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Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?

I was going to post about the evils of modern broadcast journalism and its alarming similarity to reality TV, but I have decided that I would be no better than those whom I mock, so instead, here’s a refreshing entry about nothing in particular for those of you who, like me, might need a little break from CNN.
I noticed the other day at work that I have a number of customers who come in every day. I’m not referring to the true “regulars” who come in for their coffee or their copy of the New York Times, or even the ones who come in every Saturday for the latest bestseller. I’m talking about the ones who have absolutely no life. Couple that with an incredible absence of social skills, and I think we have a pretty good canvas on which to paint to following picture. Now let me tell you a story…
Once upon a time, there were a happy bunch of retail clerks who truly loved their jobs. They got to talk to all sorts of interesting people and work in an environment that promoted literacy and the arts. Then one day, an evil old troll began besmirching their pristine landscape. The man was stooped and smelled of rancid Grecian Formula, and he scowled constantly. He wore the same baseball cap crookedly on his head and the same dirt-brown suspenders over the same pilled courduroy pants every day. He would grab the Financial Times, sit in a comfy chair, and immediately start picking his nose…..AND EATING IT!!!! This went on for hours at a time, until he eventually fell asleep. He was awoken from his noisy (he snores like a buzz saw) slumber by his new best friend: another crotchety old man in a red windbreaker who smelled of stale cigarette smoke and had a penchant for hawking disturbingly loud and lengthy loogies (pardon the mispelling; alas I am not familiar with the action, therefore I have never bothered to learn to spell it). Though the two never engaged in a conversation, it became evident over the course of several weeks that they were, in fact, fast companions. Eventually, the first old man started talking to himself (never mind that he had his buddy with whom to chat). This escalated to increasingly explosive expletives being shouted at no one in particular, which were, of course, punctuated by Geezer #2 serenading us with the sounds of phlegm. These antics would continue for the following 12 hours, with brief respites only when Geezer #1 snoozed or Geezer #2 went outside to smoke.
Now, for a good number of months, these two were largely ignored as harmless. We had ascertained that they were neither homeless nor vagrants, simply lonely old retired men with nothing better to do. We never received any complaints, so we basically let them be, with the exception of an occasional “That’s disgusting!” shouted in their general direction. Honestly, we were terrified that one day Geezer #1 would kick it, and we would just think he was sleeping. Hell, I’m pretty sure that’s still a possibility.
Then yesterday, as I was escorting a rather elegant lady to Cooking, Geezer #1, sadly without his faithful sidekick, got up to wander, all the while yelling “SHIT!!! SHIIIIIIIITTTTTTT!” at the top of his (I’m pretty sure) diseased lungs. The woman looked at me, and she was actually amused. I quickly ran over to the man and asked if he was in need of assistance, and he assured me that no, in fact, he was fine. He then said that people often assumed he had Turrett’s, when in fact, he just didn’t care what people thought of him. I aksed him to please refrain, and he sat quietly down with his paper, and we heard not a peep for the remainder of the day. Geezer #2 shortly joined him, and they sat scowling at each other in perfect harmony for 9 more hours.
I don’t get it. We are repulsed by these two men, and yet our other customers find them endearing (or perhaps they feel sorry for them, although trust me, they both have homes and money, and remember, at least Geezer #1 didn’t need food since he provided his own sustenance). They have woven themselves into the fabric of our days, though, a reassuring constant in uncertain days, and I know that one day (probably soon, gauging by the apparent slow decline in the health of both), they will simply not show up, and our joy will be somewhat tempered by our concern.
The moral of the story is the theme of the week: We should celebrate our differences no matter what, but refuse to put up with the SHIT!!!

3 Responses to “Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Sorry, that was me. :smile

  2. kim Says:

    Ewwwwwwwww! I can’t imagine. I don’t think I could work in a job where I have to deal with the public. :\

  3. Camille Says:

    I love that! Isn’t it funny how the most annoying daily “customers” start to grow on you? I had customers like that once in college. A husband and wife. They spoke terribly to one another. One semester I left, and when I returned, she came in by herself. She asked me if I remembered her husband, and told me he had passed away. It was the saddest thing ever. It was sad to see her walk the store alone.




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