Wednesday, July 26, 2006

As per special request: convenience store-ies (Un grand merci á Hil the Canuck for actually reading my ‘blog). (Language had been edited for Grandparental consumption. None of it is proof-read, though, so please ignore inconsistencies in grammar and spelling.)

The set-up:

This can be a little complicated to explain, so bear with me here. The store is located on 7th street, right on the boardwalk. It is under a hotel (the Majestic Hotel). Customers have to descend 8 steps to get to the store, so when I look out the front door of the store I get to see the ankles of all the people on the boardwalk. I don’t see any water (or any sand, unless it is the sand and water that dripping wet customers track into the store). The Majestic Hotel owns the space that the store is in (the hotel is a four-generation owned and run hotel). The manager of the hotel, Boss Man, is also the owner of the store. The current owner of the hotel is Boss Man’s dad (Boss Man Senior? Actually, he’s Boss Man Jr and Boss Man is actually Boss Man III. Boss Man Jr’s father, Boss Man, was the second family owner of the hotel. I don’t know who the first boss man was, but he must have had a different name because there is no option to have something before Boss Man I. Still with me?) The convenience store was a restaurant several years back and at least once a day a family wanders in wanting to order food. Behind the “employees only” door in the store is a kitchen, and store stock is stored on stainless steel countertops and next to sinks, interspersed with pots and pans. Right next door to the BCS is a sunglass store and every few minutes someone will wander into the convenience store, ask where our sunglasses are, and (usually) sigh noisily and storm out (customers do a lot of noisy sighing. Very annoying. I usually respond with raised eyebrows.)

Right outside of the store are two soda vending machines. The machine are owned by the hotel, and they are awful—they very rarely work, they take money, they take some money and replace it with some other money—all very random. The soda in the vending machines is also 27 cents cheaper than the soda in the convenience store. Invariably there are always the folks who, after having come into the store to complain about the machines and being told that they have to go up to the hotel lobby for a refund accuse me of running some type of “soda racket” (raquet?), after which they sigh noisily and storm out. And what can I do but raise my eyebrows at the number of people who take an Oliver Stone view of the inner dealings of a convenience store.

The cast:

R. – led away in handcuffs
E. – 20 (almost 21), girlfriend of head housekeeper’s second (?) son
Boss Man (or Boss Man III) – duh
C. – Boss Man’s wife

Russian 1 – my height, blond, skinny
Russian 2 – taller than me, brunette, skinny
Pig Farmer – boyfriend of Russian 1

The Monkey – short Nepalese
Psycho Sudeep – taller Nepalese

Hmm, I’ve gone through the R. led away in handcuffs story, so I will move on to the next firing: The Monkey. I worked with him for a few days near the end of my summer semester. I would try to get reading done at work, and he would insist on talking to me, mostly about his two other jobs and how hard he worked and how many jobs did I have oh, only one, well, he worked three and what grades did I make and did I have a boyfriend no, not that he was interested or anything but I didn’t have one well, I must have had a fight with him and did I smoke pot and drink and he used to drink and smoke all the time back in Nepal and he would have to sneak home and what was I going to do teach English, had I eve taught before he did when he was in Nepal he worked fourteen hours a day he worked with computers and he taught and…

It was all very annoying while I was trying to study for my final exam and it earned him the nickname The Monkey (also contributing to this nickname was the fact that, even though he had been in the USA for a while, he still didn’t understand the average American’s need for personal space).

Anyway, one of his three jobs was working the night shift at the Majestic Hotel (which is basically security). One day I came in to the store and The Monkey wandered down the stairs into the convenience store and told me that it had just been a crazy night: he called Boss Man III three times and Boss Man Jr two times and he eventually had to call the police to evict someone. Well, I thought, I’m glad I don’t work up in that crazyness. A few hours later Boss Man III came through the store and informed me that he Monkey had completely screwed up and that hotel guests had been complaining to him all day (in fact, during this conversation, Boss Man III’s phone rang and it was a complaining customer). Turns out The Monkey fell asleep and, while slumbering, two hotel toilets exploded and flooded not only the rooms they were in but also the rooms directly beneath them, someone vomited right in the lobby, televisions were left playing too loud, some rooms were filled beyond capacity, and a few guests decided to throw a party. Boss Man III obviously had to fire The Monkey from the hotel and, since he couldn’t have a disgruntled employee, from the store as well. Bye, bye, Monkey.

(Un-freakin-believable. Some woman just brought a donut box up. When I asked her how many Krispy Kremes she had, she got annoyed and said, “Oh, I forgot.” I had to open the friggin’ box and count her friggin’ donuts and SHE was the one who was being rude about it. What the hell was that all about? Oh, actually, I think I know. I bet she was trying to get some extra donuts by putting eight donuts into a six donut box. Stupid cow.)

Then, there was Psycho Sudeep, who never came into work on time. It wasn’t until after he was fired that we realized he was psycho. One day, a few hours after Psycho Sudeep was scheduled to arrive and give me my lunch break, I started to become a little hungry and I gave Boss Man a call. He told me to sit tight for about 30 minutes and he would be in to give me my break. About five minutes later Psycho Sudeep wandered in, and I mentioned to him that he should probably call Boss Man, after which I punched out for me break. About three minutes later, Psycho Sudeep wandered into the back and told me that Boss Man III had told him he wasn’t going to work there any more. And he wandered off. So I punched back in, took my lunch out of the microwave, and ate behind the register. Boss Man III arrived about 15 minutes later to give me my actual break. A couple hours later, Psycho Sudeep called Boss Man, wanting his job back on the condition that he work fewer hours. Huh? As I said to Boss Man, you can’t ask for your job back and then make demands. About an hour later, Psycho Sudeep wandered into the store and just stood there. I asked him what he needed, and he told me he was waiting to talk to Boss Man. Then, after about ten minutes, Psycho Sudeep wandered into the back of the store. “Oh sh*t,” I thought, “I better get back there and see what he’s up to.” So I go back and see Psycho Sudeep breaking down boxes. So I asked him if he was working at the store again and he said no, and we both went back to the store. Boss Man came in, and he and Psycho Sudeep started talking, with the result that Psycho Sudeep stayed fired.

The next day, Boss Man received a very odd phone call from one of Psycho Sudeep’s friends who demanded that Boss Man hire him (the friend) for the job P. Sudeep had just been fired from. Boss Man explained, quite truthfully, that there was no job available, as he had just hired a new employee (Pig Farmer). The Psycho Clone was having none of this, and he kept insisting that he get the job.

Nope, the saga of Psycho Sudeep is not over yet. After about two weeks of silence, Psycho Sudeep called Boss Man last weekend and demanded “the Position.” Boss Man had absolutely no idea what “Position” Psycho Sudeep was talking about and (at least I imagine) the potential for comedy sketch hilarity was at an all time high. Finally, Boss Man figured out that Psycho Sudeep was demanding my soon-to-be-vacated position. Boss Man assured P.S. that there was not chance in Hell of him actually re-hiring him. Now I’m not going to be around for the next chapter of this saga (and I’m sure there will be another chapter).

Nothing too scandalous about the Russians, other than them punching in early, punching each other out, taking an hour to count out the money at the end of their shift, and putting out a tip jar. I don’t think the Pig Farmer actually farms pigs (he just looks like he could. Careful readers of this ‘blog will realize that the nickname “Pig Farmer” is actually a reference to the original Pig Farmer, a Russian musician in the group Yarilo. Yea, Yarilo!)

The customers:

So, today is my last day at the BCS (though I may come back for a few days through September—depends on my time and money situation). Yea! I actually don’t have too many odd stories—most of what happened here happened when I was not working and I heard about it second hand (though I’ve been here for every firing. Odd.)

Working in a convenience store on the boardwalk (or perhaps anywhere) is like looking through a one-way mirror. I see the customers, but they don’t really see me. For them, I am just an extension of the register. There are a lot of people who don’t even bother to try and be civil—I am so beneath their notice that they can’t even muster two minutes of civility.

Then again, sometimes it is better if the customers don’t notice me. I had one woman try to convert me my first week here. She came down to the store in the morning and started telling me about how she and her husband had been robbed a year ago. She had been upset, she said, until Jesus helped her forgive the thief. (Of course, she said, she still wanted the thief to be punished.) She then started talking to me about how, if I took Jesus into my heart, I would be saved and that she wanted me to be saved because I was obviously a really nice person—and she could do the little saving ceremony right then and there. I deferred and, because it was my first week and I was still trying to be nice to customers, I told her I just wasn’t ready for such a big step. (If this happened now I would just tell her that I’m a secular humanist, which my mother assures me stops religious nuts in their tracks and sends them running far, far away.)

Part of my problem here is that I hate Ocean City. It is an okay place to go for about three or four hours once every few years, but I certainly wouldn’t spend $3000 a week to stay in one of the hotels here (yes, that is what it would cost—that or more). Boss Man agrees with me in my assessment of the vacation value of Ocean City. I had one customer tell me how lucky I was to be at the ocean (uh, did he not notice that I was currently at work?) and I said, quite simply, “Oh, I hate Ocean City.” He was a little offended (I had, after all, just insulted his vacation destination) and he asked me where I was going to go on vacation. “Mexico City,” I replied (with slightly raised eyebrows) and he said, “Oh. Well.” But it was in that tone of voice that was to let me know he felt I was getting “above myself” and that he didn’t approve.

One of the stupid customer scenes in Clerks deals with a man who complains to Dante that he has to drink his coffee hot. That actually happens—more often than one might think.

I do have a little bit of a short-timer attitude today. In fact, I am at work right, typing away on my laptop. Heh heh heh. This attitude mostly comes out in my comments to the customers. Usually I just keep my mouth shut (and engage in nominal amounts of eyebrow raising), but yesterday I did let my inner—um, my inner critic? self? cynic? bich?—out a little. Examples: One customer and his girlfriend (both in swimsuits) came into the store and he pulled out his wallet to pay for a bottle of water. “Hmm,” he remarked to his girlfriend, “I wonder why my money is wet and covered in sand.” To which I, after eyebrow elevation, remarked, “Well, you are at the beach.” Later that day I had a customer come in looking for Newport Mediums. We didn’t have any, so I suggested that he get a pack of Newport Regulars and a pack of Newport Lights and just alternate between the two. He actually found this pretty amusing.

Back to the Beginning:

My first three weeks of work happened to coincide with that phenonomen known as “Senior Week.” High school seniors from all over Maryland descend on OC with an overwhelming desire to drink, do drugs, and fornicate their little heads off. Thankfully, my shift was from 7am to 3:30pm, so I only saw a few seniors wander in during my last hour of work. They reeked of stale cigarette smoke and alcohol, but they were usually so hung over that they didn’t speak and just stumbled in and out in a harmless haze, clutching coffee and Advil. The worst part of Senior week (for me at least) was ID-ing the kids who wanted to buy cigarettes. Even if they were over 18, they would bich and moan about having to show their IDs. At one point I had a group of teenage males come in and all want cigarettes. When none of the could produce an ID, I told them that I couldn’t sell them any tobacco products. This, for some reason, seemed to enrage the little buggers and they started to crowd the counter in what could have been construed in a mildly threatening manner. I was about to call Boss Man (or the Police) then the flash mob dispersed. Bloody teens. Glad I was never a teenager.

The crazy stuff all happened at night, and every day Boss Man III would come in with stories about arrests, fights, and drunk girls wandering the boardwalk without any panties. Boss Man III, on several occasions, had had to eject violent guests (or random people who wandered in to the hotel lobby and started to unzip their pants in order to pee against the lobby furniture).

My second or third day at work Boss Man III came in and told me that his (younger) brother had been banned from the hotel because he had (1) been drunk; (2) assaulted a guest; and (3) exposed himself. After this, little bro disappeared for about a month. When he reappeared, he was setting up pins for a bowling alley. Then, a few days back, Boss Man III came into the store and informed E. and me that little bro had been arrested—and not one of those calm, civilized arrests. It was a guns drawn, tackle, and cops-in-a-pile-on-the-suspect arrest. Turns out someone had called the cops to report a weapon and little bro fit the description given. He didn’t have a gun, but he did have a grinder (shame on all of you who know what this is!) and an illegal substance on him. So he spent the night in lock-up and now has to go to drug counseling. ‘Course, I’ve never actually seen this little bro, so I’m not convinced he actually exists (think baby Suri). Or he may just be Boss Man III’s alter ego.


At 2:25 AM, Anonymous Anna said...

The store's-eye view of the boardwalk makes it sound a little like the setup of "Cheers."


Post a Comment

<< Home