Apart from choosing poorly in the Internet dating world for far too long, ( it got better, I ended up meeting my now husband), it would seem I have also chosen to work at some slightly crazy making jobs.
I should clarify: I chose jobs I clearly had no business doing. No, I didn't pretend I was a doctor or mechanic, and I made sure for the safety of everyone involved, to keep away from jobs which required advanced mathematical skills. I especially never mixed chemicals, not even when I worked for a large DIY box store. However, I did try my hand at serving tables while I was in art college, but that is another story. Let's just say the bald spot at the back of my head healed rather nicely...
The type of employment I am referring to is: Customer Service. More specifically: Retail Customer Service.
I have often said throughout my lacklustre career of serving the public, that it is the person behind the counter, or on the sales floor or at the other end of the telephone that should be the one receiving an Oscar. We are unscripted, mostly undirected, sometimes uninformed, even if we are in wardrobe complete with all our corporate flare. Mostly though, we are vulnerable. Hiding behind shelves hoping and praying certain well known crusty customers can be avoided at all costs.
Once while hiding behind a shelf pretending to be very busy and very important indeed I was privy to a rather stunning conversation.
A young woman with Albinism who was clearly pregnant walked passed me, she also passed two
local young men, and one of them said this: " hey, who fucked the albino?" I lost my breath for a
second, I froze , thank gawd she didn't hear them. But here is another reaction I had, I also
snorted....yes!! Yes! Yes, I did....think of me what you will folks, but in a very inappropriate way, it struck me as a bit funny.
You need to get a glass of wine now, right??!.... get one, I will wait....
In the DIY big box store I worked in, customers would often think they were alone in the aisles....that's when they would drop them. Big, loud smelly farts.....real rippers even! Some would also laugh when they did it, amusing themselves with their pung ...then they would see me, as I stepped aside from my serious shelf business meeting...looking at them with resting bitch face.....very casually they would saunter away, cheeks on fire...face cheeks I mean.
I learned from the best of them in my retail years. One particular boss would see a customer they didn't like pulling up to the store and he would yell: " she's here! Run to the back of store! Last one there has to serve her!"
It was always a panicked frenzy of stopping whatever you were doing, staring down your nearest co-worker, ready to topel them if need be, every sales associate for themselves. All is suddenly fair in this survivor game. Like the Hunger Games if they wore aprons with name tags, and sat in the employee lunch room for 8 minutes longer than they should have..... I am sure you can sense the panic in each of our hearts as we sized up our competitors . Get.to.the.back.of.the.store.at.all.costs.
The year was 2002 I think? The setting? A retail chain of stores, this particular one I was in charge of even, manager even. Manager because I was the oldest one there and had finished some schooling, and could lock the doors at 9pm on school nights.
At any rate this particular day was a busy Saturday in December, the store was filled with holiday shoppers and errand running families. We had a policy that the washroom was not for customer use, it was located down a long set of stairs that lead to the basement. The actual washroom was in the far back corner of the basement, we also kept over stock items down there too.
An older woman with a 3 pronged walking device, wearing a trench coat, along with a middle aged man approached me and asked if there was a washroom she could use. I was very polite in telling them that our washroom could not be offered to customers due to its unsafe location. I then directed them to the restaurant at the end of our shopping plaza.
Time went on as usual, I helped people and stayed away from the safety of the shelving units, and as I stood there talking to a co-worker I noticed the woman with the walker and her man friend up at the cash register. The man had the woman's trench coat hanging over his arms, they were taking their time making their purchases. I noticed a very odd look on the cashiers face, in fact I will never forget that look.
He turned to me and made what I only assumed was a fake gagging expression...I thought, " no need to be rude there cashier kid.." And then I noticed it: inside the trench coat that was flung ever so casually over this gentleman's arm, was a whole lotta shit. Like a trench coat liner made of poo, like a
smeared gigantic barnyard mess of poo.
They left, my cashier almost passed out, I ran to the front of the store where I saw outside in the parking lot the man gingerly laying the soiled trench coat in the trunk of his car!
The smell of shit still heavy in the air.
The cashier then told me, " jeese, they were the stinkiest people! I mean I said they could use the washroom!" Me, in sheer panic, "you what?! You mean they went downstairs?!"
If this moment in time was in a movie, my reaction to hearing that this couple had gotten downstairs would be the special effects one where they use super slow motion, the character's voices are really low and slow, and usually their eyes are half shut:...." Nooooooooooooooooooooo....."
As I staggered to the back of store, avoiding the small yet noticeable 3 pronged walker shit stain marks on the floor, I marvelled at how these stains made it all the way up those long stairs. I stood at the top of the stairs, my eye's stinging in the mix of pung and pungent foul orders, fear was setting in.. choking back my urge to run for the safety of the shelves, there on every step was a shit stain, and as I followed the nasty trail down, it became fresher and more obvious. I stood at the bottom of the stairs, I looked to the back of the basement my eyes following the now familiar trail of poop, prong and feet. Poop, prong, feet, poop, prong, feet and so on and so on.
I could barely see in the dimly lit washroom, yet some how I knew, I just knew that a kind of shit hell had been unleashed in there more destructive than a Jack Russel terrier high on meth locked in the pillow section of an expensive boutique.
It was, quite literally the Perfect Shit Storm folks. I don't know how these people did it, I don't know why, I don't even want to know why! but there was poop every where....floors, walls and speckles on the ceiling that made up tiny poop constellations for future staff to ponder over every time they sat down.
" And the Oscar goes to?!? Ms. Klein, for her incredibly masterful portrayal of an employee in a hazmat suit..."I will stop the story there, even I want to gag all these years later.
The thing that I will never get over is the fact that even after they left their punishing poop, they still stopped to make their purchases!! And they kept the jacket....
Later that night, I phoned my parents to tell them how my day went..." Hi dad? Yeah doing fine, you? Good to hear, how's mom? Oh nice! She knit some more swimming trunks, awesome....what's that? How did my day go? Well Dad, let me tell you about the Perfect Shit Storm..."