The Crips Fun Barrel


Here’s the story of America, being anal, and bricks.

I must admit, I was a little alarmed when a client told me he wanted ‘crips’ all over his poster. As far as I’m aware, ‘crips’ is a gang in LA. Turns out, he meant ‘crisps’ and his English wasn’t so good. Originally, I had put fries on the poster, thinking he meant ‘chips.’ Of course, he actually meant ‘crisps,’ but he was calling them ‘chips’ because that’s what the Americans call ‘crisps.’ I don’t know why he felt anyone in Britain would be aware of this fact, because unless you’ve been to America, I’m fairly sure you won’t know it. Of course, if I may don my pedantic hat, here, American crisps aren’t really crisps. They taste awful, for a start, except their Doritos. They taste about the same. That said, I’ve also taken issue with American Weetabix and American milk before, so it probably comes as no surprise to discover they also butchered crisps. Still, at least I’m glad the client wanted crisps on his poster. I’m not sure how I’d feel about filling it with gang symbols…

I did feel for my client, a little bit. He clearly only spoke a few words of English and he couldn’t read English at all. “Crips! I want crips!” Okay. I deal with immigrants all the time, so I knew that patience and determination was the best form of action. It’s not their fault they don’t know all the correct words. So I told him in my bestest and calmest voice, “I think you mean crisps, sir.” “No. Crips! I want crips!” So I Googled an image of crisps and he said, “Yes! Them.” Ah. Wonderful. I’ll just plonk the image on his poster, change the text to ‘crisps,’ and all is well in the world. Except when I changed the text to ‘crisps.’ “Why change? Crips. I want crips. Crips!” Then I realised he couldn’t read English. “Yes,” I said. “That does say ‘crips.’” I felt awful lying to him, but, as I kept telling him, nobody outside of America calls them ‘chips’ and will have no idea what you’re going on about. Sometimes, lying is the best way to move forward in life. Tell your kids that. It’s a great life lesson.

Lovely man, though. He said he was very happy with my design. It’s a nice confidence booster. I went passed his shop on the way home that day. He already had it up in his window and people were stopping to have a look at it. I did that! So proud. We’re a little town. Little known. It was only a little takeaway in a sea of takeaways, but I’m still proud. I don’t feel pride very often. Or at all, even. It’s a strange feeling. It’s like pleasant constipation…

Such is the life of a graphic designer, I guess.

You wouldn’t think such work would be exhausting, would you? You think it’d be fun and not at all stressful. Think again. I’m so tired I woke up this week thinking I’d eaten an inkwell, or maybe a fountain pen. Bleary eyed. Dark outside. Head thumping. Brushing my teeth. Look at the mirror. Oh, my good heavens. Why is my mouth blue? Like, properly blue. Like I’ve just ingested a mouthful of blue dye. Dribbling down my chin, too. Honestly, I looked like I’d just eaten a Smurf.

Turns out, they make blue toothpaste nowadays. Who knew? I always thought it came in white…

Waking up has become easier since I invested in one of these fancy pants sunrise alarm clocks. They simulate the sunrise. It’s lovely in summer. Bit disorientating in winter. ‘Ooh, what a lovely day, I’ll just open the curtains to take in that lovely summer – oh, crap, it’s snowing.’ Still tired, though. I’ve started drinking Coke at work to try to stay awake. I only realised why it wasn’t working when it dawned on me that it’s caffeine free. Oh, sugar lumps.

I have the same routine every morning. I’m regimented, I am. Organised to the T. Get up. Hit the bathroom. Sort my face out. It’s an awful mess in the morning. Morning pee. Get changed. Head downstairs. Lovely British Weetabix. None of that American guff. Bleurgh. Back to the bathroom. Teeth brushed. More face sorting. Some days that’s more successful than others. Depends how much it’s deteriorated over night. Straighten hair. And head out for the bus. At exactly five minutes passed nine. Exactly. Even one second later, it would bug me. Yes, I am a barrel of fun. A fun barrel, if you will.

Same bus, too. Always the same seat. I get annoyed if someone is sitting in my seat. I love the bus, I do. I know all the driver’s faces. I remember who they are and how they act. ‘Oh, this driver is lovely. Really polite and friendly.’ ‘Aww, I remember her. She let me on for free that one time I had my money stolen.’ And, ‘Oh God, it’s that misery again…’

I remember how they drive, as well. I know when to brace. ‘Well, I don’t need to brace for this stop because she’s lovely and gentle with the brakes.’ Or, ‘I really need to brace with this one. He treats that brake pedal like it’s his ex wife.’

Most people spend their time remembering things that are more important. I notice the other things. I don’t know why. It’s just the way I am. I spend my 20 minute walk to work from the bus, through all the neighbourhoods of old and tiny Victorian terraces, admiring the quaint and simple old architecture. “Ooh, that one has some lovely old bricks.” It’s comments like that that perhaps explain why I have no friends. ‘He’s mental – he’ll spend hours talking about bricks…’

I see the same faces and wonder what they’re up to. Standing outside the various shops they own. ‘Oh, that’s a lovely shop front. Really respects the original architecture. Now that guy over there, he has really ruined what was a lovely old house.’ I do like a good shop front. Shows pride in what you do, does a well maintained shop front. Any old crap seems like you don’t care. Am I boring you, yet? No? Ah, good. I’ll talk more about shop fronts then.

You see, the thing I most love about shop fronts is… no, I’m kidding. Still nicer than the new buildings I walk passed. No character, them. And they stink of weed. Seriously. Lots of weed. Student flats, they are. One of the many reasons I didn’t go to uni. Can’t be dealing with that bad crowd. All the drugs and drink and cigarettes and heavy petting. Very bad, indeed. Another life lesson for kids, that. Perhaps a better one than my earlier one. Heck, I might’ve won the parents back…

Get to work at the same time each day. On the dot. Take my coat off and brush my lovely long hair. Get out my notepad and pencil, place it just so on the desk. It must be in a certain location. It doesn’t look right otherwise. Get out my drink and put it in its place, too. Some people call me anal. Others, annoying. Mostly annoying.

And then I design. Spend the entire day designing things. Taking calls. Helping with the printing. Dealing with crips. It’s fun. I’m going miss this when my work experience comes to an end. But that’s life. You move on and hope you’ll get a job. At 26, I should have one and be living on my own, by now. Hmm. Easier said than done. 10 interviews this year. More last year. Nobody wants me, do they? Can’t blame ‘em. I wouldn’t hire me…

Some people might wonder where all the excitement in one’s life comes from living such a life, one of logic and order. Well, I don’t live such a life by choice. I can only compare it to the need a smoker has to smoke. You have to do it otherwise you get all itchy and deranged. But for smoking, there’s a patch you can have to cure what ails you. But for the anal? Well, I can tell you, there is most certainly no such thing as an anal patch.

Oh, hang on, that sounded better in my head…

English author, Alan ‘A.A.’ Milne (1882-1956), once wrote: ‘Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.’

Peace Out :|:

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Please feel free check out the latest posts from my other blog:

To Contrive & Jive
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