As a person, I have a special place in my heart for what I refer to as “blunt-force honesty”. It’s the kind of truthfulness that isn’t exactly respected or even desired, but instead leaves people upset, angry, or in tears. It’s not what you wanted to hear, but what you needed to hear, and truth hurts. Maybe it’s because I’m a sadistic SOB, but I really enjoy that.
Customers pick up on that. You occasionally get customers that look at you as if you are their therapist…and after venting for a couple of minutes they feel better, go on their way, and leave the counterclerks to absorb just what the hell happened.
It’s a beautiful Thursday evening, one so bright that I’m forced to wear sunglasses in the store so I can avoid getting a blinding headache. (MEMO TO CORP: TINT THE DAMN WINDOWS!) We haven’t had foot traffic in the store in two hours. It’s absolutely dead. I see an Olds Intrigue pull in. A mother in her late fifties and I presume her son in his thirties come into the store. Cue repetition: friendly greeting and ask if there is anything I can do for them. The mother presents to me two lightbulbs: A halogen bulb for a newer car and a taillight bulb for a Scion, one of the really obnoxious odd-size ones. Easy enough, I get them, inform her of the price and start ringing them up. While I’m doing that my ears catch some of their conversation:
“…I don’t understand it. He can’t even change a lightbulb! He can work the world’s most complex remote control, he can do all that, but he can’t twist a socket and unplug a bulb.”
“What do you expect from someone who got fired from a car wash?”
I’m really resisting the urge to start snickering. As it is, I’m trying to not crack a smile…my head is bowed and I’m breathing deep. I’m thinking teenager by the conversation. The mother picks up on my body language and gets me off the hook: “It’s ok, honey, we’re thinking it too. Tell me, how hard do you think it is to drive a truck?”
“No, pickup truck. This guy had a job driving a pickup truck for a company. That’s all. They’d load the bed and he’d hop in, drive it to the other building, people at the other building would drop it off. Sound difficult?”
“He got fired from that. He got fired from mowin’ lawns. He got fired from washin’ cars. Ain’t nobody knows what calling in life he has.”
Her son: “Mama, he’s fifty-three. What calling do you think he has?”
Her: “Getting high and playing with himself. That’s his calling.”
After two hours of working in near-silence with the other guy, I wasn’t ready for that.
Woman, husband and their adult son come in. They’ve been a thorn all day, trying to find main bearings for a Nissan truck. Apparently, the last time they were in they were sold camshaft bearings and they didn’t look until they got home. Son goes walking the aisles, I get stuck with two fairly irritated people. I figure out the problem fast, and while I’m ringing them up, they start the questioning, trying to figure out what went wrong. After locating the employee who placed the wrong order, the conversation goes something like this:
“Did you talk to the asshole or the drunk?”
Me: “Ma’am, that could be the same person…”
“No…the asshole is my son, the drunk is any one of the ugly skanks my son comes home with. I swear, I don’t understand it. The only kind of women that are attracted to him are either drunks or are uglier than homemade dookie.”
I’m done. I bolt back to the back laughing like a hyena. The Mechanic steps in to take care of her (he has a similar sense of humor). I stop laughing long enough to hear her say, “…and one time I even won a beauty contest!”
The Mechanic: “Miss, First Prize at the county fair don’t count.”