I came to the aid of a “damsel in distress” today. And it felt gooooooood!
Travel back two hours in time with me to something that should have been filmed for the public record. Unfortunately, that was not possible. However, I’m going to re-create the events as they happened, to the best of my ability. Aside from a bit of descriptive detail, I will be adding zero embellishment. One of the benefits of being a “smartass by default” is that, after years and years of practice, when you find yourself in a situation where you actually REQUIRE the skill, you instinctively behave like a battle-hardened veteran when you see those jungle plants a-rustin’.
“–Charlie’s on your SIX!” (Swinging Around) *Ratta-tat-tat!*
With enough practice, you don’t think – you just act.
To echo Louis CK, who recently described a situation where he felt completely justified in acting like a total ass to someone (if only because that someone was being an INCOMPARABLE douchebag) this moment was so incredible it actually TASTED good. (Only he confessed that he made his up, while this one is real.) What does an “epic moment” like that taste like? Well, I’d describe the bouquet as rather sweet on the whole. Even “sugary.” However, there were also hints of saffron, cinnamon, and perhaps most surprisingly, a pleasing aftertaste of pear! Lip-smacking delicious, is what I’m sayin’.
If that wasn’t a good enough clue, this event took place at an undisclosed LCBO location. (A liquor store, for my non-Canadian readers.)
There I was, waiting patiently at the one open cash register, with two customers ahead of me. First in line was a woman of around 60, who was just getting her change.
“By the way,” she said to our approaching-middle-age Lebanese cashier lady (the damsel), “I just wanted to compliment you on how you dealt with that last gentleman! You handled that situation very well. What a GREAT comment!”
I didn’t notice it at the time, but thinking back on it, I did sense a bit of impatience at this from the young woman behind her and ahead of me. She was around 27 or so, with a dark complexion. She had selected a six-pack of Budweiser, and, resting on top, a mickey of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum. I noticed that her wallet and a piece of identification, which didn’t look like Canadian or American issue, were in her hand, ready and waiting.
As the woman took her change and left, she smiled at the cashier, who was still enjoying a bit of afterglow from both the compliment and, presumably, the “situation” she had evidently handled so well. However, since I had just walked up and wasn’t there to witness it, I was curious what had happened!
“May I ask what it was you said?” I asked the cashier.
She seemed all too happy to tell me.
“Well, the man who just left, for SOME reason, wasn’t wearing his SHOES! He was CARRYING them! And as he went to pay me, he put them on the counter here!”
She related her story in a breathy, excited way; in her chest there was clearly a sense of pride and accomplishment, and she was emoting to the point where I could almost feel it in MINE! I’m nodding along with her at this point, as if to say: Really? No way! And then what did YOU say?
“So I turned to the guy, wondering exactly what kind of BARN he was raised in, and then I said—-”
“—uhhh, EXCUUUUUUUSE me?”
(Stage direction: Enter “Epic Bitch” from Stage-Left)
You know that sound a record makes when you accidently skid the needle across it to the outermost edge? When your speakers are already cranked up a ways? No? Too dated a reference? Okay, just picture a balloon deflating and rocketing around the room, trailing whatever your own personal definition is for “the most EMBARRASSING fart noise EVER.” By the way, why am I reminding myself of Ferris Bueller and his little “asides,” by the way?
Life moves pretty fast, guys. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while…you could miss it!
“I’m uh…kind of in hurry! So could we speed this along?”
Ever see a genuine, nice smile just melt away? I have! It will haunt my dreams!
Our impatient customer then held out her card, anticipating that she’d be asked for it.
“…uhhhm….uh—yeah,” stammered the cashier, dumbfounded. “—yeah, sure.”
If she displayed any kind of confidence when dealing with the villainous Shoe Man, it was now long gone. She took the ID and examined it.
“Do you uhmm…have another piece of identification? Or even a credit card or something with your name on it? Because this was not issued in this country, and—”
“NO! No, I do NOT! And do you know what, BITCH? I am in here all da time! ALL..Da…TIME!! And EV-ER-EE time you give me nothing but trouble! That is me! That is ME on the card!”
“Ma’am, our policy here is to—”
“You know what?! FUCK this! I am in a HURRY!”
Through all of this, the cashier had given me a few nervous glances, right in my eyes. As if to say, “You with me on this, Iceman?” I stared right back at her, unblinking, and I think we communicated something telepathically.
“Don’t worry – I’ve got your back, Mav.”
Turning back to her, she took her cue, a touch more confident now.
“You know what, ma’am? Unfortunately we do not tolerate THAT kind of language, and I will not be serving you today.”
“What!? Oh, FUCK off with dat shit! Get me the manager right now! RIGHT NOW, bitch!”
There was a pause for a moment where nothing happened. But we knew this: she wasn’t going to be served today; the manager was still nowhere in sight; and do you know what? I ALSO had my cash ready!
Enter the smartass.
“Uhhhh, excuse me?”
Her head whipped around to me, eyes blazing.
“I hate to be ‘that guy,’ but wouldn’t you know it — I’M in a real hurry too! So maybe you could go stand, you know, over THERE?”
I pointed outside the store. Ha ha!
“Oh, fuck you too! I don’t need more shit!”
But it was too late. The cashier was smirking at this, scanning my tall-cans. Beep! Beep! Buh-Beep! Sides had been chosen and Epic Bitch had lost top position. It was like a tennis match.
Referee: “Advantage: the people who WILL be drinking tonight!”
What was really weird is that despite the fact she was still boiling, our continuing with the transaction actually did make her shuffle off to wait for the manager. Though not outside like I had hoped. At this point she reverted to her native tongue (whatever that was) here and there. It kind of reminded me of a low-horsepower engine on a small–somehow “pissed”–watercraft.
“Tucka-Tucka! Tuk-tuk! Tuck-Tuck! Tucka-tuck!”
(The cashier and I, both staring at her at this point, were smirking at how ridiculous this was becoming)
I had my change now, my booze. But I wasn’t going anywhere! I was seeing this through to its hilarious end.
Enter the manager now. Silver-haired lady. Mid-to-late 50’s. It was clear that she had done this before.
“Uh huh…uh uh…I see…well our policy…uh uh…yes….”
Now imagine each of those “…” symbols had something like this in their place: “Tucka-tucka-BITCH! Tucka-Whore-Tuck-tuck!!”
And I have to hand it to her, the manager out-cooled everybody in there when she deadpanned, “I’m sorry ma’am, but…at THIS point I’m going to have to tell you that we will not only be denying you service today, but…FOREVER.”
“WHAT?!! TUCKA-FUCK! FUCKIN’-FUCK-TUCKA-FUCK!!!!”
And that was it. This nutcase wasn’t about to physically fight any of us, so there was nothing for her do in this moment. I think she had exhausted all of her swearing, so she began to leave in a huff. It felt like a real triumph just then, and if it WERE a movie, a song would have played. Brain! WHAT song would this movie play?
Brain: James, don’t look to me. Look to your HEART, boy! You KNOW the song. USE the song!
Me: (Pointing at the manager) “I’m thinking of a song – quick, NAME it!”
Me: “…she’s a LAY-DEE!–”
Her: *Eyes flashing brightly in the split-second that was necessary to make this moment work*
She and I together: (I swear to God) “Whoa-whoa-whoa! She’s a LAY-DEH!”
Then came the laughter from us both (’cause that’s all I know of the song) and anyone within ear-shot. And the best part? It was JUST as Epic Bitch shuffled around the corner, so I know she heard it too!
…though she didn’t strike me as the type who’d be a Tom Jones fan, you know?