A Bucketful of Pleasantries

June 13, 2017 at 11:00 am (Cussed Dumbers, Drunk and disorderly, That's not funny...)

People often ask how I can tolerate dealing with the public. Sometimes I wonder myself.

Portland’s Rose Festival is coming to an end. It’s the store’s busiest time of the year. We get tons of business from the parades, festivals and conventions. We go out of our way to be accommodating, but we never seem to succeed.

Last night, my night off, I get a call from Voorhees. He’s mid-shift at the Mothership. Usually he texts me. A phone call provides a sense of urgency, so I answer. “Whazzup?”

“Dude, I just had a guy pull a knife on me because I told him to turn his radio down. He woulda cut me if I hadn’t locked him out. Fortunately I had my keys out. I’m waiting on Southie or Grinder to come open up. I am so done with this place.”

He had locked the door, and was pacing around inside. He’d achieved his threshold of madness.

While no knives were pulled on me, I did encounter a bunch of less-than-worthies of my fine service and attention. One sequence in particular stuck out. A middle-aged fat white guy, bald with long chin-whiskers, charged into the store, yelling at his family. His woman and their son stood by the door, wishing they could be anywhere else. He was ranting, “These places are here to rob you. Put that back!” He snatched a bag of jerky from his son’s hand. “I said you could get something. NOT SOMETHING THAT COSTS EIGHT BUCKS!” The kid moused over next to his mother. I’ll be the guy beats them both.

The Obnoxious One put a 20 oz Pepsi on the counter. “How much is this? Two bucks?”

“No, it’s $2.10.”

“Aughh! You guys are thieves! I’m coming back to rob you.” He gave me a convict stare. I gave it right back. I’m not a ten-year-old kid or a broken-down mother. I didn’t speak, just offered his receipt, which he snatched from my hand and slammed on the counter.

I didn’t break my gaze. He said some other tough-guy shit, but I wasn’t listening to him. I listened to my inner voice, which said, “Easy, he’ll be gone soon, and if not? We’ll get rid of some excess frustration…”

He stood outside the door, staring. So I walked over to the door, making myself available for him to ‘teach me a lesson.’ I know these paper tigers. Not a threat, but don’t turn your back on them.

He kept muttering his tough-guy stuff, about how he was gonna come back and beat my ass etc… He kept staring at me. I would look him straight in the eye, hold the gaze, and move on across the platform. I was so tempted to flip him off as the train pulled out, but that would be what got back to the boss, and I would be the one punished. Sigh.

I went back in, and a group of older tourists were waiting at the counter. I rang them up, and the total came to $4.37. She handed me a twenty. “Wait! I want to give you two pennies.”

I set the $20 back on the counter until she was done playing with her money. She dug around and pulled out the two pennies. “Now I’m going to give you these, and I don’t want any statements or opinions from you.”

Now, I get that she was trying to make a two-cents-worth joke, but had she not seen what I just went through? “Okay,” I said. I put her stuff in a bag and handed it to her.

“I was making a joke,” she said.

“Well I was hoping! Otherwise that’s the fanciest way anyone has ever told me to shut up!” My smile wasn’t as warm and friendly as usual.

I kinda feel sorry for her. She was oblivious to her surroundings, and sometimes you have to look around before making a smartass remark. She went outside, quietly.

It’s been like that all week. Snippy people. Those who have to manhandle the credit card machine. Stealth action as they slide the card before I can speak, grab the base unit, pick it up, turn is sideways, type their PIN in and then give it a cockeyed staredown while awaiting approval. The more they manhandle it, the more little-dick syndrome I see.

I just heard from Voorhees. He did quit, but the boss isn’t fighting unemployment, and would be willing to rehire him. I’m glad. Voorhees had a heart attack for Master P. That’s above and beyond the call of duty.

One heart attack should be enough. Best of luck in your future endeavors.

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