More on that in a minute.
“Huh?” Said loud and stoopid.
More on that in a minute.
Yeah, daddy feels a rant coming on. More? You want more?
I have more.
Customer service can be hard on the nerves. Working at the Waterfront store has been a needed break from the usual meth-heads, street hustlers and drugged-out alcoholics that fill out Master P’s customer base. Oh, we have lots of nice customers. They just get swept aside as you focus on the “challenging” customers. Maybe one person in a hundred is an asshole, but when you see a thousand people a day? That works out mathematically to ten assholes. One asshole is too many.
The asshole-quotient has taken an uptick on Sundays of late. There is a drum circle that forms near the river, and it brings out a crowd of certain unbathed entitled types.
Can you see how the nerves might fray?
He was a strapping lad, I’d guess 6’5″ and two fiddy. He was dressed part road-warrior, part lumberjack, as is the fashion this year. (His prepubescent-looking mustache over neck-beard gave the outfit an Amish flavor.) He was drunk, and much funnier in his own mind.
“Gimmee a pack of pinkfoots, and- I need a candy bar! How’s your day?” He stumbled off toward the candy rack. After I’d stopped doing what I was doing. I don’t remember what I was doing, but I was right in the middle of it, and trying to remember a certain sequence of something. Holding Jethro the Fearless’s hand through a simple sale wasn’t high priority.
“How’s your day? Where’s the pinkfoots?”
First off, don’t ask me how my fucking day is if you don’t have three seconds to hear me respond before starting to babble again. Just say hi, mmmkay?
“What’s a pinkfoot?”
“The regular what?”
“You know… the regular normal kind.”
“What… is…a… PINKFOOT?”
“Right THERE!” He pointed to the Parliament light cigarettes.
Oh… I get it. Parilament. Parliament/Funkadelic. P/Funk. In his inebriated state, it sounded like pinkfoot instead of P/Funk. How hip! George Clinton has dreads older than you.
“No… full flavor. Right THERE!”
“This one?” I held up the pack, the only kind we carry.
“Sorry, son. These are lights.” The sound of my eyes rolling must have been deafening, and my tone was less than gentle. Goober was starting to figure out that he was annoying me.
“Do you hate your job or something? What’s the matter?”
“The matter is that it’s taking five fucking minutes to sell you a pack of cigarettes.”
“Well! Sorry! I’ll just hurry up then! Oh yeah, candy bar.”
He stumbled over to the rack and grabbed a $1.89 Whatchamacallit. Slammed it down on the counter. “THAT! And Pinkfoots.”
“Okay, okay. Don’t have a stroke. Here!” He handed me a credit card.
Right past the giant sign next to his head that said, “SORRY, UNABLE TO TAKE CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS AT THIS TIME.”
“We can’t do plastic right now. Machine is down.”
I repeated myself again. I had a bigger problem. Jethro had already put the pack of cigarettes in his pocket. (After slapping them against his palm about thirty times.) I did not want to wrestle him to get them back.
Or maybe I did. I was getting pissed.
In what may be his only true stroke of genius, he announced, “I will go to the ATM machine!”
This gave me a couple of minutes to compose, put my happy face back on.
But no. He will return. He will bitch about the ATM fee. Jesus, let it end?
“Okay, how much?”
“No… NINE TWENTY NINE!”
I said it REAL LOUD.
“Okay, okay. You don’t have to yell at me.”
“Well, apparently I must, because every time I say something, you fucking say, ‘Huh?’” I went slack-jawed and bugeyed when I said “Huh?”
He tossed the twenty-dollar bill on the counter. I snatched it, made change like lightning, and slapped it on the counter with a book of matches for his Pinkfoots. Are we done yet?
“Do I have everything? Where are my cigarettes?” He dug around until he found them. “Candy bar?” He was holding it. “Okay,” he said. “Now that I have everything I came for.. Did I get my change? You know what? You really don’t have to be such an asshole. I’m sorry you’re just an old burnout with a shitty job, but it’s not *my* fault. You should lighten up…”“Burnout? Me? I’ll show you how old and fucking burned out I am, you filthy fucking cocksucking-” I was off on a march around the counter and toward the door. Jethro was gone, and by the time I made it to the door he was half a block away. I swore unintelligibly and 86ed him and cursed his hyena of a mother and eventually ran out of steam.
“And stay out!”
It was a rant worthy of Al Swearingen, and I felt better after. I don’t know what I’d have done if I’d caught the kid? (Other that blow off a lot of repressed rage.) I found it funny after, and had to agree with Jethro. I *do* need to lighten up. Life is too short, and if I’m going to burst a blood vessel, I want it to be because some naughty coed bends over in front of me and the heart just couldn’t take it any more.
Not because of some neo-hillbilly in search of Pinkfoot.