Thursday, April 23, 2009

Plaid-Lad is dead :(

Well, hell and damn. I guess that's that. I've been let go. They never said fired though, so I get to put down "Left under favorable conditions" until they say otherwise.

Can't say I'll miss that job.

US Air Force, HERE I COME!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Has Plaid Lad met his match?

Has Plaid Lad finally met his match?

Is this the end for our intrepid hero?

In what very well may be the final episode of Plaid Lad, our hero goes face to face with The Sting!

Paperwork and possible legal disputes aplenty ahead.

(Yeah, I might be getting fired on false pretenses. Anyone who's shopped at my store knows I'm an ID Nazi when it comes to alcohol and tobacco sales.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Old notes

For the first month or two, I kept notes of every nights shift and wrote down each and every weird thing that happened. It was tedious, but it worked. Suppose I should start that up again, though it's still difficult to tell what's weird anymore. I'm getting jaded.

Anyway, here are some gems that didn't really merit full entries but are still fun.

A very drunk older man who must have been in his mid to late sixties came into the store and spoke at length on early Japanese film. Recommended that I watch Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Fist Full of Dollars which I think he said was an americanized retelling of one of the other movies.

Back when The Voiceless was still coming into my store, she once dug a large coffee cup out of the trash and wanted to refill it. You could see the filth clinging to it from 15-20 feet away.

An older woman came in and just got some hot water, (which we don't charge for), so she could make some of her own tea in her own cup. She apparently really didn't want to get something for free though, because she inisted on paying for it. I think I charged her for a creamer-packet or something small like that.

I suppose it's worth mentioning that almost every day, some old man comes in the store at almost exactly 7am and buys tremendous amounts of the most cost effective alcohol we've got. Mm-mm, Hurricane HG: Tastes like turpentine poured over corn flakes.

There is one man who returned to my store yesterday, that creeps me out particularly badly.
An older man, likely in his 50's, his hair the color of iron and combed into the most boring 50's hair style possible, he stares out at the world, eyes fixed just a bit above the horizon... even if he's indoors. He will stand far to close to other customers and either mumble to himself of terrors unheard of even in dreams*, or cough spasmodically, over and over for well beyond a minute and a half, all the while gyrating his head like a bird and his eyes bulging.

The most terrifying thing about this man, however, is that once you have witnessed all these bizarre traits and behaviors, only then do you hear him speak.

His is the kind of voice you expect to hear on a children's show. High pitched, sedated and cooing. Combined with his often bulging, non-focusing eyes and him trying to lean across the counter to get closer to me, something in me is even more terrified of this man than the kid with the knife.

* Ph'nglui mglw'nafh C'thulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

Wednesday, April 8, 2009



I swear to fucking god, from this point onward I'm going to steadfastly deny that I've ever even heard of Insane Clown Posse, and I'm DEFINITELY not going to admit that I enjoy a song or two of theirs. I've had to deal with a few Juggalos lately, almost all of them kids that reek of failure and don't have a brain cell in their heads.

I had just finished stocking the beer cooler, (which was bare-bones and mostly empty before and after I dealt with it by the way), and headed to the front of the shop to open the doors when I was greeted by the manic grin of a short young man covered in sharpie. I yanked the "Back in 20 minutes - stocking cooler" sign down off the glass door, unfortunately destroying it's already mostly torn in half form.

"That wasn't 20 minutes! That was only five! Well, since I got here at least. I'm so bored I've been counting the seconds," he said, speaking more quickly than you would assume a sober person would speak.

He had managed to get most of the ink off of his face, but you could still manage to read "FAGO" on his forehead, and on his neck was an asterisk, and arrow pointing to it and the word "HICKIE".

He bought a burrito with food stamps and announced "Don't you love Oregon Law? I'm a paying customer for 24 hours so I can just go ahead and stay here as long as I like, and your boss couldn't kick me out if he wanted to. I love this country, don't you?" I tried to keep smiling. I don't like it when people try to tell me how it's going to be on my turf, but I bit my tongue and didn't bother telling him that we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, meaning why yes I could kick him out at any time I please.

Probably should have, 'coz as soon as a customer came in, he stood right by them chattering at me like a gibbon on all sorts of bizarre subjects. Soon enough he mentioned "God I wish you guys sold Faygo here." The man he was standing far to close to was frowning, trying to ignore him and failing.

"Yeah, that'd be pretty great." I said halfheartedly.

"Wait. WAIT. You know what Faygo is!?"

"Yeah, of course."

"OH SHIT. EPIC. WIN." What? No. NO. "You know ICP?"


He started reciting ICP lyrics.

As the poor man left, the boy stood just out of camera range, perhaps by some unholy instinct, and lifted up his hoodie revealing a small japanese blade tucked under his belt and announced, "THAT AIN'T A NOIFE, DIS IS A NOIFE! HAW HAW!"

The word "What." escaped my lips.

"Yeah check this shit out! I got my naginata with me!" I didn't point out that his letter-opener sized japanese blade wasn't a naginata. Those are much, much larger weapons, essentially a sword at the end of a pole and certainly not concealable. "Yeah my friend let me borrow it in case I get jumped! I got jumped the other day, took on thirteen russians before the rest held me down and kicked my head around like chicken shits."

Believable. Did I mention he couldn't stand more than 5'4" or weigh more than 150lbs? It didn't take him much time to start talking about how he was in Iraq with the marines as a lance corporal, also a sniper, had all sorts of special privilages 'coz he was just so badass. So believable.

Soon enough he mentioned that his girlfriend wound up pregnant about two weeks ago, and that he's happy about it since he just found out that day but proposed to her a few days prior, which she accepted. I suppose that's why I didn't just call the cops as soon as he left. Regardless, standing outside as I was taking a break in the fantasticly warm spring night, I decided to pick his brain and ask him about boot camp and what he did in the Marines.

He spoke on his favorite kill, which if it's true, he definitely earned my congratulations on. Waiting for some high ranking target in his sniping position he was looking through his scope to kill three hours time. Sweeping over the area he noticed a little girl being raped by a man in his 40's and radioed in, "Permission to terminate a child molester."

"Fucking GRANTED." was the supposed reply.

So that's pretty cool. Or at least, if it's true it is.

It took at least two hours for him to finally leave, with one period of time where I explained "Hey I've got some work to do in back that requires that I have the store empty and the door locked, so I gotta boot ya real quick" hoping that he'd just leave.

Did he leave?

Of course not!

I would be so lucky.

Upon his return he told me how he was planning to rob the store if there was a woman behind the counter, and how he would do it.

I let him talk. He had the knife.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

"I just got out of jail" is a red flag


In an already interesting night when paramedics told me about a guy who decided he had to paint his house with his own blood, (he barely survived as I understand), several college age men in the store and this "Bad Boy" attitude I've started to take on working graveyard shifts, I discovered that I'm getting a little more... ballsy?

The man who stumbled in the door was tall and gaunt, spindly and quite likely drunk. His unkempt gray hair was long and was matted to his worn leather coat with rain.

"I JUST GOT OUT OF JAIL." he announced, and stood right by the ice cream cooler and started looking into the clerks-only area. "I did my six hours," he bragged. I assume he was thrown in the drunk tank early in the evening, since it was only a little before midnight. He reached over the displays and started to try to take a lighter.

"Hey. Get out of that. That's for me to mess with. Get in line like everyone else." I growled. With an opening line like his I have no patience for such lame fuckery. He looked at me as though he didn't expect to be told not to try to steal something and wandered back to my customers, all huddled around a single cooler door where he proceeded to try to bum money and cigarettes off them. I considered telling him not to, but assumed he'd give me a better reason to kick him out.

Hey how's it going, you can call me Nostradamus. Another accurate prediction.

He returned to that same spot and started watching me work the register as the other customers started making their purchases. One man paid with a $20 bill, and I started to put it in the auto-safe.

"Oh you got a twenty-" the recently released man said, and he started to reach over the displays again in an attempt to take it from me.

Before I had the opportunity to consider the possible repercussions and hazards to my personal well being this course of action could result in, calmly slapped his hand with a loud "NO." The sound of my hand striking his was sharp and loud and pierced the conversation my customers were having easily.

I went back to taking care of the customers but looked over my shoulder at the man who was completely taken aback that someone like myself would strike him, even just a little swat like that.

"Yeah get out, man." I said.

He rolled his eyes, tilted his head back and left with a "yeah, yeah..."

The customers never even noticed this little altercation, thus constituting a minor victory on my part.

Ten minutes later I realized my finger tips were still a little numb. I guess I slapped his hand pretty damn hard.

Friday, March 27, 2009


First, my apologies for an extended absence there. Life has been undergoing some drastic and time consuming changes. That, and I rediscovered Dwarf Fortress and have been diligently wasting my time with that. I've been working out and jogging, which are very new to my life, too, so I've been busy researching upwards of four hours a day, though not limited to said subjects.

That said...


After stepping outside with one of the regulars for a chat a homeless man came up to me and asked if I would like to "Tune On", a euphemism for getting high that I haven't heard anyone use outside of songs from the 70's. I noticed he was with a young lady, no older than 20 and possibly younger, who was obviously not sober. She hid her face in the crook of her elbow, and peered about fearfully.

I declined, explaining that it's completely out of the question 'coz I have a policy of always working sober. He was fine with this, and we spoke for a moment on hard times. He mentioned that he had been on the streets for six years and that he was ready for a change, time to clean up and get a van to live in and a job. This sounded like a good idea to me so I more or less congratulated him on that decision, and went back inside to work.

After serving no more than two customers, that same girl came in the store. I gave her the usual greeting but she didn't reply. Instead she walked to the back of the store and over to the beer cooler, then back the way she came waltzing out the door with an 18 pack of beer.

"Hey- HEY. NO YA DON'T!!" I yelled as I lept over the counter. She tried to hurry up but was evidently too intoxicated to run, so she only walked fast. Not even five feet out the front door I grabbed the box of beer right out of her hands, yelling "NOT COOL!" as she continued to retreat slowly around the corner of the store.

I followed and pulled out my phone, waved it at them and proceded to call the police as I stared directly at them.

"Why would you do that!?" shouted the homeless man, "That's not ok dude! What's wrong with you!?"

"She just tried to steal beer from me, man, don't you steal my line too!" and I went inside, proceding to give details to the operator.

This night, I discovered that I can leap over the counter and be out the door in under three seconds. I'm mighty proud of that.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Eating's Not Cheating

Immediately after a graveyard shift

I suppose it's cheating to include something that occurred outside work, but this little gem of self deprecation is too good to keep to myself.

At a 24 hour diner, two friends who had kept my company, (and acted as security as needed), and I were eating what we considered dinner. Burgers for them, a philly cheese steak for myself. The gentleman across the table chimed in with a joke.

"Why couldn't Anne Frank drive a car?"

"Heard it," I said. "'coz she's a woman."

"Yeah. Ok. Damn. How's this? Why did Anne Frank's dog kill itself?"

"You would too if your name was HNNEARURUUUURFFF. Dude, you're going to be hard pressed to tell me an Anne Frank joke that I haven't heard." I smiled, so very sure of myself. "Man," I continued, "Once I got into this argument with this girl who insisted that Anne Frank was the girl who hid from Nazis and wrote that famous diary, and just wouldn't let up. For fucks sake, she was the deaf dumb and blind girl in the south. Everyone knows that."

This went on for about five minutes before my other friend chimed in.

" guys mean Hellen Keller, right?"



(for clarifications sake, the argument I got into with a girl in the past- she was actually insisting that Anne Frank's name was Hellen Keller... which means the gentleman across the table and I had just done the exact same thing I was complaining about while complaining about it.)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Worst Night So-Far

Graveyard (surprise!)

It surprises me to no end that it's taken almost three months for me to have a night this bad at the Plaid. In summary, I had to ban three individuals/groups, got in screaming matches with two of them, a bunch of cultists kept coming into the store, had a horde of tweakers trying to bum money off of people outside of the shop and finally I received two death threats.

It was about 1am. and a man in what looked like a black Escalade (or whatever those gigantic wastes of fuel, steel and money are) and stood outside the front doors shouting to a lady on a street corner to hurry up. She stumbled, fell, and then proceeded to limp slowly all the way to the building as the man did nothing to help her but call, tell her to hurry up and insult her. Charming.

Finally, they came in. The lady was obviously very drunk, and the mans behavior led me to believe that he might be too, but I wasn't sure yet. Much shouting across the store about this and that and "OH MY GOD that was so hard I can't believe it took so long to cross a parking lot!" was to be had, and continued until they brought up two six packs of cheap, foul swill-beer.

"Hey look, I'm really sorry but I can't sell you this tonight." I said. I've been getting pretty good at acting meek and apologetic to help keep peoples tempers down, but perhaps it needs more work.

"WHAT!? Why not!?" the man yelled.

"Well, I don't want to be rude or anything but she's visably intoxicated and the law requires me to refuse to sell this to you tonight."

"But it's for me, not her," he argued. "I'm 44 years old. I haven't had a drink all night!" he started to puff up at this point and stepped closer to the counter. "Do you want to call the police and have them breathalizer me?" ding, he's drunk. "Go ahead, call the police."

"Well sir, you're more than welcome to call them yourself." I said.

"[Jim], (name changed) stop this. This man is a rehab councelor, of all people he-" interjected the lady before being cut off.

"SHUT UP, [SUE], (name changed again), you're making an ass of yourself!" He would reply with some variation of this every time she opened her moth for the next several minutes. "And don't tell people what I do!" He returned his focus to me. "So why won't you sell me alcohol? What's wrong with you? It's for me, not her."

"Yes, but unfortunately I have no proof of this and-"

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T HAVE PROOF I JUST TOLD YOU! FUCKING IDIOT! I'll bet you make, what, three dollars an hour? Insignificant shit!"

"Oh!" I said, "Insults! I can work with this. Now I get to tell you to leave. Immediately. Nice going. Get out. Ma'am, you're ok to stay until you pay for your goodies here, I'm not kicking you out. You're ok-"

"What gives you the right to say whether she's doing ok? If she's doing ok then sell me that damn beer!"

"Sir, I mean she's behaving like an adult as opposed to a five year old who just got his toys taken away."

"What! Fuck. You. Idiot. Fuck. You." He seethed.

"[Jim] stop this-" she started again only to be cut off by the behemoth boy bitch.


"Fuck you."

"OUT." I used the loud, angry voice and dropped the fake smile. He took a step back, and slowly sauntered to the door, where he tactfully blocked the entire damn thing with his fat ass. "NOW!"

"Well I can't leave without her, idiot!"

"Go wait on the sidewalk, jackass! Get out of my damn store!" I turned to the lady, "I'm so sorry about this. With the economy the way it is, I've got to be really careful about rules like this 'coz I really, really need this job."

"Oh no honey, I'm sorry about him-" she started.

"SHUT! UP!" he shouted. "Fuck you, boy!"

"OUT!" I shouted back, "Or I will call the police on you!" as I took the lady's money and handed her change.

As they finally stepped out the door, he raised a middle finger at me in defiance as part of his retreat.

I called back with "Toodleoo, fatty!"

The man drove very slowly out of the parking lot, and I could just barely make him out through his tinted windows, staring at me, glaring at me as if I had just stolen his testicles.

In a way, I guess I did, though.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On the way home

I saw a man on the bus with a q-tip, repeatedly sticking the same end in each ear, twisting it around, removing it and inspecting... then SNIFFING it.

He did this the whole ride, and once he reached his destination, as he stood up to disembark he (accidentally?) smeared the q-tip on a bar he used to stand up with.

Work was ridiculously easy last night. Not much to report other than a few people trying to get things for free and getting butt-hurt that I wouldn't let it happen.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Valentines Day (minus a week)


After a particularly calm night a week before valentines day, an older, native american woman came into the store. (For some reason, the couple of native americans who shop at my store love to point out their heritage, like, a lot.) She stumbled slowly in on her stocky little legs, made it past the icecream cooler and leaned a little on the corner of the counter that houses newspapers and a little lotto checker.

She asked me a few questions to the tune of "What time is it?" and "What day is it?" which I happily answered before she continued her shamble down the front aisle of the store. She smelled of cheap liquor, likely whiskey, and was positively obliterated. I smiled.

Stopping at a corner display(1) housing several 2'x3' horrible valentines day cards, she picked one up and inspected it. It is worth noting that these were the only seasonal or holiday related items we had whatsoever.

"Valentines day stuff? What the hell?" she asked. "The hell is this doing here?"

"Well, Valentines day is next friday, so there they are," I said, "Don't ask, I have no idea."

"OH GOD!! Valentines Day!" she yelped, scurrying into the chips aisle. "I... I forgot about valentines day! I wanted to get my son something!"

"Oh! Good thing you remembered then!" I put on the 'I'm respecting my elders!' hat.

"Do you have vienna sausages? He loves those! He absolutely loves those!" she called. Gross.

"Er, yeah. They're just down the aisle."

"Oh! I see them!" I could hear her fumbling through the shelf picking up a bunch of cans. She came back around the corner and to the counter with four cans of vienna sausages.

Vienna sausages, if you're not already familiar with them, are little pressed-particle-meat-product extruded into nasty little cut up hot dog shaped things and stewed in what I can only imagine is some ungodly combination high gravity lager and purified liquid heartburn. They were my highschool art teachers favorite thing to get as a present from students, because he delighted in seeing people squirm as he ate the foul things during class. I have never been brave enough to try them, much as I've never had the balls to try SPAM outside of some sort of Hawaiian sushi like deal.

"What is this?" she asked as she continued stumbling about the store, more hurriedly now than before. "Is that the only valentines day stuff you have?"


"None of those little heart candies?"


"No boxes of chocolate?"



"Not a very festive one?"

"I should complain to the owner!"

"You could do that."

"No chocolate?"

"Well we have chocolate, just not any holiday chocolate."

"Oh! Chocolate!" she blurted and made a bee-line to the candy aisle. I held back a bemused snort.

She proceded to wander the store talking to herself for about five minutes before returning to my counter.

"You're such an excellent clerk. You're so nice. Thank you honey, you're wonderful. Oh! A bag! Thank you so much oh you're just so nice! They should give you a raise." She said these things and more as I rang up her purchase. She appologized for being upset about the lack of valentines goodies, too.

"Oh shucks, and yes they should!" I happily chimed back, and she stumbled drunkenly out the door.

When she had finally made it outside and on her way, I noticed on the corner, out of my sight she had also brought four cans of vienna sausage, no doubt for her (apparently disgusting) son, and forgotten to buy them. I half grimaced and half smiled as I put them away and returned to boredom.

Those little cardboard stands that are always in the way and blocking the aisles? I call them corner displays because no one I work with has a fucking clue what their official name is. Not even my area manager. This bothers me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bigotry: Too fascinatingly ignorant to kick out

Graveyard, like I work anything else these days.

One of those nights when very nearly every single customer isn't just drunk, they're likely already blacked out. Fortunately, at the time the store had cleared out momentarily.

An elderly man walked up to the counter with a coffee and almost immediately started laying into me with the story of his oh-so-interesting evening. I wish it wasn't actually an interesting story, though. I honestly should have kicked him out after about three sentences.

"Do you know what I am, boy? I'm DRUNK! But do you know what else I am?" he slurred.

"You're wearing an awesome hat?" in my defense his hat was pretty badass. It had a skull on it and said "Death Eater." I'm just hoping that's not some "yay racism" thing.

"I'm MILITIA, BOY!" Shit. Suddenly it occurs to me that this man is likely three things, other than drunk and militia: Stupid, Violent, and Armed. "There was this... are we being recorded?"

"Well, there's cameras but no audio recording as far as I know."

"OH WE'RE BEING RECORDED! Anyway, there was this NIGGER!" my smile disappeared. "This nigger government snitch! He was just sitting at the other end of the bar, and I kept shouting 'HEY! SNITCH!' and telling everyone 'Hey you know that nigger's an FBI snitch?' and you KNOW he's a snitch because if he wasn't he would have just gotten up and walked out! But he just stayed there and pretended to ignore me and got all red in the face! That's how you know the nigger's a snitch!"

My jaw hung loose at this point.

"We're working on getting this country back into a real REPUBLIC like it ought'a be! Only problem is I got a little HEEB in me. I got a little screwed by the- UNF UNF UNF," he said as he pelvic thrusted several times, "Hell, You've got a little Heeb in ya too, don'tcha?"

"Uh... actually I'm Irish." Should have kicked him out right then. Shoulda shoulda shoulda.

"HEY! HEY BOY! Never talk to a cop! never talk to the pigs! They'll throw you behind bars for even talking to them!"

"uh-" I started to say something, thought better of it and just stared on in horror. He started raising his voice at this point. At this point I started blocking what he was saying, and trying to ignore him, hoping he would just go away. He didn't strike me as the kind of person who would take kindly to being asked to leave the store.

A young lady came into the store, one of the few sober customers I had all night. The bigot was still shouting hate speech. She gave me a look as if to say "Are you with him?" All I could do was whisper "I'm so sorry about that."

Eventually he left... sorry the story is a little broken up. I'm not writing from my usual location, and screaming children fill the air with a cocophony the likes of which god has never heard. Not used to such writing conditions!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cocaine - It's one hell of a drug.


Eventually, all human beings reach the point where they must empty their bladder. Fortunately, I'm equipped with a sign, (which I had to make myself), which reads "Back in 5 minutes - sorry for the wait!".

Unfortunately, not everyone reads this sign.

A fine gentleman had offered to buy me some food from a fantastic little restaurant just down the way and wouldn't let me refuse, and had just returned while I was in the restroom which is actually exactly what I was afraid of when I locked the door. However, the real problem was that a man had just gotten out of a cab and tried to open the door as I was walking up to it. When he found it locked, he threw his arms up in frustration.

It turns out he was giving the gentleman who brought me food a little bit of a hard time, and was yelling excitedly. As I unlocked the door and let him in, immediately apologizing for the wait I was greeted with "what the FUCK am I lucky for?" as he apparently verbally assaulted my new friend. The fine gentleman just let it roll off his back and mostly ignored it, though he took care to stay several feet away from the man at all times.

Once I had made it behind the counter, the coked up bastard stood at the counter and yelled "Who the FUCK is this guy!?" motioning towards the other man.

"That's another customer." I replied, eyebrow raised. I wasn't about to let him badmouth someone nice enough to buy me such fine food.


I laughed a little and asked "What kind do you want, man?"


"Yeah man, of what variety?" I figured I could have a little fun with wordplay with this guy. Why not, right?

"Camel menthol lights! OH. OH SHIT. HOLD ON. God FUCKING damnit just a minute I'll be right back!" he blurted, running back to the cab and leaving two dollars on the counter. You would be amazed how many people leave money on the counter unattended. I wonder if people do this everywhere?

I leaned across the counter as my new friend approached with a coke, (of the beverage variety), and mentioned that if the coke-head gives him any shit, I'm kicking the fucker out. He told me it's alright as he was about to head out anyway. Unfortunately I'm afraid that guy ran him out of the shop. The fine gentleman is still working on his English, and it appears he learned most of it from surfers by his dialect, so it's great fun teaching him more words that we use in today's vernacular... like "rack" to refer to breasts. Aw yeah.

As he headed out, the coke-head returned with his debit card and headed to the ATM. I warned him that it only worked about half the time, which apparently surprised him. At this point I started to wonder if he was drunk as well, because he started to swat at the machine and shout excitedly as though it were a slot machine.


I assure you, it was extremely difficult to keep my laughter down to a chuckle at this point.

"YEAH ALRIGHT! SMOKES! GIMMIE SMOKES! MARLBORO LIGHT MENTHOLS!" he belted! I guess he changed his mind on what brand he wanted. "MARLBORO-O-O-OS!!!"

As I sold him his cigarettes, he whooped and hollered, then requested matches.

"Aw I'm sorry man, here's where I let you down. I'm all out of matches!"

"Aw. Aw you're lettin' me down? Aw man. OH WELL! YEAH!" and with that he left.

A cab driver came in as the coke-head left and got into his respective cab. I was laughing like a jackel at this point.

"I saw the look on his cab driver's face. He knows he's got one hell of a ride ahead of him, poor guy." he said.

I laughed harder.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Violence in his eyes and anger in his heart

Dang, sorry it's late. My internet was out. Not on any other computers in the house, just this one, and I'll be damned if I'm going to write in the living room with a bunch of people distracting me and a cat thinking that on the keyboard in my lap is where she is meant to be.


I raised my voice in anger for the first time in my life yesterday, and now I'm glad I did because it prepared me for that night's work. I'm going to give my room mate, (the person I yelled at), a big hug and thank her when she gets home, 'coz if I hadn't discovered I could make that noise then I, one of my friends, or perhaps more than one of us could have been hurt.

Some (3) friends swung by to keep my company, and thank god for it. About an hour after their arrival, a man burst into the store, violently swinging both doors open as hard as he could. He had violence in his eyes and anger in his heart, but it is the general opinion of all witnesses that if there had not been four grown men standing in the store at the time, he may have gotten violent or broken stuff.

But I digress.

Appearing furious, he stormed across the store to the wine section, looped around it and returned to the coffee area on the exact opposite side. Spinning quickly, his arms lose and flailing, he smiled at me and said "I hear there's a huge skating event today!"

"Oh yeah? Is that at the [name omitted] skate park or just all over?" I asked.

"It's EVERYWHERE. Daddy- My daddy died on my birthdaaaaayyyyyy--" he began to 'cry' loudly into a trash can. At this point another customer entered the store looking to buy a cigarillo, mostly ignoring the madman in the corner. He made his purchase and very nearly made it out of the building before the crazy got in his way, sobbing incoherently.

"Whadayou need man?" he asked the madman. He didn't appear to really care, in fact it sounded more like a question I might ask a customer.

"I need my H-J!" followed by more incoherent sobbing. The customer quickly turned and walked out the door without another word, as though that was his cue to GTFO this situation.

Soon enough, the crazy stood up with fury in his eyes again. He glared at me, then at my friends, and finally got himself a cup of coffee, (which he never paid for by the way). Carrying it over to the Red Bull cooler, he started sobbing again, opened the case, grabbed a single can and opened it. He may have taken a single sip, but then he placed it back in the cooler.

His next stop as I looked on in amazement, was the soda fountain where he just leaned on the Ice button for about a full minute. Now he had made a mess, and I had something to kick him out for.

"Alright, I'm sorry man but you have to leave."

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I r-really am. I'm sorry." he stammered.

"I know you are man, but you made a huge mess and you have to go." He milled around for a few seconds and I jotted down the number for the non-emergency police line and handed it to one of my friends. He stepped outside and made the call.

"DON'T YOU INSULT MY FAMILY." He took a few steps toward me.

"I didn't."

"You are right NOW." he growled, walking slowly closer to me. "Are you gonna call the cops? Go ahead! CALL THE COPS! My father will come down on you SO HARD YOU'LL WISH YOU WERE DEAD!" Most of us at this point had noticed inconsistancies in his story so far, but all decided it was a good idea not to point it out to a potentially violent man.

Snap! I was done with his bullshit.

"GET OUT. NOW!" I roared at the top of my lungs. I swear to god, the windows shook. I thrust a pointed finger towards the outdoors, and repeated my command. In my other hand was a crowbar, but I don't think he saw it. His eyes widened and he was immediately silence. "GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY STORE OR I WILL CALL THE COPS! NOW! GET THE FUCK OUT!" He staggered backward a few steps, and silently, eyes locked on mine, walked backwards out the door... and remained on the sidewalk for about five minutes making faces at me.

Eventually, he left.

About five minutes after he left, the police arrived and asked for a description of what happened and what he looked like, and quickly recognized him as one of the people he drove past.

Turns out, he just got out of jail about three hours prior to the incident, and there was nothing the police could do about it, or so they said.

I suppose in this town, petty theft, vandalism, disruption of the peace and threatening peoples lives? All legal, as long as you're doing it to a clerk.

I think I'll start job hunting.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Just wanted to let you know, I'm going to be trying to update this twice a week. I'm thinking Sunday and Wednesday. I'll start a little late this week with a post on Thursday, then on Sunday.

January was weird. I have a lot to write about, so even if I somehow wind up canned I'll have a lot of material for a while.

For now, though, I'm off to work.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Plaid-Lad's First Screamer


This night had already gotten off to a bad start. The guy I took over for reeked like he hadn't showered in a week, and you could easily smell him ten feet away. I make no exaggeration here - that was one fragrant fucker.

I came to work in a bad mood. A deep hatrid of all that draws breath lingered and loomed over my night. I had no explanation for it. Just woke up pissed off with life.

The Cap'n was hanging around tonight. He had a pretty decent plan and bought $20 worth of $1 scratch-it tickets. He kept anything he won over $10 and any winnings smaller than that went towards new tickets. He came out ahead by about $15 if I remember right.

Recently a law was passed that makes it illegal to smoke within 10 feet of the front doors of any public establishment. You can imagine my surprise as a woman somewhere in her mid 40s, (who I soon discovered was well beyond drunk), walked INTO the store still smoking her cigarette.

I stormed around the counter yelling "Are you smoking in my store? YOU ARE! OUT! OUT OUT OUT! NOW! GET OUT!"

She indignantly made some half hearted apologies and started heading towards the door with a 4-pack of red bull in her hands, which I grabbed from her before she could reach the door, still taking drags off her damn coffin nail as I glared.

Then she came back in.

"You are being SO RUDE to me right now. I can't believe this. Do you even WORK here!?" she seethed.

"Actually yes, I do."

"GOOD. Then SERVE ME." she slurred, throwing her arms out almost as if she had just been martyred on a cross by my awful behavior. "I can't believe what an ASS HOLE you are. You need to be NICE to me."

"Nice ain't my thing, lady." a blatant lie, but fuck you.

I... I hate to admit it, but I can't really remember much more of the conversation. All I remember is that what followed was a five minute screaming match as we exchanged money and goods.

THEN she tried to short me on pay. THREE TIMES.

"WHOA WHOA WHOA hold on there, sparky, come back here. You gave me $12.12. Your total is $12.87." I said.

"WHAT. BULL SHIT! LOOK HERE ASS HOLE." she slurred further, returning to the counter as I counted out the dollars, pointing out there were only 12 dollars and 12 cents. "Oh fuck you, I over paid you. Learn to count you retard."

"No. I'm sorry. You're wrong. Look, this is your total. $12.87. This is what you gave me. $12.12. You owe me 60 cents."

"What is wrong with you? How fucking stupid are you? I'm leaving. I've already over paid. I'm sick of this shit."

"CONGRATULATIONS YOU OVER PAID ME BY NEGATIVE SIXTY CENTS. Pay up or hand over the stuff you're trying to buy!" I yelled. She threw, (literally threw), two quarters and a dime at the counter, and stormed back out the front door.

But before she exited, she stopped, swivvled drunkenly, (almost falling over), pointed at me and shouted "YOU KNOW WHAT!? YOU'RE... FffFFffffFFFfffFFIRED!!"

I couldn't help it. I yelled back.

"I'm so glad you have the authority to fire me, YOU DUMB CUNT!"

I turned around and a customer was right there.

I stared at him in shock - I thought other than the Cap'n there wasn't anyone there. I opened my mouth to appologize to him but before I could he started laughing and gave me a thumbs up.

Then I got lectured by the Cap'n. :(

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Woman With No Voice Returns


Swing shift. The door bell we use to announce the arrival or departure of a customer through the front door sounds. There she is, like a boil on the anus of society. The woman with no voice has made her nightly pilgrimage to my humble shop, the holy Mecca of snack foods and sundries, the corner Plaid Pantry.

She's wearing a new hat today, and unlike the rest of her clothing it's not faded or caked in filth yet. This, unfortunately, fools me into greeting her with my customary and energetic "Goooood evening!" I even smiled! All that effort wasted on a madwoman. She waved an old pepsi (I think) can at me, as if to both say "LOOK AT ME," and "I'm going to turn this in for a nickle," in one deft movement. As she passed by the front counter, cutting off several customers, walking between couples and generally making a nuicance of herself, I heard her attempt to echo the noises she's heard real people make when they practice what they call talking. As usual and as assumed, she enjoyed little success, and the only word I could manage to comprehend was "Matches".

She placed a single can in the recepticle and made an immediate about face and headed back the way she came, barging right through people in a repeat performance of ass-hattery. She held her hand out, and since it's just a pack of matches, I went ahead and gave her one and began to ask for the other five cents a matchbook costs, but she was already near the front door.

As if the attention she had demanded from literally everyone in the shop, (and I assure you, literally everyone in the store was staring at her silently at this point), she picked up a job application, making sure I saw it. She then waved it about, as if to say "I'm taking this and there's nothing you can do about it! HAH!" as well as "LOOK AT ME HOLY FUCK LOOK AT ME", and left... but instead of just leaving, she made and abrupt right turn and set the job application down on top of a news stand, also making sure I saw this.

She looked me dead in the eye, smiled a mischevious smile, and patted the job application.

I nodded, and she walked off into the night.

The application was still on top of the news stand.

Not even ten paces from the store, she made yet another abrupt about face and returned to the news stand to carefully tear off the front of the matchbook, and ritualisticly placed the Plaid Pantry logo emblazoned cover on the application. I couldn't help it by this point. My jaw was hanging and I was staring at her in disbelief and confusion as she walked away one final time.

I turned to the other customers who were, apparently, just as confused as I and in exasperation cried out.


Monday, January 26, 2009

THE VOICE (Presumibly that of God?)

Graveyard again.

You have encountered A Rather Large, Smiling Black Man!
What do you do?
>Greet customer and ring him up

I do not understand this "ring him up"

>greet customer

"Hey how ya doin' boy?" he asks you.

"I'm still breathing somehow, how are you?" you reply.

"I'm doin' just great, boy," he starts, pointing to a button on his shirt. This button features a painting of a young lady with long black hair. "I've got my sister with me - that's her on this pin, I keep her close to my heart - see she died two months ago..."

The man tells you a story of how through God's will and God's will alone he just so happened to visit his sister the weekend before she suddenly died without warning.

>say "I'm so sorry about your sister"

You tell the man "I'm so sorry about your sister," and continue ringing up his purchases. The man goes on to tell you about how this has prompted him to start singing.

>I thought you didn't understand this "ring him up" >:(

I do not understand this "I thought you didn't understand this "ring him up" >:(."

>ask about singing

You ask the man about his singing, and he identifies himself as "THE VOICE." THE VOICE wants to sing for you.

>let him sing

You don't have any other customers in the store and your friend is fronting and facing product to stave off boredom. You let him go ahead and sing. The man informs you that he'll just sing about twenty seconds of a song he wrote a week or two ago, and proceeds to start singing gospel. Twenty seconds in, he sounds absolutely awful. What do you do?

>Smile and let him continue

The man appeared to only have a frog in his throat, or perhaps he should have warmed up a little beforehand, because now he sounds great! But now he's staring you straight in the eye and grinning a maniacal grin as he sings what amounts to a dirge. What do you do?

>Smile and let him continue

The mans eyes are now wild like those of a rabid dogs, and you notice just how long and yellow his teeth are. He still stares you directly in the eye, but you can't help but look away every few seconds, trying to make it look like you're just trying to concentrate on his singing. The stare is starting to terrify you and it chills to the bone. what do you do?

>Smile and let him continue

The man sings another couple verses and, without warning, stops and turns for the door looking insulted and angry. What do you do?

>snap fingers and tell him he's good

You snap your fingers repeatedly like a beatnik and complement him on his skills. The man thanks you, promises you a demo CD that he will bring by sometime in the next week, and leaves. Your friend returns from fronting and facing and looks at you standing there. No one is quite sure just what happened. What do you do?

>die a little inside

You die a little inside.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Woman With No Voice

Another graveyard shift. No matter how clearly I lay my schedule out in front of my manager, (And it's not particularly complicated, unless you think 9-5 mon-fri is complicated), he just doesn't seem to understand what I ask of him.


An friend who doesn't seem to sleep swung by for the last four hours of the shift. He had the distinguished privilege of witnessing The Woman With No Voice and her daily routine of wandering into the plaid, demanding everyone's attention literally all the time, moving things around and waiting for someone else to take the clerks attention so she can steal as much as she can. She likes to bring us clerks presents, though she doesn't seem to understand that returning stolen matchbooks doesn't count.

I saw her walking up to the store this time and had a moment to prepare. I moved the key to the beer coolers out of reach and behind the counter, and moved to a spot where I could see all the mirrors in the store.

GUNG-GUNG-GUNG. She was rapping the window with the tattered remains of a small cardboard box, waved it at me as if to say "Hey I have this and I'm going to leave it here so you don't think I stole it," and set it down on top of a news stand.

Then she came in, talking the whole way. I swear to god, she didn't shut up for a single second the entire time she was there.

"hhhaannnhnhnnnhhhhnnnn-HA HA HA HA HA!" she would say.

"Cans to return? OK. I'll be right over, gimme just a sec," I said, moving over to keep a better eye on her. Another customer came in. A young lady, the kind of girl who eminates an aura of impatience.

"nnHHhHheeehhhrnrnkcchhhs," she growled in a wasted attempt to make words. Her voice sounds a little like rocks in a grinder with a leaking air hose. Without vocal cords there's no way to understand this woman, and she's too far gone to understand anyone asking her to slow down her speach. This is the same woman another homeless woman said she was glad wasn't there. The one who she wanted to make jealous by claiming she, with her whole four teeth, could eat pussy better than. Even the other bums around here regard her as insane. Honestly, I like the male bums around here more. At least they aren't quite as foul.

"I need to take care of someone at the register, I'll be just a second," I told her. The young lady came up to the counter and was already giving me the evil eye. She looked rich, like the kind of girl who's pissed that Bush is out of office. Ugh.

I got my friends attention, pointed with one hand at my eyes and then at The Woman With No Voice, hoping he would watch her and make sure she didn't shove something into any of her myriad pockets.

I imagine he thought I wanted him to watch for something funny, 'coz within five seconds he was checking out some jerky. Dammit, man. Yeah, I know you're reading this. Haven't you ever played paintball or anything like that?

The young lady left, and shortly after the woman with no voice came up to the register and got a whole quarter for bottles that we could accept. She was apparently deterred from theft this time, but she always comes back. I'm unsure as to whether she sleeps at all.

She left the half cardboard box. I walked outside and lit a cigarette.

I tossed the box in the trash.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Challenger Appears!

The past several days have been soul-crushingly dull. Beyond greeting each customer with "Happy Obama Day!" yesterday, very little of interest has happened. Come to think of it though, I did have two bigots come in. One complained about "Why did they put two black guys next to each other? Just get it all over with on one damn day," regarding Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the Inauguration being on consecutive days.

The other guy came up with the gem "I-Nigger-Ation." Wow. Just... WOW.

Then I met my first villain.

Enter, SodaMan!

Well spoken and well dressed, (save the hair-net, one of those fashion statements that I'll just never understand), this man stood at a rack of 2-liter soda bottles for literally fifteen minutes deciding which one he wanted. He compared the bottles, inspecting each for maximum fizz potential, possibly divining the future through the bubbles.

After fifteen long minutes of watching him, (that's unfortunately a high theft area), he came up to the register with some Mountain Dew and asked if we had any 7-Up. I directed him to the primary pop area where he... proceeded to inspect each and every single bottle of soda there. There's a lot more soda over there and as a result it took him closer to twenty minutes this time.

Another fun note is the high volume of burn victims who come to that specific Plaid. Now, I work at a couple Plaid locations, and this one is the farthest from hospitals, yet... well... You know Ghouls from Fallout?

I have to try real hard not to call these guys Harold or Gob.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Very Thought Of It

I've just now realized that this is the first time I've sat down in ten hours. Ow.

Early in the morning, perhaps somewhere around 4am, an elderly black gentleman came into the store. Being the middle of the month, like myself, he was almost entirely out of money. We spoke at length about this and that, and eventually he cut to the chase. He needed rolling papers, but he had nothing to pay with. We tried his card, but it was declined.

After about fifteen rather vulgar minutes of trying to find a way for him to afford them, checking the ground for loose change, trying different cards he ultimately tried to borrow money from me. This of course failed. I'm just as poor these days. We went on to talk about cigarettes, work, the weather and eventually somehow the conversation turned to my degree.

I have an Associates of Applied Science in Multimedia, which essentially means that I've sat down at a computer. That diploma is absolutely worthless, and if not for the contacts and friends I made while going to college I would deeply regret the entire two years and over thirty thousand dollars I spent there. In fact, thanks to a deplorable, awful fellow teaching the poorly named "Portfolio" class, I failed a single final and had to retake that one class. One class. That single, worthless, pitiful class was priced at $1,400, and sur-fucking-prize, I didn't learn a single thing from it the second time either.

I've not since been able to afford that, and as such still do not actually have my diploma and hold a deep seated loathing - nay, hatred - of that unnamed school that I will likely carry in my heart until the day I die.

But I digress.

The man was astounded that someone with a degree was working a job such as mine. Of course, in this economy, one has to take whatever job they can get, right? Finally, that's when things got interesting.

"You should be making use of that degree, son! What the hell are you doing here!?" He asked.

"Actually I am. I help run a little print shop downtown." I said, and gave him a quick summary of why it's done and over with at the end of the month. He started to ask about contracts, hoping to give me an idea how to come out on top in the whole situation, but I cut him off. "I don't actually do that paperwork stuff. I'm production, so I take orders and print stuff. [co-worker] does that, and she's really good at it, so I'm pretty sure she's on top of it."

"[co-worker's name], huh? She a black girl or a white girl?" He asked. This didn't surprise me at all, and in fact I saw it coming. My co-worker has one of those names white girls just don't have.

"She's white, why?"

"You fuckin' her?"

"HA. No. She and our other co-worker are like sisters to me!" I bellowed, then broke down into a fit of laughter.

"Good!" he laughed, "It's better not to do that stuff in that kind of situation isn't it! Bad for the business!"

I laughed harder.

And with that, he let himself out the door.

I continued laughing for at least another half minute, snorted loudly, (and painfully!), and continued laughing.

I probably shouldn't have laughed quite that hard. She'll probably smack me upside the head for this post.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Blessed are the Maintenance Workers

Around 1:30am last night, a friendly couple came by to repaint the yellow lines on the parking lot. It's been getting pretty damn cold out as of late, what with the whole winter thing and all, so they had what appeared to be a large torch. I was pretty pleased at the prospect of getting to watch people torch the parking lot.

I was a lot happier when I discovered that thing was modified into something more like a flame thrower.


Flame erupted from the nozzle reaching easily three feet before it petered off into a shimmering wave of superheated air and exhaust. Its color was the deep blue of a clear summer sky and the sound alone betrayed it's nature to the point that the countless neighbors they no doubt awakened were likely all aware of the veritable pyromancy occurring below.

The remains of a not even half smoked cigar laid on the ground before the torch. As the summer blue flames passed near it it ignited and vaporised in no more than three seconds.

I just about needed new pants at that point.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"I've Nothing to do but fuck"

For some reason, the mad folk tend to think that Plaid Pantries are the place to hang out. One such woman speaks as though she had her voice box removed, and manages sound by doing what most of us consider clearing our throats. This would explain the constant, yellowish spittle and mucus dripping from the corners of her mouth.

While she's mostly just insane and a pointless waste, the Vietnam Vet knew about her already and warned me to keep an eye on her. It seems he might be good to have around. She brought up some coupons from the other side of the counter, set a cordial cherry down and brought some newspapers, and tried to say... something. I couldn't figure it out. I had to ask her several times, discovered that her spittle can fly pretty far with deadly accuracy, and learned that glasses are good for more than just improving eyesight. Fucking. Gross. Watch me catch SARS now. It turns out that she thought she was being really nice by bringing these to me... as a gift! No, of course she didn't want to buy them! She just wanted me to have them because she's a dear.

Or perhaps it's because she's stark raving mad, perhaps a distraction so she could steal something. As I understand it, it was the latter.

The real fun began when her 'friend' appeared and started hitting on the male customers. They had to have been somewhere in their mid twenties while this lady's got to be old enough to be their mother.

"Heeeey how ya doin'. Nice hair cut. It looks reeeaaaal good on ya." she said, making her best attempt at impersonating an even remotely attractive human being. Then suddenly...

"I'm a pretty kinky broad! There's not a whole lot to do once you get old other than have sex! Yeah I like the kinky stuff, it keeps it fun! Oh man it's a good thing I'm in a good mood right now, and it's a good thing [No-Voice] isn't here, or else I'd make her really jealous by telling her I eat pussy better than she does! HA HA HA!"

Everyone is silent, even the vet. I can usually take this kind of talk, but I've never heard it from someone as skeezey and foul as her. Then she started with some of that talk directed at me. This brought me to the point of actual nausea. I just had to roll my eyes. I guess she thought that was me flirting back or something.

Fucking. Gross.


On the first day of the gauntlet my customers gave to me: A fattie digging in my trash can.

He just so happened to be standing right on the other side of the window from where I was standing, so I calmly tapped on the glass and pointed to the sign reading "DO NOT DIG IN TRASH"

"FUCK YOU I DROPPED MY PHONE IN THERE DICKHEAD!!!" the man roars. It's maybe 5am, and there are residences adjacent to our lot.

" the f... how did it fall in there?" I ask, but I receive no reply. The man just glares at me and starts storming towards the door and, finally, enters.


"Well, you were digging in the trash." My frown started to fade away. Finally, after a boring night, something interesting.


"Ok, alright, well you have my sincere apologies," I smiled. The other customers watched, not moving.

Tubby stomped towards the back of the store, grabbed a small bottle of milk and, gigantic man boobs jiggling, stomped back to the counter where he proceeded to slam it down. That was a lot of glaring going on. This man was PISSED that I would EVER try to enforce any rules upon him.

"Will this be everything for you today?" I beamed. This confused him. I could see it in his beady, pig-like eyes.

"Yeah... I guess."

"Awesome. Debit or credit? Alright. Aaaannnd... You're set! Hey thanks much, man. You have yourself a good one!" One spoon full of sugar... two spoonfuls... Oh fuck it, 6.2 metric tons, please.

"uh... k." he muttered, his squinty little pig eyes turned to the floor as he took his milk and left. This man was completely transparent. He had no justifiable reason to be angry with me. Even after I spoke my first words, sounding like I didn't care that he just yelled at me, it was readily apparent that he was starting to feel like a real bastard.

By the time he left, though? I think I ruined his entire day, thus constituting a small victory on my part.

Oh, and I arm wrestled a Vietnam Vet who's covered in more scars than I've probably seen on all the people in my life combined up to this point. You damn well better believe he won, but I put up an ok fight. I'm still pretty impressed an old man like him could so soundly trounce a whipper-snapper like myself, though. That man is strong.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Gauntlet: Prologue

The print shop is still open at this point. It won't be for much longer, unfortunately. Not throwing in the towel, just setting it aside to start again later. I think of it being like a power cycle on a router or modem, just one that takes a few years.

I look forward to the day we restart.

What I don't look forward to, however, is this coming week.

Here's my schedule. Please bear with me for a moment as I use this to plan my week. Sort of like thinking aloud at the dinner table, ya know?

Day shift, graveyard shift, day shift, sleep. Day shift, graveyard, day, graveyard, day... then I don't know what happens friday afternoon, 'coz Plaid doesn't schedule more than one week ahead.

What this means is that to start The Gauntlet, I get to start 'slow' with just 36 hours without sleep or rest. Then I'll sleep until round two of The Gauntlet, and maybe get away with just 60 hours without rest or sleep.

I'm gonna go get a bottle or two of no-doze. I guarantee you I'll be poppin' that shit like candy. I'll try to keep up with this over the next week, but I might just take notes and write it after each round.

Wish me luck. I'll keep in touch one way or another.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Alcoholics, Stamps and Disrespectful Nicknames

Sorry, I had to get that sad bit out of the way.

So I've noticed that almost everyone near my store either smokes or drinks heavily. Within ten minutes of the state allowing me to sell alcohol this morning, I had sold six cans of malt liquor (to the same man) and three bottles of wine.

Somewhere around 9am, a Chinese man walked into the store and asked if we sold stamps. I told him that no, I'm sorry, we don't.

"you have stamps?"

" No we don't."

"uhhhmmm... Stamps. Stamps. For mail. You have?"

"No. No stamps."

"I sorry my english not very good do you have... stamps. STAMPS," he repeated as he held up an envelope and tapped the corner, "STAMPS."

"No. We. No. Not. Have. Stamps. We. Do. Not. Sell. Stamps. I. Do. Not. Know. Where. You. Could. Find. Some."

"I sorry one second" he stammered... then... "you sell STAMPS?"

This went on for well over five minutes before he gave up, apparently SURE something was lost in translation and that we in fact had stamps. Or maybe he thought I'm dumb. Either way, I could give a shit. For the record, no, we really don't sell stamps. least I don't think we do.

Noon rolled by, and I was pretty pleased that the psych ward vets hadn't shown up today. I'm starting to believe in all that synchronysity crap I keep hearing about, because five minutes after thinking this, -BLAMF!- there they are.


I'm starting to think up nicknames for them all. I've got so much time on my hands, what else am I going to do? Hell, I tried playing Bejewled on my cell phone earlier today - and ten moves in I lost. Given that how far you can proceed in that game is based largely in luck, that kind of killed the fun for me. The one who likes to pick out his own cigar I hereby dub "Scrambles." Today I'm just glad "Mumbles" isn't around.

Soon enough I'm ringing the whole lot of them up, and I notice that the same supervisor girl from yesterday is with them. She looks a lot better today, like perhaps her ass hadn't been pinched nearly as much as usual this morning. We manage maybe a half minute of small talk while I ring her up before a veteran barges in-


"Oh, yeah ok man here you go," I said, handing him a little Plaid Pantry book o' matches. Then the whole lot of them crowded around the counter.

"I want matches too"

Ok, so matches all around. I'm not sure how good an idea this is, but since they all seem to smoke a pack a day I suppose they'll be too busy with their smokes to burn each other's hair off.

Finally the day ended and my co-worker arrived to take over for me.

I'm starting to think he has anger management issues. Before I left, I heard him scream "QUIET!" obviously furious with it's incessant ringing and smash the door-bell thing. I'm not sure if he broke it or unplugged it EXTREMELY loudly or what, but holy shit.

Not all fun and games

Some times people come in from the near by hospital. Sometimes they're funny, sometimes they're intolerable jackasses, but most of the time it's just heart wrenching.

They come in, realize that, assuming it's not busy, I'm willing to listen to their woes and just pour it on. Today I was told about this one man's wife turning into a vegetable.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Exploding Candy, Disappearing Russians and Psych Ward Patients

Now is not the time to start at the beginning. Now is the time to start with today.

This morning I had the distinct pleasure of opening the only plaid that seems to ever close, which meant I was there at 5:50am. I am a night person. I am not at all a morning person. In fact, I am so much not a morning person that I seem to need the threat of immediate termination of employment hanging over my head to get myself to work on time at all.

Care to guess how many customers I had before 9:30am? Four. Just four. None of them spent more than $2, except I think one guy bought lotto tickets... but I doubt those profits go to the store at all. Like usual, they spent more money having me there with the lights on doing absolutely nothing for two and a half hours than they made. Su-fucking-prise!

An attractive young lady around my age came into the store, bought some water and left. I sat down on the counter and turned up the volume on the barely functioning cd/tape cassette player and stared at my reflection in the window. Now locked in a staring contest with my own reflection, I proceded to make faces at the window for about ten minutes. This is how I entertain myself once I've run out of magazines to read.

I would have continued making faces at myself and bobbing my head to whatever awful music I had playing at the moment, save I heard something crack, then pop. I dismissed this as the usual sounds the ice maker, uh, makes. Then it got louder.

I turned my head just in time to see the entire display of boxed candy leave it's post at the side of the Coke cooler.

Damn thing smashed another display and splayed about 250 pieces of merchandise across the floor, not counting the lollipops that thankfully managed to stay within their plastic tub-jar-things. It took about 45 minutes to get it all cleaned up, put in boxes and the rack moved across the shop.

Later I would discover that most of the time when something like that happens, Plaid employees will just leave it there for the manager, claiming "I didn't know what to do with it I'm just a clerk man I ring people up, that's it. Hurf-a-durf." I guess this is why they want to promote me to assistant manager after just a month, an idea that frankly makes my skin crawl. An one dollar an hour pay raise is nowhere near enough to convince me to give half a shit about the store, or be on call to fix things like this for idiots who don't want to do it themselves. I guess the two shits I don't give about the store is already more than other people care about it. Either that or most other clerks must have trouble dressing themselves.

Shortly later, a Russian woman came in, cut in line and stated "MARLBORO LIGHT ONE HUNDRED." I paused, blinked and raised an eyebrow at the person who was next in line. They shrugged, so I grabbed them thar smokes off the rack, and asked "These 'uns?"


"Right on. Six dollars please."


"What? S'cuse?"

"YOU HAVE MATCHES." the look in her eyes was... I can't think of anything to compare it to other than concrete. Cold, dull, lifeless, and fucking hard. I handed her those fucking matches right quick, took her payment and before I could look up to hand her her reciept - POOF. She and her friend were gone. They weren't even outside! Just... gone.

Shortly later, a group of ten to twenty veteran psych ward patients wandered into my Plaid with their lovely, yet startled and disturbed looking handler. The poor thing looked like she was probably around my age, and had a look about her that said "my ass cheeks are black and blue from pinches. I won't be sitting for a month after this."

The first man came up to the counter.

"Hhhhhhhh. Hh. hueemmmememmmmmmurrrfl blermermermermmruuuurg." he muttered. He was saying something, and definitely speaking in English... but was mumbling so heavily that there was no way to decipher a single fucking word.


"Murfcgla ber murmurmurmurmur," he muttered as he handed me his payment




"Mrugha! Heh heh heh heh heh!!" he chuckled, taking his whatever-the-fuck-it-is he bought with him outside and lighting a cigarette.

Most of the other psych ward patients were pretty manageable, except one man who kept trying to cut in line and was behaving as though he was on a nice big dose of speed. I mean, holy shit he wanted to cut in line.

He just wanted to buy cigarillos so much. He wanted them real good.

The only other weirdo was this guy who wanted some "snuss," which is apparently chewing tobacco in a pouch. I was given a free tin of it a while ago and tried it. Surprise surprise, it's fucking nasty! It took a few tries for him to get the word right, 'coz he kept calling it Snuff. As a result I had taken him over to the chewing tobacco rack where the snuff is, and asked him what kind he wanted.

"SOLD COLD SOLD COLD" he blurted, repeating the slogan on the snuss ads. Back to the register we go, and I asked him what kind he wanted. "something not too eeeeeeeehhhhhhhh." Thank you sir. Thank you. Very descriptive.

"We have 'frost' and 'mellow.'" I told him. He picked frost, I rang it up and announced the price, to which he replied "no it's free it's trial offer says right there see look"

"Ohh. I'm sorry man, they're only free if you buy a tobacco product."

"Oh..." he frowned pitifully, "can you just give it to me?"

"I'm sorry man, it doesn't work like that." I replied.

"uhhh... I only have sixty-seven cents can I buy it for that much?"

"No, man, it's five ninty-nine." At this point I was very glad he was the last person in line. Even that cute girl supervising them had bought herself a drink before this sorry case. I noticed she was standing with her back to the wall with a circle of psych-ward-ees standing around her smoking. Smart, I'll bet that kept her ass from getting pinched quite as much, the poor thing.

Snuss man gave up at this point mentioning that he'd be back with money.

He returned no less than five minutes later, but not with money.

Instead he approached the counter and extended his arm with an offering. A small, dingy travel pack of kleenex.

"In case you ever get a tear." he said. Aww, that was kind of sweet. I'm glad he didn't say anything about snot or bloody noses. Or wiping ones ass. (Note: Kleenexes make for awful TP)

"Thank you man, but I'm ok. I've got a box of tissues right here. You go ahead and keep that incase you ever get a tear, ok?"

"Oh, ok. I can has snuss now?" he asked.

God damnit, he was trying to barter for the snuss. First of all, barter is not an acceptable form of trade at most convenience stores. Second, the difference in value was just so gre... dude he said "I can has snuss nao" holy shit I didn't even put two and two together whoa.

I had a lulzpsychwardpatient in my store today.

Plaid Lad: The Origin Story

Ah, blogging. The new internetian pastime. Any hero worth his salt needs a hobby, and like any good super hero, I have an origin story. I suppose that's where I'll start. The beginning that is. Well, the beginning of this particular story. The idea of "the beginning" is entirely subjective.

Up until April of '08, I worked in an architecture office with a pretty cushy job making digital 3D models of building designs. Just plop myself down in my seat, crank up the tunes, zone out and suddenly I had made something beautiful and it was time to go home, likely to get plastered or play D&D, (or combine the two and play DD&D, or Drunk Dungeons & Dragons, a personal favorite of mine), with my friends.

Then the economy fell out from under me and the architecture firm's HR lady took me aside and said, with a tear welling up in her eye, that they couldn't afford to keep me on anymore and had to let me go. There were no hard feelings and I still have a warm place in my heart for that firm, although I'll leave it un-named here for anonymity's sake.

I was unemployed for several months, getting checks from the government like any good leech on society. I used this time to relax, update my resume and... discover that I had artists block and couldn't update my portfolio. And with that, away went my hopes of getting an artsy job right off the bat like I did before. I wound up meeting some people through this activism thing that I won't get into quite yet, (oooh mystery! An essential part of any super hero's backstory!), and it turned out that they needed another person to help out around their start-up print shop.

The three of us discovered rather quickly that this was my calling. Even though we weren't turning enough of a profit to pay ourselves, I was as happy as I could be in that shop and kept finding ways to scrape by.
Printing, trimming, swearing, joking, laughing... this shop was my ideal work environment.

You'll notice that's past-tense.

Well, unfortunately all of a sudden I ran out of money and with a few poorly placed $1-$2 debit transactions wound up almost $300 overdrawn which I still haven't recovered from. My car was reposessed, and suddenly I was faced with myriad FINAL SHUT OFF NOTICE letters in the mail. I live in a house with three room mates, and I have a strong sense of duty to them as they're all wonderful people - I can't very well let them down and leave them without internet, can I?

That's when I applied at the Plaid next door to home. I'm overqualified, not a student, actually handle the public well and have an actual work ethic... none of these are attributes you find in a convenience store employee. I needed something more to get the job.

Ah, desperation, yes. Why yes, of course I'll work for five cents above minimum wage as long as you give me forty hours a week. I can survive on that. That'll do just fine. Besides, I've always sort of wanted to work as a clerk for a while, just for the experience. It sounded a little fun, and like I'd meet some meet some interesting people.

The blue apron fit just right over my neck. I cinched the ties under the apron for aesthetics. My name tag clipped effortlessly onto the neck-strap. Then it happened. I watched helplessly as Plaid Pantry mercilessly slaughtered my dignity.

I was no longer a human being to the public. I was now little more than a talking vending machine.

I had become... Plaid Lad.

It's definitely interesting. I've definitely met some interesting people. I've also learned that they don't pay me enough to give two damns or a fuck about the place, much less the company and that it gives me ample opportunity to... do absolutely nothing but jot down notes of the bizarre experiences I encounter there and share them upon my return home.

I've also discovered that it's in my job description that I don't have to take shit from anyone. Not my employers, not my co-workers, not customers. As a result, in my month and some weeks as Plaid Lad I think I've probably swung the Ban Hammer more times than most people do in half a year.

And you know what?

I'm starting to like it.