Sunday, February 20, 2011

"That's Today for Ya!" (A Thanksgiving story and #3 of 3 trips down memory lane)


I worked at a grocery store through high school. It was a good job for a student; it didn't require a hairnet, or saying the phrase "you want fries with that?" The only downside was that grocery stores bring on all kids of freaks. Everyone has to eat, right? 

Need fruits and vegetables, cans of Spam; Normal people? Yes. 

Freaks? Hell yes.

One particular guy visited regularly and scared the crap out of me. He was a big guy that dressed like a logger, or the guy from movies you see that "works on the docks" (In Wyoming?); he even wore the cap for it.

Add some scraggly stubble, a plaid shirt
and the crazy eyes, and....this is his mug shot
after my murder.

 He always came stomping through the door, with the look of mental illness on his face. He had that crazy-wild-eyed thing going on, eyes going in different directions or something. And, this guy was continually PISSED OFF. He seemed to be particularly angry at the young, gorgeous (okay, average looking) high school girl working the register. I tried to go on break when this guy would storm in, but the best I could do usually was the primo distraction of cleaning the bathrooms. Every time I was in the bathroom, (cleaning the mirror instead of the toilets for 35 minutes) I would expect to hear the shooting of my co-worker that was not as wise as me to hide out.

On Thanksgiving, all of the students had to work the holiday shifts instead of the adults. It was relatively quiet in the store, since most people were home enjoying their families. I didn't mind working, since a day with the family for a high school kid is kind of like a trip to Shady Acres Retirement Home. 

The store on holiday watch was an escape; almost no one came in, the supervisors were mostly absent, and you could read all of the magazines without paying for them. This is what I was accomplishing when the automatic door whooshed open and "crazy eyes" came in. Oh crap. I looked for an escape route, but I was the only one around. My counterparts in grocery checking were already hiding out somewhere. I was stuck. 

I watched him storm down the aisle. He seemed particularly fired up that day, his boots were really stomping around. He was wearing this dirty coat and I imagined him later throwing it over my dead, crumpled grocery uniform-wearing corpse.

I could hear the stomping and grumbling above the muzak over the loud speakers, as crazy was getting items. I was staring at my ugly uniform pants when he seemed to pop up out of nowhere.... grimacing. Eeeeek.  He was in my line, inches away from me! His dirty coat arms were filled with cans of corn - he must have had 20 of them! I scooted behind my register and waited for the onslaught of gunfire. 

The cans of corn were losing their seating in his arms and began to fall onto the scanner area. When one fell, he would yell "WELL, THAT'S TODAY FOR YA!!!" and set it upright. This would cause another can to fall, and then another. This wasn't that freaky, except that HE KEPT SAYING IT. And the cans kept falling. I just stood there, frozen:

"WELL, THAT'S TODAY FOR YA!" (thunk.) 
"WELL, THAT'S TODAY FOR YA!! (thunk.) 
"WELL, THAT'S TODAY FOR YA!!" (hesitation while cans stabilized) (thunk.). 

It seemed to go on for 20 seconds or 20 minutes. My fight or flight mechanism was telling me to haul ass, but instead I scanned the 20 cans of corn at lightening speed, crammed them in a bag and took the money from Captain Crazy, who was still muttering about the cans. I gave him the change, trying to avoid any skin to skin contact. I swallowed hard and meekly said "Happy Thanksgiving...". 

He stopped muttering abruptly, and stared hard at me. 

I swear, I think I felt pee. 

He turned and stormed off out the door with a whoosh of leaves blowing in as he left. 

I laid on the dog food bags, and that year I was truly thankful.....


Sandra said...

OMG no kidding! What makes a person go coocoo?

Hannah said...

Wow that's a freaky story. I'll never forget a freaky guy that used to come to the Dairy Queen where I worked. (No hair nets, or asking if they wanted fries, but fast food joint all the same.) He was that sleezy mid 40s guy that still thinks high school girls find him attractive (he was NOT) kind of guy. Yeah, he's on the sex offender registry now.