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Sunday morning is when our Ad Change happens. All of the crap that was on sale last week is no longer on sale, and I spend most of my morning putting up new little stickers on everything. Bleary-eyed and hours before dawn, I schlep up and down the grocery aisles and look for tiny little expiration dates printed in about 2 point font on each and every one of the quarter-million items in my store.

The good part of Sunday is that the Store is mostly deserted. There are employees milling around, changing displays, unloading trucks, stocking shelves. But very few customers. There are usually only two types of people who shopping in the Store that early in the morning; Idiots and Thieves.

The Idiots are those people who forgot that they don’t have any more diapers for their baby, and furthermore, that Pampers do not clean themselves out and are not reusable. The Idiots are those people who have stayed out all night causing trouble and driving under the influence, and decide that it would be really fun to go to the grocery store and stumble around, knocking over displays, while looking for Twinkies. The Idiots are annoying, bumbling miscreants, but at least they probably mean no harm.

The Thieves, on the other hand, are those assholes who get out of bed in the morning, with the sole intention of ripping you off. They are not in the Store to shop… they are in the Store to steal things from us, either by running out the door with it, or – my personal favourite – walking up and down the aisles behind me, waiting for me to miss one of the myriad expiration dates on these tiny little tags, just so they can run up front and get it free. They skulk up and down the aisles, just ahead of me, looking for signs and displays that will be wrong… but only until I get to them. They know they only have about a 20 minute window of time, because I’m right behind them. But I can’t simultaneously change every display that needs to be changed all at once. After all, I’m only one man.

Thieves look for display signs that have been taken down (but not destroyed) by the stock crew, and put them back on the wrong display. Thieves lurk near the Pepsi and Coke vendors, waiting… just waiting… to see if Pepsi builds a display of 12 packs ($2.99) under a huge signboard displaying “99¢” that use to hang over Coke 2-Liters just minutes before. Thieves slink around displays for special promotions that ended last week, scrutinizing every square inch to see if there are any stray tags left on these products that would cause the item to ring up “wrong”.

I’ve always wanted to go up to one of these assholes and ask them where they work, just so I could follow them around at their job, waiting for them to screw up something so that I could take advantage of it.

Yesterday, I’m going about my business, pulling down expired tags and signs, when I see one of these assholes. I recognise him. He is here every week, looking for something wrong. He is lurking through the back of my store, around a large pallet of Coke 24 packs, stacked high and placed there temporarily while the Coke guy brings the rest of his order out of the back room. He’s going to take these 24 packs to the back, I realise. They were last week’s sale.

“Hey,” said the Thief.

I try to ignore the asshole. It works for a few seconds. Unfortunately, I’m heading his way, squinting every stooped step of the way, looking for tiny little out-of-dates.

“You work here?” asked the Thief again. This time, there was no way I could pretend. I was too close.

“Yeah,” I mutter.

He looks the pallet of pop up and down; a layer of Regular Coke, a two layers of Diet Coke, a layer of Sprite, so on and so forth. “What’s the price on these?”

“I don’t know,” I said, even though I did.

“Well,” started the Asshole, sucking his teeth, obviously deep in thought. “Why don’t you go an’ find out fer me… ‘Cos there ain’t no sign on this display here.”

I looked straight at the Thief. “Well… sir… that’s not a display. The Coke guy is getting ready to take them away.”

And – as if on cue – the Coke man did indeed come out of the back room with a pallet jack. Excusing himself, he said to the Thief, “let me get these out of your way.” He then promptly hoisted the pallet of product to the back, safely behind the doors marked “employees only”. The Thief looked as if he had missed a great opportunity. And, in a way, he had. I smiled, energized all of a sudden. This asshole wasn’t going to get one damn thing free this morning. I smiled, content with my little victory.

The big victories are hard to come by anymore.


Go and find some keepsake that you are really fond of and hold dear, and destroy it. Make a new enemy today. Go out and do something the Government fears. Adopt a puppy. Watch children at play and annihilate their dreams. Write a song. Read a book and ruin the ending for your friend. Yell at a stranger. Run over a pothole with your car and then go back and do it again. Tie yourself to a pole and scream for help. Chew a whole pack of gum at one time. Buy a magazine aimed towards the opposite sex, rip out all the pages and staple gun them to your walls. Make a list of your fears, and face them. Stop your car in an intersection and wash your window. Get thrown out of a bar. Buy a homeless man some lunch. Put your CDs in an order that only you can understand. Write a letter to someone you don’t know. Go to a store and pretend to shoplift. Then really do it once they think you are playing around. Catch people off guard. Ruin a perfectly good shirt. Take a walk in the park and chase small dogs. Tell a child you’d like to play catch with them, then run away with the ball. Walk into traffic and dance. Sing on top of a monument. Be a clown starved for attention.

Don’t ever tell me there is nothing to do.

I walked in on an old guy pooping yesterday. And my day went downhill from there.

I had just walked into work, and figured since I was now on the clock, it would be a good time to go to the bathroom. There is nothing quite like the feeling of having someone pay you to perform a bodily function that you would normally do for free. So I walk into the employee bathroom, tucked safely away behind two huge swinging doors clearly marked “EMPLOYEES ONLY PLEASE” and proceed toward the lone stall.

I notice a jacket slung over the toilet paper dispenser, but it doesn’t register in my brain until I have taken one step too many. And then, there in front of me, is an old guy – a customer – standing, pulling his underwear up in front of the toilet. With the door wide open. How unsavory.

I should back up just a little. Despite what I wrote a couple paragraphs ago, I don’t really like using the bathroom at work. For that matter, I don’t really like using the bathroom anywhere in public. I was with my fiancé for about a year before I could use the bathroom at her apartment. There’s just something about what goes on in the bathroom that I think should only be performed at home.

Over the last few years, I’ve slowly gotten over my fear of public toilets, inasmuch as I can now urinate – sometimes – in public, but several conditions must be met. First, the bathroom must be empty. I will walk straight out if there is someone else in the bathroom. I don’t want there to be any chance that someone might want to start a conversation with you in the bathroom. Secondly, it must contain a locking stall. I will not use a urinal. It’s too much like peeing on a wall. I consider it uncivilized. And I firmly believe the reason there is so much public urination can be directly traced back to urinals.

So after I see this old guy with his pants down, and dart out of the bathroom. And at that point, I really didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t use the bathroom now. So for the rest of the day, I had to work with a full bladder and a shattered sense of security about the Employee Bathroom.

Let me tell you, it was a long day.

This car pulls in front of me on Death Road and then swerves through a red light into the parking lot of a local Kmart. I had to stop. One, because it was, of course, a red light. And two because, the older I get, the more I realize that I’m just not in that much of a hurry to get anywhere these days. Much less to my local Kmart. Not that there is anything wrong with Kmart. I was actually on my way there as well. I had to return some pants. And they were high quality, reasonably priced pants. It’s just that I decided I needed a prescription more than a new pair of cargos.

I wait through two cycles of this light on Death Road. Apparently, this city thinks that people who shop at Kmart aren’t important enough to get a Green Arrow when their turn comes around. So, when my Arrow finally does appear, I make my way into the parking lot and pull into a space. I notice, as I turn off my engine, that the car that cut me off is parked right in front of me. It is a pretty beat up car, the entire back seat is full of Stuff and Things. There is a beagle poking its head out of the passenger window. And the driver is still inside. Picking his nose.

It has out of state plates. Figures.

I rustle through my Bag of Pants, making sure that my receipt is still inside. It is. During this time, the nasal spelunker has gotten out of his car, and is walking – staggering, really – into the Kmart. I can’t quite make out what he has in his hand, when he breaks into a trot toward the cart return corral. He leans down, and picks up what appears to be a receipt on the ground. He looks it over for a second, glances at me walking toward him, and lets out a strange sound. Kind of between a yelp and a growl. He wads the paper into a ball, and throws it at a 4-Runner.

He doesn’t stagger anymore, and makes his way into the store a few seconds before me. As I walk through the door, I see this man leap toward some children, stomp his foot, and blow a raspberry to them. The little one grabs his mom’s leg as they walk out of the store.

And now, I’m standing behind this weirdo while a lady is trying to return a comforter or something that she probably didn’t buy. I can’t tell exactly what the problem is, but simply from her demeanor, I can tell that this lady is trying to screw this clerk. I’ve seen it a hundred thousand times before. You people aren’t fooling anyone. The Customer Service clerk pawns this woman off to a manager, and moves the line along.

Weirdo leaps up to the desk, and slams down – hard – the item he carried into the store; a box of Trojan condoms. Magnum Trojan condoms. The clerk looks at him from over-top her glasses and then picks up the box of condoms, checking the seals on both ends. She says nothing, and begins The Return Process.

The weirdo catches her attention again, winks, and starts to nod. As if the act of returning a box of Magnum condoms is the greatest undiscovered pickup line of all time. The clerk rolls her eyes at him, lays the money on the counter, and then looks directly at me, hoping I’ll be more normal.

The weirdo struts back to the parking lot again, and I pull the pants out of the bag.

“Hello. I just needed to return these pants,” I said, pulling out my receipt, and trying as hard as I could to show that I was one of the Good Guys.

“That guy gets on my last nerve,” said the clerk, nodding towards the weirdo.

After I got my refund, I walked back out to my car, still parked behind the guy. I got in, sat down, and started the car. And then the weirdo gets back out of his car, and starts to walk toward the store again. With what appears to be another box of condoms.

I drove home. Puzzled… but still not in a hurry.

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