Friday, July 26, 2013

One Man's Junk is Another Woman's Job, Part 3

REET! REET! REET! That's the Psycho stabby sound. Just when you thought it was safe to return to read a "normal" post from Val, you discover that she is still beating the old junk store into submission.

Security guard Ronnie was surprisingly effective at stopping boot theft. First of all, he dressed like a rent-a-cop. And he had shifty eyes. I'm sure many a scurvy thief re-evaluated his sticky-footed plan to abscond with a fine pair of ostrich or crocodile or python boots. One particular evening, Ronnie watched as a dude nodded to him and walked out the entrance. "Hey, buddy. Come back here." Thief took off down the parking lot. Ronnie followed. Rush hour traffic on Glenstone, the main drag, slowed Thief enough for Ronnie to close the gap. They both found breaks in traffic as the light changed. Thief made it across first, and climbed up on the railroad overpass that ran beside the store. He headed back the way he had come. Ronnie yelled at him to stop again. They continued to run down the tracks, an every-slowing smoker's pace, sucking the humid sunset air. "Stop!"...wheeze...wheeze..."Stop..."

"All right, dude"...wheeze...wheeze..."I give up..."wheeze..."It's not worth it"...wheeze...wheeze...Thief laid down on the tracks. Ronnie grabbed the boots off his feet and yanked him up to march him back to the store.

"Jesus, buddy! All this for a pair of two-for-$19.99? What's wrong with you?"

Ronnie had a habit of sneaking up behind people and breaking their necks. At least that's what it looked and sounded like. He said he was an amateur chiropractor. He grabbed his victims by the chin with one hand, and the top back of the had with the other, and yanked until a giant CRACK was heard. After the initial shock, the victim walked away declaring how much better he felt. Most likely it was joy to still be alive and able to move all four limbs.

Undoubtedly the best day of Ronnie's work life that I observed was when the foreign girls came to town. I don't know where they came from. I don't know their exact ages. All I know is that they were pale, talkative, excited by our long racks of prom dresses, and spoke in a language I did not recognize. Not English, not Spanish, not French, not Italian, not Russian. Perhaps some kind of Eastern Bloc dialect. Apparently, it was customary in their country to try on clothing before buying it, without the benefit of a dressing room. They were stripping right and left, hiking formals over their heads with abandon. I went up front to report the activity and see what we should do. Ronnie had just spied it on the four-sectioned security camera display. Flora called Charlene to the front, and together they went to diplomatically explain that trying on must be done in the store bathroom, or over their clothes. A lot of pantomiming and pointing got the message across.

Ronnie also had to watch out for big sales rip-offs. The middle of the store sported a gaping hole with wide stairs that led to the basement. It housed paint, tile, and wallpaper. We did a tremendous business in hardware. The parking lot was half full of lumber and bathtubs and shower enclosures and toilets. Any hardware had to be rung up with a ticket written by a salesman, and no materials could be loaded without a salesman assisting the customer. Salesmen worked on commission. It was a cutthroat operation. They were assigned rotating duties such as parking lot, wallpaper, paint, and hardware. Parking lot was prime, because that was the big lumber sales. Two had that duty each day. They stood near the doors, ready to pounce on customers eyeing the outside goods. If both were busy, and a customer asked who to see about lumber, the cashier called a salesman of her choosing. That's why it paid to be nice to the cashiers, and not act like a jackass.

The problem with the hardware department was that customers like to take a dump in the wallpaper bin aisles. Seriously. A sure sign was when Charlene was called over the intercom to assist in the basement. That meant she was picking up turds in a wastebasket to bring up to the bathroom for flushing. Charlene was our go-to gal when the toilet overflowed, too.

On weekends, Charlene and Joy were off. Flora only worked half a day. That meant I had to be a cashier. Chaos and anarchy skipped hand in hand down the flower-petaled path to not-heaven on weekends.

To be continued...


  1. Second hand goods, prom dresses, fancy boots, tile, paint and wallpaper---that was one interesting store!

  2. Was there no toilet for customers? That place was a dump in more than one way, apparently...

  3. Maybe the customers confused toilet paper with wallpaper?

  4. Linda,
    That's what Charlene said.

    Yet the people outshone the merchandise!

    The customers were allowed to use the same toilet the staff used. It was clearly marked. And even in a room with a door! I suspected that the wallpaper pooper was the same person, who kept coming back. You know, SSDD. Same S**tter, Different Day. I guess we were lucky they didn't do their business on a for-sale toilet on the parking lot.

    Or maybe they just confused a fetish with good taste.

  5. Long ago when I worked in a fabric store, the asst. manager would refuse to let customers use our facilities. She claimed that since we didn't sell food, they should have no need of them. And besides all that we rotated cleaning duties and she did not want to clean up after her fellow workers, much less strangers ..... One night as we were preparing to close, she discovered a pile of poop next to the pattern viewing table. She did the clean-up, saying it was her own fault for denying use of the facilities. I was too busy laughing until tears flowed.

  6. Kathy,
    We were all proud of Charlene, our Big Bird/Dolly Parton hybrid, who was not afraid to use her elbow grease on other people's poop.