November 29th, 2002


The day before thanksgiving is no laughing matter

The day before Thanksgiving is the only day at work that I find a little scary. There are so many customers, and they are all borderline aggro because they’re stressed by competing for that perfect bunch of celery, buying unfamiliar ingredients, the jostling and bumping of other customers, impending cooking hassles, and the underlying torment of a visit with one’s family.

I try not to think of things in these terms, but it’s the only day that I sometimes fear they might turn on us.

The produce department reminded me of a riot scene. The were small affinity-group looking gangs of people, possibly related, trying to move swiftly and with purpose through a stubborn mass of shoppers. It was impossible to take in all the action at once. I could only focus on bits of the crowd at one time, constantly swiveling my head, wary of any new motion in my peripheral vision.

I’m just happy that they’re racing each other to the registers and not organizing amongst themselves. Still, I wouldn’t want to be there if, god forbid, we ever run out of Tofurkeys on the day before Thanksgiving.

Much like the day after Thanksgiving for retail workers, it is not a day to be obnoxious to grocery workers. At about 9:30 PM (we were closing at 10 PM), a weird customer came to the cheese counter needing attention. Not help or advice, but attention. The other cheese worker and I had been there about 9-10 hours each and were just trying to get started on mopping and trash emptying since the 12 hour, all-day rush had just ended. Since we usually close at 9 PM only a few stragglers remained.

"I need some creamy cheese for Thanksgiving." he opined.

"Do you want a goat cheese? A brie? A . . ." I tried to respond.

"I don’t want a brie. That’s what they eat in the Marina. Are you catering to Marina people now?" he said aggressively. I was too tired to fight so I tried dodging his attempts at conflict. It was no use. After he tasted a bunch of cheese he asked a produce question.

Jokingly, I said, "I’m sorry, sir. I’m just the cheese worker."

He stopped short. "Did you call me Sir?" he asked. "What’s your name? I want to speak to a manager." He was still using a strange tone and weird smirk. It was very unclear whether he was joking.

"We don’t have managers but you can talk to someone at the front desk. But let me get this straight," I said. "You’re going to file a complaint because I called you Sir? That’s not going to look very incriminating when you write that down."

"Well, I’ll just make something up then." He replied and stormed away without any cheese. I still couldn’t tell if he was joking.

Five minutes later I realized that I needed to buy alcohol before the registers closed. As I paid the cashier I realized that the joking-or-serious customer was in the next line over, being rung up by my lesbian buddy Bruce(careful Gordonzola LJ readers will remember Bruce as my bear twin in this entry). Joking-or-Serious wouldn’t let it go. He yelled out at me, "I made a complaint you know. You’ll be hearing about this I’m sure." Then he laughed. I laughed. He stopped laughing. "Go ahead and laugh. It’s really funny isn’t it?" Confused, I walked away.

A few minutes later Bruce came up to me. "What was with that guy?" she asked.

"I have no idea," I said and told her the whole ambiguous story.

"He told me the same thing." Bruce told me. "I said to him, ‘I’m very, very sorry that that happened to you . . . Ma’am’. Then he called me a bitch and walked away. I still don’t know if he was kidding."
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