Like stopped at a liquor store on his way to dinner. It only seemed polite that he bring a decent bottle of wine since a nice meal was being prepared for him at his friends’ place, but he wasn’t too thrilled about having to stop somewhere and interact with other people.
He tried to get what he need as quickly as possible. He grabbed the first bottle he could find within his price range and set it down on the counter with his money in hand. The man working the register had a name tag with “owner” printed on it. He had something of a nervous smile on when he saw Like.
“So…what did you think of our wine selection?” the owner asked with the same sort of nervousness a seventh grade boy might have when asking a girl to the school dance.
“Uhh…It seemed pretty good, I guess,” Like responded with as little emotion as possible.
“Pretty good, huh?” the owner pushed on. “Well, would you say…you…’liked’ it?”
Hoping to appease the owner so that he could get back in his car with his bottle of wine, Like gave the owner the least enthusiastic affirmation he could provide:
“Sure man, I guess I ‘liked’ it.”
The owner couldn’t contain his huge grin, but Like’s admission still wasn’t enough. He had something else in mind.
“Oh geez, that’s great!…I hate to be a bother, but do you think, maybe, you could…you know…do the thing?”
The fact that Like knew exactly what “the thing” was made him all the more irritated. But the truth of the matter was that he was running late to dinner and just wanted to get out of there. With a sense of defeat and humiliation, he slowly held out a clinched fist and then raised his thumb, directing the ‘thumbs-up’ sign to the owner of the liquor store.
“Oh boy!” the owner slammed his hand on the counter in excitement. “That was great. Thank you so much. Don’t worry about the money. It’s on me, you’ve done enough.”
“Really, that’s not necessary. I didn’t actually do anythin…”
“I insist,” the owner cut Like off. “I refuse to take a penny from you.”
Too frustrated to argue with the man, he bit his lip and walked out of the liquor store. As the automatic doors were closing he could hear the owner talking to the other cashier.
“That was amazing! Do you think other people saw that? They must have! I hope that one girl from high school saw it.”
It had been a stressful week at work and Like really needed this dinner to unwind. He works two jobs and barely has any time to relax. Both jobs are with digital social networking sites called “BookFace” and “InstaPic.”
It had been awhile since he had seen his two friends, Favorite and Retweet. They both worked at a similar company called “Tweeter.”
“It happened again on the way over here,” Like said as they were finishing up dessert. “Guy at the liquor store. He didn’t even charge me for the bottle of wine once he got his thumbs-up. I should be used to it at this point.”
“Oh did you go to the one just around the corner?” Favorite asked. “That guy has been giving me free stuff for months now. I just embrace it. A perk’s a perk I guess.”
As Like and Favorite discussed the liquor store, Retweet leaned back in his chair, looking at both of them.
“You know, it still blows my mind every time,” he said, trying to change the subject. “I still can’t get over how much you two look alike. Sometimes I think you might be the same person. Am I the only one who sees that?”
“The only one?” Like asked. “People have been comparing me to Favorite for a couple years now. They are always asking, ‘what’s the difference between you and Favorite, anyway?’ Oh I don’t know, maybe it’s that we’re totally different people.”
“Yeah, I get the same thing,” Favorite agreed. “I mean, we have different personalities, but no one seems interested in that. I’m into astronomy. That’s why I carry a little yellow star around. You’re not interested in outer space. But apparently we’re just the same thing to everyone else.”
Retweet realized that Favorite and Like were once again going down their own tangent and decided to vent a few problems of his own.
“Look, I have to deal with desperate common people just like you guys do, but at least you don’t have to work with celebrities. If Taylor Swift so much as mentions the weather it pretty much guarantees me a 14-hour day. Sometimes I feel like my job is just to make the world dumber.”
By the time the three of them had finished the bottle of wine, the mood changed from a little bit of venting to full-blown anger and frustration. Like knew that these two were the only ones that actually understood his issues.
“Sometimes I wish I could just fade into obscurity like Poke did. Remember him? No one bothers him anymore.”
“I really do think someday people will move on,” Retweet said calmly. “They need us now, but something will come along and change that. Something will replace us.”
“I hope so,” Favorite said while trying to get a few more drips out of the bottle into his glass.
Like’s glass was shaking in his hands. He looked like he was on the verge of tears. Retweet and Favorite both sat in silence, not sure if Like was about to speak, scream, cry or just continue sitting in his melodramatic state.
Finally he spoke again.
“It’s not just the hard work and the lack of privacy. There’s something about the fact that all these people need me that makes me sick. I feel like I’m doing something irresponsible by giving them what they want. Why don’t they realize that I do nothing for them? Just once, can’t they realize that making a child smile is more important than getting a thumb’s-up from me? I don’t validate them. I’m nothing. Why don’t they understand that? Why do they need me?”
He started to sob. Favorite and Retweet knew exactly what he meant. They both put a hand on his shoulder and tried to comfort him. All of a sudden, Retweet’s cell phone rings and he walks into another room to take the call.
Favorite, feeling uncomfortable left alone with an emotional Like, tried to make small talk.
“So…do you have to work tomorrow morning?”
Like sniffles and tries to speak in a normal voice.
“Yeah, I do. Some girl a few months out of college just got offered an internship. If I don’t show up she might end up turning it down.”
At that moment, Retweet walks back in the room with a frustrated look on his face.
“I have to go, guys. I’m really sorry. They need me to come into work. Someone said a bunch of really racist things about Beyonce. They want me to spread the word.”