Retail Therapy.

I am a retail clerk.

Always have been, probably always will be.  You can fancy it up with other names: bookseller, manager, supervisor, whatever.  But the truth is that my main job is to try to sell as much stuff to as many people as possible, and to do it every day.  And most days, I'm pretty good at it.

But then there are those days.

It's retail.  it's Christmas.

Nothing puts fear and loathing in my heart as much as this phrase:  "Someone wants to speak to the manager."

Oh dear God.

I have taken complaints for everything from gum on the sidewalk (there really was) to "the cashier called me a bitch and tried to steal my money" (she didn't - at least not out loud).  I usually do a lot of smiling and nodding, and I often make the same low pitched humming sound that I use when I am trying to get cj to sleep (it seems to soothe the crazies for some reason).

So today, when I got the call, I steeled myself, took a swig of gin, which by the way, cannot be smelled on your breath, then bravely walked up to the cashier's desk.

It was obvious as I approached who was waiting for me.  There stood a lady, if lady is a word that can be used loosely, dressed in a Mickey Mouse Sweatshirt, an elf hat(which is sort of like a Santa hat, except for the creepy fake elf ears glued to the side, cut off jeans and some sort of high heeled flip flop contraptions.  Did I mention that this was yesterday, when it was 37 degrees and raining all day?

This was NOT going to be good.

She sort of looked like the kind of person who maybe at one time been well-kept, but who had come up on hard times recently...  You know the "hooker with a heart of gold who takes all the new hookers under her wing to teach them the ways of the world" look.

Did I mention that this was NOT going to be good?

Anyway, I bravely walked up to her, smiled vaguely somewhere in the general direction of her left ear (the real one, not the fake elf one), introduced myself and asked how I could help her today.

"You're the manager." A statement, not a question.

"Yes" I replied, still not QUITE making true eye contact.  When I walked up, it was immediately obvious that she had the crazy eyes.  It is a proven fact that if you stare into the crazy eyes, you get a touch of the crazy yourself.  

"Hrrrmuph."  (Her, not me.)  It was like she was somehow displeased that I was not somehow more... IMPRESSIVE, or taller, or something.

"I decided this mornin' that I was gonna do all my shoppin' today for Christmas.  I ain't never been in this store before today, but my son, he likes to read them comic books, and I thought I'd come here to see what you people had.  This is about the tenth store I've been in today.  I'm real tired and I'm real tired of spendin' money, and I just want to go home."

Ok, here it comes, I think.

"And I just wanted to tell you that everybody here was real nice to me.  That one lady helped me find something for my son, and this other lady at the registers, she was real nice too.  And it smells real good in here, like cookies or somethin'.  I wanted to tell you that I WILL BE BACK."   This was delivered like the warning that I'm sure it really was.

I thanked her profusely, hoping that I would be put in the "real nice" category, too, and invited her to come shop with us any time.

As she was walking away, almost as an afterthought, she turned back to me and said "Ya know, it sure would be nice if you people would get something in here to sell besides books, though. "

Thanks crazy elf hatlady.  I'll get right on it.

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