punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

More book store stuff

So, I was reminded recently of a lot of stuff that happened at my old Crown Books. One of them was a skinhead cashier I'll call "Rich."

Rich was an odd fellow. He was the high school friend of my boss at the time, although they had more than 4 years of age of a gap, so I am not sure what that was about. Rich was a skinhead; he was shaved bald, wore leather and mosh boots, and played ska music at unacceptable volumes in the store. He also didn't bathe, and reeked of patchouli and body odor. He had a large nose which perched small rimmed spectacles, and sometimes wore a small Bavarian alpine hat that was a little small and perched on the top of his stubble head.

Customers complained about Rich. Not only the smell, but Rich had a deadpan, poker-faced sense of humor that was always meant to provoke and disturb. I never saw him get angry or yell at anybody, but his suave and velvety retorts were always double-edged and full of innuendo. He was probably really intelligent, because when he said something, it was often carefully targeted to confuse and annoy. For instance, I caught him saying this to a customer, some poor soccer mom:

"You know when you take a massive dump, and you wipe your ass, do you ever look back at the toilet paper to see what it looks like? Why is that? Don't deny it, you know you do it..."

He also mentioned pimples in sensitive places, whether men should shave their ass, or stuff like that. He once said he wet toilet paper from the water tank to wipe because it "felt really good" but that because he shaves his ass, small footballs of toilet paper in his underwear. He would constantly ask questions to other employees and customers like he was trolling us for responses, but he was either deadpan or had a slight polite smile on his face. He had a waye of agreeing with you where you knew he was being sarcastic.

Me: I told you that you cannot play loud music in the store. I got another complaint.
Him: I understand the words that you are saying. Thank you for your comments and the direct nature of this discussion.

One day, he came in and said it was his birthday. My boss (the guy who hired him) was in my store that day, and said, "so what?" Rich didn't like that answer, and just kept pointing it out. Soon, he was telling every customer he saw it was his birthday with a complete, blank poker face. Most of the customers replied, looking at his deadpan stare through his little round glasses, "O... okay...?" Finally, my boss had enough. "Rich, I don't give a fuck if it's your birthday! Stop bringing it up. If you wanted it off, you should have asked before Grig scheduled you!" Rich explained he didn't want it off, he just wanted to be recognized. "What do you want? A princess cake with candles and a tiara?" Rich replied that would be acceptable, as if that was really going to happen. My boss said, "Fuck you, man! get back on the register!"

Then Rich called the Crown Books corporate office and told them it was his birthday and he felt very unappreciated.

My boss then lost it, but half of it was in anger, and half was in amused astonishment. He sent him home for the day without pay. I don't know what happened during that call, but I can imagine this was such an out-of-nowhere oddball request for corporate, that they didn't know what to do. So days later, Rich got a generic birthday card from Crown Books HQ. He seemed pleased, but added "I should have asked for a gift."

The best Rich story was one day he came to work and said, "You'll never guess who I saw at the porno theater!" Yes, an intro like that was common for Rich. We did not care, partially because we just thought it was some gag he was trying to pull. "Herbert Haft!" he exclaimed. Herbert was owner of the Haft Corporate Empire, as well as the father of the owner of Crown Books, Robert Haft. Herbert was an old guy with huge white hair like a pale Don King. We didn't believe Rich, but he swore it was true. Met him in line, shook his hand, and introduced himself. "I am Rich, and work as a cashier for Crown Book in Rose Hill!" He said Herbert was not very friendly, but polite enough. Herbert was also in the company of a very young lady, not his wife, and refused to introduce her. Again, we thought Rich was full of shit.

The phone rang, and when I picked it up, it was the head of our corporate security, a guy named Gene I knew very well. Asked if a "Rich" worked there, and gave a description of Rich. I said he did, and was in the store right now. They wanted to speak to him. I am not sure what was said, but Rich kept nodding. "Uh huh... yes... sure. Uh huh... yes I am. Yes he was." and so on. Then he handed the phone back to me. "They want to speak to you." Gene told me that Rich was not allowed to talk about Herbert Haft, or address anyone in the Haft family directly in the future. He then asked questions about Rich's employment there.

See, I had fired Rich twice, but my boss kept re-hiring him. I had fired Rich over customer complaints, notably over the noise of the ska music and him moshing behind the counter. Also his body odor. My boss kept saying, "He's got problems at home." or "I owe him a favor." I mentioned this to Gene. He said he'd speak to my boss.

A week later, my boss was waiting for me when I opened the store. "Grig," he said with a sheepish grin, "I have fired Rich." I asked him why the sudden change. "I think it's best to say Rich made some poor life choices." He refused to discuss it, but had a sheepish grin on his face all day like, "Yeaaaah... he fucked up."
Tags: crown books, retail, work
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