Sunday, February 8, 2015

My Day Job

A short story from my day job. Non-fiction. You can't make this stuff up.


She glides her way into the store, trailing a colorful scarf behind her. When she arrives at my desk, she hugs her pink, gloved hands together around a crinkling stack of papers.

“I need to speak to a member of upper management, immediately.” Her serious words are undermined when she smiles, revealing lipstick stained teeth with a giant gap in the middle. I study her briefly. Her Mocha skin is heavily made up and her hair styled into a perfect ball around her round face. Her clothing is painfully bright for my tastes with pinks and yellows, but coordinated and clean.

Still, something about her unflinching stare sets off my “fruitcake” alarm. Her eyes. Yes, they are fully dilated despite the fluorescent light shining directly onto her face. And she's wearing a full winter outfit, despite the 70 degree day.

Much like when I'm at work,
I have no idea what is going on here...
I smile neutrally and offer, “The members of management are all in a meeting upstairs right now, but if you- ”

I don’t get to finish before she cuts me off, pulling some papers from her stack. “I am a street artist. I create gorgeous works of art on the street.” I examine the sketch she hands me. I think it’s supposed to be a portrait since there is a photo attached to it, but the drawing looks like two alien creatures being dissected. I command my neutral smile to remain in place.

She continues speaking, rapidly and I barely catch any of her words. “I've-never-been-formally-trained this-is-all just pure God gifted-talent that my Daddy the-Lord taught me but my Earthly daddy was a millionaire he died when I was 19 and left his fortune to me if you let me do my street art I would share 10% off my God’s blessings with you all.” She finally pauses to breathe. I start to offer my condolences regarding her Earthly father when I, too, pause.

I have no idea what she means by 10% off her God’s blessings: Is she offering 10% off of her prices or 10% of her profits… Before I can sort out my confusion she catches her breath and begins again while trying to stuff the horrid drawings back into a brown sack.

“I am also a singer.” And then she sings. Her words are unintelligible despite just being said tonally rather than sung. I don’t even realize she is singing until she stops and smiles at me, waiting for my applause. Definitely a fruitcake. But fruitcakes sometimes pack heat, so I applaud nicely and try to move the conversation along.

I say, “If I can just get your contact information, I’ll have the management- ”

Again, I am interrupted. “Oh you sweet thing, of course you can get my number.” Oh God help me. “What’s your name, sugar?” I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m asking her out now.

I reply, speaking as quickly as she does, “I’m-Susan and I’ll-give-your-info to-the managers so they-can-get-in touch with-you-about-doing-artwork-here.” I smile brightly and poise my pen over paper. Please woman, just let’s get this over with so you can go be crazy elsewhere.

She grins at me, her wide eyes getting wider. “Why of course I’ll give you my info. I would just love to help your store out by doing my artwork here. What a lovely idea.”

Wait. What?!

“I’m Krystal.” She smiles, waiting for some sort of recognition. I ask, “Is that Krystal with a C or a K?”

She is undisturbed by my lack of recognition. “That’s with a K. ” She traces her fuzzy, pink gloved finger over my paper. “Then an R-Y-S-T-A-L. That’s right. My name is Krstalyn. Not like crystal meth. Yes, you spelled it with one N but it has two. That’s right, I’m Krystalynn. L-Y-N-N. That second N makes it my legal name so you should put that in parenthesis.”

I write exactly Krsytalyn(n). “Perfect,” she purrs at me.

I ask, “And your phone number?”

“Do you know who I am?” She is still purring. I’m frantically looking for any of the FOUR other people who are supposed to be working right now and I do not see a single one of them. She continues, “I’m JFK’s niece.”

This has me pausing to look at her. Claiming to be the very black niece of a very white president is a bit bold even for a fruitcake. “That’s right, I’m his niece. You know who else I am?” I raise my eyebrow. “I’m the inventor of the refrigerator. You have me to thank for your cold foods.”


“That is wonderful,” I reply. “May I get your phone number to give to management?” She rattles off a series of numbers, stops, then gives me a nine digit number which I write down.

“Excellent.” I smile at her. “They’ll get in touch with you if they are interested.” Maybe finally this will be over now.

Her face turns nasty. Hell. I've overplayed my nice card or did something to give away my real reaction to her. Please don’t have a gun, please don’t have a gun…

She doesn't shoot me. She says, “I’ll get in touch with them if I’m interested.”
“That sounds great,” I reply. Since she doesn't have their phone number, it really does sound great.

“What’s your name, sugar?” Ahhhhh. Crap.
“My name is Susan.”
“That’s a pretty name.”
“Thank you.” At least she didn't say that I have a pretty mouth.
“Can I have this?” She points to one of our free catalogs.
“Absolutely. It’s all yours.” Please for the love of goodness, leave now.
“And what’s your name?” Stab me.
“That’s a pretty name.” Really. She says it again.
“Thank you.” This will never end apparently.
“Can I get your autography on this thing?” She points again to the catalog. I’m flummoxed. She says, “You are just the sweetest soul and I know you are gonna be famous. Will you sign this for me? What’s your name?”
“Sure,” I reply. “My name is Susan.” I lean forward and sign just my first name. She asks me to date it, so I do that as well. Then she makes me fist pump her. Just like the McPoyle Brothers in It’s Always Sunny.

I am now hoping she has a gun just to end this thing.

She finally bids her goodbyes, singing to me again as she goes. It truly is the worst singing I have ever heard. She trails her pink gloved hands over the products in the store as she goes and I keep an eye on her to make sure she isn't stealing things. Each time her hand fists around something she glances back, sees me watching, and releases the item again.

She finally walks out the door and I put my head on the counter until the next person comes in.


  1. Too bad you can't call 9-1-1 for crazy people. :)

    1. She is going to end up as a character in a book for sure!

  2. Heh. This reminds me of some of the folks i saw when i worked produce for a while. If it weren't for moments like this, what would we write about?

    1. For sure! She was definitely the muse for all my future crazy characters :)