It’s been a busy day. Not that that necessitates a bad day but, let’s consider who you’re talking to, it usually does. It started pre-java when people met me at the door. Let me rephrase that, they blocked me at the door. I was early but they still had to press their dybbuk faces to the glass.
“I think I see him in there. I see a reflection on the glass.”
“That would be your face.” I say shouldering my way to the door. Honestly, you’d think they’d part for the guy who has the red key. “And I’d appreciate it if you’d stop staining my glass.”
I get into the building and deal with the horde one after another in a long line of pulse increasing inanities. This one doesn’t have the heart to tell me he’s lost his key. Again. This one doesn’t have the courage to tell me he doesn’t have a payment to stop the auction. This one doesn’t have a brain so we’ll just let him stand in the corner until he collects his thought.
For the first few hours they come in wave after wave. Before I complete a transaction with one I look up and get a face full of salty fun jinks splashed over me. It’s not difficult, it’s just never-ending. Like a demonstration lead by an armless lawn mower hawker.
Then a man comes in who always needs my assistance. I don’t care if it’s to talk about why he’s there or if he needs me to ‘help’ unload a washer/dryer from the top of his vehicle, whenever he’s there he forgets the ‘self’ in ‘storage’. Today it shouldn’t have been too bad. It was 4×8 sheets of plywood. About seventy-two of them. How he got them on the top of his car or how the car arrived here without going airborne are questions for someone more suited than I.
By ‘more suited’ I mean someone who’s had coffee.
So I grunt and nod and get to the task of tearing plywood off the roof of his car. It’s not, once again, difficult, but his constant chattering is as annoying as a bee circling your head. I don’t mind helping the guy. I’m sure the ten minutes a day I have to help him is less than the half hour of disruption his falling off the roof of his car would cause. I’m not nice. I weigh the pros and cons of each situation and sometimes get stuck saying,
“Just do it. If you don’t you’ll end up in court trying to prove you didn’t stick the plywood up his ass.”
In the middle of this project I hear what could best be described as a wounded woodland creature of massive stature or the anguished wail of someone looking for me. I’ve heard both many times and still can’t distinguish. I will admit to hoping more often to the former. Sadly, it’s usually the latter.
I crawl out from under a plywood teepee and scramble my way to the front. At the front desk is a man pulling on the obviously locked door. He sees me walking toward him yet continues shaking the door. Usually, when someone is rocking the door in this manner, there is a loud and distinctive sound. I’m not saying there wasn’t this time, but, even after eyeing my visage this guy continues to wail.
I move to him with a look of bemusement upon my face (professionally, I call it a look of bemusement. It’s really just my normal ‘Are you a fucking idiot?’ look. But, getting paid and all, I have airs for the throng). I stand in front of him waiting for something. An explanation. A desire. A quick end to this already hellish day. But this guy just keeps yanking the door and yawping
“In order.” I begin. “Stop yanking the door. Start telling me what you want.” I figure that gives exact instruction to this adventure.
“I want to get in.”
Which are quickly ignored. I figure it’s best if I do the same so I let him jiggle the knob and push ahead.
“What’s your unit number?”
“I don’t have a unit.”
“Then why do you want to get in?” Call me silly, but I’m inquisitive like that.
“I want to go to the bathroom.”
By now the guy is louder than when I first arrived and the door is bowing under his constant pull. In the second it takes me to concoct a response to this man, a few things went through my head.
1) He’s not paying for the privilege of bothering me.
2) He’s not paying for the privilege of bothering my bathroom.
3) He’s paying for the door if he’s breaks it.
“The bathroom’s for customers only.”
Finally! He stopped trying to splinter the door. But now he’s turned his attention toward me with a look of bewilderment upon his face.
“But I have to go to the bathroom.”
“Understood.” I’m attempting to get all of my responses down to three words or less. I long for the day when just looking at me will get my point across. I mean, even more than now.
“I’ve gone here before.”
“But I have to go to the bathroom.”
To prove I’m not a heartless beast with no concern for the bladderings of my fellow man, I will say, I’ve seen the x-rays, I have a heart. I point behind the guy.
“But I need to go. I’ve gone here before.”
“New rules.” I say turning away to go back to my plywood. “Next time don’t bellow for me and the rules may change again.”
It was mean, I know. Standing between a man and his pee is never a good thing. But why don’t you ever see my side? The side of ‘go fuck yourself.’ Let me come into your office and start braying at you and see how quickly you kiss my ass. You’d probably call security while cowering under your desk. So remember that old saying before you strap on the ‘Chris is such a bastard feedbag’: until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes don’t ask me where the blood stains came from.
The rest of the day continues with the same steady stream but without the warmth and stench. It wasn’t until the auction was completed, I frightened some innocent children, and ate the blackened souls of the recently dead for lunch (Mmmmmmmm! Pagan loaf!) that the day began to mellow into it’s incessantly grinding thrum.
With just a couple of hours to go before I can bolt the door and laugh at the Reaper because I outwitted him another day, the phone rang. This grizzled voice woman begins barking her orders to me. I try to align her into the proper sequence to expedite this matter. But she’ll have none of that. She behaves poorly to my first question (the same as was originally broached to pee pee boy) by rattling off something my ears are not programmed to receive. So I go to line two of the ‘Simple Questions To Ask People Who Won’t play Nice’ book. I ask for a name. Truly, this is one of the easiest questions I ask. Ever.
I will admit that she gave me a name. She never shut up afterwards which caused me to have to repeat the name back to her. I may be a jerk but I’m also lazy. If I can get it done right the first time I figure that can get me back to being lazy. But she didn’t like this question so she snapped at me. I tried to assuage her anger by explaining that I was just attempting, in my ham-handed manner, to efficiently assist her.
“Could you spell it?” I ask while attempting to spell it myself. I’m usually pretty good at guessing how to spell names. The problem here was I could barely understand her due to her screaming into the amplification device she was holding and the person behind her also holding a conversation. Before she gives me the correct spelling (this took three attempts with the person behind her), I’m close to the area the name should reside.
It does not. Which is a fact that doesn’t make her happy so she questions my ability to follow the alphabet. Yes, I am dyslexic but I still remember that song. I state now in a very stern tone that the name she is asking for is not in my files. Then, just as stern but with a hint of helpfulness, ask if it could be under another name.
This happens more times that you could imagine. I know it’s more than you can imagine because I hear it every day and I still have trouble believing it.
She starts yipping at me that I must me wrong. She confers with her compatriot and comes up with another name. I begin to move through the book because I think she started the name with an S. While leafing through I ask her if she could spell this name. I’m just trying to get to the bottom of this. I do this a few times a day and, with a little cooperation, usually get through it painlessly.
Not this time.
“You’re quite a fucker, aren’t you?”
Without another word I hang up the phone. Not slam it. Not make a sound. I just set it back into it’s cradle where it will rest.
Until she calls back.
I look at the caller ID just to make sure it’s the same number. I then go into the textbook I’ve heard about but never bothered to read that says to strap a smile on your puss when answering the phone. It’s supposed to convey a sense of warmth to the caller. I do just that while reciting the name of the business.
“I can’t believe you. . .”
“Don’t EVER call me a fucker again! Do we have an understanding? Now give me the name I asked for.”
She begins to ask for my bosses name. For the first time I balked at that. Not that I care if he’d care or not. But I go by instinct. So, I tell her that, the moment we get to the end of our little adventure, I’ll be glad to give her his name. But first, let’s see who you are.
She fights it but gives in. Her tone is just as snippy as I try, with all my might, to extract just a few little letters from her. I’m very close to getting to the end of this story. She gives me a few more letters. Turns out, all of them were wrong. She didn’t know how to spell the name. So she asks the person behind her and he gives me an all new spelling. With a different first letter.
“I’m sorry.” I say. “That name is not a tenant either. Could there be another name?” She goes on a rage about my being incompetent, how I’m the worst at customer service ever, how she can’t wait to talk to the boss, how she’s going to come down there and get in my face.
“That would be one way to solve this dilemma.” I say. “But, right now, we still haven’t found a current tenants name.”
“What city are you in?” Oh good, I think, she’s going to visit! I so love visitors.
She relays this information to the third party. I can’t hear what they say but I can hear them get quieter. There’s a slight pause as she comes back to the phone and says,
“Malden? We don’t have storage in Malden.”
And we have a winner!
“Well, that solves that.” I begin to turn to hang up the phone as she continues her railing at me because, although she has the wrong location, I still am the idiot king of this conversation.
“I might have the wrong place,” she says as I inch closer to the phone. “But can I tell you one thing?” She says as a stab at helpfulness.
And I hang up the phone.
Hey! Shoes here! Mile walking shoes here! Any takers?