Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
On my way to work today, I stopped into the bank to pick up quarters from the store. The teller smiled as I approached.
Bank Teller: "Nice sweatshirt. I love comic books."
BT: "Who is your favorite superhero?"
Me: "That's tough. I really like Daredevil stories, though, so he's my favorite at least most of the time."
BT: "Cool, cool. Did you see the new Star Wars trailer?"
Me: "Yea, I think it looked pretty good."
BT scowls and does not say another word as he hands me a roll of quarters and a ten dollar bill.
My mom was right, I really do have to stop talking to strangers.
When the problematic guy at the pizza place asked "Do you know why they call it Black Friday?" I cringed. Visibly.
Then he said: "Because retail outlets operate in the red for most of the year, but this day begins the season where they turn enough of a profit to survive the rest of the year."
Even frequently racist misogynists can occasionally surprise you. It's a post-Thanksgiving 'Muracle.
I don't like hagglers. I understand that there are communities and cultures where haggling is expected, but a retail outlet in the US is not one of those places. And if you're a person who has lived in the US all your life, I'm going to expect you to know this. And if you're an obviously wealthy, not just rich, wealthy white dude over fifty and you come at me trying to haggle your way out of a couple of dollars, I'm going to be increasingly short with you.
Wealthy Dick, after two hours of making me climb up and down the broken swivel chair to reach the highest back issue comics before deciding he didn't want anything other than the three $4 back issues he approached the counter with: "I'd like the twenty percent discount."
Me: "Sorry, that's for subscribers. It's for books that they've pre-ordered that we've built into our ordering process."
WD: "Well, I tend to buy a lot of comics, and I get a discount."
Me: "If you were buying a couple of hundred dollars worth of comics, I'd call the owner to make sure I had his permission, and we'd probably knock a few dollars off, but I'm not going to call him about twelve dollars worth of X-Men comics."
WD: "Well you can just give me five dollars off."
Me: "I can't. It's not my money or my comics to do that. If you want to buy another ninety dollars worth of books I can knock five dollars off, maybe even ten, but I can't even knock off fifty cents for a twelve dollar purchase."
WD: "You usually do."
Me (glaring): "Would you like me to put these in a bag for you, and you can come in Wednesday night and ask the owner himself?"
WD: "I have to catch a plane to Rome tomorrow."
I blink. Obviously.
WD: "Can you knock three dollars off?"
Me: "I can knock no dollars off."
WD: "Two dollars?"
I step from behind the counter with the inventory board and pretend to look for a book on the shelf.
WD: "Fine. I'l pay the twelve dollars, Christ. I'm in a hurry."
Random Occasional Customer: "Did I get any comics in?"
Me: "I think so. I don't put the comics away anymore, so I don't know how long it's been since you'e been in."
ROC: "I left a note for you to call me and let me know when comics came in for me."
Me: "Yes, and I told you we don't do that. Comics come in every Wednesday. If you'd like to call us and ask if there's anything in your folder before you come in, we're happy to do that, but we can't call people every time comics come in, it would take up all our time."
ROC: "But you could call me."
Me: "No, the owner is really socialist and wouldn't allow that type of preferential treatment."
ROC: "Are you fucking with me?"
ROC: "Well, I DO want to thank you for putting these side series in my folder, it makes my trips so much easier."
Me: "It's no problem."
He hands me his credit card, I swipe it.
ROC: "Dude, I'm crying right now. My poor American Express."
ROC: "You scanned that really hard."
Me: "I heard America likes it rough."
ROC stares at me.
Me: "See you next week."
Four minutes before I could close the door, my second least favorite loiterer came in. A dude who has never bought a product in a store in his entire life. A dude who does nothing but talk about...well, I don't really know anymore because I listen for him to pause, and then repeat the last two or three words he says, allowing him to spend another solid minute talking at me.
As the clock struck seven, I said "Well, sorry, I have to start counting comics, and I can't have anyone in the store."
He continued to talk as I walked to shut the door, and I made the mistake of thinking "Well, at least Completely Daft Buffy Fan isn---oh SHIT."
Completely Daft bufyFan: "Is there a new Buffy in?"
Me: "Which one are you looking for?"
CDF: "I think I have the--"
Me: "Did you bring your list?"
Me: "The last three times you've bought Buffy books, you've brought them back because you already had them. I asked that you make a list so that you didn't accidentally buy any more that you already had. Did you bring it?"
Me: "Ok, well I don't want you to accidentally rebuy something you already have, so why don't you come back next time with the list."
CDF: "Is there a new one?"
Me (sighing): "Maybe. Why don't you check your folder?"
CDF goes to her folder while I start typing up this very entry.
CDF: "Why does this say Season 10?"
Me: "It's the first book of the tenth season."
CDF: "Do I have all of season nine?"
Me: "I have no idea. You should make a list of what you have."
I HATE Buffy comic fans.
CDF: "Is my head bleeding?"
CDF: "Is my head bleeding?"
CDF: "I hit it on your door."
Me: "Well, it's not bleeding."
CDF: "I hit my head a LOT."
I bite my fucken tongue.
CDF: "Do I seem like myself?"
Glitch, we closed five minutes ago. Pay for your comic and go somewhere else.
Me: "I don't know you well enough to say."
CDF: "My dog died, so I don't think I'm myself."
Me: "Sorry to hear. I hope your night gets better."
CDF: "Oh, he didn't die today. He died in January."
Are you fucken ---
Me: "Well, goodnight."
And then, as I walked to close the door, Chatty Neverbuysanything was coming back down the stairs.
CNBA: "Hey, did you ever get a chance to watch the documentary I --"
Me: "Sorry, my boss is on the phone and he's real mad. Can't talk. Bye."
I slammed the door behind me.
Monday, you sneaky, sneaky little glitch.
After meeting with #6, about a series of shorts based on retail horror stories, we were waiting for the 66 bus when a guy walked out of Charlie's, crossed the street and asked me "Do you know Matt Waxman?"
"Nope." I said. Because I don't.
"Well, he's a fat fucken nobody." The guy said. "He goes to Harvard. Everybody else who goes to Harvard is a somebody. And most of them are attractive but Matt Waxman is a fat fucken nobody." And he walked away.
#6 turned to me and asked "Why do these things constantly happen to you?"
I don't know.
My first time on the B line since I worked on Newbury Street, and a guy gets on at Copley, pukes on the train, hits the emergency switch and runs off.
Red Line For Life.
The phone rings. I debate not answering it.
My Buddy Greg, who is NOT my buddy says "Hey, buddy, is Tom there?"
Me: "Wrong store."
Me: "You're trying to call Store I Used To Work For, this is Store I Currently Work For."
MBG: "Oh hey, buddy, I think I recognize that voice, my nam---"
Me: "Hi Greg."
MBG: "You recognize my voice." I hear it in nightmares. "I'm trying to sell some comics." So nothing ever changes. "I have --"
Me: "Unfortunately, I'm still not a buyer. You need to call back Wednesday nights or Friday or Saturday during the day when the buyer is here."
MBG: "I hear ya buddy, but what I have is a run of --"
Me: "I have no idea what we're looking to buy. Nobody else here can assist you in any way about selling your comics. You have to call back when the buyer is here."
MBG: "Ok. I hear ya." You hear but you don't listen. "But you used to work at That Other Store for years, right?"
MBG: "Why are they all such faggots."
Fuck this guy.
MBG: "You know me, buddy, I'm a big guy. I lift. I'm not one of those Big Bang Babies who only think of science and comics, I'm two-dimensional." Accurate. "I walk in and I know I look like the guy who beat everybody up in high school but I haven't fought anybody since the 80s when all of these pussies started suing each other."
And here, I NEED to make an aside that this complete waste of genetic material. This man that I won't even deign to call a piece of shit because a piece of shit is created from something that once nourished something and the only things this person has ever offered to the world are fear and shame. This walking billboard for "Masculinity Is Awful" is a lawyer who sues people all the time. If they look at him funny on an airplane flight, he sues them (actual incident), if he feels someone hints that he might not be a heterosexual male, he sues them (actual case). This guy who frivolously sues anyone he comes in contact with has sued more people than anyone else who has ever ingested a penis, regardless of their assigned or preferred gender.
MBG: "You remember that bitch that worked in the Allston store right? Do you know what her fucken problem is?"
Me: "I only know about a third of their staff these days, so I can't speak for them. But if you walked into the store I was working at and started throwing around the words 'pussy' and 'faggot' and 'bitch', I wouldn't be eager to talk to you, either."
MBG: "Woah, buddy, you've talked to me before, you know how I am."
Me: "I do. I wish you luck selling your comics," This is not technically a lie. I wish him awful luck. "but I can pretty much guarantee that we're not interested in anything you have to offer."
MBG: "Oh, come on, buddy, I--"
Me: "I have to go. I have customers."
MBG: "So, tomorrow, after six?"
And now self-hating person of color explains to me why nobody cares about "ethnicities in comics" , complete with "Why do they have to make Captain America black?" (He's not black)
Me: "Well, they didn't make Captain America Black. They made Steve Rogers Too Old to be Captain America, and Falcon took over the mantel. It's a different character completely, just the same title When Barack Obama took office from George Bush they didn't 'make the president Black', there's just adifferent president."
SHPOC: "Have you read Elektra?"
Me: "No. We have a few subscribers to it but nobody has said anything positive or negative about it to me."
SHPOC: "Well, not to be prejudice but are they all women?"
Me: "No. They're mostly men."
SHPOC: "Sometimes I read girl comics but mostly they're no good."
"I liked Power Girl because the boob window was awesome."
"I kind of want to read Vampirella. She looks hot."
"Ever since Disney took over, they're trying to make everything all women and ethnicities."
"Why is there even a Rocket Raccoon comic. Who wants to read about raccoons?"
OH MY GOD, YOU'RE A SPECIESIST, TOO?!? OF COURSE YOU ARE.
"Are Wednesday's busy here?"
Dude, you have not even paused to let me answer any of your inane, ignorant questions.
Me: "Yes, they're the busiest day of the week for all comic book stores."
SHPOC: "I shop at a small store when I can but some people, you know what they're like."
What in the stale hell are you talking about?
SHPOC: "Justice League Canada? Readers don't care about Canada."
STOP TALKING STOP TALKING STOP TALKING
SHPOC: "Can you give me not change for change?"
SHPOC: "I hate when you're running for the bus and there is change in your pocket and it's all bouncey bouncey bouncey. It's such an annoying sound. You know what I mean?"
YES I HAVE THAT FEELING EVERY TIME YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH.
SHPOC: "Well, I had fun talking to you." Fuck you. "I have to catch my bus. On my way here there was a woman, and I asked her if the bus was a 77 bus, and she said I should ask the bus driver, and I thought 'I'd hate to be the guy who has to go home to her.'"
So, my Tuesday is not going well. How is yours?
Two guys came in, put their bags down and said "Point me to your Magic Cards."
I pointed toward Central Square. "At the Pandemonium store. Sadly, we do not carry any.'
One looks at the other, "I guess we could stay. I like comics."
The other turns to me and says in the most camp voice possible "He swings both ways, I only do magic."
The first flourishes his hat off. "Ta-da."
Tuesday, what happened to you in your youth to make you this way?