Tag Archives: people

Running the Register

When I was a young punk so long ago, I had a summer job working at a drug store.  I would stock shelves and run the register.  I remember my overzealous manager harping on us to remember to always hand the customer their receipt.   “All returns must have a receipt.  So I don’t want to hear from any of our customers that they didn’t receive one.”  Yeah, that’s about as difficult as it got.  It was simple work for a simple time.

My favorite part of working the register was watching people’s behavior as they would purchase condoms.  As I noted, it was a long time ago, but this particular store was breaking out of the Stone Age by placing the condoms for sale in one of the aisles rather than behind the counter.  This way people can place the item in their basket without having to interact with the old man pharmacist or the young punk behind the counter (like me).

My job (people watching entertainment for a pay check) taught me that when men buy condoms they will always hide the box among other items.  A magazine, a bottle of pop, a box of condoms, and a candy bar.  See?  You probably didn’t even see the word “condom” in that last sentence.  I, being the good little cash register runner, would act like I didn’t notice their particular special item.  Although the voices in my head were always screaming.  “Twenty four pack, huh?  I guess that should last you until the end of the decade.  You know, these only have a shelf life of twelve months.”

Here is your receipt.  Have a nice night.

Women, on the other hand would walk right up to the counter, drop their box of condoms, pay for them, and be on their way.  Although I watched this behavior many times over, I’m still not sure if women are just bolder or simply trying to push through this awkward moment as fast as possible.  I’m leaning toward bolder.

There was this one time where this woman brought her box of condoms up to the counter and paid for them.  She stated that she didn’t need a bag, grabbed her purchase, and headed to the door.  I, like a good little employee, held out her receipt and said, “I have your receipt here.”

She turned around and looked me straight in the eye.  She held up her box of condoms, and said, “I’m only going to need that if these break.”

I put the receipt in the trash.

Buy my unbreakable book.

Oh Say Did You Hear

With the Olympics in full swing, I found myself in Denver on business travel.  I had dinner at a Friday’s restaurant where I was eating as a “party of one” and trying to take in some Olympic coverage on the television in the background.  However, today was also the opening day for NFL preseason football games.  If perhaps you have been living under a rock, you may not have heard that Peyton Manning will be playing quarterback for the Denver Broncos this season.  A little background for you under-rock dwellers:  Peyton Manning has recovered from several neck surgeries and was picked up by Denver.  Apparently the Olympics was all but forgotten, as the fans in this restaurant had all the televisions tuned to watch Peyton Manning’s first drive as a Denver Bronco.

So the crowd that I ate with was obviously excited about their new quarterback.  The weather at the game was a light drizzle.  Oddly enough, there was an unexpected amount of criticism in the air at the restaurant.  No, not about Peyton.  It was all about the poor girl who was sang the national anthem.  Harsh crowd.

Someone said, “She sounds tone deaf.”  Another critic spoke up with, “She is missing half her notes.”  I also heard, “How did she ever make it to the big leagues?”

Really harsh crowd.  Hey Denver people, lighten up a bit.  Relax.

The young singer was clearly happy to be there, but I found myself chiming in with my own special comments designed to make them realize how critical they were sounding.  “Hey, it’s hard to sing at this level with the rain coming down.  Do you know how hard it is to not fumble a wet microphone?”  And then I added that typical sport fan battle cry, “Wait until next year.  Maybe they’ll draft some real back-up singers.”

That’s kind of funny, isn’t it?  Not really.  You should have seen the looks I received.  I went silent, tucked my tail between my legs, and started crawling back to Cincinnati.

Hey, how come the Peyton Manning bobble-head doll didn’t take off after his neck surgeries?

Buy my bobbling harsh book!

People Everywhere

If you stop and think about how many people cross your path each day, it’s amazing.  Today I find myself taking a morning flight to Denver from Cincinnati.  I started out by seeing my family as they each said good bye and then saw me off.  I’ll be gone just this week.  Not too bad of a trip, but not too good either.  I love my family and miss them when I’m traveling.  From my car I probably saw a hundred people or so doing their commute to their jobs while I was making my way to the airport while enjoying a beverage and a breakfast bar.  While doing the check in at the ticket counter, I probably saw a couple hundred more people.  Going through security, it looked like maybe a hundred more.  Waiting at the gate there must have been about hundred more yet.  And then at my destination, there was the arrival gate, the baggage claim, and the rental car pick up.  The number of people that I saw is staggering!

And although it is a smaller set of people, the amount of people that verbally interacted with me is overwhelming too.  Ticket agents, baggage handlers, ticket checkers, security scanners, a clueless man at gate that asks me if this is the gate for the LA flight while standing next to the sign that says “departure: Denver”, the airline crew, the talkative man in the seat next to me that I’m trying to ignore, and far more.  Added up, this is a very large number of people that spoke with me today.

So why, I ask, why didn’t even one of them tell me that I had a chunk of breakfast bar stuck to my front tooth?  I actually had to discover this for myself in my hotel bathroom while washing my hands.  Really?  How can people not care about me that much?

A possible explanation might be that wanted to perpetuate my embarrassment and torture those around me by choosing to enjoy the knowledge of the placement of granola on my tooth.  “Ha ha mister speck of crud on your teeth, I’m so enjoying watching other people try to not look you in the face while they talk to you, that I deliberatiely choose to remain silent”. Could people really be that evil?

I think a more logical answer would be that they didn’t want to embarrass me.  So instead, they chose to remain quite and issue a silent little prayer for me.  “Dear God, please remove the crap from this stranger’s teeth.  I’m tired of looking at it, and he seems like such a nice guy.”

Well God didn’t fix it and I can’t blame Him.  He has a lot to take care of in this big world of ours.  I image His list of things to do does not look like the following.

1) Give comfort and strength to those who recently lost a loved one.

2) Deal with the constant fighting in the world.

3) Check Marcus’s teeth for bits of his breakfast bar.

So the next time you see someone sporting a chunk of food in their otherwise beaming smile, do them a favor.  Tell them!  You don’t have to be all in their face about it.  Just a simple, “hey you have something in your teeth”.  Done.  In extending this common courtesy, the countless number of people that I interacted with would not have had to play the “I’m pretending not to see it” game.

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