the Bucky Four-Eyes Cotillion

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The devil wears blah blah

Old guy wanders in, wanting product a co-worker ordered for him. I check and it's not in yet; old guy is very cool about it, and I'm thinking, Well, isn't that a relief that he's not bitching at me for something out of my control. What a nice old man. Then he compliments my speaking voice, and I suddenly remember that I've waited on him before, that he is the Talkiest Talkingest of the Talking Old Guys, and that I may be eligible for full retirement benefits before this conversation is over.

He tells me, at length, about his friend with the bright red hair and the melodious voice who used to be a DJ, and about another friend with a booming voice that needed no amplification, the guy who should have been a DJ but couldn't be bothered to learn the trade. Somewhere along the line, he segues into the story of his immigrant grandparents, and how they were made to run up and down the stairs at Ellis Island before being granted admittance to the States (I suspect that it was because watching people run in wooden shoes is universally hilarious, but I keep that to myself), and how his grandmother took all her money out of the bank the night before the stock market crashed in '29, and he doesn't know why they called it the "Great" Depression, 'cause it kinda sucked, actually.

My boss is wandering through and gets dragged into the conversation because she's found the item that was ordered for him. She and I share the thought, in our girlie telekinetic way, that perhaps he'll buy it and vamoose so we can get back to the stock that needs to go up. But no, he's now launched into the tale of how he and his wife ventured into the wilds of New York City in the late '60s, and how, by God, it was really a hellhole, and there were people dancing topless on the tables. I'm wondering, to myself, how I get on the waiting list for this hellhole, and then I remember that some asshole cleaned up Times Square in the '90s, and my little private bubble of breast awareness is deflated as the old guy relates, in excruciating detail, how he and his wife were trapped on the 88th floor of the Empire State Building during a blackout, but "this little Jap" fashioned a battery-powered lamp and led all the tourists down the stairs to the darkened street. I can't help but picture George Takei dressed as the Statue of Liberty.

We edge him over to the counter and manage to ring up his purchase as he launches into his explanation of how the Mexican drug wars could be easily eradicated with some of the US of A's heavy artillery. I decline to mention that the US of A's heavy artillery seems to be already in use elsewhere in the world, as doing so would only prolong the conversation. He asks me at least three times if I've ever been in the military, and I keep thinking, Do you really think anyone would willingly hand me a gun? Finally, miraculously, after the longest 45 minutes on record, he's out the door, and my boss and I are staring at each other, eyes wide with disbelief, exclaiming in unison, "Oh. My. GAWD."

And the thing is, he's a nice enough guy. Not once do I have the urge to hit him or gouge him or tightly wrap his danglies in speaker wire. Really, I feel kinda bad, because it's obvious that no one he knows will hold still long enough for him to get this out of his system, and dammit, it's a family's job to let him ramble at home so he's all rambled out before he's allowed to go out in public.

So, we go back to our work, and there is work aplenty for the two of us. We price, we stock, we hang tags, we sell phones, we sell cell phones, we sell cell phones by the seashore, we do price changes, and before I know it, it's an hour to closing time and my boss is leaving me to close the store by myself. I still have a few tasks on my list, but the last hour is usually slow, and I'm figuring it will be a breeze, a cakewalk, a walk in the park, a walk in the cake. Boss lady has her hand on the door when a familiar vehicle pulls up...

Chatty Grampy is back.

I shriek at my boss and she whips around to see what's gotten up my ass. Then she sees who it is and I can see her getting ready to bolt past him, out the door and into her car, where she will lock the doors and squeal out of the parking lot like she just robbed the place and put three bullets in the clerk. I beg her, "Oh, sweet Jesus, promise me you'll give me FIVE MINUTES and then call me on the store phone, where we will have a long conversation about digital converter boxes and their place in a kosher household. Promise me." She promises me, and I have no reason to doubt the sincerity on her face, though I only see it for a split second before she makes like the Road Runner and she's gone, into her car, a streak and a puff of dust, tire tracks on the concrete all she's left us to remember she was ever really there.

It seems we neglected to preach the gospel of "Do you need batteries with that?" when he made his purchase, and as it turns out, he needs batteries. The battery sale turns into his proud display of a bullet-shaped pen, which somehow turns into a solid half hour of his movie recommendations for me. He likes Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton together, and also that Jack Nicholson movie "where that one guy is a queer." He basically spoils the endings to several movies which, thankfully, I have no interest in seeing anyway. Surprisingly enough, his most enthusiastic recommendation is The Devil Wears Prada. In fact, he mentions high-heeled shoes and women in high heels so many times during the conversation that I begin to wonder if he's going to whip out a pair of red stilettos and beg me to wear them as I clog dance on his back. I begin to wonder exactly how much I would charge for that.

But mostly, I begin to wonder Where the hell is that phone call I was promised? Betrayal, that's what I call it. When a chick asks another chick to make a fake phone call to rescue her from an awkward situation, it's Chick Law that she make that call at precisely the preordained time. My boss has broken one of the cardinal rules of Honor Among Chicks. I make a mental note to fart in her office chair if and when this conversation ever concludes.

Thirty minutes to closing time, my work list not getting any smaller, and finally, miraculously, another customer walks in. Old guy sees him, grabs his batteries off the counter, and has the good grace to say "Well, you have a customer, so I'll let you get to it." The angels sing for just a split second, until New Customer smiles at us and says "Oh, you guys go ahead, I'm fine over here."

NO! I scream in my head. YOU'RE NOT FINE! YOU DESPERATELY NEED MY HELP TO PICK OUT A CALCULATOR! My attempts at telepathy fail. I will the phone to ring, but its will to remain unrung is stronger, and I swear that the caller ID briefly, silently flashes Sucks to be you. I'm sure New Customer is doing this to me on purpose, this blatant "knowing what he wants and where it's located" nonsense that he's pulling just to fuck with me.

After an eternity of movie plot spoilers, I see New Customer making his way toward the counter, slowly, slowly, slowly, and I practically spit a lung out screeching at him, "I CAN HELP YOU OVER HERE, SIR!" Old guy moves aside and bids me adieu, and I take my time waiting on New Customer, making sure I ask a lot of questions, make a lot of recommendations, assure myself that old guy is really and truly out the door, on his way out of the parking lot. I bag New Customer's items, and then I pick up the phone, dial about four digits, and pretend to engage in a fascinating debate about the availability of lead-free solder, just in case Grampaw Fuck-Me Pumps changes his mind and turns the car around.

It is with the greatest sense of relief that I lock the store, kill the lights, and shut down the electronics; it is with the greatest sense of revenge that I let loose an ass-rumbling thunderstorm upon the office chair where my can't-bother-to-phone boss will sit in the morning.

I shall never again forget to offer batteries with each purchase. Amen.

19 of you felt the overwhelming need to say somethin':

Blogger Squirl said...

She didn't call? See if I show her my purple phone now.

Wow, that guy needs to join some old folks social club or something. Maybe you could start walking around and getting the rest of your work done. I don't know if he'd get the hint, but at least you'd be getting caught up. Sorry that he caught you. It would only be fair if he ended up talking to your twerpy little coworker.

8:04 AM, March 27, 2009  
Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

On many levels, I thank you for posting this one. I've been the You in this story a kajillion times in my life. The Old Guy is a lot of people throughout time, but dad. Not to mention that I also worked in an electronics store.

Thing is, I'm slowly turning into the Old Guy and am seeing/enjoying how my stories cause people to glaze over...'cept many of my stories still contain a good dose of WTF to surprise.

2005 post:

8:18 AM, March 27, 2009  
Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

*giggles that he worked in a story, such a naughty Old-Man-in-Training*

8:20 AM, March 27, 2009  
Blogger here today, gone tomorrow said...

Best. Blog. Post. EVER!

And all my sympathy!

9:03 AM, March 27, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

That, my dear, was a great post. :)

9:28 AM, March 27, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my...I work in a water utility office and they come in here in droves. The thing is, I can see some really lonesome eyes in these elderly people. So, I don't have the heart not to listen. You know Bucky, I don't think they do this to everyone...just the people they can since are kind like you!

9:42 AM, March 27, 2009  
Blogger Katy Barzedor said...

Squirl - oh, no, if this guy started in with the twerp, twerp would only be encouraged to trade stories. And I'd much rather hear old guy's stories any day!

Mr. B - the thing is, in reasonable-sized doses, I would find Old Guy entertaining. His stories are kinda interesting, but only one or two at a time, please!

HTGT - thank ya, thank ya! I got Dooce's book in the mail yesterday, and all I wanted to do was dive into it, but this story begged to be shared immediately.

Mainline Mom - thank ya, ma'am! I'm going to find a way to guilt my boss into giving me an extra weekend day off.

Amy - I'm with you - there's no way I could be mean to these old folks who need to have some human contact. I just wish they'd do it in slightly smaller doses.

11:13 AM, March 27, 2009  
Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

But at least when you're talking to him you're avoiding that icky "work" thang.

11:52 AM, March 27, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I can't help but picture George Takei dressed as the Statue of Liberty."

Nearly. Wet. Pants. This whole post cracked me up, which I desperately needed today. So see? You not only listened to an old man ramble, thus making his day; but you cheered me up too! This should earn you good Karma points or something... like perhaps you'll see a topless chick in the street today...

1:15 PM, March 27, 2009  
Blogger Kranki said...

Really, really great story. And I totally sympathize as I live in a building with A LOT of seniors and there have been days where I have never made it to my car to go where was supposed to. Trapped in the elevator or lobby with The Chatting.

2:14 PM, March 27, 2009  
Anonymous Flying Mermaid said...

You make me so sad to be unemployed!

I hope you kicked your boss's ass today!

2:07 AM, March 28, 2009  
Blogger Deodand said...

I hope you tell your boss about your revenge while she's sitting in that chair.

4:34 PM, March 28, 2009  
Anonymous caleal said...

First off, you need to do something way worse and more subversive to your boss. That's a class X felony in chick law.

Secondly, I feel your pain. Happens all the time to me, but never at work or anything like that. It's usually just random people who enjoy striking up conversations when I am otherwise engaged. It's annoying.

5:16 PM, March 28, 2009  
Blogger Bone Machine said...

I am guessing that we didn't stick our nose in the Mexican drug war is that it might wreck the supply of drugs coming into the USA.

As far as Chatty Chuckie, I have a co-worker like that and I regularly have to stifle the urge to punch him in the throat just to get him to shut the fuck up.

Since I am guessing that he really doesn't care how I am doing (as I know that I couldn't care less how he's doing) or what my schedule looks like on any particular day (ditto), I figure that he's doing it just to watch me squirm uncomfortably while he talks about some of the most lame ass shit imaginable.

OK, so I might give him bonus points for making another human being miserable if'n I wasn't the one in the line of fire.

3:25 PM, March 29, 2009  
Blogger eclectic said...

She didn't call?!?! I think someone needs a little tampon-angel ornament hung from her review mirror with the store's phone number printed on it.

3:36 AM, March 31, 2009  
Anonymous Susie said...

I liked that movie where that one guy was a queer, too.

Geez, you need hazardous duty pay. I have a friend like this. I love her, but I don't want her to come over. She'll be sitting there, and we're turning the lights off, yawning, saying we're going to bed, and she's still talking.

10:32 AM, April 07, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So did you fart in her chair? I hope you had the decency to eat beans, eggs and garlic first.

This post makes me glad that my only co-worker is my husband. At least if he gabs, he has really good dirty jokes.

11:03 PM, April 11, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...


1:25 PM, April 29, 2009  
Anonymous greatwhitebear said...


btw.. if you ever consider switching teams....

6:41 PM, May 13, 2009  

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