Saturday, May 17, 2008

Questions! I get questions!

A few days ago one of our new associates, a young man who works as a cart pusher, asked me shyly if he could bother me for a second. Silly question! I'm working. He can bother me for HOURS!

Anyway, he had a problem. He needed a zucchini for class the next day (I'm hoping cooking class and not, say, sex education, but I didn't ask). What's a zucchini? I know he felt silly having to have a common vegetable pointed out to him, but he really shouldn't have. That is FAR from the silliest question I've heard or heard of since I started working retail.

One of my friends came to Warsaw from Warrensburg, where she worked in the Walmart fabric and crafts department. One time someone asked her if they had any more of a certain kind of fabric and she told them brightly, "I'm sorry! I don't think the elves are making any more of that kind today." They stared at her in dismay and said, "well, can you go ask them?"

A few weeks ago my friend Matt answered a call that came to the deli. The caller wanted to know if the bakery had any fresh brownies. Matt told them that our store doesn't have a bakery to which they replied, "well, can you go look?"

Some years ago my friend Mitch was working in a large grocery store produce department somewhere in the city. He was at a counter coring pineapples and had a large stock of pineapples next to him, a coring machine in front of him and a goodly supply of packaged, labelled, cored pineapples on his other side. A customer came up and asked, "do you guys carry cored pineapple?" Mitch, incorrectly assuming the man was joking, said, "no, I'm sorry. We don't have any pineapple." The customer turned away in disgust, speaking into his cell phone. "We're just gonna have to go somewhere else, Mable. They don't carry it here!"

And just a few weeks ago a trio of teenaged boys, looking lost and confused* as teenaged boys often do, came up and asked me if we had any plums. I pointed them towards the plums and in a few minutes they were back with a bag of fruit.

"Are these peaches or pears?"
"They're nectarines. I thought you wanted plums."
"Yeah . . . these aren't plums?"

I guess I can't blame it all on retail madness, though. After all, my crazy uncle Lawrence did once call my mother up to ask her what her phone number was.

*Drunk and/or high

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I didn't read my horoscope for yesterday, but I figure, if it wanted to be accurate, this is what it should have said:

Saturday, May 10 -- One star (at best)

This is going to be an annoying day. You will be inconvenienced by another's lack of consideration.

Woman I barely know sends me a little email newsletter thingie with not one, not two, not three, but four ENORMOUS JPEG attachments. It took an hour to download via my dialup (only thing available here) and completely wiped out my morning online time. I think, from glancing at the letter, they were pictures of baby goats. They were so big you had to scroll to see them in the OE preview screen and mostly they seemed to be trees and sky. I didn't take time to open them -- by the time they downloaded I was running late for work. I almost cancelled the download and skipped the mail for the morning, but it could have been Janet sending me a book contract, you know. If it had been, say, a FIVE star day instead of a ONE star day . . . .

You will find what you need is out of reach and will be stymied by modern technology.

Walmart, in their infinite wisdom, has switched to a cheaper toilet paper that is roughly the same consistency as fog. As long as the roll is more than half full it is impossible to pull any off, because the weight of the roll is greater than the tensile strength of the paper. The result, of course, is that people both use more and waste more. If you try to pull some from a full roll, all you get is a little swatch the size of your fingertips (this is why the restrooms now are littered with little piles of paper snow under all the dispensers). The only way to get any is to spin the roll with one hand while pulling on the paper with the other, an awkward prospect at best.

Also, several years ago Walmart switched to automatic-flush toilets. There is a special place in Hell for the person who invented automatic-flush toilets. If you're lucky enough to be unfamiliar with these fiendish devices, they are electric-eye operated toilets that flush themselves, basically, whenever the hell they feel like it. They're supposed to flush when you stand up. Often they flush when you sit down. They flush if you move slightly, if you sneeze or -- and this is the really obnoxious bit -- if you reach for toilet paper.

Also, the genius who designed our particular Walmart built it with just one stall in the front women's restroom. This means that there is almost always a line, especially on busy holiday weekends.

So this is me yesterday using the facility. The closest roll of toilet paper was empty, but the holder holds two rolls so there was another, almost full one at the point where I could just barely reach it.

Roll. Rip. Damn! Flush. Little girl hopping up and down outside the stall. "Mommy! I have to go pee!" Roll. Rip. Damn! Flush. "Mommy! I have to go pee now!" Roll. Rip. Damn! Flush. "Why is the lady taking so long?"

A lack of attention to detail will set ill with you.

On lunch, in a hurry, I grabbed a cheap package of instant noodles without reading the ingredient label. Ate more than half of it before I decided to look and see why it tasted weird. Chicken fat and chicken broth. It's making me sick just thinking about it. I've been a vegetarian for 28 years.

I didn't throw up, but it was a near thing for several hours.

Your judgement is poor today; You're all wet.

I sat on the bench under the overhang for about ten minutes waiting for the rain to let up before heading to my car which, being as I work there, was parked all the way at the far end of the lot (uphill, of course). I timed it just perfectly to get caught half way in an enormous downpour. Good thing I have an umbrella. Too bad I left it in my car. I got there dripping wet, rain running down my back from my hair, my clothes soaked, heavy breathing steaming up the car windows (which is really no fun when you're alone!). Within two minutes the rain quit completely and didn't start again so far as I know.

Tonight: Back to nature.

The road from Warsaw to my house is a narrow, twenty-mile long ribbon of hilly, twisty pavement that is unwise to travel too fast on windy, foggy nights. It is also a road which, at ten o'clock on a Saturday night, has not a single open business with a public restroom. Fortunately, the last few miles run down gravel and dirt roads bordered by cow pastures. Cows are curious creatures with no manners about staring, but at least the bushes don't try to flush themselves and I think the less said about that, the better!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

What a deal!

Okay, so my eyesight's getting bad these days and maybe I was hallucinating, but I could swear I saw a sign last night advertising a new release of the Indiana Jones movies that said, "special packaging with purchase!" OH MY GOD! They're kidding! You mean, if we buy the DVD, we get the box TOO?!!!?