“Mister! Help me!” exclaimed a short, slender, middle aged, crazy-eyed woman as she ran up to me.
I've had an extensive retail career. I could fill a book about the American Public but this one particular encounter will stick with me for a while. A few years back I was doing holiday help at a hip skate-life retailer. It was the holiday season, on a Saturday, so the store was buzzing with shoppers trying to complete their wish list and get the hell out of there as fast as they could. I took pride in my 8 hour shift of greeting people. Why not? If I am going to stand here for 8 hours and say "Hi." to people all day might as well make it fun. I was doing my greeter ninja work...because heaven forbid your micro-managing floor leads see you let someone in without saying "Hi" and letting them know about the "sale" going on...it was hectic to say the least as this woman came running in. Her hair was a blonde birds nest, her make up was smeared, wearing ripped faded jeans and a ratty, ripped 80's band t-shirt, toting ripped plastic grocery bags with her belongings in it, she smelled of bourbon and cigarette smoke. Screaming “Help!” I looked in her eyes and saw them glazed over rolling in the back of her head...I could tell this was going to be a great interaction...and I prayed she wouldn't swallow her tongue.
In a very upbeat and excited voice I say “What can I do for you today?” giving her my FULL and undivided attention. I needed to hear everything, I needed to know what was going to come out of her foam-at-the-corners mouth. “There’s something wrong with my smartphone!” she was yelling to a store full of holiday shoppers. “May I see it?” holding out my hand playing into her craziness. I examined the phone to find out that the battery wasn’t in it, it had a cracked screen and was emitting the faint smell of dog urine. During the examination of her phone she whispers to herself and then tells me she has been up for 3 days...and loves the band BuckCherry. Amazing. This couldn't be going any better. Playing into her insanity further I said “hmm, looks fine to me but if you don’t mind can you tell me what else is going wrong here?” as she responded with a snappy “Sure can!” Yes...I smiled with delight in knowing that I was about to share in the magical story of this phone and it’s owners journey...and how it ended up with me at the front of this store.
“It’s my god-damn boyfriend!” she tells me as I nod with my hand on my chin and arm around my chest agreeing with her “He is accessing my smartphone from jail! (Of course her boyfriend is in jail is all I thought…why wouldn’t this woman have a boyfriend in jail?) He is hacking in and making me go to BOOBIE WEBSITES!” She YELLS in the front of the store as parents hide their children’s faces from her and I’s direction. Everyone in the store is slowly but surely starting to acknowledge this interaction (and I want to believe they are as excited as I am to see what’s going to happen). “Oh No…Oh Jeez…We can’t have that…” I say as she continues “Yeah! Damn right! He is making my phone go to RIDE-MY-DICK.com or something like that and I don’t want to go there!” Continuing to YELL as parents are starting to take their families from the store “I see, yeah that’s no good, we can’t have that…please...go on.” I say with assurance as she goes on “I would never go to RIDE-MY-DICK.com!” She states with confidence as I reply with “Uh huh…continue…” “If anything I would go to EAT-MY-PUSSY.com! That’s the site I’d be on if I was searching for porn-o!” She YELLS some more and flails her arms around to help make her point…or lack there of. “Oh my my!” I say as seriously as I can muster without my cheeks turning red...or laughing uncontrollably. “Miss I am going to go talk to my manager (call the cops) and see if there is anything we can do for you, stay right here.” “That is no problems son. Let me tell you something else, don’t ever get messed up with anyone that loves cocaine.” (Where this was coming from…I have no idea…but I love it.)
I was about to leave this interaction but she sucked me right back in and my full and undivided attention was all on her…again. “Oh? Is that right?” I respond as she launches into another problem she has “Yeah you’re damn straight! I ain’t no coke addict but I have been known to do a “bump” every now and then…” (My mind is on fire, this is amazing, thank you crack woman…I never want this conversation to end) “…But these damn coke fiends…” she continues “…They just love it!” as she flails her arms some more like a prehistoric bird to make her point “I mean if I buy all the coke…shouldn’t I be able to at least BLOW A LINE?!” she flails and screams some more as I respond with “Makes sense to me…if you buy the candy bar…shouldn’t you be able to eat it?” I say definitively “My point exactly.” she agrees “I don’t want to hold you up…go see if you can do something about this phone” She dismisses me.
I thank her for her time and tell her I am going to see if there is anything I can do while rushing to the back of the store grabbing any co-worker I can. When I reach the back with some of my fellow employees I tell them the story and that this woman is still in the store. After a few minutes of rolling on the ground laughing they tell me I have to get her out before she causes anymore of a scene. I compose myself and head back to the front of the store.
“Ma’am” she turns to me and almost trips, lazily, over a parent with a stroller, “I checked with some of my co-workers and the only thing I can tell you to do is go to the police. They can file a report if you think your boyfriend is hacking into your phone.” She stares at the phone I am holding (I think…either that or her heart stopped for a minute from overdose). When she snaps back to reality from her drug daydream she blurts out “I already been to the cops! Wanna know what they said?!” “I would LOVE to hear what they had to say” I respond. “They told me to take a nap!” She then looked over her shoulder and said she had to go. Just as quickly as she came into my life she was gone. She ran out of the store and never looked back. I went back to work greeting people and prayed something else would spice up the day.
It’s the little things in life that make it worthwhile. I have no idea where she is today but I hope this woman is still out there making others as happy as she made me. She taught me something that day that I will never forget. If you buy the blow, you should be able to do a line or two.