Monthly Archives: July 2011
This morning, a very normal appearing guy a little younger than myself walked in and asked if we had any coffee. My standard answer is, “It’s over there, under the sign that says ‘coffee’ on it.” (And it is. Seriously. It’s a huge garish orange and yellow sunburst poster that takes up a third of the wall and has pictures of steaming coffee mugs on it.) Anyway, he thanked me and went over to the coffee counter.
A minute later, he walked back with an empty cup in his hand. “Ma’am, I’ve never used a coffee machine in my life.”
This was okay by me because the coffee is not in a machine. (It is made by a machine, and you would not BELIEVE the mess it makes if someone turns that machine on when there is not a pot underneath it. But that’s another story.) The coffee is in pots. Coffeepots. They’re very nice. You put the cup under the spout and push the lever on the top and coffee comes out. It’s amazing. Also user friendly. Until now.
I walked back over with him and indicated the pots in approved Vanna White style. “This is regular coffee and this one is Vanilla Nut flavor.” The pots are clearly labeled of course, but I had diminishing faith in his deductive abilities.
He just stood there, clutching the cup like a distraught villager might grip a sombrero.
Sighing, I relieved him of the cup, demonstrated briefly and handed it back.
He held the cup with all the enthusiasm that I would have if someone gave me a tree slug. “And there’s…milk or…something that goes in this?”
(I went through something similar when I took a statistics course and realized in the middle of the exam that I had no idea what a “coefficient of variation” was, or what I was supposed to do about it. That was a bad day.)
I showed him where the creamers and sugars were, but I had another customer waiting, so I left him to it.
Eventually, he came to the counter with the cup and a handful of creamers and sugar packets. The cup was maybe a third of the way full…exactly as it was after I demonstrated Basic Coffee Acquisition 101.
“You can put more in the cup you know,” I told him. “You can fill it up, if you want.”
“Oh. Can I?” Away he went again.
By this time, I’d certainly figured out that my konfused kustomer was not making a coffee purchase for himself – that there must have been another recipient waiting in the wings somewhere. And while I personally consider coffee to be the elixir of life itself and proof that God is real and loves me, I recognize that there are a select few people in the universe who do not partake of this wondrous caffeinated gift from Above. I’ve even met a few.
I’ve just never met one who didn’t realize that when purchasing a self-serve beverage, it is normal and accepted behavior to fill up the cup.
Back he came with slightly more coffee. It was about half-full this time. The cup was medium sized, so I gave up and charged him for a small.
“Between you and me,” he said, lowering his voice, “I can’t stand the smell of it. Makes me want to puke.” He gave me a sickly smile and left, still holding the cup as far away from him as possible. Tongs would have been welcome, I’m sure.
That was about an hour ago.
Now I obviously don’t know who that coffee was for, but I’ve been pondering the incident and I think I’ve got it narrowed down to a possible scenario.
I’ll bet he bought it for a woman.
Let me explain.
Although I haven’t personally been in a seriously romantickish relationship in close to a decade, I recall that there are certain things a woman expects her suitor to do, by which he must prove his courage, love and adoration. (And okay, let’s be honest, his malleability.) It used to involve slaying dragons. Today I call it, The Buying Of The Product. If you’ve been in a “serious” relationship, you probably know what I’m talking about. A couple are traveling somewhere and pull into a convenience store parking lot. His intention is to buy himself a cup of soda big enough for a raccoon to swim around in. It’s a guy thing I’ve never really understood.
He turns to her, “You coming with?”
She stretches and yawns casually. Too casually. “No, but while you’re in there, buy me a box of [Feminine Hygiene Product], okay?”
And with all the primordial survival instincts hardwired into his DNA, he wildly looks around for a dragon to kill instead. With his bare hands if necessary. But his ancestors hunted all the dragons to extinction. Stupid ancestors. The only big, green, reeking nasty thing in sight is a garbage dumpster and that’s just not gonna cut the mustard this time.
Make no mistake. This IS a test. His performance is being strictly evaluated from the point of request until he returns with the box of [Feminine Hygiene Product]. He fails if he doesn’t make the purchase. He loses major points if he brings it back in a brown paper sack, especially if he double-bagged it. He might earn those points back if he returns via a circuitous route, clutching the package like it’s the cure for smallpox and he’s dodging enemy agents in order to deliver it intact to the CDC. If he’s whistling the theme song to Mission Impossible or has a running style like Matt Damon in the Jason Bourne movies, or just LOOKS like Matt Damon in the Jason Bourne movies… marry him.
It is possible, just possible, that this particular time-honored scenario is what was befalling Mr. Coffee-Makes-Me-Puke this morning. Or maybe he already passed the [Feminine Hygiene Product] test and was going for the post-graduate credits. Or maybe she simply knew his greatest weakness and threw a caffeine scented gauntlet at him instead of the traditional task.
Or maybe, and I like this one even better, he just loves her enough to bring her a cup of coffee unasked. Even though he hates it. Just because she likes it.
Regardless, half cup or not, I’d say he passed.
The following conversation ensued:
Kustomer: Miss, give me a cup of ice.
Me (who has a kid old enough to vote, but heck, Miss is arguably better than Ma’am): No, I’m sorry, but we don’t have an ice machine.
Me: We don’t have an ice machine.
Kustomer: The [FUDGE] you say! No ice machine? It’s [FUDGE]ing hot outside and you can’t give me a cup of ice?
Me: But…didn’t you just BUY a bag of ice?
Kustomer: What the [FUDGE] does that have to do with it?
Me: I just meant…how about taking a coffee cup and filling it from the bag of ice you bought?
…………………………….Long Interval Passes……………………………
Kustomer: Well….I guess I could do that.
This morning a man walked in and said, “Do you know where [Insert Local Road’s Name Here] is?”
“Sure do!” I answered brightly. “You need directions?”
“No. I’ve already been there.” And he left.
Y’know, some things are best shared verbatim:
Krazy Kustomer: How do I get on the highway to Wausau?
Me (pointing): Underneath the bridge and go straight.
KK: So that’ll get me to the Wisconsin Dells?
Me: Uhm, no. That’ll get you to Wausau. You asked me about Wausau.
KK: I’m not going to Wausau.
Me: You’re not going… Okay, you’re going to the Dells?
KK: Yeah, that’s what I said. How do I get on the Interstate to the Dells?
Me: For the Dells you’ll still go under the bridge, but instead of going straight, turn left onto the ramp.
KK: And that takes me straight to Marshfield, right?
KK: For GAWD’S SAKE!
Me: For Marshfield you probably want to…
KK: Look, just tell me how to get to Mauston!
Me: …Mauston. Mauston?
KK: That’s what I said! Mauston!
Me: Under the bridge and turn left.
KK: And that’ll take me to…
Me: Yes. YES, it will.
KK: Okay then. I don’t know why that was so hard.
A Kustomer pulled his motor-home a little too far ahead of the pump for comfort, but instead of backing up, he opted to stretch the gas hose until it was practically horizontal.
With visions of a disaster dancing in my head, I went outside and asked him to be very careful. Gas hoses, you see, are designed to snap off of the pump in case someone inadvertently (or deliberately) drives off with the nozzle still hooked in their car. The breakaway mechanism ensures that there isn’t a gusher from the pump if and when Bad Things Happen.
Upon hearing this news, the kustomer looked at me, looked at the hose and then started yanking on it to see if it would break.
He didn’t quit until I asked him what his insurance deductible was.
You know those little kids who get a pull in their sweater and they keep messing with it until the whole thing unravels?
I bet he went through a lot of sweaters.
As I’m putting away the week’s shipment of candy, snacks and various widgets, a woman comes in and yells, “HOW D’YOU GET THAT PUMP TO WORK?!”
Although I’m juggling an armload of automotive supplies, I dutifully start the trek to the register to see what words of wisdom it has with which to answer her query.
“I SAID, HOW D’YOU GET THAT PUMP TO WORK?” she shrieks while I’m still en route.
“One moment, Ma’am,” I say.
“ONE MOMENT? WHY SHOULD I HAVE TO WAIT ONE MOMENT?” She proves at that point that her volume is not deafness related. I suspect she gets ignored a lot. She’s just sort of persistently low-grade irritating. Like mosquitoes.
“Because I don’t know why you can’t get that pump to work,” I answer, dumping six tire gauges and a container of radiator stop-leak onto the counter.
“BECAUSE IT DOESN’T WORK! THAT’S WHY!”
I study the register. To start our gas pumps takes three steps.
Step One: Push The Button To Choose Pay Inside The Store or Pay At The Pump.
Step Two: Lift The Lever.
Step Three: Pump The Gas.
Step Two has been accomplished. There is no sign of Step One having been attempted, therefore Step Three cannot take place. Outside a gentleman in Bermuda shorts is staring fixedly at the pump, waiting – I assume – for a miracle.
I begin to walk toward the door.
“WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”
“To start the pump.”
“YOU’RE GOING OUTSIDE?”
That is where the pump is, but saying that out loud might be construed as sarcasm.
“YOU LIKE WALKING OUT INTO THE HEAT?” she cackles. There is no other word for it. “YOU LIKE THAT?”
“Not in the least!” I say in such a cheery tone that she’s not sure if I’m answering the question she asked, or some other question more in the tune of, “We’re having such a difficult time and we surely do appreciate your help and I do hope you don’t mind taking the time to fix this for us.”
“Cash or credit card?” I ask them upon reaching the pump.
“Credit?” the man asks tentatively.
“CREDIT! BUT I’LL PAY INSIDE!” she booms.
I push the “pay inside” button and lift the handle. The pump resets itself and is ready for action.
The man stares at me, mystified.
His wife exudes an aura of friendly malevolence liberally sprinkled with righteous indignation. “I TOLD YOU, IT’S NOT WORKING!”
I reach out and squeeze the handle on the nozzle gently. The gas flows.
She has nothing further to say.
Krazy Kustomer (Holding up two identical bags of corn chips for my inspection): Hey, how much is one of these?
Me: $1.29. It’s marked right on the bag.
Krazy Kustomer: No, I mean with tax.
Me: There is no tax on that.
Krazy Kustomer (thinks hard for a moment): Okay, so how much is one of these?
On Friday evening, I participated in my area’s Relay For Life cancer walk. It was very cool. I raised some money for the American Cancer Society and scored a free keychain, a purple water bottle and a yummy ham sammich too! (Granted, I’d rather have skipped the cancer part of it, but the water bottle is nice and the sandwich came with a packet of mayo and everything! Very swanky.)
Anyway, this morning I was chatting about my Relay For Life experience with a member of the law enforcement community. (I really have to figure out how to include them in our kast of kharacters since they have the BEST krazy kommuter stories!) Mid-discussion, lo and behold, a car pulled up outside and a guy got out wearing a Relay For Life t-shirt! The back of it said:
Sort of inspirational, yes? I think so anyway. Fighting the good fight. Facing down a really nasty disease. And take this to the bank, folks. Every day a cancer patient (past or present) opens their eyes to a new morning, that’s a bigger win than that whiny little putz Charlie Sheen ever dreamed of.
I definitely had a welcoming smile on my face when The Man in the T-Shirt walked up to the counter. Well met, brother! I wanted to say.
He bought a pack of cigarettes.
A neatly dressed man walks in and comes up to the counter. He says, “I want one–” and he stops.
He says nothing else.
I wait, with my patented expression of semi-concussed helpfulness firmly in place. (It’s more or less the same as a Golden Retriever faced with a textbook on particle beam assays.)
He simply stands there in a state of cranial constipation.
The thought occurs that he isn’t sure exactly what he wants, but that he wants something and he’s content to wait until it hits him. Even if it takes forever.
Which means I’m waiting too.
A short eternity later he intones the words, “One lottery.”
“You want a lottery ticket?”
“What kind of lottery ticket?”
He looks at me.
I look back.
I have to confess that usually when I’m at a lottery impasse with a kustomer, I offer them their array of choices in as efficient a way as possible … which is to say, in one breath and as fast as I can speak. Something like this:
We have PowerBallMegaMillionsMegaBucksSuperCashBadgerFivePickThreeAndPickFour.
Sometimes they get whiplash.
In this case, I go much slower, with audible commas and everything.
He continues to look at me.
So I wait again.
And I wait.
Eventually, with the slow deliberation of a tectonic plate readying to shift, he says, “I want … one … Power … Mega.”
There is no such thing as a Power-Mega.
I ask for clarification and itch to reach for a novel to read while he readies his answer.
But I wait.
It’s a tossup what’s going to happen first, him answering me, or the sun going nova and making the point moot.
He says, “One.”
“One which? Power Ball, Mega Millions or Mega Bucks?”
And I’m back to waiting.
Eventually I’m going to have to have a bathroom break. Or get some sleep.
Once a lottery ticket is printed out, it’s a done deal. You can’t stuff it back into the machine. If the cashier makes a mistake, they are expected to purchase the ticket.
I don’t care.
I print out one of each, place them firmly on the counter and say in a clear, firm tone, “That’ll be three dollars.”
He pays! He leaves!
The crowd goes wild!
I do a little happy dance and smile widely at the next kustomer who walks in. “Good afternoon!” I say, giddy with relief and goodwill toward mankind in general. “What can I do for you?”
“I want … one lottery.”