With Friends Like This…

April 20, 2016 at 4:20 am (Cosmic Encounters, Cussed Dumbers)

It had been an honest to dog three-day weekend. The sun was out, it was almost 90 degrees as I stepped into the Waterfront Store, ready to start my work week. I said hello to Mrs Brady, who was running about like a headless chicken. Freight had just arrived. “I’ll be here until six, we’ll get it done!” Her attitude is usually sunny, and we work well together.

I said hello to Uncle Cliffy, who grunted and said, “Boss wants to talk to you before you start.” His ominous tone gave me no concern. A chat with the boss is usually just that.

“Knock knock,” I said as I entered the crow’s nest of an office. Master P was huddled over a computer, entering info on a packet of Zig Zag Wraps.

“Gettin’ with the times, boss?” I asked.

He turned and smiled. “Well hello, Mister Charles. Yeah, this stuff is all the generation after me. What the hell are these for?”

“Basically it’s a cigar without the tobacco. Those stinky cheap cigars we sell so many millions of? They slice ’em open, dump the tobacco out, and roll weed inside. I don’t get it, personally. I’m not into tobacco.”

He pondered. “I have no problems with pot, especially now that it’s legal. The one thing that bugs me is that they can sell 24/7, and we have to stop selling alcohol for five hours? How’s that fair?”

I smiled. “Well, the laws on that have changed. They dispensaries mirror liquor store hours. Most are ten AM to ten PM.”

“Oh.” He thought some more. “I need you to get together with Uncle Cliffy and the rep. Make sure what we have is appropriate, and not a waste of sales space?”

“What’s your goal? Do you want the best, do you want to quietly downplay?”

“I want to be mainstream, but not blatant.”

I smiled. “We can do that. I’ve been around it for forty years, and had a medical card for the last ten. I speak the language. I’ve never had a problem with it, I leave it away from work.” I looked Master P square in the eye when I said that. I have a lot more boundaries than most of my co-workers.

I started to leave, and Master P stopped me. “Oh, I almost forgot. This is good news. You’re getting a raise! Minimum is going up, so I’m giving everyone a bump a couple months early. I just wanted to thank you for being a good worker. I know when you come into one of my stores and there’s any nonsense going on, it will stop right away! You don’t know how much I appreciate that.”

“Wow, thanks Boss.” I was almost verklempft.

“Now get to work, and try to do as much for Cliff as you can. He’s limited in what he can do.”

I hesitated, then spoke. “I been meaning to say something. The other day I came by to say hello to Festus, and when I walked up Uncle Cliffy was complaining to Festus about how I never do ice. I got a work-related hernia from doing ice, and a doctor’s note saying I shouldn’t do that any more. I thought we had an understanding about that, but he WON’T LET IT DIE.”

“I’ll have a talk with him.”

“Thanks again, boss.”

Empty Cups 1I floated down the stairs, ready to conquer the day. I looked at the coffee bar. Cups are way down. Did we sell a lot of coffee today?

Coffee packets 1It looks like no one has stocked coffee in a few days. Mrs Brady had been off, she usually takes care of these things.

I walked past Uncle Cliffy, sniffed at the coffee bar, then gave him the biggest shit-eating grin. “I guess we’re going to be working on a project together! I am your new paraphernalia liason. Boss wants me to get with you and the rep to make sure we have the right kind of “head gear.”

I wanted to yell “I GOT A RAISE! in his face, but I was told to be nice, to get along.

Empty Cup 2So I prettied the store. Vacuumed. Stocked the cups. Picked up around the cash register.

Coffee packets 2Made sure there was a ton of coffee. Rinsed the pots. Filled the ice bins for single sodas. (Despite what the lazy motherfucker says, I do lots of ice. I just don’t haul thirty-pound buckets of it through the store anymore.)

I filled out the itemization list for the lottery scratch-offs. Hung it up in its usual spot. Put everything away nice and neat. Put my umbrella in the back room. Someone had “cleaned” my personal area. I found my hoodie on the floor, near the garbage. My reading material was gone. My umbrella was gone, but the one out front looked just like it, so I put it back, with a note attached, “Please leave alone, Chas.” (I have an umbrella stashed at both the Waterfront and Nightclub stores, because we live in Oregon.)

At a quarter to ten AM this morning, there’s a knock on my door. “Uncle Charlie, you have a phone call.” Hmm.

I picked up. “Hello?”

“It’s Cliff. Did you take an umbrella from here last night?”

“No, but I put the one that was out front in the back room. Someone went through my stuff in back, and threw a bunch of it away. I thought that was the umbrella.”

“No, a customer left it yesterday.”

“Any idea what happened to mine?” I asked.

“That was Mrs Brady’s doing. She cleaned up all that. Well, I’m going to move that umbrella back out front, because a regular customer left it yesterday.”

“Fine,” I said. “Would you keep a look out for my umbrella, then?”

“Of course. Bye.”

“Fuckin’ asshole. He couldn’t have waited until noon to call me for that?” My niece looked up. “You can bill me for that one. Asshole!”

I sauntered back to bed, but was unable to sleep. Then comes a text from Dr T, telling me that Prince is dead? What the fuck?

Might as well get up and face the day. At least I have a day to raise to. I will mourn Prince, and plot revenge upon those who deserve it…

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