Economics Over Prayer

The lady at work says I bring this on myself, somehow attracting these people to me. “This only happens when Tim’s around. Any other person? Nothing. Tim shows up, and, not five minutes later, we have a crazy.”

He looked the same as any other old man who comes in the store. His shoes weren’t dirty (homeless), he wasn’t twitching (druggie), and he had no open wounds on his face (all of the above). He even brought his normal looking wife with him! Yet it was all a ruse…

Everything about him screamed AVERAGE. Older gentleman, late 60s, early 70s; balding up top. Moderately dressed, nothing flashy or too nice, but not rags either. Just what you’d expect from his demographic.

He started things off well too, asking, “Where are the watches?” My partner answered him, not even thinking about lying or giving fake and/or misleading information. Acting as true, world-class, team member material.

So the man walks off into the sunset… er, the Jewelry department. Stops, turns around, and makes a beeline for me. Apropos to nothing, he asks, “Where’s the best gas?”

I freeze. Did I miss something, somewhere, that would indicate what he’s now talking about? Or hint at how I’m supposed to make sense of that statement? I’m desperately scanning his face, looking for a sign, a clue, that: a.) he’s joking, or b.) I misheard “gas,” or, possibly, his entire question.

What I find is a 60-70 year old man staring right back at me, two feet from my face, growing impatient.

I quickly turn to my compatriot. After all, she helped him first! Maybe they share some kind of communal bond, a vernacular, that I can’t understand. Maybe she heard the true question, the one that sounded oh so much like, “Where’s the best gas?” to me but really made sense.

There’s no sign of recognition on her face either. Just the “ha! Ha! He’s talking to you!” look in her eyes.

Dejected, I turn back around towards him. “Excuse me, sir, what are you looking for?” I try, one last time.

Glaring at me, as if I’m the one speaking nonsense, he repeats, testily, “Where’s the best gas?”

Now I’m talked about my ongoing war against shyness a lot in blogs past. I’ve since made great gains in sociability by beating my head against the wall of inarticulation. So much so that some of my friends would even agree with the previous statement. I saw a problem, and I made a move to fix it. My antisocial tendencies were one of the reasons I started volunteering for the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins. Yet I had never realized just how blessed I was with them, so that, even at their drunkest, they were always coherent.

Another pause. I don’t know how to answer him. If this were a teenager, they’d have cracked a smile by smile. Recognizing and giving into the looming double entendre.

Semantical joking aside, as I truly have no idea who’s flatulence is worse, mine or my partner in crime, and thus can’t honestly answer the “dirty” question, is how unanswerable the “straight” version of the question is. I mean, I’ve heard of people naming their cars. I don’t understand the practice, but I can at least recognize that they do it.

But do they also ask their cars questions? Such as what is the preferred filling station? Isn’t that taking the whole anthropomorphizing your car thing a little too far?

Five tense, long minutes later, and all my co-worker is still shaking her head in disbelief, sighing, “It only happens when you’re here…”


2 Responses to “Economics Over Prayer”

  1. But did he buy a watch?

    • A good question. Unfortunately I’m only allowed a short leash at work, and we’ll never know. Nor will we ever find out if he found where the best gas is.

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