It’s strange the random memories that come floating back to you at 3am when you can’t sleep. This one came to me a few nights ago; I probably haven’t thought about this for at least a decade. Normally I would just journal these thoughts and hide them away, but this is a fun one to share.
When I was 15 I superglued myself to a phone.
It all started because I wanted a job. Not just any job, but a “cool” job. You see, I’ve been all about having a “cool” job ever since I realized that employment was required to exist in our capitalistic society. This has been the root of many interesting moments in my life. Those are other stories for other times. What matters here is that it was 2003, I was 15 years old, and wanted a “cool” job so I could have money to buy coffee drinks and pretend I was an Olsen Twin.
When you think of “cool” places in the mindset of a mid-aughts millennial teen, Houghton Michigan is not high up on that list. As an adult I can look back at it with a sense of rural romance; a tiny town secluded in the Upper Peninsula, surrounded by wilderness and water, far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. As a teenager, I fantasised about the Backstreet Boys’ tour bus pulling into town to come take me away to a sparkly pop-star life – never mind the fact that the closest to my hometown the Backstreet Boys would ever likely come would be Green Bay, and that was still a 4 hour road trip away. “Cool” was not something we were known for, unless we were talking about the weather.
However, there was a store downtown that was a bit of a gateway to the Lizzie McGuire lifestyle I was craving. Name Redacted. Oh, this place was wonderful; clothing that was right out of the pages of Allure and Lucky and an owner that clearly took every piece of advice in those magazines to heart from the tips of her overprocessed blond hair to these fresh new things called Uggs. It all made no sense being in a town where there were more deer than people. This was where I decided I would get my first “cool” job.
In I marched with ambition and a sugar buzz to ask for an application. There wasn’t one, but I was hired on the spot! I’m sure it was totally because of my gusto and girl power, and totally not because I was willing to work for a questionable rate under the table, but who cares because I was now in possession of a “cool” job and I started on Saturday!
So Saturday arrived. I woke up bright and early (no, really!) and made my homemade lunch without complaint (stop laughing, Matt!) and got to the store at 9am. The owner was ready and rearing to show me the ropes.
“That’s the shoe area, those are the formal dresses, those are the current trends. 4 items at a time in the dressing room. Here’s how the register works. This is how you lock up. Thanks for getting here on time. See you later, bye!”
And before I could respond, she was gone and I was alone in the store.
After a momentary bit of panic, which amounted to me looking out the front window like a dog searching for its owner, I began familiarizing myself with the merchandise. Then I straightened up behind the counter. Then I took out the trash which was mostly empty but I was running out of things to do. A customer would enter, browse, not get anything, and leave… and I’d repeat the process. “This wasn’t so bad!” I thought as I ate my lunch. The cycle continued until mid-afternoon when I spotted the nail polish table.
The nail polish table was exactly that – a table with bottles of nail polish and nail accessories on it for public use. The previous customer had pottered around with some of the items and hadn’t put them all away. “Typical,” I muttered under my breath as though I had been doing this for 5 years as opposed to 5 hours. I tightened the lids on the polish and put them back in the tray. Then I spotted a tiny tube of superglue.
For those of you who are not familiar with the many uses of superglue, it can be used as a nail glue to adhere and repair fake nails in a pinch. It also was originally devised to seal open wounds in Vietnam. This is why it’s useless at gluing two pieces of paper together but if you want to stick skin to skin, it is a phenomenal choice.
I was not aware of these things at 15.
So I pick up this tiny tube of superglue and see the cap is off. So I pick up the cap and begin to screw it back on. Somehow in this process, this tiny tube of superglue decides it’s a Genie in Bottle baby, and I rubbed it the right way. The next thing I know my hands are covered in superglue.
And then the phone rings. The owner’s number flashes on the caller id. Shit.
To recap; it’s my first day at my first ever job – a “cool” job at that, I’ve been left to tend to this store alone, my hands are covered in superglue, and I have to answer this phone call or else… idk… she’d call back. I look at the phone and at my glue covered hand. I had no choice. With my open palm, I push my hand down on the receiver. Lifting up, I spread my fingers as wide and as far back as they’d go. Very carefully, trying at all costs to avoid touching my hair, I lift my open hand to my ear.
“Hey! Just checking in on you! How’s it going?” the owner chirped on the end of the line.
“uh… Great!” I lied.
“Great! Hey, since the weather is getting a little rough, go ahead and close early. Pay yourself out of the drawer. Thanks so much!” With that, she hung up leaving me to figure it out on my own.
Closing up the shop wasn’t a difficult task, but it was going to be complicated with a phone glued to my hand. Somehow I had to detach this phone from my hand so this adventure could come to a close. My first idea was to pull the phone off with my other hand, which might have been successful if it too was not covered in a still tacky superglue. Next, I tried dribbling water between my hand and the phone to loosen the bond, with no luck. I then attempted my signature move of crying, which did nothing for the hand/glue/phone situation and only made my mascara run. In an act of desperation, I grabbed the fork from my lunch with a paper towel (to prevent the fork from sticking to my free hand), and worked on prying the phone off my hand. After much swearing and painful pokes, and a little more crying because why not, I managed to peel the phone off my skin and properly hang it up.
After an extended period of vigorous handwashing, my hands were still covered in glue residue but no longer sticky. I raced through the closing tasks, took my allocated money, and bolted out the door to finally end my shift.
The glue residue remained on my hands that following Monday, where upon relaying the entire ordeal to my Chemistry teacher, she kindly looked the other way while I used the lab acetone to scrub off the remaining evidence. As for my job at the store; I worked there for a few more Saturdays until the owner decided to change hours and I found less eventful, and far more legal, employment at the local library.
Almost two decades later, I still don’t fuck with superglue.