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Jamie is a bit of a wisenheimer. After more than 20 years on the job for the NYPD, she retired and eventually took a position in the paint department of a giant hardware store. As most former NYPD officers will tell you, their pension alone is never enough.
After dealing with the criminal element for years, you tend to develop a nose for nonsense. You can just sense when something is not right or when someone is not telling you the truth. Jamie instinctively knew this customer was going to be a problem.
“Is anyone around here going to help me?”
As Jamie peered around the counter and down the aisle, she saw a woman frantically waving a piece of paper in the air.
“I’ll be with you in just a minute, hon,” Jamie pleasantly said as she finished up with another customer, took a deep breath and headed down the aisle.
“The inventory on the website says you have five cans of the black fabric spray paint,” she said, not even waiting for Jamie to get there. Pointing to the printout, she said, “And I don’t see any of them.”
When Jamie arrived, she scanned the printout and calmly told the shopper they didn’t have any of those cans in stock.
“That’s ridiculous,” the shopper insisted, “It says right here that there are five cans in this store. I want you to find them right now.”
Right now? That wasn’t going to go over well with Jamie’s nonsense meter.
“Ma’am,” she said calmly, “I can tell you those website inventories are not accurate. We don’t have this item.”
She insisted Jamie check the inventory above the shelves. Jamie trekked up the stock ladder and after moving boxes around, could not locate what the customer was looking for. From the top step, Jamie informed the customer the cans she was looking for were not there.
“That’s impossible,” insisted the shopper, “You have to look again.” Jamie’s nonsense meter was beginning to boil.
Descending the stairs, Jamie mumbled to herself under her mask, “That ain’t happening.” When repeatedly asked by the shopper to continue looking, Jamie’s nonsense level went to 11. After dealing with numerous perpetrators in her previous life, she knew where this conversation was heading and needed to stop the nonsense right now.
Jamie stepped off the ladder and told her, “That ain’t happening. I told you they weren’t up there.” She then lowered her mask and punctuated her statement by saying, “Boop!” It sounded like the noise a truck makes when it backs up. It was kind of like a verbal “mic drop,” indicating this conversation was over.
Startled, the woman insisted that Jamie get on her hands and knees and look below the shelves where there were a few stray spray cans. “Maybe they fell to the floor or between the aisles?” the shopper contended.
Once again, Jamie leaned into the woman and said, “That ain’t happening,” punctuating it with another, “Boop!” The more the woman kept talking and barking orders, the more Jamie tried to end the conversation with a nonsensical “Boop!” The woman got more enraged with each “Boop!” and insisted on speaking to the manager. Jamie obliged, calling Frank to the paint department, then watched from behind the counter. The customer talked to Frank while waving her arms in the air, pointing back at her.
Frank finally advised her to go to customer service to get help in locating the cans in another store. Then he headed towards Jamie to talk.
Jamie immediately knew she was about to get chewed out and said in her defense, “Frank, that woman is crazy. There was something wrong with her. I kept telling her we don’t have that in stock, but she kept insisting.”
“I know, I know,” Frank responded, “She said something about you yelling, ‘Boop’ in her face. What was she talking about?”
“I have no idea, Frank,” innocent Jamie said with a slight smile on her face, “I told you she was crazy!”
Paul DiSclafani’s new book, A View From The Bench, is a collection of his favorite Long Island Living columns. It’s available wherever books are sold.