We all meet some absolutely bonkers people as we go through life, people who do things that we can’t fathom what they could possibly have been thinking. It might be because of a plain lack of education; it could be due to circumstance (as demonstrated so beautifully by the testing ‘Mrs Carblurt’); sheer arrogance can never be underestimated: intolerable terrorism of the virtuous nature of others. But sometimes it is simply due to sociopathic, antisocial behaviour – a downright lack of morality. We all witness it with a alarming regularity. We all have to live among it daily: being mindful of where we park our cars, remembering to lock the front door before going out, constantly checking our pockets or bags when in a crowd. Wealthy; prominent; everyday; unremarkable. None of us are safeguarded from these individuals. Basically, we share this pretty planet with the absolute scum of the earth.
Meeting new people each day at work, engaging with members of the public, truly can relieve some of the monotony of day to day employment. You don’t particularly have to imagine the individual as your new best friend – I couldn’t imagine spending more than five minutes with most people I meet, to be honest. I have a low level of tolerance, a high grade of impertinence, and thick shield of fortification against mundanity – but people and the way that they interact can be quite inspiring, positive and negative, in the new challenge that each person might provoke. It’s a great aid for character creation to a writer! Truthfully though, most people are generally the same. And it becomes a job again. So on occasion you need an absolute idiot to brighten your day. It was on a Saturday in late November, the early lead up to Christmas, when one of the most perplexing examples of a real life scumbag that I have ever had chance to witness occurred.
Mr and Mrs Grandiose were shopping for music as gifts. They spent a little while with us, asking for recommendations for family members: listening to artists that we suggested and building up a healthy pile of potential purchases. The CDs that they wanted were left on the counter, under our care, for them walk around and choose additional titles as they listened. The shop was busy, a Saturday crowd of Christmas shoppers. There is a chocolate shop next door to the record shop. We get some of the overspill visiting us too, as they wait for their chocolate boxes to be made up. So we – I think that there were probably three of us – are serving other customers in between; non-stop dashing around like meerkats on a sunny morning. Mr and Mrs Grandiose are enjoying their visit. Other customers are impressed by the music that we’re playing, adding to their purchases. Sales are good! A regular customer, a scruffy local dude in a beat-up denim jacket, is browsing the blues rack, even before lunch already as pissed a fermenting apple-gorging wasp. The owner of the shop has gone out to go and get something to eat for us. Everything’s under control. The customers are happy, which makes the boss happy. We’re happy!
With their browsing and decision-making complete, Mr and Mrs Grandiose approach the counter to complete their purchases. It’s a good sale; they’ve chosen six CDs that they’d like to buy: a bit of jazz, a bit of blues and some new releases. The CDs bagged, they pay.
“Thanks very much,” said Mr Grandiose.
“You’re very welcome,” I reply. “Thank you. I hope that your family enjoy the CDs.”
“Oo, yes please,” Mrs Grandiose says.
“Enjoy your Christmas,” I say as they leave. (In fact, I’m pretty unlikely to have said this at all. Still . . .)
A few minutes later, having visited the chocolate shop, the distinctive pink and white striped bag in hand, Mr and Mrs Grandiose come back into the shop. It’s still busy. I notice them. They look bemused, even having left in such spirit of the season.
“Did we leave our bag of CDs on the counter?” Mr Grandiose asks me.
I have a quick look around. “Erm, no. Sorry. They’re not here. I can’t see them anywhere.”
“I thought that my husband picked them up,” Mrs Grandiose says. He winces. They’ve clearly had this discussion already.
“Just give us another bag of CDs?” said Mr Grandiose. “We can’t spend all day here.”
“It doesn’t really work like that,” I reply. I look from one to the other of them. Oh what a way to destroy the previously festive cheer. “I mean, well . . . we sold you the CDs. You must have had them. Hold on.” Struggling through the crowded customers – other people now waiting to be served – I go and look in the chocolate shop for the elusive CDs. You can’t even breathe in there it’s so busy, but I quickly discern that the CDs aren’t there. So I bustle back through, returning to the unfortunate couple. They have a right to be unhappy. I’m not really sure of the protocol on this. We all continue to look around the shop. It’s quickly clear that their bag is not here to be found. What to do? Their obvious opulence doesn’t mean that they deserve to pay twice. But should we take the hit because they’d lost their bag? It had become a stand off: they wanted their CDs; I wasn’t sure that we even had spare copies of the CDs that we could replace them with . . .
“I’m not even sure that we have spare copies of the CDs that we can replace them with,” I was just saying as the boss returned with lunch, immediately noticing the tension enshrouding the counter and beyond. I explained the situation. And then we start looking for the CDs, once more, no matter for my protestations that they’re not here; that we sold Mr and Mrs Grandiose a bag of CDs that they’d since succeeded in misplacing!
The pissed dude, wearing his Canadian tuxedo of double denim, a bit more pissed yet, wanders back into the shop. I’m still looking fruitlessly for the missing CDs, gathering what we can of the titles we still have left in stock – as it’s all that we can do: replace them. The drunk man approaches the counter.
“Got some used CDs, if you wanna buy them?” he says, and hands over a bag of CDs. A bag of CDs in the branded shop bag. A bag of CDs in the branded shop bag with the price tickets still on the cases. The boss takes them out to the back room. I follow him and point out to him the fact that pissed dude is trying to sell back to us, twenty minutes later, with their rightful owners still puzzling over the loss, the same CDs that went recently went missing.
It is fair to say that pissed dude has not visited the shop since. We didn’t buy the CDs back from him, just asked him to leave.
The family of Mr and Mrs Grandiose hated their recommendations. (Just kidding. We’ve never seen them again, either. Thanks to a pissed dude.)