Well. I sure didn’t see this coming, but we are in a recession so I suppose nothing as far as job opportunities should surprise me at this point. Heck, at this point I could see myself dressed up as the Statue of Liberty and waving my sign along the streets of Ballard as I lure passers by into Liberty Tax Service for a free consultation. In other words, I got my old job back at the fruit stand. After going to college for 4 years and getting a degree you really hope that you don’t end up back at your first job. However, due to my lack of other options and that fact that if I had to ask one more non English speaking person who forgot their ID at “home”(AKA Tijuana) if they wanted to join the Macy’s Star Rewards Program I may have gone plum loco.
It’s really not so bad being back. I started the job in early April after my old boss called me up because he had heard from my old coworker Charlotte that I was looking for work. After explaining the position he told me exactly why I would be great for the job. “Well Rob, I know you won’t steal from me. The old women who come in to the store just love you. And you’re under the age of 60.” This may be the only time in my life where I am practically over qualified for a job. How could I refuse?? Plus he offered to pay me more than Macy’s, and money talks. Also, the thought of getting my arms back in shape was a rather appealing thought. You see a big part of my day at work revolves around me scooping ice cream for the customers, which gives the old gun show quite a work out. Well, at least my right arm that I scoop with is slowly getting back to Michelle Obama arms status. The left arm still looks about as solid as a pile of undercooked pancakes. Luckily, watermelon season is coming up which will hopefully evenly tone everything out.
My one big fear with taking the job was thought of what it would do to my waistline. You see, although on the outside I may appear bronzed and toned with an eight-pack you could bounce quarters off of, deep inside I am secretly a fat kid. Thus being surrounded by tons of candies, cheeses, salami, and the best ice cream in the world (Upqua to be precise) can prove challenging. All I can say is God bless the woman who invented spanks. The first summer I worked at the fruit stand I consumed roughly a quart of Huckleberry Chessecake/ Pralines N’ Cream a day which caused me to gain roughly 10-15 pounds in less than 2 months. It wasn’t pretty and I have tried to limit myself to one to 2.5 scoops a week but I don’t know how much longer I can keep up this sort of self control.
One of the things that really drove me crazy about my last job at Macy’s were the high maintenance customers who seemed to flock to my check out stand like a moth to the flame. And although it’s definitely less of a problem these days I still get to deal with the joys of retail. The biggest problem with the fruit stand is having to on a daily basis explain the whole bathroom situation to a bunch of female overactive bladders. You wouldn’t believe the looks women have given me when I tell them that our restroom is a portable located in the parking lot. They always give me these disgusted and shocked looks as they slowly walk away shaking their heads. I don’t get it!? I mean what’s really the big deal. You’d think I was asking them to pop a squat outside against the Maple Tree and use the fallen leaves as toilet paper?! Come one people. There are kids in third world countries who give up their pair of brand new TOMS shoes to have that honey bucket as their bathroom so let’s take a chill pill and don’t forget to use the hand sanitizer on your way out.
Aside from el banjo, there’s always gonna be that one person who’s unhappy with our products. The other day a man came in with a more than half eaten bag of caramel pecan popcorn and before slamming it down on the counter he had he audacity to tell me that he had bought it yesterday and that it “tasted old”. Considering the fact that he himself was old and had taste buds that probably have less than 5% of battery life left in them I assumed he was just looking for a freebie and I was not about to give in. After several seconds of awkward eye contact I think he started to read between the lines that I wasn’t about to just give him a new bag. So I asked him if he minded if I try it. I told him I found it to be delicious and quickly finished the rest of the bag before he stormed out without as much of a “enjoy your evening” or “thanks for your help”. Of course now that I think about it that was probably a poor life choice. He definitely isn’t a regular and he totally could have roofied the caramel corn, thus causing me to wake up in an old grain elevator with my brand new pair of Keen's nowhere to be found, 52 missed calls, 35 voicemails, and 10 picture messages of Elly sleeping. All from my mother, of course. Let’s be real, you just can’t trust anyone these days...even if they do look like they’re a member of the Country Club.
Shortly after this incident another old man and his son came in. After asking the man several times if he needed help finding anything and being blatantly ignored, the son told me that his dad was looking for a tomato plant. Something had obviously crawled up the old man’s butt and died that morning and I almost asked him if maybe that’s where his beloved tomato plant had gone but held my tongue because I can’t afford to lose this job. “Sorry we’re totally out of those right now”, I politely explained. “But Kmart is about a mile down the road and they have wonderful lawn and garden center with quite a selection” The old man whipped around and retorted,” Now you know g-damn well that Kmart’s got nothin’ but shitty plants that ain’t gonna do squat once you plant them in the ground. “Well actually I didn’t know that” I replied. “I’ve actually always been a big fan of the blue light specials, and in fact I just found a beautiful pin striped pant suit from the Kathy Ireland Collection last weekend that’s just to die for. Forget the fact that it’s a thread count of 20 that feels like a burlap sack against my skin, because I haven’t had this many compliments since I bought my size 6 Gloria Vanderbuilt shorts at a random Goodwill in Alabama!”
If you haven’t noticed yet, I deal with a lot of old people on a daily basis. I would say that nearly 50% of my customers are over the age of 65. Most of them require a shopping cart, not to fill with food items mind you, but because without it they would collapse onto the floor within two steps down the antique isle. I keep telling my boss we could make a fortune selling tennis balls for all of our regulars to put on their walkers. I could even bedazzle them on really slow days….he’s not totally sold on the idea, but give it time and he will see the light. More often than not my interactions with these adorable old men and women can lead to nothing but hilarious/confusing conversations. Conversations such as women telling me how much they would love to buy a bag of salt water taffy but they know their husbands will find it and they just can’t afford to buy them any more crowns for their teeth. Then there was the lady with her toy poodle who for no reason whatsoever felt it was necessary to convince me that her dog absolutely loved asparagus. After several moments of practically shoving a whole stalk of asparagus down the dog’s throat, it proceeded to regurgitate his so called favorite vegetable all over my recently mopped floor. I was not amused. One of my recent and enlightening convos happened as I was scooping some ice cream and the woman waiting in line was explaining to me in a very concerned and alarmed voice that Mexicans are taking over McDonald’s. She was adamant that the white people who needed those jobs at the drive thru window were being thrown to the curb due to this underground Latino based conspiracy. I proceeded to give her directions to the nearest Red Box where I gave her specific instructions to rent the documentaries “A Day Without A Mexican” and of course “Super Size Me” cuz gurrls not doing herself any favors by having a sausage McMuffin every day of the week.