“Hey, Brown-eye!”

July 3, 2009 at 1:10 pm (Cussed Dumbers)

“Your store stinks!”

That was an effeminate fellow’s salutation at work the other night. Not expecting that, or knowing what else to say, I replied, “Thank you.”

“Excuse me? I tell you your store stinks, and you say ‘Thank you?'” He harrumphed. “Shouldn’t you be spraying something or something?”

“Dude,” I replied, “I smell funky stuff all night long. What does it smell like? Bum? Raspberry pesticide? Dirty diaper? What?”

“If a customer complains, you should immediately do something about it!”

“Okay, I’ll get right on it.” I picked up the Portland Mercury and began reading.

“Fine. How much are cigarettes?” I told him. “WHAT? You stink and you’re expensive?”

“It’s been a pleasure to meet you too.”

Something registered in his face. “Oh, I wasn’t referring to you personally. I was-…” Blah blah blah.

There was no shortage of rude assholes last week. Allow me to share the fun…

People watching and public interaction are both the highlight and the bane of my job. I meet pretty girls and cool dudes all night long, interspersed with crackheads, winos, criminals, hookers and a handful of truly dangerous types; a cross-section of humanity. Mostly people are nice. Mostly. Some nights it seems like everyone is on the rag.

Attempting to get through The Mercury was a challenge. I was trying to read the review of the new Dillinger/Depp movie, and every time I’d get a sentence or so started, someone would wander in. No biggie, I’m being paid to watch the store, not read. But, since I don’t take smoke breaks, I tend to relax during the dead moments with short-attention-span reading material. After starting the article for the fourth time, a group of folks walk in. They are well-dressed tourist types, not a shoplifting threat. I try to finish the paragraph when a swarthy fellow of Middle-Eastern extraction rushes into the store, SLAMS a pint of ice cream in front of my face. “Give me this now!”

I rise from the milk crate/easy chair and scan the ice cream. “$2.99.”

“I need spoon!”

I pointed to the rack with the plastic cutlery. Four people have fallen into line. Instead of paying, he leaves to go fetch the spoon. We wait while he does his thing. He returns to the counter and slams a $20 bill onto the counter, palm down, loudly. “HERE!”

I picked up the $20 and gave him a look. I don’t exactly know what ‘the look’ looked like, but wish I could bottle it. “Sorry,” he said. He tossed his receipt on the floor, pulled the lid off the ice cream and tossed it on the counter. “Do you have garbage?”

I looked over the counter at the receipt on the floor. “You’re standing in it, apparently.”

A regular customer, sensing my rising ire, said, “There’s a trashcan right outside the door.”

It’s about half a block outside the door. I thanked the nice customer, and reminded myself that 99% of the customers are fine people. But, when you deal with 1,000 people a day, that translates into about ten assholes.

The asshole ratio was way off this night.

Let us not forget the Idiot Factor. Some people shouldn’t drink. Not because it’s bad for you, or turns you into an asshole if you drink too much. No, some people need ALL their brain cells. Like the gal looking for alcoholic energy drinks.

“Do you sell Sparks?”

“Nope.”

“Tilt?”

“Nope.”

“What about Joose?”

“We don’t sell energy drinks with alcohol in them. Did you try across the street?” There’s a convenience store straight across the street that sells all the high-quality lowbrow stuff.

“Where?”

“Across the street.”

She came toward the counter, then looked outside.

“Where would that be?”

Sarcasm no longer containable, I said, “I don’t know how much clearer ‘Across the street’ can be.” I pointed at the big OPEN sign next to all the neon beer signs.

“Oh.” She ran straight into traffic, barely missed by a Yellow Cab. Natural selection getting closer…

Assholism has its amusing moments. After 7 PM, the Tow-Away Zone in front of the store opens up for street parking. A spiffy new Cadillac was parked there, and I watched with amusement as a middle-aged gentleman attempted to parallel park an Isuzu SUV between the Caddy and an old beatermobile. He missed the beatermobile, but I heard a loud crunch and saw the Caddy lurch. The man got out, looked at the Caddy’s fender, shrugged and walked away. Curious, I had to look.

There was a baseball-sized spot with missing paint on its fender, and a small dent on the Isuzu. I scribbled down the plate number of the Isuzu along with a brief description of the man, and waited for the driver of the Caddy to return.

The driver of the Cadillac was a man probably in his 80s, accompanied by what I assume was his daughter. He kind of reminded me of a cross between my uncle and John Huston; he had that reptillian ‘I can lick my eyebrows’ thing going on. He looked alarmed as I hurried toward him. “Sir! Sir! The guy parked there ran into your car. Here’s the plate number. Thought you’d want to know.”

There, my good deed for the day is done.

He got out of the car, went to the rear of the Cadillac and took a look. He looked at the Isuzu, looked back at his Caddy, then returned to the driver’s seat. He fired up the engine, stuck the car into reverse and WHUNK! He gave the Isuzu a hard kiss goodbye on his way out. I couldn’t see the Cadillac’s fender, but the dent on the Isuzu was bigger now.

Sorta makes me wish Cadillac Man had been around when Ice Cream Man was. They should meet…

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