I worked at a movie theater for a year, running the concession stand. I got an awesome visor, a nametag, and free movie-themed t-shirts. So what, The Thunderbirds was a flop. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
Anyway, as a concessionist, the duty of popping the popcorn fell on my young, but responsible shoulders. You see, it was a point of pride that our theater had the best popcorn formula out of the three local theaters. Some even used *gasp* pre-packaged popcorn. We popped ours fresh every day. We threw it out every night. When management wanted to save money on popping oil by altering the recipe, the staff rebelled. Sort of. We just ignored the mandate.
The thing about popcorn is that it’s a piece of fluff covered in hot oil. Back then, we didn’t have a door on our popper. If you were anywhere near it when it started popping, bob and weave, my friend. And, God help you if you thought you could beat it. And, God help you if you knew you couldn’t beat it, but the customer was late for their movie. You stick your arm in the burn machine, dammit.
A popcorn kernel burn isn’t very serious. It’s a quick flash of pain, less than a bee sting, than it’s back to scooping the popcorn into the bag. Though, unlike a bee sting, it leaves nice blotch of a scar behind, so small you don’t really notice it until you get a tan.
But, those injuries weren’t exactly mysterious. You took a risk, you challenged the machine, and you lost. Humanity has made that mistake before and will make it again
My current job is as a barista.
Yes, a job that requires me to jet superheated water through a metal tube into a metal pitcher that I have to hold up in order to make sure your latte gets no foam. Additionally, we bake our own cookies, grill sandwiches, and oven-roast pizza.
These things are hot.
But, where the hell did that massive bruise on my hip come from?
I’ve come home from my job with my hands chewed up with papercuts and I DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY CAME FROM!
Something lurks in every retail establishment. First, it dries out your skin. Then, it runs you into things when you’re not paying attention. Then, it cuts you, cuts so tiny, you don’t notice, until the aforementioned dry skin turns it into something much worse.
It’s a mystery, I tell you. And, I’m not the only one. When I asked my coworkers if they had ever experienced the “Mysterious Retail Injury”, they looked confused for a moment. But, after the awkward silence, they shouted “Yes! Oh, my God, where do those bruises come from?”
It’s strange to think that retail offers an environment that allows us to function at that level. I didn’t know that making coffee was so consuming that my mind blocked out pain. Who knew popping popcorn was such a hazard.
So far, it’s been nothing life-threatening. But, you never know what Mysterious Injury lurks around the corner.