Restrooms are for Employees Only

June 7, 2008 at 8:55 am (Cussed Dumbers)

“My, the homeless are well-dressed today.”

The thought echoes in my head as I walk past parade campers.

As the Rose Festival week winds down, I look back in review…

Thanks to last week’s adventures, I picked up extra days at work. Rose Festival is one of our busiest times, as well as one of the most trying on the nerves. The good? You meet new people from all parts of the world. Folks come downtown to have fun, and the boss makes an assload of money, insuring a roof over my head.

The bad? Those who come to Rose Festival to prey on the visitors.

The area around my store had a reputation for being rough a couple of years ago. Through police and community efforts it cleaned up nicely. The late-night walk to the bus wasn’t scary anymore. I rarely had to call 911. I could smile and say hello instead of bracing for confrontation. It’s been cruising like that for a while now. And then…

Someone opened the gate. Perhaps literally. I’ve seen faces from the past rushing at me like a tiny nightmare. Wheelchair Mike, The Phantom Shitter, Skeletor, Fountainhead. Colorful nicknames for people who have worn out their welcome at our all-night respite.

The daytime guy is my age, and likes the oldies channel on the radio. (Did I say ‘oldies’? sigh…) By oldies I mean ’70s music. I spent hours in our garage, listening to Casey Kasem on an old two-dial tube radio that looked like a cathedral. This music bugs me much less than, say, Fiddy Cent, so I let it play when I come on duty.

The first song on the radio? Two separate times this week?

Elton John’s ‘The Bitch is Back.’

Stone cold sober as a matter of fact.

“Get the fuck outta the store!” I roar, causing a porn gazer to jump with guilt. It wasn’t him, but Hootie, a homeless miscreant who will come in, dodder, break a bottle of wine, and while you attempt to clean up (she’s so helpful) she grabs three more, stuffs them in her cart and it’s like magic! She can walk just fine now…

Her eyes get that owl-like expression, and she turns. I tell my co-worker to get a good look, but she’s around the corner before he can get there.

“Got a bathroom?” It’s a question I field about every ten minutes. (Along with “Do you take food stamps?”)

“No.” (To both.)

“Dude, I’ll give you $5 to use your john.”

“Sorry, don’t have one.”

“Where do you go?”

I love this one. “I piss in the street like everyone else.” That usually shuts them up.

My boss used to let people use the bathroom, until things started missing, things got vandalized. You would not believe how many adults are not potty-trained when it’s not *their* bathroom. Sorry folks, I ain’t cleaning it up.

One gal and her friend came in and asked politely. I said no, of course. The gal goes outside, comes back, says something to her friend I can’t hear, and she replies, “Tell him you’ll go home with him, fuck him, whatever it takes.”

“Just to use the bathroom?” I interject.

She smiled. “No, but if you’ll reconsider, I’ll see what I can do…”

Calling my bluff. I like that. “Sounds tempting, but, mmm… nah.” They leave. She’s dancing a jig, but it’s a good-natured jig.

Monday and Tuesday were not so good-natured. The criminal element was out. Art East chased a guy four blocks trying to retrieve a bottle of wine. (It’s the principle of the thing.) He lost the wine, but got several phone-photos of the guy. After sharing them, I saw the guy as he attempted to visit my store. I shouted him out the door. I love how he’s gonna kick my ass outside, yet he runs from me when I’m right there…

Monday, at the bus stop on the way home, an inebriated fellow on a bicycle rides up to our group and asks what time it is. No one answers, so I say “12:05” without looking up.

Bad idea. Feed them and they stay. He parks his bike, stumbles over to me and wants to see my watch as proof.

I tolerate his drunkenness for a minute, but I’ve been babysitting assholes all night, and I’m not getting paid to do so at the moment. I tell him I don’t feel like talking, that I just got off work, and the more I try to get him to shut up and leave me alone, the more he persists. Bully behavior. My knee hurts, and he’s getting in my face. The folks at the bus stop have moved away from us. He starts doing that kung fu thing, slowly waving peace signs around in Medusa-like fashion.

I smirk, “Whatcha doin’, conducting the orchestra?”

It catches him off guard, he laughs, and the bus comes. Thank fucking god. I get on, claim a seat good for defending myself just in case, but he takes his bicycle and goes. The bus leaves, and my co-riders admire my people skills. I’m seething pissed, and it takes the whole ride to decompress.

The next night was better. The Bitch is Back plays again, and my first customer is The Porn Thief. We’ve got hand-written memos all over the stores about him, complete with a description that makes him six inches taller than he really is. (I guess it’s understandable. The girl describing him is 4’10”. Danny DeVito is tall to her.)

He approaches the door. “NO! Get out, stay out. You’re 86ed.”



He turns and goes back to the pay phone. I feel I should do something. He grabs his stuff and goes away. That works.

Except ten minutes later he’s back, starting to dial the phone. I call my co-worker over, and grab my have-gun-will-travel digital camera. “Watch the till, I’ll be right back.”

I wait until he hangs up. With camera at my side, I approach him like a mobster doing a hit. “Excuse me, sir?”

He turns and looks. I hold up the camera. “Smile.” The flash goes off, and if this were a hit he’d be so dead.

“Hey! What’s that for?” he asks.

“Stay out of the store.” I turn and walk back inside.

“Hey! That’s illegal! I’ll sue your ass!”

I turn and laugh at the irony. “See you in court!”

The photos are on my bosses desk.

Later that night, at the bus stop, I laugh about last night’s near run-in with my fellow regulars. A young couple, an effeminate fellow wearing a My Little Pony midriff tee shirt and bike bag; and his lady-friend, an early-twenties Mila Kunis lookalike, approach and ask us what time it is.

“I’ll tell you if you promise not to try to fight me afterwards.” This gets a laugh from the regulars.

“Oh. I wouldn’t do that… I mean, you’re nice and stuff…” It’s obvious she’s had a couple too many, but she’s not sloppy. I tell them the time, call transit tracker, reassure them that they are at the proper bus stop, and that they have about five minutes to wait. Mister My Little Pony pulls out his cell phone and begins talking to a friend. Mila Kunis wanders off toward the corner, away from the bus stop.

The bus stop is at the base of a parking garage with a basement entrance. It’s brightly lit, like the inside of a supermarket. Cameras. There’s also a large plate glass window that looks directly onto the down-sloping ramp. From the inside, the light blocks the street view, making it look like a brown wall.

From the street? It’s like staring at HD TV.

I watched Mila Kunis wander to the top of the ramp. She looks around, and descends the ramp. MLP looks around for her, doesn’t see her, and continues talking on his cell phone. Mila double checks everything, leans against the garage wall, and begins wrestling with her belt buckle.

She walked three-quarters of a block to get within ten feet of us. Her pants come down, then her panties. She realizes gravity will be a factor, so she penguin-shuffles to where she’s facing downhill.

And facing us.

She squats, spreadeagles, and lets go. I’m not particularly into watersports, but damn she was cute, and regular guys like me don’t often get to watch girls pee. (Not in the wild anyway.) I didn’t stare, but I glanced over every few seconds to make sure a rogue band of gutter punks didn’t rush down and kidnap her. She stood, adjusted her panties just so, and buckled up. She wandered back to the bus stop, lit a cigarette and laid down on the sidewalk.

The bus pulled up. “Your limo is here, my ladies!” I announced. They got on with the rest of us, and nobody said a word.

I’ll take her over Mexican Kung Fu Guy any day…

And now, as I sit at home with the parade about to start, (it’s on TV, with the mute button activated) I think about how much fun Rose Festival is most of the time. I had an in-depth chat with the mayor of Gold Beach, California last night. He’s a friend of Mayor Potter, and he shared an inside peek of what it’s like to run a big city. It was more high-brow than my usual over-the counter conversations.

Today? I have a date to go to the Fun Center. I know, I should be avoiding it like the plague, but I met a lady who has lived here for fifteen years and never been. One of the sailors on leave gave me a chip for a free ride on the Navy flight simulator, (thanks to Grinder’s endless flirting) so I’m going to take her to the river and let her blow shit up, just like any good country girl worth her salt would be wont to do.

If she has a couple of cocktails and nature calls? That’s why I got a job downtown.

I know where to find at least one friendly bathroom…


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