After work Tuesday morning, I bought a box of gushers. When I opened the box to devour the little gem shaped goo sacks, I found bizarre scrawlings written all over the inside. As it turns out, they were journal entries, and I thought I would share them with you. Enjoy:
Hello! I am a box of Gushers fruit snacks, expiration date 11 Jun 2014, and today is the day that I finally moved up to the front of the line on the shelf. I’m really excited. After all, I have been waiting for this moment ever since I’ve had my insides stuffed inside me and my ends sealed with hot glue. That sounds painful but it’s actually quite nice- you feel whole afterwards. Anyway, I just know that any minute now a person (or possibly a younger person with the case of the “munchies” as I’ve heard it) will take me off the shelf, and carry me off to their homes where…
Actually, I don’t know what happens then. No one does. There are stories of course- some say that we spend the time before we expire relaxing with other items, doing whatever we want- standing there, lying down, falling over, you name it. Then, of course, there are the boxes of gushers that believe that we’re going to be tortured and possibly eaten by these giant people. These boxes hang out in the back of the shelf, sometimes behind other products like Fruit Roll Ups until a worker person finds them. Personally, I like to believe that I will spend my remaining time playing with the miniature people (children, as they’re called), seeing as though they are the ones who usually ask for us by name.
But whatever happens, I will find out soon! I’m at the front! I can see the floor for the first time since the brief glimpse I stole as I was being put on the shelf. That feels like such a long time ago now. But it doesn’t matter, I was made for whatever happens to me next! Oh, and look! A person is coming! I think this one is called a “man.” He has short hair, is larger than the “womans” I’ve seen, and is wearing nice looking clothes. I especially like the shiny black things on his feet and the piece of dark blue cloth that starts at his throat and hangs down in front of his chest. It looks fancy. I wonder if he’ll let me wear it.
He’s getting closer now. He’s pushing one of those carts, and it has quite a good amount of stuff in it already, but I see room for me! I’m standing up straight, making sure not to wobble, and my logo is clearly visible. There is no way he is going to miss me. He’s still walking towards me! Getting closer! Getting closer! He’s right in front of me!
He passed me up. He didn’t even notice that I was there. Maybe I did something wrong. Maybe my colors weren’t bright enough to get his attention. There is a tiny bit of space between me and the edge of the shelf; maybe I should’ve been forward a little more. I wish I knew what I did wrong. No. It’s OK. That was the first time a person walked by while I was in front. I cannot start beating myself up just because that man didn’t want me. Someone will, and pretty soon I will be taken home by that person, I can feel it in my pouches.
Gushers, Expiration date: 11 Jun 2014
I’ve been taken off the shelf! A very nice sounding woman snatched me up and tossed me lovingly into her cart. I like her- I think we’ll make a great pair. She’s older, has a fun round shape to her, and leans onto the cart as she walks, like she’s trying to get closer to us!
By “us” I mean the other products and myself. I guess you could call them my new friends. Or well most of them. At first, I tried hanging out with a bunch of colorful things in bags. They called themselves fruits, and since fruit is part of my name, I figured I belonged with them. I was wrong. They called me a lot of hurtful names like “fake” and “candy” and “nonperishable.”
“Why don’t you hang out with the other junk food,” the apples said in unison.
I was hurt, but obliged them, and I decided to talk to the other boxed items like me. There was tall box called Saltines, and a box that was closer to my shape named Hamburger Helper. They were much nicer to me. As was the blue plastic package called Oreo, who was put in the cart after me. I liked my new friends. We all shared storied about our time in the factory and on the shelf, as well as our theories on what happened to us next. Apparently, no one knows for sure, but every rumor I heard from the other Gushers were also told to them, so I wasn’t much help in solving that mystery.
After a while of our person wandering through the store, she grabbed a big white thing and set it down between me and Hamburger Helper. This new guy, who’s label said “Homogenized Milk” was the weirdest thing in the cart. He was easily the biggest thing in there, but he was also kind of squishy.
“I’m filled with liquid,” he explained.
“But then why are you so cold?” Hamburger Helper asked.
That was a good question. He was very cold, and after not too long he began to sweat.
“Why are you so moist?” I asked after I accidentally touched him. The water was quickly absorbed into my cardboard and the area started to swell. I fell away from him to prevent it from happening again.
“Well, shit,” he replied, “That’s just my condensation. It happens to all us cold stuff. Don’t worry though; it’s not dangerous and will evaporate again soon.
“Why are you even talking to those Nonperishables, Homogenized Milk?” the cucumber at the other end of the cart asked, “Their expiration dates aren’t this month. They’re not even next month. How can you trust something that lasts longer than two months?”
“Hey Cucumber,” Homogenized milk retorted, “You’re just a jar of vinegar away from being nonperishable yourself, so how about you fuck off.”
The cucumber didn’t say anything back, but instead started a heated conversation with a bunch of bananas.
“Don’t worry about those guys,” Homogenized reassured us, “They’re produce, and produce goes rotten real damn quick. You just have to ignore those fuckers.”
We all laughed with Homogenized milk, and pretty soon he had given us all nick names. I was “Gush”- which I liked- it sounded cool, Hamburger Helper was “HH,” Saltines didn’t seemed too pleased with “Cracker,” but he didn’t complain, and Oreo was given the nick name “Big O.”
Big O then said to Homogenized, “We should call you Homo!”
He liked the name and adopted it as his own, and finally our little group was complete. Well, that is until our person stopped the cart. I looked up at her. She was looking from a slip of paper to us and frowning. Then, without a single word, she picked me up and pulled me out of the cart. With a look of both disappointment and annoyance, she set me down on a nearby shelf and then returned to the cart and walked away.
“Homo! HH! Big O! Cracker! Help!” I cried, “She’s leaving me, she’s leaving me!”
“Gush!” they cried back. But it was no use. She turned the corner and they were gone, and I knew I was never going to see them again. I wanted to cry. I really did. How could my person do this to me? I wasn’t even on the right shelf. I was far, far away from where I was supposed to be. How was I supposed to get back? Why would she abandon me here of all places- behind a bunch of little boxes of Lotrimin Ultra, and under hanging Dr. Scholl’s inserts? Why did she even bother to get my hopes up if all she was going to do was to leave me somewhere else? Are people really this cruel? Will anyone pick me up if I’m here? I took a deep breath after asking myself that last question and said to myself, “hopefully they will, and hopefully it will be soon.”
Gush, Expiration date: 11 Jun 2014
No one picked me up today. Most people barely noticed I was there. I don’t like it here. It’s cold. See, on the other side of the aisle there are shelves sitting in a cooler, and they are filled with bottles of different colored liquid. I’ve overheard them call themselves “Juices.” I wondered if they’re similar to Homo, and was thinking about asking them, but the memory of Homo and the others made me too depressed to speak.
Throughout the rest of the day, I took in my surroundings. I was on a very small shelf- much smaller than the one with all the other Gushers. Despite the fact that I was towards the back of the shelf, I could still see the floor over the packages of Lotrimin Ultra. Speaking of the Lotrimin Ultra, if you ever get a chance to talk to them, Journal, Don’t. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not mean like the produce, but they’re just really, really weird. Anytime a person passes, they feel compelled to talk about the person’s feet. They discuss which person’s feet would have the worst fungus, or which ones had unhealthy looking toenails. I seriously think they get off on it. When one of them finally said something to me, all it asked was, “Do you like feet?”
“I don’t know,” I replied honestly, “I’ve never seen them outside of those things they wear over top of them.”
Several Lotrimins moaned with pleasure, and I made a note to never mention naked feet ever again.
Somehow, the Dr. Scholl’s inserts above me were even worse, all they talk about is how much they want to be stepped on by particular customers. They call some customers “Flatfoot” which sounds like equal parts an insult and a sexy nickname when they say it, and whenever they do, I realize just how out of place I am on this shelf. I really don’t like it here, but I’m hoping that a worker person will pick me up soon and take me back to the self with all the other Gushers.
Honestly, I’m not huge on the idea; I’ve seen boxes come back before, and it’s always embarrassing, but the feeling of embarrassment cannot possibly compare to the feeling of loneliness and rejection from being stuck in a place you don’t belong. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be back over there. I guess we’ll see.
Gush, Expiration date: 11 Jun 2014
Sorry I haven’t written over the past couple of days, but I was busy trying to figure out how to count the days. I had to guess with Day 2. Luckily for me (I guess) one of the Lotrimins told me that whenever the lights in the juice case come on, it’s the start of a new day. Once I was told that, I had to count backwards in order to figure out how many days it had been, and then find a way to record them. I decided to mark the day with a little line on the inside of my box. I have marked six since I’ve been here, so that means it’s day 7.
Crud, I’ve been here seven days and not a single worker person has bothered to pick me up. I know they see me; I’ve seen them look directly at me. But no, all they do is look at me and keep walking. I always see the same few too. First there are two women. One is shorter and has red curly hair, and the other is a bit taller with much shorter hair that is always sticking up. They are the ones that usually add more Lotrimin and Dr. Scholl’s to the shelf, so I don’t understand why they haven’t taken me back yet. Then there are a series of people whom I mostly see the backs of, as they deal with the juice. I doubt any of them have even noticed me, despite the fact that I’m at least five inches taller than the backs of the Lotrimin boxes.
Then there is another person that only comes in around the time the Juice cooler lights go off and leaves around the time the lights come back on. This person has long hair, so originally, I was inclined to believe it was a woman. But judging by its voice and how its shaped more like a man, I’ve convinced myself that it is one. It (or, I guess “he”) is usually the one to put the juice on the shelf. He brings the cases out on a large, flat, wooded thing and usually sets it down right in front of me. Because of this, he seems to be the only one to really notice me. Granted, he only glanced at me the first few days, but with each new day, he notices me more and more. I was hoping that he would be the one to take me back, that is, until I heard him mutter, “not my damn problem” after looking at me yesterday. I had never heard those words before, but there was such a cold dismissal behind them that I couldn’t help but feel insulted. When I could, I caught a glimpse of his name tag. “Minigan” it read. Well, you’re a jerk, Minigan. I’m pretty sure that I am your problem, since you work here after all. It’s not like I’m demanding that you take me home with you, just back to the shelf. And that shouldn’t be too far for you because you have legs. Are you really that lazy?
I’m sorry Journal, I got carried away. I think it’s time I end it for the night. The lights in the cooler just went off, so Minigan should be here any time now.
Gush, Expiration date: 11 Jun 2014
I’m still here, on the tiny shelf behind the Lotrimin Ultra. No one has bothered to pick me up yet. I’m beginning to think that most of the worker people are just trying to avoid me. They must think I have a disease or something. All they ever do is look at me and keep walking. At least that Minigan person has had the decency to give me a reason why he isn’t bothering to take me back to my rightful place. A couple of nights ago (apparently the time that the lights in the cooler are off are called “nights”), he once again saw me on the shelf, standing in roughly the same spot that I had been for the past 10. He chuckled to himself and said to me, “Someone still hasn’t taken you back to eight?!”
I couldn’t answer because I have no lips.
“Well,” he continued without me, “I would, but you’re in Aych Bee See’s department, so they should be the ones who fucking take you back. Plus, I’ve got a lot of damn juice to work.”
I wanted to be angry at him for leaving me there again, but that was the most honest a person has ever been to me. Plus, his use of the words “fuck” and “damn” reminded me of Homo, whom I missed dearly. I hope he was happy at his new home with Big O, Cracker, and HH. It was in that longing that I decided to give this Minigan person the nickname “Homo 2.”
Although they shared some of the same vocabulary, Homo and Homo 2 are widely different. Homo 2 has a tendency to talk to himself, and if he had black things in his ears, sing to himself. One night he spent at least a half an hour singing about a party in the Yu Essay. I don’t know what a Yu Essay is, but he must like partying in it a lot. Also, other than his snappy remarks at the produce, Homo seemed to be pretty peaceful. Not Homo 2. He throws cases of juice across the floor just so that he doesn’t have to carry them, and I’ve watched in horror as he tosses the single bottles up into the air and catch them before placing them on the shelf. It makes me glad that he wasn’t the one to put me on my old shelf. But even still, at least he noticed me, and seeing him come around means that I don’t feel so lonely.
Until tomorrow, maybe,
Gush, Expiration date: 11 Jun 2014
I hate these worker people! All of them! Every. Last. One! Today, while I was sitting in the same stupid place I had been sitting since I was unceremoniously dropped off by that awful woman, one of those Aych Bee See workers that Homo 2 mentioned came by to restock the shelves, and do you know what she did? She pushed me out of her way! She just knocked me on my side and continued to work, as if I had no feelings at all! And then, when she was finally done, she left me laying here on my side! I can’t even see past the backs of the Lotrimin boxes now. That was all I had; the ability to see what was going on in the world beyond this tiny shelf, and now even that’s been taken from me. How do these awful think so positively of themselves.
And do you know what makes it even worse? Whenever that jerk Minigan (he lost the privilege to be called Homo) came in a little bit ago, he saw me laying on my side, laughed, and then took a picture with his phone. He’s getting some kind of demented amusement from seeing me here day after day. And know that it’s obvious that I’ve been moved, he’s getting an even bigger kick out of it. I swear I would give anything to be taken away from this shelf and never see that long haired “man” again.
An angry Gushers, Expiration date 11 June 2014, tolerance expiration date: Now
I decided to focus my energy on socializing with the Lotrimins that I was lying behind today. I didn’t learn much, but I did learn that they absolutely hate a group of products called Tinactin. At first I didn’t know what Tinactin was, but then a customer walked by and a chorus of “Booms” came from somewhere along the shelf. One of the Lotrimins groaned and informed me that anytime I hear a “boom” it’s coming from a Tinactin product. Apparently they have a stupid spokesperson. At least that’s what Lotrimin, Expiration date May 21 2015, said.
Later in the day, Minigan showed up for work, pulling his “pallet” of juice behind him. When he saw me, he chuckled, said “still here” mostly to himself, and then stood me back up. That would have redeemed him if it wasn’t for him deciding to take another picture of me. He revels in my humiliation. After all, we’re all just objects to him. We have no feelings, no emotions, no hopes. We’re just things that he tosses around to amuse himself while he’s working. What a sociopath.
Gush, Expiration date: 11 Jun 2014
I take back every negative thing I said about Minigan. He just picked me up and put me in his cart. He said that the only way I’ll move anywhere is if he goes ahead and buys me, so that’s what he’s gonna do! I’ll have a home today! He’s even picked up friends for me! They’re both bottles of oddly colored juice. One is black and calls itself Dr. Pepper, and the other is green and goes by the name Mtn Dew. It tells me that it’s pronounced “Mountain” not “Mit-in” like I was saying. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll be happy with Minigan-
Wait… Oh, God. Minigan just said that it’s been a long time since he’s eaten Gushers. Eaten??? Those paranoid boxes of Gushers that hid behind the Fruit Roll Ups were right this whole time?! We are just food to these people!? This cannot be happening! Please let him change his mind, please! Someone needs to rescue me; he’s theorizing how long it take him to eat all of my six pouches.
“Not my pouches!” I tried saying to him, “Anything but my pouches! Please Minigan, please don’t eat me!”
But he didn’t hear me because I have no lips. As he marched me down an aisle, I called to the products on the shelves, “Help me!” but none of them reacted to my pleas.
“We’re food!” I shrieked, just trying to get their attention, “All we are is food to people!”
But not a single one of them responded, and my fate is sealed as Minigan wheels his cart into the lane of an open register.
Final entry of Gush, Expiration date: 11 Jun 2014, but it’s likely I’ll never reach that date.
Well, shit. That was kind of grim, wasn’t it? Sorry everybody.