According to Mirriam-Webster's time travel technology, I am as old as brewski, buzz cut, cringeworthy, deconstructionism, download, ear candy, gazillion, guilt trip, karaoke, medical marijuana, parachute pants, power chords, scratch tickets, shark repellent, strip malls, and text messages. All things I could work into a single short story about modern depression. And sharks.
I got to work earlyish, to find five large boxes waiting for me. Clearly not our usual delivery. As soon as I lugged the first one in, our actual delivery showed up.
Delivery Guy: "Are you cheating on us?"
Me: "Yes. Every Sunday night I call our distributor and suggestively whisper to them that they're not an evil, incompetent monopoly, and they reward me by sending me giant boxes of shit to count."
DG: "I knew you got off on checking invoices."
Other Delivery Guy: "Haven't you seen his t-shirt? 'Cardboard makes me hard as a board'?"
Me: "Well, no one's topping that. I'll be going home now."
"I can't believe my legs feel asleep." says idiot who spent an hour and a half sitting on the barely carpeted floor of a comic book store.
A man walks in with aroma of retired debate club arrogance. He walks over to the back issues, side stepping the CLOSED sign blocking the only reasonable path.
"Sorry," I say, "that section is closed."
"Oh, no. Really? Why?"
"I'm putting away this week's books." I say.
"That's okay. I want to look at your Iron Man and Captain Americas." which are the comics behind me when I work at the computer, in the open portion of the store.
"Sure." I say, handing him the stack.
"Are these prices firm?" He asks. "I like to haggle."
"They are." I say. "You can discuss prices with the owner but he prices them at the lower end of the spectrum because, like me, he doesn't like to haggle."
"You can't knock off, like," he swats at the book, not in a damaging way, "five bucks on this."
"Nope They're not my books to knock money off of."
He makes a face. "See, I go on Ebay, and I see these books starting at ninety-nine cents."
I make a face. "They're probably reprints. This is a fifty year old book. I can't imagine they'd start the bidding at under twenty bucks."
"They go up to eighty or ninety before I give up. I don't have that kind of money for a comic. I read them for the-- mind if I open this?" he asks.
"I read them for the stories. I'm not one of those.." he pulls the comic out of the bag, flips it open to a page, and sticks his nose All The Way In to the binding, loudly sniffing "people who buy the books for the money, I" flips to another page, sticks his nose in, and sniffs loudly "I like them for the stories."
Today is never going to end.
"Have you considered getting the collections, then? They're sturdier, you get more story."
He stops mid-sniff to shake his head disapprovingly at me.
"You kids" I'm a kid now! "trying to tell me how to collect things. I've been collecting since I was a kid" back before humans knew how to control fire, back when they viewed women as property and not people, so you know, any point in history up to this point, "I know more about collecting than you" who work in a store that specializes in the thing that I collect "could ever know. Sniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiifffff."
"See this one has a tear, so you should knock off a few bucks. That's how they do it on EBay. But I don't like to order from there, you never know when they smell like mildew."
"True." I say. "The thing is, the owner *has* knocked off a few bucks. He's a certified expert on grading comics. I'm not. It's why I don't haggle. But he's been working for this store for almost as long as I've been alive. And he's owned it for over twenty years."
"The Black guy?" he, of course, asks.
"One of them." I say.
"Glasses and a paunch?"
I inhale. But not deeply. Not like I'm sniffing for mildew. "Sure. So he knows all about pricing. He's one of the foremost experts in the country." This might be hyperbole. Who can quantify that skill?
"This one has a little tear in the corner, though."
I nod my head. "I know. He knows, too. If it didn't have the little tear, it would be more expensive."
"I think I could find this for ninety-nine cents on EBay."
"Then you should get it there." I say, reaching for the pile.
He says, "You're a tough negotiator."
"I'm not, though. I don't have the authority to negotiate, as these aren't my books, and this is not my store."
He pulls one of the issues back. "Alright. I'll get this one."
"That's twenty dollars, please."
He gives me a twenty that smells of mildew enough that I don't have to put it up to my nose.
"Can I have a bag?"
"Sure thing." I say. "But I have to charge you for it. It's Cambridge law."
"Oh yea. I keep forgetting that. It's a dime, right?"
"It starts at a dime." I explicitly lie. "But can go up to about three dollars depending on the quality of the bag. Ours are a quarter." you asshole.
I saw my coworker make a face at a couple who walked into the store. He's not prone to making faces, so I decided to follow them around while I took inventory.
For a few minutes they just made smoochy faces and said dumb things about comics, but then they struck gold.
Half Couple #1: "Woah, this wall is a door. What's...I mean...what's behind it?"
Half Couple #2: "Don't go in there! It's probably a bathroom."
It's not a bathroom.
HC #1: "It's too dark to be a bathroom."
HC #2: "Now I have to make a poopy."
Not what you expect to hear a 40-something year old say to another 40-something year old.
HC #1: "You are so sweet like candy."
HC #2: "Do you mean me or my poopy?"
Me: "Oh, come on."
HC #1: "My sweet poopy."
Coworker took out his cell phone and made a phone call to avoid listening to them.
They left. Without buying anything. But also not making "sweet poopy" on our floor, sooooo...that's a plus?