“Excuse me,” She looked down at her list, gesturing with her fingers. “I’m looking for two things. Do you think you could help me find them?”
“Of course, what are you looking for?”
“First thing on the list: I’m looking for candles with light bulbs. Large ones.”
“Oh, you mean artificial candles?”
“Yeah, the light bulb kind that use electricity or batteries.”
“Well, normally we carry them in aisle B8, and you can find the small ones there – the ones the size of tea lights – but we just had a guest looking for them earlier this morning and it turns out we don't have any of the bigger ones left in stock."
“Oh, wow! You don’t even have them in stock anymore!”
“No, but we should have more available later this week.”
“Oh? Oh! You still carry them, you’re just out!”
“Yes, we should have more later this week.”
“Okay, well that’s good to know. Secondly,” she announced holding her list resolutely, “I am looking for sand, you know, to put a Christmas tree in, to keep it up.” Not the strangest inquiry of the day, but certainly pushing the bounds of normal.
“Sand?” I repeated.
“Yes, sand, for Christmas trees.” Yes, certainly pushing the bounds of normal.
“Hmmm, I don’t think I’ve run across sand before, let me ask a team member.” I pulled out my walkie. “Hey sales team, does anyone know if we carry saaan-duh?”
“ERRR, ARE YOU LOOKING FOR SAAAND? NO, WE DON’T HAVE SAND, THEY MAY HAVE TO TRY A HARDWARE STORE LIKE ACE OR MENARDS FOR THAT—PSCHTK”
“Sorry Ma’am, we don’t have sand.”
A look of genuine surprise, “But they were right there in your ad.”
They? “Ah! Stands! I thought you said saaand!” I whirled around and pointed to the Christmas tree stands. “Our Christmas tree stands are right over there!”
“Oh I see them now! You thought I was looking for sand?” she smiled as she patted me on the side of the shoulder, “That’s so cute!”
“ERRR, DID YOU SAY SAAAND, OR DID YOU MEAN CHRISTMAS TREE S-TANDS?—PSCHTK” I turned off my walkie.
I don’t get it. This is quickly and horribly becoming a recurring trend. That’s the third time today a guest has called me cute. I haven’t even taken lunch! People always have a way of ruining a bad thing. The first time it happened in the candles aisle – B8 – the same place the light bulb kind that use electricity or batteries are. I was cutting open boxes to stock shelves. I cut into the corner of a box and it spewed glitter like a slit unicorn’s throat. The dazzling red unicorn blood spilled onto my front and sprinkled down my legs. I had cut into a box of “seasonal glitter candles/red”. I would then go on to slaughter a box of “seasonal glitter candles/gold” and then “seasonal glitter candles/silver”. By the time the spewing, sparkling, holiday flame sticks were stood up on their shelves like fabulous gravestones, I was a shimmering showcase of mono-equestricide (that's Latin for unicorn murder apparently). Eagerly pushing my cart of glitter-stained boxes back to the compactor – to dispose of the evidence – I was stopped by a guest. But when she started to ask me her question she became dumbstruck, evidently caught-up in my murderous malaise. That or momentary blindness. Her wide eyes looked me up and down.
|A Glitter Candle Horse|
“Glitter candles,” I said, “A lot of glitter candles.”
“That’s adorable!” She glowed. My walk back to the compactor was less than iridescent.
The last time it happened I was in the toys department. I can't even begin to comprehend the exchange. I was facing the merchandise and making things look neat. The aisles were crowded as it was the second day of our 2-day Black Friday Sale. People were squeezed in tightly. The woman was standing next to me, almost touching me. She was with a friend who was on my other side, right next to me too. The woman was fondling some item. Reserving her gaze for the toy she dictated her speech at me.
“It looks like you’re keeping busy today.” It wasn’t quite a question.
“Oh yes, very busy!”
She smiled, “And you probably had to work late last night, huh?"
"Uh, yeah I guess so."
"Uh, yeah I guess so."
"And then get up early and work this morning, huh?”
“Huh, that’s cute.” Her friend laughed a little, or maybe giggled. She put the item down, walked over to her friend, and they strode away.
I don’t get it. Why do people always end up lifting your goddamn spirits? Can’t they see? Is my pale, rugged and bearded face not weary and haggard? I'm not trying to look gruff or mean, but I'm certainly no fair-haired boy. It’s not fair: These days I’ve been trying so hard to feel ugly. What is it they see? Or do they see right through me?
"Light bulbs are in A39, unless you want them on candles, then B8. Yes, you're welcome."