It’s not that I dislike customers; it’s that I hate them. I know they pay my salary and all, but avoiding them remains my Number One Priority at The Shop. Since digging a tunnel from Reggie #1 to the break room is out, I’ve developed a new plan—a new route, actually, which allows me to traverse The Shop without having to brave the minefield.
At least it did, until this morning.
My route consists of cutting through the floral department, which comprises three well-stocked (and very tall) aisles of artificial flowers, trees and plants of every kind. I like to refer to it as The Jungle. Like all jungles, The Shop’s Jungle is dense and nearly impenetrable—a perfect hiding spot! But like all jungles, it is also a dark and dangerous place.
Customers often get lost in The Jungle. At least, I’m hoping they’ve gotten lost because theirs is a particularly acute form of stupidity. Being lost, as far as I’m concerned, is the only possible explanation for the fact that they routinely enter The Jungle, survey the foliage, bat the hanging ferns from their eyes and ask, “Miss, ya’ll sell plants?”
And we have to resist the urge to point out the obvious (the obvious being that we are standing in the Floral Department surrounded by plants of every color, shape and size). We have to say, “Why, yes we do.” And we have to say it politely, which takes all the fun out of working retail.
Sometimes the customer asks a follow up question. And they’re more brazen the second time around. “Yeah I know ya’ll got plants. What I wanna know is d’you got fake plants?” And again we have to say yes. Politely, without attitude, which hardly seems fair seeing as we are standing in the fake plant capital of So’ Philly. The Shop’s fake plants are good—I’ll give you that—but they’re not that good.
As I was saying, The Jungle is a dangerous place, given the high concentration of Stupid Sally types lurking beneath the tree line, but it allows you to bypass Celebrations and Children’s Crafts, in which the dearth of brain cells is ever higher.
Today, I found The Jungle abandoned. I was in luck! I slipped past the hydrangeas, peered around the chrysanthemums and was about to make a run for it when I heard, “Hi! I’m Thomas!”
Of course. The battery operated, noise-sensing, absolutely infuriating Thomas and Friends Talking Thomas the Tank Engine. An entire shelf of them, to be exact, lying in wait at the edge of The Jungle. And once one Talking Thomas gets started there is no end in sight.
“Hi! I’m Thomas!” Thomas #1 pipes up.
“Hi! I’m Thomas!” Thomas #2 replies.
“Hi!” announces Thomas #3 “I’m Thomas.”
By the time Thomas #24 has joined in on the action, Thomas #1 has progressed to singing, “Down by the station early in the morning…” Thomas #2 follows suit, and so on and so forth until my attempt at stealth is foiled once again.
“Excuse me! Miss! Do you work here? Do ya’ll got…” I take a deep breath, flash my “Hello Sally!” smile and curse whoever invented the Talking Thomas.