Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22396 – 840:
Here’s the haps:
There’s a story that came to mind from my old retail days. Sometimes the true stories are the most interesting because I have discovered over the last sixty-one-plus years that truth is, in fact, stranger than fiction. Years ago, when I worked for the Big Blue Box retailer, one of my most interesting customers was a protestor. My last customer (anyone who has ever worked retail knows that the last customer is always the most…interesting.) was a guy with a bunch of art supplies, poster boards, pencils, markers, paints, all the great sign-making stuff. He also had a bunch of snacks and Gatorade-type drinks and stuff. Some customers want no idle chit-chat while some will talk your ear off. A good retail clerk knows how to read the customer. This one was itching to talk, you could just tell. So, as I’m ringing up his purchases, I have a conversation.
“Looks like you have a big art project going on. Making some signs for a rummage sale?”
“Oh, no man. Protest signs.”
“Really? What are you gonna protest?”
“You know, this big blue box you work in.”
“Well, for one thing, they way they treat you guys.”
“The way they treat us guys? Like what do you mean?” I was on the rebound from a failed business venture and had a gap of several years on my work history to show for it but they took a chance on me and hired me anyway. I felt grateful to have a job at all and said as much. He laughed at me derisively as though I were too stupid to understand all of the evils that were being done to me. Much of what he said was patently false or wildly inaccurate but I just nodded and listened. “So, you’re protesting to protect me?”
“You ought to take the day off tomorrow and come join us on the median at noon.”
“That’ll be one hundred thirty-seven dollars and fifty-six cents, please.” The sale closed and I started laughing. With some notable exceptions, I know better than to laugh at a customer but I couldn’t help it.
“What’s so funny, man?”
“You. You just gave your hated enemy, that you’re going to have a major protest against, a hundred and some odd dollars of your money! Doesn’t that strike you as a little bit funny?”
He was angry, “Listen! I have to shop here. This is the cheapest place in town to get this stuff!”