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Tuesday, October 11, 2011


When I work in a grocery store, despite wearing an entirely different outfit from that of the store employees, customers ask me random questions every day.

I've been asked where the bread crumbs are hiding.
I've been asked if this coupon is still valid.
I've been asked (told) to go into the back and find more of whatever is missing from the shelves.
I've been asked if I found Jesus.

This stuff happens on a daily basis, and I've never given anyone a satisfactory answer to any of these questions. I never know where the bread crumbs are, nobody keeps track of the validity of random coupons, the product you're looking for isn't hiding in the back, and I don't discuss religion with strangers.

But do you want to know the weirdest question I've ever been asked?

A man at least ten years my senior approached me today while I was doing a massive reset of bottled water. He was horse-shoe pattern bald, half a foot shorter than me, well-dressed and well-groomed. Clear, intelligent eyes.

He asked me, "Do you have any single bottles of the store-brand water?"

Now I need to give you a visual (this is important), because next to us, directly next to us, was a cart filled to the brim with single store-brand water bottles, and this guy knew that the bottles were right there. He'd been looking right at them before he grabbed my attention.

Most likely, this guy was looking for a different size. Lots of people are very discriminating about this crap. I've had shelves that were empty of a 20oz version of a product, yet overflowing with the 10oz version, and I still couldn't get customers to just buy the two tens. They'd actually leave empty-handed because they just want the one that they always get.

So I asked the guy, "What size are you looking for?"

And this dude actually pointed at the cart full of water bottles and said, "That size."

And then he just stared at me.

It wasn't an aggressive stare. It wasn't a confused stare. This was just a patient, non-threatening man waiting for a reply.
If he was an asshole or an idiot I would've known how to reply, but since that didn't seem to be the case, I just stared back for a few seconds, hoping that he'd grin and say, "Just fucking with ya!" or just give some trace indication of what the fuck he was thinking, because there was no humor in this guy. He wasn't joking. He wasn't angry. The only emotion I could pick up from him was that he couldn't figure out why I was having trouble understanding him, except he wasn't taking any initiative to try and explain himself.

But I had another question up my sleeve, because (and this is very rare), some customers want a ton of product, and maybe this guy wanted even more than a cart-full.

So I asked him, "How many do you want?"

"Just one."

We stared at each other for the next few seconds.

I plucked a water bottle from the cart and slapped it into his hand.

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