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