
Joe Abercrombie (The Heroes)
The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau.
Ludwig von Mises (Bureaucracy)
Well, I spent six or seven years after high school trying to work myself up. Shipping clerk, salesman, business of one kind or another. And it's a measly manner of existence. To get on that subway on the hot mornings in summer. To devote your whole life to keeping stock, or making phone calls, or selling or buying. To suffer fifty weeks of the year for the sake of a two-week vacation, when all you really desire is to be outdoors, with your shirt off. And always to have to get ahead of the next fella. And still — that's how you build a future.
Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman)
Pirate Captain Jim "Walk the plank," says Pirate Jim "But Captain Jim, I cannot swim." "Then you must steer us through the gale." "But Captain Jim, I cannot sail." "Then down with the galley slaves you go." "But Captain Jim, I cannot row." "Then you must be the pirate's clerk." "But Captain Jim, I cannot work.
Shel Silverstein
That feeling in your heart: it’s called mono no aware. It is a sense of the transience of all things in life. The sun, the dandelion, the cicada, the Hammer, and all of us: we are all subject to the equations of James Clerk Maxwell, and we are all ephemeral patterns destined to eventually fade, whether in a second or an eon.
Ken Liu (The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories)
Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol)
The wish of death had been palpably hanging over this otherwise idyllic paradise for a good many years. All business and politics is personal in the Philippines. If it wasn't for the cheap beer and lovely girls one of us would spend an hour in this dump. They [Jehovah's Witnesses] get some kind of frequent flyer points for each person who signs on. I'm not lazy. I'm just motivationally challenged. I'm not fat. I just have lots of stored energy. You don't get it do you? What people think of you matters more than the reality. Marilyn. Despite standing firm at the final hurdle Marilyn was always ready to run the race. After answering the question the woman bent down behind the stand out of sight of all, and crossed herself. It is amazing what you can learn in prison. Merely through casual conversation Rick had acquired the fundamentals of embezzlement, fraud and armed hold up. He wondered at the price of honesty in a grey world whose half tones changed faster than the weather. The banality of truth somehow always surprises the news media before they tart it up. You've ridden jeepneys in peak hour. Where else can you feel up a fourteen-year-old schoolgirl without even trying? [Ralph Winton on the Philippines finer points] Life has no bottom. No matter how bad things are or how far one has sunk things can always get worse. You could call the Oval Office an information rain shadow. In the Philippines, a whole layer of criminals exists who consider that it is their right to rob you unhindered. If you thwart their wicked desires, to their way of thinking you have stolen from them and are evil. There's honest and dishonest corruption in this country. Don't enjoy it too much for it's what we love that usually kills us. The good guys don't always win wars but the winners always make sure that they go down in history as the good guys. The Philippines is like a woman. You love her and hate her at the same time. I never believed in all my born days that ideas of truth and justice were only pretty words to brighten a much darker and more ubiquitous reality. The girl was experiencing the first flushes of love while Rick was at least feeling the methadone equivalent. Although selfishness and greed are more ephemeral than the real values of life their effects on the world often outlive their origins. Miriam's a meteor job. Somewhere out there in space there must be a meteor with her name on it. Tsismis or rumours grow in this land like tropical weeds. Surprises are so common here that nothing is surprising. A crooked leader who can lead is better than a crooked one who can't. Although I always followed the politics of Hitler I emulate the drinking habits of Churchill. It [Australia] is the country that does the least with the most. Rereading the brief lines that told the story in the manner of Fox News reporting the death of a leftist Rick's dark imagination took hold. Didn't your mother ever tell you never to trust a man who doesn't drink? She must have been around twenty years old, was tall for a Filipina and possessed long black hair framing her smooth olive face. This specter of loveliness walked with the assurance of the knowingly beautiful. Her crisp and starched white uniform dazzled in the late-afternoon light and highlighted the natural tan of her skin. Everything about her was in perfect order. In short, she was dressed up like a pox doctor’s clerk. Suddenly, she stopped, turned her head to one side and spat comprehensively into the street. The tiny putrescent puddle contrasted strongly with the studied aplomb of its all-too-recent owner, suggesting all manner of disease and decay.
John Richard Spencer
It is of great advantage to the student of any subject to read the original memoirs on that subject, for science is always most completely assimilated when it is in the nascent state...
James Clerk Maxwell
He watched in awe as she stacked up an enormous armload of music. "There," she finished, slapping Frank Zappa's Greatest Hits on top of the pile. "That should do for a start." "You are a music lover," said the wide-eyed cashier. "No, I'm a kleptomaniac." And she dashed out the door. He was so utterly shocked that it took him a moment to run after her. With a meaningful nod in the direction of the astounded Cahills, she barreled down the cobblestone street with her load. "Fermati!" shouted the cashier, scrambling in breathless pursuit. Nellie let a few CDs drop and watched with satisfaction over her shoulder as the clerk stopped to pick them up. The trick would be to keep the chase going just long enough for Amy and Dan to search Disco Volante. Yikes, she reflected suddenly, I'm starting to think like a Cahill.... And if she was nuts enough to hang around this family, it was only going to get worse.
Gordon Korman (One False Note (The 39 Clues, #2))
What’s this shit?” Ray demanded, looking at the salesclerk. “Honey, truth hurts, but ain’t no way you’re a Magnum.” “Well, I ain’t no medium!” The clerk smiled. “Yeah, but I was being generous.
Karen Chance (Fury's Kiss (Dorina Basarab, #3))
Mr Churchill caught the end of one of the long ribbons from her bonnet, which were flying madly in the strong breeze. He toyed with it for a long while, then looked up into her eyes. “Do you believe in love at first sight?” he asked. “No, I don’t suppose I do,” Jane answered. Her heart started beating harder. That was a lie. Maybe her breath was catching in her throat because she was lying: she fell in love with him the moment she saw him, rescuing the poor store clerk. Or maybe it was because he was standing so close to her, just on the other end of her bonnet ribbon. She felt her cheeks growing warm, and tried to talk herself out of blushing. He was not standing any closer to her than when they danced together, or sat on the same bench at the pianoforte. Why should it fluster her that he was wrapping the end of her bonnet ribbon around his fingers like that?
Jeanette Watts (My Dearest Miss Fairfax)
Yet if women are so flighty, fickle, changeable, susceptible, and inconstant (as some clerks would have us believe), why is it that their suitors have to resort to such trickery to have their way with them? And why don't women quickly succumb to them, without the need for all this skill and ingenuity in conquering them? For there is no need to go to war for a castle that is already captured. (...) Therefore, since it is necessary to call on such skill, ingenuity, and effort in order to seduce a woman, whether of high or humble birth, the logical conclusion to draw is that women are by no means as fickle as some men claim, or as easily influenced in their behaviour. And if anyone tells me that books are full of women like these, it is this very reply, frequently given, which causes me to complain. My response is that women did not write these books nor include the material which attacks them and their morals. Those who plead their cause in the absence of an opponent can invent to their heart's content, can pontificate without taking into account the opposite point of view and keep the best arguments for themselves, for aggressors are always quick to attack those who have no means of defence. But if women had written these books, I know full well the subject would have been handled differently. They know that they stand wrongfully accused, and that the cake has not been divided up equally, for the strongest take the lion's share, and the one who does the sharing out keeps the biggest portion for himself.
Christine de Pizan (Der Sendbrief vom Liebesgott / The Letter of the God of Love (L'Epistre au Dieu d'Amours))
I looked about me. Luminous points glowed in the darkness. Cigarettes punctuated the humble meditations of worn old clerks. I heard them talking to one another in murmurs and whispers. They talked about illness, money, shabby domestic cares. And suddenly I had a vision of the face of destiny. Old bureaucrat, my comrade, it is not you who are to blame. No one ever helped you to escape. You, like a termite, built your peace by blocking up with cement every chink and cranny through which the light might pierce. You rolled yourself up into a ball in your genteel security, in routine, in the stifling conventions of provincial life, raising a modest rampart against the winds and the tides and the stars. You have chosen not to be perturbed by great problems, having trouble enough to forget your own fate as a man. You are not the dweller upon an errant planet and do not ask yourself questions to which there are no answers. Nobody grasped you by the shoulder while there was still time. Now the clay of which you were shaped has dried and hardened, and naught in you will ever awaken the sleeping musician, the poet, the astronomer that possibly inhabited you in the beginning.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Wind, Sand and Stars)
I sometimes imagine there is a clerk behind a desk situated between the brain and the mouth. It is his job to examine utterances on their way out, and stamp them with approval or send them back for reconsideration. If such a clerk exists, mine must be very harried and overworked; and on occasion he puts his head down on the desk in despair, letting things pass without so much as a second glance.
Marie Brennan (In the Labyrinth of Drakes (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #4))
Reader, I married him. A quiet wedding we had: he and I, the parson and clerk, were alone present.
Charlotte Brontë
In the high school classroom you are a drill sergent, a rabbi, a shoulder to cry on, a disciplinarian, a singer, a low-level scholar, a clerk, a referee, a clown, a counselor, a dress-code enforcer, a conductor, an apologist, a philosopher, a collaborator, a tap dancer, a politician, a therapist, a fool, a traffic cop, a priest, a mother-father-brother-sister-uncle-aunt, a bookeeper, a critic, a psychologist, the last straw.
Frank McCourt
This education has reduced us to a nation of morons; we were strangers to our own culture and camp followers of another culture, feeding on leavings and garbage . . . What about our own roots? . . . I am up against the system, the whole method and approach of a system of education which makes us morons, cultural morons, but efficient clerks for all your business and administration offices.
R.K. Narayan (The English Teacher)
I was under the librarians' protection. Civil servants and servants of civility, they had my back. They would be whatever they needed to be that day: information professionals, teachers, police, community organizers, computer technicians, historians, confidantes, clerks, social workers, storytellers, or, in this case, guardians of my peace.
Marilyn Johnson (This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All)
Theologians and other clerks, You won't understand this book, -- However bright your wits -- If you do not meet it humbly, And in this way, Love and Faith Make you surmount Reason, for They are the protectors of Reason's house.
Marguerite Porete
I like to change liquor stores frequently because the clerks got to know your habits if you went in night and day and bought huge quantities. I could feel them wondering why I wasn't dead yet and it made me feel uncomfortable. They probably weren't thinking any such thing, but then a man gets paranoid when he has 300 hangovers a year.
Charles Bukowski (Women)
When they took a young man into Tellson's London house, they hid him somewhere till he was old. They kept him in a dark place, like a cheese, until he had the full Tellson flavour and blue-mould upon him. Then only was he permitted to be seen, spectacularly poring over large books, and casting his breeches and gaiters into the general weight of the establishment.
Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities)
It's just like nurses in a hospital tend to know more than the doctors most of the time; if you really want to get the answers to a question about court, you should spend more time buttering up the clerks than the judges.
Jodi Picoult (House Rules)
A man walks into a bar and says: Take my wife–please. So you do. You take her out into the rain and you fall in love with her and she leaves you and you’re desolate. You’re on your back in your undershirt, a broken man on an ugly bedspread, staring at the water stains on the ceiling. And you can hear the man in the apartment above you taking off his shoes. You hear the first boot hit the floor and you’re looking up, you’re waiting because you thought it would follow, you thought there would be some logic, perhaps, something to pull it all together but here we are in the weeds again, here we are in the bowels of the thing: your world doesn’t make sense. And then the second boot falls. And then a third, a fourth, a fifth. A man walks into a bar and says: Take my wife–please. But you take him instead. You take him home, and you make him a cheese sandwich, and you try to get his shoes off, but he kicks you and he keeps kicking you. You swallow a bottle of sleeping pills but they don’t work. Boots continue to fall to the floor in the apartment above you. You go to work the next day pretending nothing happened. Your co-workers ask if everything’s okay and you tell them you’re just tired. And you’re trying to smile. And they’re trying to smile. A man walks into a bar, you this time, and says: Make it a double. A man walks into a bar, you this time, and says: Walk a mile in my shoes. A man walks into a convenience store, still you, saying: I only wanted something simple, something generic… But the clerk tells you to buy something or get out. A man takes his sadness down to the river and throws it in the river but then he’s still left with the river. A man takes his sadness and throws it away but then he’s still left with his hands.
Richard Siken
That's us," I said smiling brightly. "The Udells." That seemed to wake Roger up a little, and he blinked at me, surprised. "Finally," the clerk muttered. "All right. Names?" he asked, fingers posed over his keyboard. "Oh," I said, "Well. That's... Edmund. And I'm Hillary." Roger glanced over at me, a little more sharply, and I tried to shrug as subtly as possible.
Morgan Matson (Amy & Roger's Epic Detour)
He was a loner with an intimate bond to humanity, a rebel who was suffused with reverence. And thus it was that an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe.
Walter Isaacson (Einstein: His Life and Universe)
Luca saw her bloodstained hands as the clerk bound them with a rope, and Luca realized that she was a thing of horror, a beautiful thing of horror, the worst thing between heaven and hell: a fallen angel.
Philippa Gregory (Changeling (Order of Darkness, #1))
The Blue Bird from The Last Night of the Earth Poems there’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I’m too tough for him, I say, stay in there, I’m not going to let anybody see you. there’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I pour whiskey on him and inhale cigarette smoke and the whores and the bartenders and the grocery clerks never know that he’s in there. there’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I’m too tough for him, I say, stay down, do you want to mess me up? you want to screw up the works? you want to blow my book sales in Europe? there’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I’m too clever, I only let him out at night sometimes when everybody’s asleep. I say, I know that you’re there, so don’t be sad. then I put him back, but he’s still singing a little in there, I haven’t quite let him die and we sleep together like that with our secret pact and it’s nice enough to make a man weep, but I don’t weep, do you?
Charles Bukowski
his face, though lined, bore few traces of anxiety. But, perhaps the confidential bachelor clerks in Tellson's Bank were principally occupied with the cares of other people; and perhaps second-hand cares, like second-hand clothes, come easily off and on.
Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities)
What good does it do me, after all, if an ever-watchful authority keeps an eye out to ensure that my pleasures will be tranquil and races ahead of me to ward off all danger, sparing me the need even to think about such things, if that authority, even as it removes the smallest thorns from my path, is also absolute master of my liberty and my life; if it monopolizes vitality and existence to such a degree that when it languishes, everything around it must also languish; when it sleeps, everything must also sleep; and when it dies, everything must also perish? There are some nations in Europe whose inhabitants think of themselves in a sense as colonists, indifferent to the fate of the place they live in. The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved. They are so divorced from their own interests that even when their own security and that of their children is finally compromised, they do not seek to avert the danger themselves but cross their arms and wait for the nation as a whole to come to their aid. Yet as utterly as they sacrifice their own free will, they are no fonder of obedience than anyone else. They submit, it is true, to the whims of a clerk, but no sooner is force removed than they are glad to defy the law as a defeated enemy. Thus one finds them ever wavering between servitude and license. When a nation has reached this point, it must either change its laws and mores or perish, for the well of public virtue has run dry: in such a place one no longer finds citizens but only subjects.
Alexis de Tocqueville (Democracy in America)
I'm starving. When we check into our hotel, let's ask the desk clerk where we can find one of those vast pizzas." "What are you talking about?" "Your guidebook says Florence is a city of vast pizzas. Look it up yourself." "Those are vast piazzas, not pizzas! It means public squares!" Dan's face fell. "Oh." Amy sighed. "I honestly thought the clue hunt took the dweeb out of you. No such luck.
Gordon Korman (The Medusa Plot (39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers, #1))
It was this desire for a feeling of importance that led an uneducated, poverty-stricken grocery clerk to study some law books he found in the bottom of a barrel of household plunder that he had bought for fifty cents. You have probably heard of this grocery clerk. His name was Lincoln.
Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People)
Don’t worry, though, because Prince Hubert is very handsome and kind. That’s all you wanted in a boyfriend, wasn’t it?” “No,” I said. She raised an eyebrow. “It must be. If you had admired any other qualities you would have developed them in yourself, wouldn’t you?” Which was really too much. I put my hands on my hips. “Aren’t fairy godmothers supposed to be nice and make you feel better about yourself?” She rolled her eyes. “No, you’re confusing fairy god- mothers with sales clerks.
Janette Rallison (My Fair Godmother (My Fair Godmother, #1))
Alcohol does not a change a person’s fundamental value system. People’s personalities when intoxicated, even though somewhat altered, still bear some relationship to who they are when sober. When you are drunk you may behave in ways that are silly or embarrassing; you might be overly familiar or tactlessly honest, or perhaps careless or forgetful. But do you knock over little old ladies for a laugh? Probably not. Do you sexually assault the clerk at the convenience store? Unlikely. People’s conduct while intoxicated continues to be governed by their core foundation of beliefs and attitudes, even though there is some loosening of the structure. Alcohol encourages people to let loose what they have simmering below the surface. ABUSERS MAKE CONSCIOUS CHOICES EVEN WHILE INTOXICATED
Lundy Bancroft (Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men)
The clerk is looking at me. His expression hasn't changed. What I want to do is punch a hole in the front of the desk, reach through, grab his balls, and make him sing The Mickey Mouse Club song. But these days, I'm working on the theory that killing everyone I don't like might be counterproductive. I'm learning to use my indoor voice like a big boy, so I smile back at the clerk.
Richard Kadrey (Kill the Dead (Sandman Slim, #2))
But for me, if we're talking about romance, cassettes wipe the floor with MP3s. This has nothing to do with superstition, or nostalgia. MP3s buzz straight to your brain. That's part of what I love about them. But the rhythm of the mix tape is the rhythm of romance, the analog hum of a physical connection between two sloppy human bodies. The cassette is full of tape hiss and room tone; it's full of wasted space, unnecessary noise. Compared to the go-go-go rhythm of an MP3, mix tapes are hopelessly inefficient. You go back to a cassette the way a detective sits and pours drinks for the elderly motel clerk who tells stories about the old days--you know you might be somewhat bored, but there might be a clue in there somewhere. And if there isn't, what the hell? It's not a bad time. You know you will waste time. You plan on it.
Rob Sheffield (Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time)
statistical laws are not necessarily used as a result of our ignorance. statistical laws can reflect how things really are. there are matters that can only be treated statistically.
James Clerk Maxwell
I do not like the killers, and the killing bravely and well crap. I do not like the bully boys, the Teddy Roosevelt’s, the Hemingways, the Ruarks. They are merely slightly more sophisticated versions of the New Jersey file clerks who swarm into the Adirondacks in the fall, in red cap, beard stubble and taut hero’s grin, talking out of the side of their mouths, exuding fumes of bourbon, come to slay the ferocious white-tailed deer. It is the search for balls. A man should have one chance to bring something down. He should have his shot at something, a shining running something, and see it come a-tumbling down, all mucus and steaming blood stench and gouted excrement, the eyes going dull during the final muscle spasms. And if he is, in all parts and purposes, a man, he will file that away as a part of his process of growth and life and eventual death. And if he is perpetually, hopelessly a boy, he will lust to go do it again, with a bigger beast.
John D. MacDonald (A Deadly Shade of Gold (Travis McGee #5))
I’m probably the only sixteen-year-old girl in a three hundred mile radius who knows how to distinguish between a poltergeist from an actual ghost (hint: If you can disrupt it with nitric acid, or if it throws new crap at you every time, it’s a poltergeist), or how to tell if a medium’s real or faking it (poke ‘em with a true iron needle). I know the six signs of a good occult store (Number One is the proprietor bolts the door before talking about Real Business) and the four things you never do when you’re in a bar with other people who know about the darker side of the world (don’t look weak). I know how to access public information and talk my way around clerks in courthouses (a smile and the right clothing will work wonders). I also know how to hack into newspaper files, police reports, and some kinds of government databases (primary rule: Don’t get caught. Duh).
Lilith Saintcrow (Strange Angels (Strange Angels, #1))
Olive. . . knows that loneliness can kill people - in different ways can actually make you die. Olive's private view is that life depends on what she thinks of as "big bursts" and "little bursts". Big bursts are things like marriage or children, intimacies that keep you afloat, but these big bursts hold dangerous, unseen currents. Which is why you need the little bursts as well: a friendly clerk at Bradlee's, let's say, or the waitress at Dunkin' Donuts who knows how you like your coffee. Tricky business, really.
Elizabeth Strout (Olive Kitteridge (Olive Kitteridge, #1))
It is because we understand you, Toblakai, that we do not set the Hounds upon you. You bear your destiny like a standard, a grisly one, true, but then, its only distinction is in being obvious. Did you know that we too left civilization behind? The scribblers were closing in on all sides, you see. The clerks with their purple tongues and darting eyes, their shuffling feet and sloped shoulders, their bloodless lists. Oh, measure it all out! Acceptable levels of misery and suffering!’ The cane swung down, thumped hard on the ground. ‘Acceptable? Who the fuck says any level is acceptable? What sort of mind thinks that?’ Karsa grinned. ‘Why, a civilized one.’ ‘Indeed!’ Shadowthrone turned to Cotillion. ‘And you doubted this one!
Steven Erikson (Toll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #8))
You know, there's a million fine looking women in the world, dude. But they don't all bring you lasagna at work. Most of 'em just cheat on you. (As Silent Bob)
Kevin Smith
Almighty God, Who hast created man in Thine own image, and made him a living soul that he might seek after Thee, and have dominion over Thy creatures, teach us to study the works of Thy hands, that we may subdue the earth to our use, and strengthen the reason for Thy service;
James Clerk Maxwell
November, a dark, rainy Tuesday afternoon. This is my ideal time to be in a bookstore. The shortened light of the afternoon and the idleness and hush of the hour gather everything close, the shelves and the books and the few other customers who graze head-bent in the narrow aisles. There's a clerk at the counter who stares out the front window, taking a breather before the evening rush. I've come to find a book.
Lewis Buzbee (The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History)
It was no place for a Kabra, not even a poor one living in exile with a psychopathic cat. He approached the counter and rand the bell with authority. The clerk turned around. Evan Tolliver. "You're Amy's cousin!" "Yes, I am," Ian confirmed. "I have here a list of items–" "Have you heard from her?" Evan interrupted. "Is she okay?" "Her health is excellent." "No, I mean–" Ian sighed. "Why should you care? She promises to phone you, and she doesn't. You were nearly arrested, thanks to her. There's a message in there somewhere, don't you agree?" Evan nodded sadly. "I kind of think so, too. But we were awesome together. She's smart, fun to be with, and not immature like most of the girls in our school. It's as if she has an automatic switch for when it's time to be serious–she can almost be old beyond her years at times. Where do you learn something like that?" "I have no earthly idea," Ian lied.
Gordon Korman (The Medusa Plot (39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers, #1))
I’m looking for Fat Hoochie Prom Queen,” I declared. He did not respond. “It’s a book,” I said. “Not a person.” Nope. Nothing. “At the very least, can you tell me the author?” He looked at his computer, as if it had some way to speak to me without any typing on his part. “Are you wearing headphones that I can’t see?” I asked. He scratched at the inside of his elbow. “Do you know me?” I persisted. “Did I grind you to a pulp in kindergarten, and are you now getting sadistic pleasure from this petty revenge? Stephen Little, is that you? Is it? I was much younger then, and foolish to have nearly drowned you in that water fountain. In my defense, your prior destruction of my book report was a completely unwarranted act of aggression.” Finally, a response. The information desk clerk shook his shaggy head. “No?” I said. “I am not allowed to disclose the location of Fat Hoochie Prom Queen,” he explained. “Not to you. Not to anyone. And while I am not Stephen Little, you should be ashamed of what you did to him. Ashamed.
Rachel Cohn (Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Dash & Lily, #1))
Happiness There's just no accounting for happiness, or the way it turns up like a prodigal who comes back to the dust at your feet having squandered a fortune far away. And how can you not forgive? You make a feast in honor of what was lost, and take from its place the finest garment, which you saved for an occasion you could not imagine, and you weep night and day to know that you were not abandoned, that happiness saved its most extreme form for you alone. No, happiness is the uncle you never knew about, who flies a single-engine plane onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes into town, and inquires at every door until he finds you asleep midafternoon as you so often are during the unmerciful hours of your despair. It comes to the monk in his cell. It comes to the woman sweeping the street with a birch broom, to the child whose mother has passed out from drink. It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker, and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots in the night. It even comes to the boulder in the perpetual shade of pine barrens, to rain falling on the open sea, to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.
Jane Kenyon
I think I am an impostor. Twenty-seven years ago I was a baby. Before that I was a clump of cells. Before that I didn’t exist. How could I be a bookstore clerk, or a Catholic, or a woman, or a person at all? I’m a life force contained in the deformed body of a baby. Of course I’m a fraud. The fact that I’m able to carry myself through life without being crushed beneath the psychological weight of being alive proves that I’m a con artist. Aren’t we all con artists?
Emily R. Austin (Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead)
Start ringing things up then. This won't take long." "Which ones?" "I don't care." I push some at her. "These." "These?" She looked dubious. "Why not these?" She glanced at Ray. "'Cause if that's your man, I'd say you can leave these off." "Oh, no, you didn't." Ray said. "What's this shit?" Ray demanded, looking at the saleclerk. "Honey, truth hurts, but ain't no way you're a Magnum." "Well, I ain't no medium!" The clerk smiled. "Yeah, but I was being generous." "What are you doing?" The clerk demanded as Ray grabbed another box. "I ain't rung those up yet." Ray pulled out a foil package and tossed the box back on the counter. "So ring it up." She arched an eyebrow, but didn't bother, maybe because she was watching him unbutton his fly. I caught his wrist. "What are you doing?" "Proving a point." "Not in the middle of the store, you're not." "Ain't nobody here," the cashier reminded me. "And ain't no way he's filling that thing out.
Karen Chance (Fury's Kiss (Dorina Basarab, #3))
Have you ever suffered a sharp disappointment or a painful loss and found yourself looking for someone to blame? Have you, for example, ever been nasty to a store clerk when you were really upset about your job? Most people have an impulse to dump bad feelings on some undeserving person, as a way to relieve - temporarily—sadness or frustration. Certain days you may know that you just have to keep an eye on yourself so as not to bite someone’s head off. The abusive man doesn’t bother to keep an eye on himself, however. In fact, he considers himself entitled to use his partner as a kind of human garbage dump where he can litter the ordinary pains and frustrations that life brings us. She is always an available target, she is easy to blame — since no partner is perfect—and she can’t prevent him from dumping because he will get even worse if she tries. His excuse when he jettisons his distresses on to her is that his life is unusually painful—an unacceptable rationalization even if it were true, which it generally isn’t.
Lundy Bancroft (Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men)
A plane flies overhead and inside it is a writer who has spent most of his life as a law clerk, even though he’s always known deep down that he’s a writer. For the first time, he’s worked out what he wants to write, what the truth really is. He begs a napkin and a pen off the air hostess and he writes down the most beautiful sentence ever written, as the engine catches fire outside and the plane starts its plummet to the ground. It doesn’t matter to him. It’s the only sentence he’s ever written and it is the last and no part of him cares. The sentence falls through the air with singed, black edges and comes to rest in a tree, in a park, miles away. One day, around ten years from now, an old widow of an astronaut will find it when a strong breeze finally blows it from its hiding place. She will read it and she will weep.
pleasefindthis (Intentional Dissonance)
It was Sunday morning. I woke very early to a bright and cheery day, anxious to join my fellow Christians in this lovely garden of a land. The clerk in the hotel eyed me a little dubiously when I asked for a church. 'We don't have many of those, you know,' he said. 'Besides, you couldn't understand the language.' 'Didn't you know?' I said, 'Christians speak a kind of universal language.' 'Oh. What's that?' 'It's called "agape".' 'Agape? I never heard of it.' 'Too bad. It's the most beautiful language in the world.
Brother Andrew (God's Smuggler)
If You Knew What if you knew you'd be the last to touch someone? If you were taking tickets, for example, at the theater, tearing them, giving back the ragged stubs, you might take care to touch that palm brush your fingertips along the lifeline's crease. When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase too slowly through the airport, when the car in front of me doesn't signal, when the clerk at the pharmacy won't say thank you, I don't remember they're going to die. A friend told me she'd been with her aunt. They'd just had lunch and the waiter, a young gay man with plum black eyes, joked as he served the coffee, kissed her aunt's powdered cheek when they left. Then they walked half a block and her aunt dropped dead on the sidewalk. How close does the dragon's spume have to come? How wide does the crack in heaven have to split? What would people look like if we could see them as they are, soaked in honey, stung and swollen, reckless, pinned against time?
Ellen Bass (The Human Line)
Amy turned to Nellie. "Can you create a diversion to draw the clerk outside?" The au pair was wary. "What kind of diversion?" "You could pretend to be lost," Dan proposed. "The guy comes out to give you directions, and we slip inside." "That's the most sexist idea I've ever heard," Nellie said harshly. "I'm female, so I have to be clueless. He's male, so he's got a great sense of direction." "Maybe you're from out of town," Dan suggested. "Wait–you are from out of town." Nellie stashed their bags under a bench and set Saladin on the seat with a stern "You're the watchcat. Anybody touches those bags, unleash your inner tiger." The Egyptian Mau surveyed the street uncertainly. "Mrrp." Nellie sighed. "Lucky for us there's no one around. Okay, I'm going in there. Be ready." The clerk said something to her–probably May I help you? She smiled apologetically. "I don't speak Italian." "Ah–you are American." His accent was heavy, but he seemed eager to please. "I will assist you." He took in her black nail polish and nose ring. "Punk, perhaps, is your enjoyment?" "More like a punk/reggae fusion," Nellie replied thoughtfully. "With a country feel. And operatic vocals." The clerk stared in perplexity. Nellie began to tour the aisles, pulling out CDs left and right. "Ah–Artic Monkeys–that's what I'm talking about. And some Bad Brains–from the eighties. Foo Fighters–I'll need a couple from those guys. And don't forget Linkin Park..." He watched in awe as she stacked up an enormous armload of music. "There," she finished, slapping Frank Zappa's Greatest Hits on top of the pile. "That should do for a start." "You are a music lover," said the wide-eyed cashier. "No, I'm a kleptomaniac." And she dashed out the door.
Gordon Korman (One False Note (The 39 Clues, #2))
Emily just knew that the grocery store clerk’s cousin had slipped on a bath mat and fallen out a second-story open window only to be saved because the woman landed on a discarded mattress. But what interested Emily most about the incident was how the cousin had subsequently met a man in physical therapy who introduced her to his half brother who she ended up marrying and then running over with her car a year later after a heated argument. And that man, it was discovered, had been the one to dump the mattress in her yard. He’d saved her so that she could later cripple him. Emily found that not ironic but intriguing. Because everything, she believed, was connected.
Holly Goldberg Sloan (I'll Be There)
It is you who are unpoetical," replied the poet Syme. "If what you say of clerks is true, they can only be as prosaic as your poetry. The rare, strange thing is to hit the mark; the gross, obvious thing is to miss it. We feel it is epical when man with one wild arrow strikes a distant bird. Is it not also epical when man with one wild engine strikes a distant station? Chaos is dull; because in chaos the train might indeed go anywhere, to Baker Street or to Bagdad. But man is a magician, and his whole magic is in this, that he does say Victoria, and lo! it is Victoria. No, take your books of mere poetry and prose; let me read a time table, with tears of pride. Take your Byron, who commemorates the defeats of man; give me Bradshaw, who commemorates his victories. Give me Bradshaw, I say!
G.K. Chesterton (The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare)
Stalin is one of the most extraordinary figures in world history. He began as a small clerk, and he has never stopped being a clerk. Stalin owes nothing to rhetoric. He governs from his office, thanks to a bureaucracy that obeys his every nod and gesture. It's striking that Russian propaganda, in the criticisms it makes of us, always holds itself within certain limits. Stalin, that cunning Caucasian, is apparently quite ready to abandon European Russia, if he thinks that a failure to solve her problems would cause him to lose everything. Let nobody think Stalin might reconquer Europe from the Urals! It is as if I were installed in Slovakia, and could set out from there to reconquer the Reich. This is the catastrophe that will cause the loss of the Soviet Empire.
Adolf Hitler
He wondered about the people in houses like those. They would be, for example, small clerks, shop-assistants, commercial travellers, insurance touts, tram conductors. Did they know that they were only puppets dancing when money pulled the strings? You bet they didn’t. And if they did, what would they care? They were too busy being born, being married, begetting, working, dying. It mightn’t be a bad thing, if you could manage it, to feel yourself one of them, one of the ruck of men. Our civilization is founded on greed and fear, but in the lives of common men the greed and fear are mysteriously transmuted into something nobler. The lower-middle-class people in there, behind their lace curtains, with their children and their scraps of furniture and their aspidistras — they lived by the money-code, sure enough, and yet they contrived to keep their decency. The money-code as they interpreted it was not merely cynical and hoggish. They had their standards, their inviolable points of honour. They ‘kept themselves respectable’— kept the aspidistra flying. Besides, they were alive. They were bound up in the bundle of life. They begot children, which is what the saints and the soul-savers never by any chance do. The aspidistra is the tree of life, he thought suddenly.
George Orwell (Keep the Aspidistra Flying)
I was only going to say," said Scrooge's nephew, "that the consequence of his taking a dislike to us, and not making merry with us, is, as I think, that he loses some pleasant moments, which could do him no harm. I am sure he loses pleasanter companions than he can find in his own thoughts, either in his mouldy old office or his dusty chambers. I mean to give him the same chance every year, whether he likes it or not, for I pity him. He may rail at Christmas till he dies, but he can't help thinking better of it—I defy him—if he finds me going there in good temper, year after year, and saying, 'Uncle Scrooge, how are you?' If it only puts him in the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds, that's something.
Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol)
In addition to conformity as a way to relieve the anxiety springing from separateness, another factor of contemporary life must be considered: the role of the work routine and the pleasure routine. Man becomes a 'nine to fiver', he is part of the labour force, or the bureaucratic force of clerks and managers. He has little initiative, his tasks are prescribed by the organisation of the work; there is even little difference between those high up on the ladder and those on the bottom. They all perform tasks prescribed by the whole structure of the organisation, at a prescribed speed, and in a prescribed manner. Even the feelings are prescribed: cheerfulness, tolerance, reliability, ambition, and an ability to get along with everybody without friction. Fun is routinised in similar, although not quite as drastic ways. Books are selected by the book clubs, movies by the film and theatre owners and the advertising slogans paid for by them; the rest is also uniform: the Sunday ride in the car, the television session, the card game, the social parties. From birth to death, from Monday to Monday, from morning to evening - all activities are routinised, and prefabricated. How should a man caught up in this net of routine not forget that he is a man, a unique individual, one who is given only this one chance of living, with hopes and disappointments, with sorrow and fear, with the longing for love and the dread of the nothing and separateness?
Erich Fromm (The Art of Loving)
there's a bluebird in my heart that, wants to get out but I'm too tough for him I say, stay in there, I'm not going to let anybody see you there's a bluebird in my heart that, wants to get out but I pur whiskey on him and inhale cigarette smoke and the whores and the bartenders and the grocery clerks never know that he's in there there's a bluebird in my heart that, wants to get out but I'm too tough for him I say, stay down, do you want to mess me up? you want to screw up the works? you want to blow my book sales in Europe? there's a bluebird in my heart that, wants to get out but I'm too clever, I only let him out at night sometimes when everybody's asleep I say, I know that you're there, so don't be sad. then I put him back, but he's singing a little in there I haven't quite let him die. and we sleep together like that with our secret pact and it's nice enough to make a man weep but I don't weep, do you?
Charles Bukowski
You will hold this book in your hands, and learn all the things that I learned, right along with me: There is no immortality that is not built on friendship and work done with care. All the secrets in the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight. It takes forty-one seconds to climb a ladder three stories tall. It’s not easy to imagine the year 3012, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. We have new capabilities now—strange powers we’re still getting used to. The mountains are a message from Aldrag the Wyrm-Father. Your life must be an open city, with all sorts of ways to wander in. After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. But I hope you will remember this: A man walking fast down a dark lonley street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need. A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.
Robin Sloan (Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, #1))
He had always believed that his father had not been able to save a penny from the business, at least his father had never told him anything to the contrary, and Gregor, for his part, had never asked him any questions. In those days Gregor's sole concern had been to do everything in his power to make the family forget as quickly as possible the business disaster which had plunged everyone into a state of total despair. And so he had begun to work with special ardor and had risen almost overnight from stock clerk to traveling salesman, which of course had opened up very different money-making possibilities, and in no time his successes on the job were transformed, by means of commissions, into hard cash that could be plunked down on the table at home in front of his astonished and delighted family. Those had been the wonderful times, and they had never returned, at least not with the same glory, although later on Gregor earned enough money to meet the expenses of the entire family and actually did so. They had just gotten used to it, the family as well as Gregor, the money was received with thanks and given with pleasure, but no special feeling of warmth went with it any more.
Franz Kafka (The Metamorphosis)
This is the shame of the woman whose hand hides her smile because her teeth are so bad, not the grand self-hate that leads some to razors or pills or swan dives off beautiful bridges however tragic that is. This is the shame of seeing yourself, of being ashamed of where you live and what your father’s paycheck lets you eat and wear. This is the shame of the fat and the bald, the unbearable blush of acne, the shame of having no lunch money and pretending you’re not hungry. This is the shame of concealed sickness—diseases too expensive to afford that offer only their cold one-way ticket out. This is the shame of being ashamed, the self-disgust of the cheap wine drunk, the lassitude that makes junk accumulate, the shame that tells you there is another way to live but you are too dumb to find it. This is the real shame, the damned shame, the crying shame, the shame that’s criminal, the shame of knowing words like glory are not in your vocabulary though they litter the Bibles you’re still paying for. This is the shame of not knowing how to read and pretending you do. This is the shame that makes you afraid to leave your house, the shame of food stamps at the supermarket when the clerk shows impatience as you fumble with the change. This is the shame of dirty underwear, the shame of pretending your father works in an office as God intended all men to do. This is the shame of asking friends to let you off in front of the one nice house in the neighborhood and waiting in the shadows until they drive away before walking to the gloom of your house. This is the shame at the end of the mania for owning things, the shame of no heat in winter, the shame of eating cat food, the unholy shame of dreaming of a new house and car and the shame of knowing how cheap such dreams are. © Vern Rutsala
Brené Brown (I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame)
But most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she's not usually like this. Maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down. Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it. This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship.
David Foster Wallace (This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life)
It is not written that great men shall be happy men. It is nowhere recorded that the rewards of public office include a quiet mind. He sits in Whitehall, the year folding around him, aware of the shadow of his hand as it moves across the paper, his own inconcealable fist; and in the quiet of the house, he can hear the soft whispering of his quill, as if his writing is talking back to him. Can you make a new England? You can write a new story. You can write new texts and destroy the old ones, set the torn leaves of Duns Scotus sailing about the quadrangles, and place the gospels in every church. You can write on England, but what was written before keeps showing through, inscribed on the rocks and carried on floodwater, surfacing from deep cold wells. It’s not just the saints and martyrs who claim the country, it’s those who came before them: the dwarves dug into ditches, the sprites who sing in the breeze, the demons bricked into culverts and buried under bridges; the bones under your floor. You cannot tax them or count them. They have lasted ten thousand years and ten thousand before that. They are not easily dispossessed by farmers with fresh leases and law clerks who adduce proof of title. They bubble out of the ground, wear away the shoreline, sow weeds among the crops and erode the workings of mines.
Hilary Mantel (The Mirror & the Light (Thomas Cromwell, #3))
So here we are, in the family planning aisle with a cart full of sports drinks and our hands full of . . . “Trojans, Ramses, Magnum . . . Jeez, these are worse than names for muscle cars,” Jase observes, sliding his finger along the display. “They do sound sorta, well, forceful.” I flip over the box I’m holding to read the instructions. Jase glances up to smile at me. “Don’t worry, Sam. It’s just us.” “I don’t get what half these descriptions mean . . . What’s a vibrating ring?” “Sounds like the part that breaks on the washing machine. What’s extra-sensitive? That sounds like how we describe George.” I’m giggling. “Okay, would that be better or worse than ‘ultimate feeling’—and look—there’s ‘shared pleasure’ condoms and ‘her pleasure’ condoms. But there’s no ‘his pleasure.’” “I’m pretty sure that comes with the territory,” Jase says dryly. “Put down those Technicolor ones. No freaking way.” “But blue’s my favorite color,” I say, batting my eyelashes at him. “Put them down. The glow-in-the-dark ones too. Jesus. Why do they even make those?” “For the visually impaired?” I ask, reshelving the boxes. We move to the checkout line. “Enjoy the rest of your evening,” the clerk calls as we leave. “Do you think he knew?” I ask. “You’re blushing again,” Jase mutters absently. “Did who know what?” “The sales guy. Why we were buying these?” A smile pulls at the corners of his mouth. “Of course not. I’m sure it never occurred to him that we were actually buying birth control for ourselves. I bet he thought it was a . . . a . . . housewarming gift.” Okay, I’m ridiculous. “Or party favors,” I laugh. “Or”—he scrutinized the receipt—“supplies for a really expensive water balloon fight.” “Visual aids for health class?” I slip my hand into the back pocket of Jase’s jeans. “Or little raincoats for . . .” He pauses, stumped. “Barbie dolls,” I suggest. “G.I. Joes,” he corrects, and slips his free hand into the back pocket of my jeans, bumping his hip against mine as we head back to the car.
Huntley Fitzpatrick (My Life Next Door)
But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-lady who just screamed at her little child in the checkout line — maybe she’s not usually like this; maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of her husband who’s dying of bone cancer, or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the Motor Vehicles Dept. who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a nightmarish red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible — it just depends on what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is and who and what is really important — if you want to operate on your default-setting — then you, like me, will not consider possibilities that aren’t pointless and annoying. But if you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars — compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things. Not that that mystical stuff’s necessarily true: The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship…
David Foster Wallace
Waiting for the end, boys, waiting for the end. What is there to be or do? What's become of me or you? Are we kind or are we true? Sitting two and two, boys, waiting for the end. Shall I build a tower, boys, knowing it will rend Crack upon the hour, boys, waiting for the end? Shall I pluck a flower, boys, shall I save or spend? All turns sour, boys, waiting for the end. Shall I send a wire, boys? Where is there to send? All are under fire, boys, waiting for the end. Shall I turn a sire, boys? Shall I choose a friend? The fat is in the pyre, boys, waiting for the end. Shall I make it clear, boys, for all to apprehend, Those that will not hear, boys, waiting for the end, Knowing it is near, boys, trying to pretend, Sitting in cold fear, boys, waiting for the end? Shall we send a cable, boys, accurately penned, Knowing we are able, boys, waiting for the end, Via the Tower of Babel, boys? Christ will not ascend. He's hiding in his stable, boys, waiting for the end. Shall we blow a bubble, boys, glittering to distend, Hiding from our trouble, boys, waiting for the end? When you build on rubble, boys, Nature will append Double and re-double, boys, waiting for the end. Shall we make a tale, boys, that things are sure to mend, Playing bluff and hale, boys, waiting for the end? It will be born stale, boys, stinking to offend, Dying ere it fail, boys, waiting for the end. Shall we go all wild, boys, waste and make them lend, Playing at the child, boys, waiting for the end? It has all been filed, boys, history has a trend, Each of us enisled, boys, waiting for the end. What was said by Marx, boys, what did he perpend? No good being sparks, boys, waiting for the end. Treason of the clerks, boys, curtains that descend, Lights becoming darks, boys, waiting for the end. Waiting for the end, boys, waiting for the end. Not a chance of blend, boys, things have got to tend. Think of those who vend, boys, think of how we wend, Waiting for the end, boys, waiting for the end. - 'Just A Smack at Auden
William Empson (The Complete Poems)
But what I would like to know," says Albert, "is whether there would not have been a war if the Kaiser had said No." "I'm sure there would," I interject, "he was against it from the first." "Well, if not him alone, then perhaps if twenty or thirty people in the world had said No." "That's probable," I agree, "but they damned well said Yes." "It's queer, when one thinks about it," goes on Kropp, "we are here to protect our fatherland. And the French are over there to protect their fatherland. Now who's in the right?" "Perhaps both," say I without believing it. "Yes, well now," pursues Albert, and I see that he means to drive me into a corner, "but our professors and parsons and newspapers say that we are the only ones that are right, and let's hope so;--but the French professors and parsons and newspapers say that the right is on their side, now what about that?" "That I don't know," I say, "but whichever way it is there's war all the same and every month more countries coming in." Tjaden reappears. He is still quite excited and again joins the conversation, wondering just how a war gets started. "Mostly by one country badly offending another," answers Albert with a slight air of superiority. Then Tjaden pretends to be obtuse. "A country? I don't follow. A mountain in Germany cannot offend a mountain in France. Or a river, or a wood, or a field of wheat." "Are you really as stupid as that, or are you just pulling my leg?" growls Kropp, "I don't mean that at all. One people offends the other--" "Then I haven't any business here at all," replies Tjaden, "I don't feel myself offended." "Well, let me tell you," says Albert sourly, "it doesn't apply to tramps like you." "Then I can be going home right away," retorts Tjaden, and we all laugh, "Ach, man! he means the people as a whole, the State--" exclaims Mller. "State, State"--Tjaden snaps his fingers contemptuously, "Gendarmes, police, taxes, that's your State;--if that's what you are talking about, no, thank you." "That's right," says Kat, "you've said something for once, Tjaden. State and home-country, there's a big difference." "But they go together," insists Kropp, "without the State there wouldn't be any home-country." "True, but just you consider, almost all of us are simple folk. And in France, too, the majority of men are labourers, workmen, or poor clerks. Now just why would a French blacksmith or a French shoemaker want to attack us? No, it is merely the rulers. I had never seen a Frenchman before I came here, and it will be just the same with the majority of Frenchmen as regards us. They weren't asked about it any more than we were." "Then what exactly is the war for?" asks Tjaden. Kat shrugs his shoulders. "There must be some people to whom the war is useful." "Well, I'm not one of them," grins Tjaden. "Not you, nor anybody else here." "Who are they then?" persists Tjaden. "It isn't any use to the Kaiser either. He has everything he can want already." "I'm not so sure about that," contradicts Kat, "he has not had a war up till now. And every full-grown emperor requires at least one war, otherwise he would not become famous. You look in your school books." "And generals too," adds Detering, "they become famous through war." "Even more famous than emperors," adds Kat. "There are other people back behind there who profit by the war, that's certain," growls Detering. "I think it is more of a kind of fever," says Albert. "No one in particular wants it, and then all at once there it is. We didn't want the war, the others say the same thing--and yet half the world is in it all the same.
Erich Maria Remarque (All Quiet on the Western Front)
Birthdays are a time when one stock takes, which means, I suppose, a good spineless mope: I scan my horizon and can discern no sail of hope along my own particular ambition. I tell you what it is: I'm quite in accord with the people who enquire 'What is the matter with the man?' because I don't seem to be producing anything as the years pass but rank self indulgence. You know that my sole ambition, officially at any rate, was to write poems & novels, an activity I never found any difficulty fulfilling between the (dangerous) ages of 17-24: I can't very well ignore the fact that this seems to have died a natural death. On the other hand I feel regretful that what talents I have in this direction are not being used. Then again, if I am not going to produce anything in the literary line, the justification for my selfish life is removed - but since I go on living it, the suspicion arises that the writing existed to produce the life, & not vice versa. And as a life it has very little to recommend it: I spend my days footling in a job I care nothing about, a curate among lady-clerks; I evade all responsibility, familial, professional, emotional, social, not even saving much money or helping my mother. I look around me & I see people getting on, or doing things, or bringing up children - and here I am in a kind of vacuum. If I were writing, I would even risk the fearful old age of the Henry-James hero: not fearful in circumstance but in realisation: because to me to catch, render, preserve, pickle, distil or otherwise secure life-as-it-seemed for the future seems to me infinitely worth doing; but as I'm not the entire morality of it collapses. And when I ask why I'm not, well, I'm not because I don't want to: every novel I attempt stops at a point where I awake from the impulse as one might awake from a particularly-sickening nightmare - I don't want to 'create character', I don't want to be vivid or memorable or precise, I neither wish to bathe each scene in the lambency of the 'love that accepts' or be excoriatingly cruel, smart, vicious, 'penetrating' (ugh), or any of the other recoil qualities. In fact, like the man in St Mawr, I want nothing. Nothing, I want. And so it becomes quite impossible for me to carry on. This failure of impulse seems to me suspiciously like a failure of sexual impulse: people conceive novels and dash away at them & finish them in the same way as they fall in love & will not be satisfied till they're married - another point on which I seem to be out of step. There's something cold & heavy sitting on me somewhere, & until something budges it I am no good.
Philip Larkin (Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica)
I probably should say that this is what makes you a good traveler in my opinion, but deep down I really think this is just universal, incontrovertible truth. There is the right way to travel, and the wrong way. And if there is one philanthropic deed that can come from this book, maybe it will be that I teach a few more people how to do it right. So, in short, my list of what makes a good traveler, which I recommend you use when interviewing your next potential trip partner: 1. You are open. You say yes to whatever comes your way, whether it’s shots of a putrid-smelling yak-butter tea or an offer for an Albanian toe-licking. (How else are you going to get the volcano dust off?) You say yes because it is the only way to really experience another place, and let it change you. Which, in my opinion, is the mark of a great trip. 2. You venture to the places where the tourists aren’t, in addition to hitting the “must-sees.” If you are exclusively visiting places where busloads of Chinese are following a woman with a flag and a bullhorn, you’re not doing it. 3. You are easygoing about sleeping/eating/comfort issues. You don’t change rooms three times, you’ll take an overnight bus if you must, you can go without meat in India and without vegan soy gluten-free tempeh butter in Bolivia, and you can shut the hell up about it. 4. You are aware of your travel companions, and of not being contrary to their desires/​needs/​schedules more often than necessary. If you find that you want to do things differently than your companions, you happily tell them to go on without you in a way that does not sound like you’re saying, “This is a test.” 5. You can figure it out. How to read a map, how to order when you can’t read the menu, how to find a bathroom, or a train, or a castle. 6. You know what the trip is going to cost, and can afford it. If you can’t afford the trip, you don’t go. Conversely, if your travel companions can’t afford what you can afford, you are willing to slum it in the name of camaraderie. P.S.: Attractive single people almost exclusively stay at dumps. If you’re looking for them, don’t go posh. 7. You are aware of cultural differences, and go out of your way to blend. You don’t wear booty shorts to the Western Wall on Shabbat. You do hike your bathing suit up your booty on the beach in Brazil. Basically, just be aware to show the culturally correct amount of booty. 8. You behave yourself when dealing with local hotel clerks/​train operators/​tour guides etc. Whether it’s for selfish gain, helping the reputation of Americans traveling abroad, or simply the spreading of good vibes, you will make nice even when faced with cultural frustrations and repeated smug “not possible”s. This was an especially important trait for an American traveling during the George W. years, when the world collectively thought we were all either mentally disabled or bent on world destruction. (One anecdote from that dark time: in Greece, I came back to my table at a café to find that Emma had let a nearby [handsome] Greek stranger pick my camera up off our table. He had then stuck it down the front of his pants for a photo. After he snapped it, he handed the camera back to me and said, “Show that to George Bush.” Which was obviously extra funny because of the word bush.) 9. This last rule is the most important to me: you are able to go with the flow in a spontaneous, non-uptight way if you stumble into something amazing that will bump some plan off the day’s schedule. So you missed the freakin’ waterfall—you got invited to a Bahamian family’s post-Christening barbecue where you danced with three generations of locals in a backyard under flower-strewn balconies. You won. Shut the hell up about the waterfall. Sally
Kristin Newman (What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding)
DEAR MAMA, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write. Every time I try to write to you and Papa I realize I’m not saying the things that are in my heart. That would be O.K., if I loved you any less than I do, but you are still my parents and I am still your child. I have friends who think I’m foolish to write this letter. I hope they’re wrong. I hope their doubts are based on parents who loved and trusted them less than mine do. I hope especially that you’ll see this as an act of love on my part, a sign of my continuing need to share my life with you. I wouldn’t have written, I guess, if you hadn’t told me about your involvement in the Save Our Children campaign. That, more than anything, made it clear that my responsibility was to tell you the truth, that your own child is homosexual, and that I never needed saving from anything except the cruel and ignorant piety of people like Anita Bryant. I’m sorry, Mama. Not for what I am, but for how you must feel at this moment. I know what that feeling is, for I felt it for most of my life. Revulsion, shame, disbelief—rejection through fear of something I knew, even as a child, was as basic to my nature as the color of my eyes. No, Mama, I wasn’t “recruited.” No seasoned homosexual ever served as my mentor. But you know what? I wish someone had. I wish someone older than me and wiser than the people in Orlando had taken me aside and said, “You’re all right, kid. You can grow up to be a doctor or a teacher just like anyone else. You’re not crazy or sick or evil. You can succeed and be happy and find peace with friends—all kinds of friends—who don’t give a damn who you go to bed with. Most of all, though, you can love and be loved, without hating yourself for it.” But no one ever said that to me, Mama. I had to find it out on my own, with the help of the city that has become my home. I know this may be hard for you to believe, but San Francisco is full of men and women, both straight and gay, who don’t consider sexuality in measuring the worth of another human being. These aren’t radicals or weirdos, Mama. They are shop clerks and bankers and little old ladies and people who nod and smile to you when you meet them on the bus. Their attitude is neither patronizing nor pitying. And their message is so simple: Yes, you are a person. Yes, I like you. Yes, it’s all right for you to like me too. I know what you must be thinking now. You’re asking yourself: What did we do wrong? How did we let this happen? Which one of us made him that way? I can’t answer that, Mama. In the long run, I guess I really don’t care. All I know is this: If you and Papa are responsible for the way I am, then I thank you with all my heart, for it’s the light and the joy of my life. I know I can’t tell you what it is to be gay. But I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not hiding behind words, Mama. Like family and decency and Christianity. It’s not fearing your body, or the pleasures that God made for it. It’s not judging your neighbor, except when he’s crass or unkind. Being gay has taught me tolerance, compassion and humility. It has shown me the limitless possibilities of living. It has given me people whose passion and kindness and sensitivity have provided a constant source of strength. It has brought me into the family of man, Mama, and I like it here. I like it. There’s not much else I can say, except that I’m the same Michael you’ve always known. You just know me better now. I have never consciously done anything to hurt you. I never will. Please don’t feel you have to answer this right away. It’s enough for me to know that I no longer have to lie to the people who taught me to value the truth. Mary Ann sends her love. Everything is fine at 28 Barbary Lane. Your loving son, MICHAEL
Armistead Maupin (More Tales of the City (Tales of the City #2))