It's almost time for finals… and that means it's almost time for winter break. Winter break means taking a break from school work and breaking your back with real work.

Yes, of course I mean getting extra hours at your wonderful retail job.

For those of us who already have our purple hearts, we are very familiar with what it's like to work in retail during the holiday season. For those of you who have never worked in retail (pussies), I will acquaint you with a world of darkness and despair, fear and woe, austerity and most untriumphantness.

We begin with the "work detail." This means identifying the various positions one might hold when employed by one of this nation's UNSTOPPABLE RETAIL JUGGERNAUTS such as Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, or K-Mart. I, myself, work at a Barnes & Noble, just off the delightfully perilous Somerville traffic circle in New Jersey. I work on the music floor. For the first installment of this little "series," I will arrange a list of typical people I go through confrontations with every day. Here I begin with a common foe, the Hipster.

The Hipster is a creature that evolves from its lesser form, CollegeSnobachu. Collegesnobachu spends its larvaedom in the coffee shops of various college towns all over the country, debating over the Dada movement, the duality of man in philosophic terms, the role of feminism in Walker's novels, and a whole host of other cliche terms I made up that sound smart and debatable.

Once Collegecnobachu outgrows its vegetative College cocoon, it morphs into The Hipster and seeks new nooks and crannies in which to create its new hive of pretense and snobbery. More often than not, these Hawthorne Heroes find their way into bookstores. There, they can be seen enjoying the thousands of different types of coffee that I never even knew existed. There's some crazy combinations out there, none costing any less than $10 a pop. The craziest would have to be the one they call "The Vicious Verlaine." Rumors deem it to be the most intellectually stimulating cup of coffee in the world. One can only consume it up to ten times in his or her lifetime, reason being that each cup costs approximately 1 human finger. I heard that one Barnes & Noble out in Kansas somewhere has some kind of firstborn deal, but I've never confirmed that rumor. Anyway, back to the music floor.

The Hipsters are emotionally attached to the bookstore and cannot leave unless forced to. I'm serious. At 10 minutes till closing, they are forced out of the café and they all flock to the music section to terrorize me. They think that by asking me about obscure artists that they assume I've never heard of, they can fluster me. Little do they know that I've heard of every obscure band on the planet, I just don't like talking about them because they all suck. I had this conversation today:

SNOB: I'm looking for something, you know, more sophisticated. [I drink coffee so I'm smart]
ME: Could you be more specific? [I am smarter]
SNOB: Well, I was thinking of something not quite disestablishmentarian, but maybe with a more surrealist overtone, with some feelings of anarcho-syndicalism. You know" like Television.
ME: Oh, my god.
SNOB: What?
ME: Oh, it's nothing. It's just that" excuse me, I need a tissue. I'm afraid part of my brain just exploded and is now coming out my ears.
SNOB: Oh, I see. You've never heard of Television.
ME: Oh, don't get me wrong, I know of Television. It's just that my brain can't handle the concept of somebody paying tens of thousands of dollars a year just to go to some prestigious art school only to learn how to come up with the most pretentious way to ask me how to recommend to them a PUNK BAND.

That really happened. I'm not a music-Nazi by any means, I'm just saying, music's not that hard to talk about. Why do these people have to do this to me? Of course, I made up all those terms. While I am a big Television fan, I have no idea what anarcho-syndicalism is, but that's the basic idea of the idiotic things people say to me.

Here's another of my favorite situations: "Hot girl I used to know". This is always interesting. Usually it's a girl I graduated with. She will walk in, tailing some guy with "asshole" written on his face with a big black marker of obviousness and a hoodie he bought from the Jersey shore. Inevitably, she will recognize me:

GIRL: Heyyy, don't I know you? [I know damn well that you are Francis Chas Shaughnessy, but I'm pretending not to because you weren't cool enough back in high school!]
ME: Oh, yeah, it's me, Chas. I think I remember you. [Two can play this game, Tigress]

At this point, her Neanderthal will see her talking to me and will immediately drag his knuckles over to my counter to Loom. Why do girls' big boyfriends love to Loom over them? I swear, if you start talking to some girl, her boyfriend will suddenly feel the urge to cast his tallest shadow on her like he's freakin' Batman.

HIM: Alright, I got the movie, Tracy. We can go now. [Stop talking to another guy oh my god I cannot handle this I am the toughest motherfucker in the world let's go drink 420 crunk braaaah frats].

Then they pay and leave. And I am forced to pop a few blood pressure pills because I am 18 and too fucking old for this.

In brief, I am also forced to deal with a host of the following numbskulls, all of whom I am smarter than:

Soccer Moms: Who cares if your ten year old son buys Eminem's new CD? You're still a divorced, way too rich, alchohol abusing whore who has ruined your kid forever.

Goths: Yes, I am wearing Aeropostale. And yes, nevertheless, I know more about goth music than you do.

Neo-Nazis: No, Ian Stuart did not spearhead the skinhead movement, he hijacked it, you deuche. And ZOG did not orchestrate his death. He got drunk and drove into a wall like an idiot. And yes, for your information, I am an agent of the ZOG machine, sent by Ariel Sharon to crush the white race and spread Jerry Seinfeld's propaganda to convert the pure!!! Asshat!

Conservatives: Quit crying about our Michael Moore display. As long as trendy, brain-dead liberals are buying that crock of shit, they're putting money in my pocket.

Old, polite people: You rule. I don't know why people say old people are such a burden. I think all teenagers should be put in a pen, and old people should be allowed to shoot at them with rifles and hit them with cane bombs.

And that ends today's installment! To be continued…

To be continued"