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Long Shifts with Hideous Men

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Written by Jasey Roberts

This past summer I got a job being paid a good margin above minimum wage to be your resident grocer/cashier/punching bag. I got yelled at, insulted, nearly spit on, and I got to wear one of those cute oversized shirts that made me look like a cross between an itchy kid at Sunday mass, a blueberry, and a wizard all at once. Come into my humble shop traveler and browse my wares, but first let me tell you of some of the worst men I’ve encountered in my five months at a store whose name the Brackety-Ack, unfortunately, does not have the license for (although it rhymes with Rude Buyin’). The following profiles are as true as they are infuriating, and my hope is for this to come off less as a “woe is me, I have to work” kind of article and more so a piece that everyone who’s been in retail can relate to. 

-There was an older, short, mole-faced man who always threw his cash at me and said as forcefully as he could, “count it.” Then, while he was yelling at me to make sure to double bag everything, he’d shove his cart sending it flying to the front of the store, never quite making sure if there were people that way. 

He’d come in and do this same routine almost every day, to the point that I could actually catch the money every time he threw it at me. He had to get creative with his pitches. sometimes making like he was going to lob it up just to throw it at my chest again. Normally I’ll at least say hi to customers, but this guy I just stopped talking to. Eventually, he asked me, “Dude, what’s your deal? You’re so uptight all the time.”

-There was a grown man who wore no mask and went through the same girl’s line every time she was working. She was still in high school, but he didn’t really seem to care or notice. What he was interested in was doing close-up magic for her. Even if there was a line of five people behind him. He was making coins and handkerchiefs jump from hand to hand, waiting for a response from my coworker. “Wow,” she’d say, somewhat muted. 

It got to the point where I’d tell her to turn her light off when he came into the store so she wouldn’t have to ring him up. The one time he went through my line he saw me eyeing him and simply said, “You’re really wearing one of those masks, brother? Gawd, people are so ignorant these days. P-People are so ignorant -eh- anymore.”

-In the early months, when COVID was during its first peak, there was a really old guy with no teeth who looked like the Evil Queen minus the poison apple. He’d come in the store at least four times every shift, each time with a different kind of safari hat. He never wore a mask and always licked his fingers before he counted his bills, all of which were twos for some reason. He smelled worse than sewage (having your mask on never helped) and also told incredibly long and inappropriate jokes that had no real ending so you couldn’t leave. Whenever one of us asked for his name he would tell us a different one (Allen, Alvin, Albert, etc). We just started calling him Dirty Al. He cornered me one day to tell me a joke about two Pollocks and a blond before our manager made him leave. He wasn’t banned but we never saw him again. We’d spread out obituaries on the front counter to see if something happened to him, but he’d dropped completely off the face of the Earth.