I was just doing my Sunday thing, sitting behind the counter in Egg Records’ city store, wishing some customers would come in and buy stuff, when all of a sudden a woman strode purposefully in, parked herself directly in front of the counter, and thrust an open lecture pad in my face.
Damn, I thought, this is going to be one of those nuts who either
a) compiles lists of millions of titles of albums, and stands by while the shop assistant searches from one end of the store to the other in order to confirm, John-Cleese-in-the-Bookshop-Sketch-like, that we have nothing on the list currently in stock,
b) compiles lists of millions of titles of songs, and stands by while the shop assistant searches from one end of the store to the other in order to find out that the few albums that actually feature one, or if you’re lucky, a couple, of songs from the list, are unsuitable because the other songs contained therein already reside somewhere else within the customer's collection and must not be replicated, or just do not appeal to the customer’s taste.
Not that there’s anything wrong with either of these things; technically, searching the store from one end to the other is what I’m paid to do. It’s just that if the customer searched the store from one end to the other, rather than standing back and letting the shop assistant do it, there’d at least be a chance of the customer stumbling onto some other gem worth spending some money on.
Rather than one of the infuriating lists, the woman’s lecture pad bore a scrawled note informing that in addition to being mute and an orphan, she was bereft of a husband and had not seen her daughter for nine years, despite having searched desperately for her, but as her most immediate problem was hunger, could I possibly help her out by handing over ten dollars? When I informed her that I in fact couldn’t, she stalked out in silence, making a dismissive gesture that, strictly speaking, wasn’t obscene, but certainly conveyed the spirit of obscenety.
More obscene, however, was the realisation, the second after she’d left, that I probably should have offered her a couple of bucks in exchange for letting me take a digital photo of her and her note.
Does this make me a bad person?
What about if I scrawled the offer down in a notebook of my own and flashed it at her?
God must certainly think so; I’ve spent the rest of the day knocking whole shelves of stock over.