Xmas Epilogue

December 26, 2007 at 1:54 pm (Cussed Dumbers, Sweet sticky things)

And how was your holiday?

I worked again this year, by choice. Christmas has never been a constant in my life. I see it as more of a friendship tax, with everyone rushing around maniacally, going into debt and overstressing during what is supposed to be a time of love for your fellow man. Since I try to be a giving, loving sort all year long, I resent being ‘told’ to be this way during what is typically my brokest time of year.

And despite the occasional meany outburst from someone with a chip on their shoulder, I enjoy how people come around. The happiness is infectious, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t start getting into it a bit.

Had my doubts though, when I showed up for work Christmas Eve. A group of ‘postcard punks’ (suburban kids who dress homeless and panhandle) gave me crap as I got off the bus. I gave them the stinkeye and otherwise ignored them. As I got to the front of the store, I saw something even more ominous. A large gentleman, wearing a Canadiens hockey jersey, fedora and golf shorts was sitting on the sidewalk, drunk and disoriented. Since I wasn’t technically on duty yet, I reserved comment.

“Looks like the party started early for someone,” I said to Dr T. I asked about the sidewalk dweller.

“That was gonna be his beer,” Dr T pointed to a 12-pack of Natural Ice. “As you may have guessed, I refused sale. He fell down and knocked over that candy display.” Jabberjaw, another coworker, was reorganizing said candy display.

“Has anyone called Clean & Safe?”

“Not yet, it just happened. I think he lives upstairs, so we were giving him some time to make it on his own.”

“Fair enough.” I took my jacket off, and looked toward the door. Look who’s here! The pack of wannabe punks with the snarky attitude! They looked in, saw me and hesitated. They pooled their money, and sent in the meekest looking one of the bunch. I looked him square in the eye and said, “No.”

“What?” he asked, in that whiny teenage voice that appears whenever they don’t get their own way.

“No. Get out.”

Petulant, “But I didn’t do nothing!”

I said, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, and you just became anyone, asshole.” I started walking around the counter , toward him. If they’re inside the store, I can defend myself…

“Fat bastard!” He went outside, and the group took off. I stepped outside. They were half a block away. I sent a one-fingered Merry Christmas salute in their general direction.

My inebriated friend was making progress. He was now up on one knee. But then he collapsed back onto the sidewalk. Time to call Clean & Safe. As I did, Dr T said, “He didn’t smell strongly of alcohol. I think he may have a few pills under his belt.” We decided to leave it to downtown patrol and the CHIERS wagon.

I could see this was going to be a fun day.

With that kind of start, I figured I’d be in for hell night. I have to have one every now and then, it helps me appreciate the good nights.

I watched a young woman come in, go to the back of the store and come around, sneaking up on the wine section. As I’m watching her, a Jamaican-looking fellow came in. I’d received numerous alerts about a fellow matching his description, but since I don’t refuse service without reasonable suspicion I let him shop. He kept asking me questions while I was trying to watch the girl. She picked up an expensive bottle of wine and went to the back of the store again. By then Jamaican Man had walked into the wine section. He put a bottle on the counter, and went back. He asked me to price check the bottle on the counter. As I watched, the girl came from the back of the store, and the bottle of wine was gone. She walked up to Jamaican Man, and they began conferring. Jamaican Man had another bottle, and was lifting the lid of his messenger bag when I walked up on them.

I grabbed the bottle from him, and told the girl, “I need that bottle of wine back.”

“What bottle of wine?”

“Give it up. You DON’T want me to take it away from you.”

She shrugged, unzipped her jacket and pulled out a $20 merlot. (Our finest!)

“Now get out, and don’t come back. You’ve been criminally trespassed. This applies to all our stores.”

“You mean I can’t buy anything?” Jamaican Man was now willing to play by the rules, but I wasn’t.

“No. Get out.” I gave him a firm but not-too-aggressive push toward the door. As they left, I saw the bottle of wine still on the counter. I bolted for it and got my hand on its neck just before Jamaican Man did. I cocked it back, ready to smack him with it if he made any furtive gestures.

“You good, mon,” he laughed. They went across the street, no doubt to try the same thing on our friendly competitor.

One hour gone. man, it’s gonna be a long night.

And then? They all went away. Cops, security guards, criminals. The night got quiet, and a more typical work experience took over.

Those who came in after that auspicious beginning were quite the opposite. I got a Christmas card from a coworker who was faring only slightly better than than my sidewalk dweller. He requested backroom sodomy, which I explained to him wasn’t my department. He settled for a hug. (He also got into trouble the next day. The party went on a little too long, and Master P got a call from a vendor on his personal phone. Shit hits fan!)

One of the cocktail waitresses from the bar next door came in, offering me a wax paper present. “Merry Christmas. I made them myself.” She left quickly, as I shouted thank yous behind her. I opened it. There was a mint-flavored star-shaped Rice Crispy treat, a little stocking cookie, and a gingerbread snowman with a broken neck. I ate everything but the snowman. I named him Christopher Reeve, and left him on Dr T’s register for breakfast.

Christmas morning, I was greeted with a slight snowstorm. Since it was a holiday, I had to walk twelve blocks to a functional bus stop. As I stood there, fighting off snow and rain under my purloined umbrella, a car honked. It was Master P. He gave me a hearty wave and smile. At least he knows I’m going to be well on time for work.

Christmas Day was more of the same. The good stuff, that is. Since the party animal coworker was sent home, Dr T ended up working a 13 hour shift, and I got to skip lunch. Which was fine. The best holidays are ones where people wander in, buy tons of stuff and go away. I got a lot of that. Even the crackheads were in good spirits, and didn’t do anything that tried my patience.

Perhaps the best part of Christmas? Despite all the love, I was feeling a bit lonely when I got home Christmas night. As I settled in, there was a knock on my door. It was my nephew. He came in for a visit, recalling his day and how it was such a swell Christmas. It was the thinnest, present-wise, that I can remember, and he got a bicycle insteaqd of a Wii, but that was okay. He learned to ride a bike in one day, and showed a maturity and attitude that made me proud.

It’s over, thank you Jesus. No more jingle-bell commercials. My mute button gets a rest. (Except for the Air Supply hamburger commercial. I really want a Nerf Brick.)

Time to get back to work. But first, I want to thank each and every one of you for reading. (Even you, Mister Dickhead who called me a pedo in the comments the other day. Guess what? We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, etc… so you have been deleted.) The rest? Thanks for your support, and for being the inspiration to keep doing this.

May all your holidays and the coming new year be your best ever. I’m going to make it mine.

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