I'm the magical man from happy land who lives in a gumdrop house on Lollipop Lane!
Words spoken with immense reverence and honesty by one Homer J. Simpson about making people happy. Like Sir Paul McCartney, I find I frequently put my trust in the wisdom nuggets Homer Simpson accidentally drops. Like king Henry VIII's favorite fool Will Sommers, he finds a way to impart truth with humor, and skate past your privilege and defenses with a smile and a vibrant slightly mocking "woo hoo!".
Today was a good day, but in 10 minutes it can all turn around. Around 2 pm, a mere hour before my departure i am called to the front of store to "help" a customer. I get my game face on, i square my shoulders, i get right with my god and i dive in.
"On the 10th of july you sold me a plus card"
"No. one of your people"
"Okay, I'm sorry."
"So now I don't get anything for my money?"
"No, I'm sorry"
"Well maybe you should go out of business if it's your practice to be dishonest."
ahhhhhh okay. You see I was ready to be conciliatory and apologetic and express my sadness that she wasn't able to utilize the program before we closed down. But in that moment I realized I was bringing a Balloon Dachsund to a machete fight.
"No maam, you're wrong. we were not dishonest, we didn't know we were closing until 2 days before liquidation began, and that was around the 22nd."
"well you knew you were in trouble? right?"
"That was public knowledge maam. We filed bankruptcy in February thats public information."
"I didn't know that!"
"Caveat Emptor, i'm afraid."
"I didn't even get a card, did i get a card, wheres my card?"
"You don't buy the card, you buy the membership, but thats another issue. would a useless piece of plastic make you happy?"
"So what you're saying is you took my money and i get nothing for that."
"I have never interacted with you before today, to the best of my knowledge and you had almost a full month of additional discounting, so thats not nothing, it's just not enough to make you happy."
"No it isnt."
I've mastered the art of the kind of silent stare where when i blink once, you can practically hear the cartoon blinky noise.
"So You took my money and i get nothing."
"I can't make you happy ma'am. If it makes you feel any better the people who are responsible for telling us to continue this program throughout bankruptcy and 11,000 other people have all lost their jobs."
"Then we're done here."
Of course within minutes i'm called back to this:
"Just because you're going out of business doesn't mean you have an excuse to be rude."
"i think it does make a pretty good excuse, it's just doesn't make it okay."
"is that what you think?"
"Who was rude to you ma'am?"
"you mean Herr Lager?"
"That one, who is standing right behind you listening to us..."
I turn around it is indeed Herr Lager.
"Okay. you feel he was rude to you? how was he rude to you?"
"he was rude!"
"right but how?"
"He was rude, and thats not right." Recalls her daughter after banishing her to the corner so she apparently wouldn't hear the wicked tongue lashing I was about to get.
"Whats his name?"
"There is no excuse for the two of you being rude."
We're in a bookstore, surrounded by words and apprently this lady only knows 6.
I have to say, I was in no way rude. I was professional and pleasant but i wasn't effervescent and subservient, apparently she perceives that as rude. So she wrapped her arms around her daughter as if i was going to try to steal her and put her to work spinning gold from straw, and bounded out.
It should be noted that Herr Lager is occasionally "rude". He doesn't mean to be, but he is fairly intolerant of what he perceives of as stupidity. But its the type of rude that is more aptly described as curt or short or lacking tact and the ability to pretend you don't have your head up your ass when you clearly do. When he explained the situation to me, and i've never known him to be dishonest, it was plain to me that she had actually been rude to him, pretty much from jump street, largely because she was rude to me from jump street. I was there to make her happy after all. At any rate the most impolite i've ever seen him be to customers is the type that only an incredibly tightly wound self-important dictator would take offense to. I've never had to talk to him about it. He was an incredibly polite and upstanding customer for years before he began working there and he was one of our best BR+ sales people, so now there is some perspective.
And lets get this straight? You demand to speak to me to complain about, that whatsisnameguy can't remember it even after I told it to you, and can't be bothered to read my name badge to learn my name. And we're rude? Oh i see, you wanted me to kiss your suburbanly royal behind. I guess it's not enough that you get to climb into a brand new bmw and go home with an armful of books that you got for almost nothing, but you also have to make a point that you weren't treated as a visiting dignitary during your brief parasitic stay. Oh a thousands pardons oh empress of the Nile, let me gather a dozen nubian princes to bare you upon their backs to your luxurious conveyence, lest your pristine feet graze the fibers of this carpet we lowly have tread upon! Mayhaps i could slaughter a virgin for you, and you could drink a javanilla shake from it's pure untouched skull. There must be a virgin in here, quick check the sex books!
That, is how to be rude, lady.
Anyway shortly after this exercise in the futility of trying to make someone happy who clearly doesn't want to be I wandered over to the law, philosophy, gender studies section and I began facing out titles. We have so few that now its a matter of making the bottom 2 shelves of the bay spine outs, and the rest all single copies faced out. Well I took a few moments and i faced out all the best feminist and gay positive titles I could find. I actually made it look like Borders had a gay studies section. I stepped away feeling happy that I had done a good job at a simple task. I walked back over there to begin facing out the sex books (holy daunting task batman) and there were 2 women looking through the books I faced out.
"I had no idea they had these books here!"
"I know this is amazing, my mother told me I had to read Women who run with the wolves!"
"And look" She pulled a book off the shelf, a small book with a single flower on the cover with a name I'm not comfortable typing. It's like Aunt, but with a different first letter. She held it with both hands at chest height and did a weird dancey kind of motion. "I read about this on line just yesterday, this is so exciting. I wish I had known they had this extensive a section." I Wish you did to. And i wish we didn't live in a world where you felt this was extensive.
I looked around for a video camera to see if any was filming a training video circa 1994.
Later a young man grabbed a copy of "It gets Better" and just sat down reading it. I don't care if he bought it, thats good enough for me.
I also was talking with one of my housemates (it's like the real world up in here, but with less hot tubs) who spent the day dressed as a dog for an event and I began thinking of my happy days as what ever creature I got that month to be. I remembered a specific Arthur event where I was breathing in the musty air inside the arthur head and a child was so happy to see me he ran up to me and punched me in the cartoon nuts. It was a weird response to be sure but he was giggling and laughing and I had enough padding and he was small enough that there was no real concern for injury. You weren't supposed to talk in those costumes but I couldn't help laughing out loud at how happy this kid was.
So okay, i couldn't make those 2 people happy, but i have a pretty good track record i think. From now on when dementors attack I'll just summon my patronus to take care of it, and 2 happy feminists, a young man just learning whats okay, and a little boy laughing at his favorite aardvark, and i hope scores of other customers i've made happy in the ways that i could, will show up all bedecked in spectral silver and usher you away to whatever dank and smokey level of hell you came from. Then I'll retire to my gumdrop house on lollipop lane and continue making comically disproportionate balloon doggies.