Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
Today is my last day of scheduled comic retail for a while, and there is a pair of kids and their poppa who are making sure I will appreciate never having to endure their presence again.
Due to Christmas, our new weekly comics were delayed so I couldn't pick them up yesterday, and had to pick them up today. Unfortunately, the timing didn't work out, so I had to rush to the store without the books, making me about five minutes late.
I arrived to two kids in the hallway. "DO YOU KNOW WHEN THE COMIC BOOK STORE WILL BE OPEN?"
I was about to say, 'I'm opening it right now.' but from downstairs, a voice yelled "Your back door is open. Do you want it to be open?"
I yelled back down. "There's a yoga studio down there. Maybe they have it open for a reason? I don't know."
He yelled back, "Well, it's letting the heat out. It's costing us money."
I peered down to make sure I was correct before asking "Who is us?"
"I'm the landlord." yelled back someone who definitely is not The Landlord. *waves at Don, The Landlord, who is on my FB friends list*
"You look different, Frank. Did you do something new with your hair?"
"Yes!" The liar shouted back.
"Well, the landlord's name is Don, so I don't really know who you are, but you're welcome to talk to the yoga people about the door if it will make you feel better."
One of the kids then shouted, "ARE YOU GOING TO BE OPEN NOW OR WHAT?"
"Not for fifteen minutes." I said, opened the door, went inside, got the bank deposit ready, and then came back out.
I figured it was a four minute errand which would thrill people who thought they were waiting fifteen minutes.
"Are you free?" the non screaming kid asked.
"NOT FREE, YOU MORON, OPEN. ARE YOU OPEN?"
From downstairs, "Let's go. We'll come back in a few minutes when he's had time to open up."
"SHUT UP, POPPA. WE'RE NOT GOING TO LEAVE AND COME BACK. THAT'S STUPID. WE WAIT HERE OR I'M TELLING MOM."
I escaped to the bank, just in time to see the very nice, elderly greeter give a treat to one of those medium size guinea pigs that some people call dogs. The dog started barking and then bit her on the face.
So I'm not the only one having a not so great day.
The teller and I talk about what a weird day it is. The greeter checks her face in the mirror and is fine. And I go back to the store.
As I'm about to enter, I see an older woman who I caught shoplifting stickers a couple of months ago. I just stand still as she passes.
When I come back, Screamo, Poppa, and the other kid are trying the handle on the door, even though they all saw me leave for the bank and tell them I'd be back.
"ARE YOU OPEN YET? ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE US WAIT AGAIN?"
Poppa is just not acknowledging that the whole family and world at large is suffering from his grandmonster's shitty behavior.
I open the door. "Come on in."
The two kids go over to the Legos, where there is a constant stream of "STOP DROPPING THINGS. ARE YOU DUMB? CALM DOWN. STOP PICKING THINGS UP AND DROPPING THEM ON THE FLOOR. THIS IS WHY NO ONE WANTS TO GO ANYWHERE WITH YOU. YOU SUCK. STOP DROPPING THINGS!!!! WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE?" and similar things.
Poppa comes over to the counter. "Is Walter here?"
"Who?" I ask.
"Walter. The owner. I'm a friend of his."
The owner's name is not Walter.
"Only on weekends." I say, which is true about the owner. Not so much about anyone named Walter that I'm aware of.
"The last five or six times I've come in, nobody seemed to know who he was."
I shrug. The guy's already lied about being the landlord, I'm not going to divulge any info about the store to him. He is A Lot Nicer than I imagined when he was yelling about the door. But he is also ignoring his twelve year grandmonster who I would gladly hurl into traffic. (There isnt much traffic here, so he'd be fine, hopefully just terrified into silence.)
Another customer comes in. A reasonable one with questions about back issues. But while he's talking to me, the non-Screamo comes over, steps in front of the guy, mid-sentence and says "Do you have hamsters here?"
"DON'T INTERRUPT PEOPLE TO ASK STUPID QUESTIONS. YOU KNOW THEY DON'T HAVE HAMSTERS HERE. HE IS TALKING TO SOMEONE ELSE."
"We don't have hamsters here." I say, and look back up at the reasonable adult.
"WHY ARE YOU SO STUPID? I HATE YOU. COME BACK HERE AND LOOK AT THE LEGOS."
While he's yelling, one of our regular buyer/loiterers who comes in to ramble at us about his dad, his job, his bowels, whatever's on his mind, walks in, looks at the kid, and walks out. This should make me hate the kid a little less, but he's So Rude that it doesn't help.
Eventually, the screaming kid is too much for the reasonable adult, who tells me he'll be back later.
Normally, I'd ask the kid to tone it down, or ask Poppa to talk to him, but I vaguely remember them being in the store before, trying this approach, and it making things Much Worse.
My lunch arrives, and Poppa needs to know "What's the favorite local spot?"
"I was in a hurry today, so just ordered from Subway."
"Here? Why? Pizza Across The Street is right there, and their stuff is delicious."
I have never heard anyone say anything positive about Pizza Across The Street. I've heard their food is terrible. I've heard their owners are transphobic. I've heard their customer service is atrocious. And I've heard from employees who quit because it's a total shit show. But nobody has ever said Their Pizza Is Good. "I'll keep that in consideration for next time."
"Ok, kids. Time to bring your stuff to the counter. Our meter is running out and it's time to go."
"WHY ARE YOU THE KING OF RUSHING? IT'S WHY NO ONE EVER WANTS TO GO ANYWHERE WITH YOU. RUSH RUSH RUSH. IT'S SO AWFUL."
Three more people come in, giving the kid and Poppa a Wide Berth.
"Get your coupons out boys." Poppa says.
"WHY DO WE NEED TO USE OUR COUPONS NOW? WE SHOULD USE HIS MONEY TODAY AND SAVE THE COUPONS FOR WHEN I HAVE TIME TO BUY SOMETHING COOL."
"We're using them today."
"POPPA NOBODY LIKES YOU. YOU JUST LIE AND MAKE THINGS AWFUL FOR EVERYONE. I HATE YOU."
I don't make eye contact with anyone. Like, for real, get this bag of shit in a sweatshirt out of the store. I aknowledge that there are at least dozens of things I don't know about Poppa and Screamo. There could be special needs involved, and an issue with the parents, but, like, you can't have kids acting like that in public. Or adults.
Each kid buys two legos. They pay with gift certificates, and then Poppa takes them into the hallway, where the kid spends five minutes yelling at Poppa about how awful he is, and how dumb his (friend?) (brother?) is. There is no attempt at any discipline, or even just calm talking to relax the kid. Nothing. Just let him scream his face off.
One of the newer customers asks "Do you have the Fabulous---"
"WHY WON'T YOU JUST DIE SO THE REST OF US CAN BE HAPPY?"
"I do. It's--"
"AND YOU NEED TO STOP TALKING TO ME. YOU'RE SO STUPID."
Then the screaming trails down the stairs and away. The door slams behind them. And eveyone in the store's shoulders relax, and then an old man comes in asks "Where are your discount Christmas cards? I like to stock up on the day after Christmas when the stores aren't trying to scalp everyone."
"Oh, we don't have any." I say. "We're a pop culture and comic book store."
"You've probably heard this before," he says, and I instantly know the rest of the monologue "but when I was a kid we never spent any money on comics, but we had a mountain of them. All in perfect condition and from the 60s, so we probably had the first Superman." Probably not. "But my mother sold them all for a dime of piece when we moved out."
"Yea, I do hear that quite a bit. It's always sad."
He then lists a bunch of collectibles that we would never sell but that he would like us to buy from him. And then he leaves. Without buying anything.