I’m going to mainly talk about the few people who I remember and come in at least once a day. They may be specific people, or they may be a specific type of person. I don’t know anyone’s name yet, because I haven’t worked there long enough, and because my interaction with them is so short that I don’t have the chance to get their name. Also, I’m pretty bad at remembering names. Regardless, I won’t be giving true names of people.
Young Shithead: A young man, white and pimply-faced thug looking. I’ve had him come up to my counter at least a dozen times. And at least a dozen times he’s wanted to buy a Swisher (a small, sweet cigar that’s commonly used as the basis for a blunt), and every time I’ve asked him for ID. Because he looks like he could still be in High School. Also, it’s the law for me to ask for anyone who looks younger than 27. If he doesn’t show me ID, I don’t sell tobacco to him. Period. And each time, he gets really pissed at me because he insists that he’s old enough, and that other people that work at my store have sold him tobacco. He’s recently given up asking me, since he doesn’t seem to have ID on him after his drivers license was taken away. That’s too bad, because I’ve begun enjoying our visits where he yells at me for not selling him tobacco, and I continue not selling him tobacco. He just gets madder and madder. I do my best to hide my smiling.
Scratch-Off Wizard: Before working at a gas station, I had no idea how many scratch-off and lottery tickets were sold. The PowerBall, MegaMillions, HotLotto, etc. suck these people dry. Some come in twice a week and buy $15 of PowerBall tickets. One time, out of the thousands of tickets I’ve sold, have I seen anyone get more than $100. And the majority gets nothing. I know I’m not the first to say the the lottery is a tax on people who don’t understand statistics. But it’s true.
Then there is the guy who will buy almost one of each scratch-off ticket that we sell. He’s done it so much that he can tell in seconds which of the tickets are winners or losers without me having to scan them. There must be some kind of visceral dopamine brain buzz every time he scrapes the coating away and reveals a fresh color with printed numbers. He will come in with $30 (of which I assume is his retirement money) every day, and buy tickets. If anything wins, he uses the winnings to buy more scratch-off tickets, and so on until he’s out of money. Today his first round got him nothing, so he used his debit card to buy more and more. He’s hoping for the big jackpot. I doubt it will ever happen. Granted, he’s got more of a chance of hitting the jackpot than I do, but I think I’ll end up ahead in the end. An endless supply of gambling addicts walk up to me, and I give them their fix. My supply never runs out. Only their money does.
Oh God How Does The World Work: A person, who I assume has seen a car before, did not know how to put gas in the car. I had to instruct this person how to push the button for the type of gas they wanted, how to swipe a credit card, how to squeeze the pump handle. It’s a wonder their shoes remained tied. Also, a new hire, at his first job, needed my instruction on how to sweep the floor. On my second day hired, while I was being trained, I taught the General Manager how to alter his own excel spreadsheets for bookkeeping.
Where Am I: This person wants to buy something that very likely you can’t find in a gas station (for instance, hamburger buns). Sometimes, against all odds, the thing they want is actually something we sell. I’m like, holy shit we have hamburger buns? Then this person goes on to complain to me personally that the hamburger buns are expensive. Never mind that the grocery store two blocks away sells it for much cheaper. He’s offended at me that I have the gall to sell him hamburger buns (that he had no right to expect to find here) for more money than he’d want to buy them for. I believe he truly has forgotten that he’s in a gas station. Where we sell gas. And stuff made of corn syrup or tobacco.
The Master: I, a mere gas station employee, am clearly a person of lower station and understanding. True, I make less money now than most people. Big deal. I’m not an idiot. Let’s continue with the angry hamburger bun guy. I got to experience his lengthy explanation of how the high price of hamburger buns are passed on to the upper management; that I wouldn’t see a penny of that markup. No shit. Please explain to me with your big condescending words about how I don’t make as much money as our CEO. GTFO. I’m being polite because I’m paid to be polite.
Not Even Scraping By -or- Soul Crushing Perspective Lady: Brief bit of a story told to me by this nice lady with a really horrible bowl cut, old jacket, old shoes, and used ‘Salvation Army’ plastic bags. She uses the bags to carry the cans and bottles she scrounges to collect the 5 cent-per-can/bottle deal they have here in Iowa. She was in and out many times, receiving a few cents per trip from my register. On the last trip today, she counted up her nickels and dimes for me to change them into quarters. She was left with two quarters, a dime, and two nickels. As she stared at them, standing quietly in front of my register, her shoulders fell and she let out a sigh. I saw what she wanted, so I offered her five pennies that people had been leaving as change they didn’t want, so she’d have enough for another quarter. She looked up with a huge smile on her face. She needed the three quarters to run the washer and dryer for the quilt she got her son at the Salvation Army for his birthday. He’d have a clean quilt. She’d been collecting cans all day so she’d have enough to make her son’s present just as good as she could make it.
3 thoughts on “The people I meet at work”
Nice writing, swamifred. It’s good to have you back. I especially appreciated your story of the “Perspective Lady.” Thanks for that.
Thanks, Melanie! Good to see you again, too!