Thursday, June 26, 2008

Do Not Want

"Careful," she said, removing one already damp sock and flicking it toward the floor. "That's a fresh scar." She pointed to a pink line unevenly traversing the top of her foot like an odd-numbered interstate on an unfolded map.

"Oh, that's fine," I said, pretending to be delighted* that her foot, a brick of flesh the size and volume of a hotel ice bucket, was about to be placed in my outstretched palm. She wriggled her other sock off revealing a matched set of yellowed toenails, all rigid and bending away from her body like elbow macaroni. "What happened?" I asked, knowing that the answer was going to be disgusting. No one ever whips their sock off to show me that their foot has spontaneously sprouted a kitten.

"Well", she continued, plopping both paws onto the floor. "I had a touch of the gangreem". She did, in fact, pronounce it gangreem, giving it an mmm sound at the end, the same sound found in phrases like mmmake her go away or mmmaybe no one will notice if I throw myself through the plate glass window. She poked at the top of her unscarred foot with two swollen fingers. "And it feels like it's done spread to this one too."

I honestly thought gangrene** was a mythical creature like the Lorax or an eligible bachelor***. That, or a since-eradicated illness that only attacked sailors or feudal serfs or maybe the weaker family members in "Oregon Trail". But no, it's alive and well and about to be resting in my hand. The same hand I use to hold my stuffed dinosaur and pick at my blemishes and peel Fruit Rollups from the plastic backing.

Fantastic.

Before Lady Gangreem arrived, it had been quiet in the store. We'd only had two other customers, which meant that I'd spent the morning teaching myself how to juggle with the inflatable boobs from the sports bra display. I was absentmindedly tossing the A-cups around when the door opened and a woman walked in, gave a cursory glance behind the counter, and headed directly for the sock wall. She was completely unremarkable except for the fact that her hairdresser must have hated her. Maybe she deliberately cut him off in traffic. Maybe she calls him "Champ". Maybe she has lice the size of Labradors. It has to be something because he wouldn't have given her that unfortunate style if he didn't have some serious unresolved issue with her.

I'd seen that cut before--all angles and asymmetry--and it's only flattering on the plaster mannequins found in the junior clothing sections of nicer department stores, perfectly framing their featureless faces and allowing us to focus on their clothing, the kind of outfits that only look appropriate if your legs also end in blunt stumps. On the sock shopper, however, it made her look like an anus with eyes. Maybe it was the way the light caught her sunken cheekbones and sagging skin but she gave off the same withered waxiness as one of those dolls at the Dixie Classic Fair whose heads are made of dried apples.

The next customer was a frazzled looking mom who hopped out of her still-idling Honda Pilot and said she just needed information about what kind of marathon would be good for a 10 year old boy. Um, that would be none of them. We tried to guide her towards the kids' races, handing her a brochure illustrated with a cartoon dragon whose face was twisted into a grimace suggesting either exertion or mild retardation. She wasn't interested.

"Training for a marathon would be such a fantastic bonding experience" she pleaded. "Seriously, do you know where can he run a marathon?" I suggested Bataan and she shot me a look that said she'd be checking "dis-fucking-satisfied" on the customer comment card. Whatever. Fourth graders shouldn't be forced--or even encouraged--to run 26 miles. They should split their free time between feeding crickets to their younger siblings and wondering why putting their finger in their bellybutton makes it come out smelling like butt.
__________

Lady Gangreem stares at me while I debate whether I need to lash two Brannock devices (aka the foot measury thing you may remember from school shopping at Thom McAnn) together to accommodate her mudflap sized sole. I decide to try to fit her foot into one, which is going to be like trying to shove a frozen turkey into a mail slot. "I just need to take a couple of measurements," I tell her.

"No you don't," she says, narrowing her eyes. "I'm a size 7". Sure you are. And I'm a seahorse.

I managed to cram the left one into the Brannock, her heel spilling over the sides like a snowdrift overhanging an awning. I measured one--she was a 12 wide--and before I can get to the other, she starts digging at her left calf, excavating it like she was trying to unearth the Ark of the Covenant. "Dammit!" she shouted, "I almost had it".

She continues picking at her skin as I stare dumbly at her lower leg, wondering what I possibly could have done to deserve this job. I'd narrowed it down to cheating at bingo during Bible School or signing my former boyfriend up for 12 issues of American Doll Collector**** when she finished, out of breath and pinching something between her thumb and forefinger. "Do you have a trash can?" she asked, looking around the store.

I hadn't had time to reply or ask what was going on when she says, "I just knew I had a tick on me".

A tick. A TICK, one of nature's nastier creatures, the kind frequently found with distended bellies full of blood on the underside of a mule deer or a stray dog or your friend who went to Bonnaroo. Their habitat shouldn't extend into a damn retail store, especially not this one, not when I'm the one who's getting eight bones an hour to deal with it.

I had no idea how to respond, other than maybe throwing up into my gangreem-infested palms and hoping she didn't start tugging at her ass trying to dislodge the the tapeworm as well. "Um...hang on," I tell her, unsure what corporate policy is on disposal of a customer's parasites.

I walked to the back with the intention of making a biohazard bin out of a Brooks box, but instead found myself making for the exit. I saw myself opening the door stenciled with 'Employees Only', getting into my car and driving home so I could disinfect my hands or quite possibly set them on fire--wasn't the Velveteen Rabbit melted for less?--before I started drinking heavily.

So I did.

I left.

And in the rearview mirror, I saw her still sitting on the bench talking to one of my confused co-workers, perhaps asking if they could mind her fresh scar.*****

* One of the benefits of a theatre degree? Being able to act like you aren't disgusted when effing Frodo stumbles in and places his pelt-covered foot in your palm.
** Don't EVER do a Google image search for "gangrene" unless you hate yourself.
*** I did meet a single guy at a bar the other night and gave him my number approximately ten seconds before he told me that he lived in his van.
**** And his new girlfriend can look forward to a year's worth of Modern Witch.
*****I'm not on the schedule again until tomorrow. Seriously, who can make me famous before then?

41 comments:

SJ Goody said...

Eww. You had me skeeved at "damp sock". I hope you have since bath in disinfectant. HAHA!!

Spufidoo said...

Gross! But hilariously delivered! LOL!

Hmmm... Why *does* belly-button-finger smell of butt?

...rustle of clothing...

...furtively looks around to make sure no-one's looking...

...sniff...

JustinS said...

I don't know... I've never had anything good happen the six or seven times I've fallen for that "I can make you famous" line. Unless you like donkeys and/or midgets, I think you're better off there.

Amanda said...

Ok. It's official. I hate myself. I googled it. Excuse me while I go gouge my eyes out while puking into my desk drawer.

Kaeti said...

Shit, dude. And I thought the results when I Googled "cost of toe amputation" were bad.

(Still holding out hope for you that the van has some nice wood paneling and peeing-Calvin decals.)

Sarah said...

Careful what you say about us gals with big feet. I wear a size 11 running shoe. Of course, you know what they say about people with big feet. Big feet, big...uh...wait a minute...what do they say about women with big feet?

I like to think of my big feet as providing stability control.

Phil said...

You had me at ticks on "your friend who went to Bonnaroo." I knew those people were filthy. Between this story and your Wal-Mart iPod return story, you may be my new favorite blogger.

Phil said...

The closest I've come to a similar horror story involves me working for someone at a PT appointment... a someone who rarely shaved her legs and almost as rarely took a shower.

deutlich said...

When I worked at Rack Room, I regularly had to deal with women who swore up and down they were 3 sizes smaller than they were.

It ALWAYS confused me. Why the HELL are you freakin' out over the size of your foot and why on earth would you shove a size 11 into a size 8?!

Alexa said...

ok i don't know whether to vomit or applaud you for a great post.

im a bit torn between the two.

beth k said...

Congrats on the walkout! There is nothing more satisfying than walking out on a crap retail job, especially in order to self-medicate with yummy yummy alkihol; I can relate.

Lori said...

What will take even larger cajones than walking out will be showing up for your next shift as if nothing happened. You're really putting that theater degree to use this week!

nuttycow said...

Oh. God. No.

If I had the money I'd wire it to you so you could get the hell out of there.

Ew. Ew. Ew.

PS it also slightly annoys me that you're so good at writing. If I had a similar story I'd probably write something like "some fat bird came in today. She had a tick"

Xenia said...

Oh. Holy. Jesus.

If that had been me, I would have gone straight home and jumped into a bath of disinfectant and scraped by skin off with a wire brush til I felt clean again...or til I passed out from the pain.

I have so much respect for you!

RazZDoodle said...

You have got to be f***ing kidding me! You have a theatre degree?

chia said...

And to think...

... that chick probably gets laid more than I do.

I hate SUV moms.

There should be a support group for this.

lacochran's evil twin said...

I'd been tempted to buy a box of latex gloves and a bottle of disinfectant and give the bill to the boss.

Ewwwwwwwwww. *shudder*

My Life My Life My Life said...

Let me by you a drink...maybe 2...oh hell we will just run a tab! You had me laughing up until the tick moment. I dont do ticks and I probably would have been fired after going off on her nasty self....

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

OH MY GOD. New hero. You, not Gangreem. I wish we lived in the same city because I would have taken you out for a martini after that debacle. Two martinis if it was happy hour.

Gilahi said...

This reminds me of the old question: If there's a shoe store named "The Athlete's Foot", why isn't there a lingerie store named "The Yeast Infection"?

Mike said...

Let me tell you something about gangrene that I'm sure you don't know: when your friend Tom has it in his big toe, you WILL accidentally step on it 400 times before he gets it looked at.
Also, does anyone know how to make that bloody OpenID thing work?

UrbanVox said...

lol!!!
seriously!! u make me laugh sooo much! :)

how's the gangreem infected hand going??? did it fall yet? :)

xxx

mindy said...

No one deserves this kind of job. No one.

Also, going forward I am not going to feel too badly about not having a fresh pedicure when trying on shoes. Apparently it could be much, much worse.

Alice said...

Nothing does a visual for me like comparing toe nails to elbow macaroni. It's almost too perfect.

Bataan - ROFL!

Rachel said...

That is gross! And ticks, disgusting! I think that I've only had one on me in my life, but it was terrible!

jen said...

Eww.

Off I go to google image "gangrene!"

jen said...

Holy gangrenous goat udders! Aka "blue bag" (horf)

lathan said...

I once had a client with 7 NOT house trained, German Shepherds in a roach infested single wide trailer. I was there one day and a roach jumped on me while she was simultaneously telling me about her new house cleaning job. I started laughing hysterically, couldn't stop and had to leave.

Emily said...

Oh. Just... oh no.
Also, I heart your writing. And your intestinal fortitude.

Jessica Alfieri said...

Oh my god, what is she doing out and about with humans? You are amazing for lasting as long as you did.

Movie Maven said...

You're some sort of saint. St. J-Money of the Sisters of Eternal Grangrene-Touchers.

Dexter Colt said...

I used to think proctologists had the worst job in the world, but I was wrong...you do.

I'm crossing my fingers for you J-Money. You need to write for an HBO original series or something...

Beth said...

Ugh. Customers with flesh eating foot diseases. I would have left too. Except I would have never returned.

You are officially the first person to make me feel a little bit better about my cubicle job. Thank God.

Two Left Feet said...

Do not want... your job. Or her feet. Ugh.

Do want... a drink. And your writing skills.

I don't know if I've ever laughed and gagged at the same time before.

Mickey said...

What's wrong with you? My belly button smells like fresh cut flowers.

Weirdo.

Lora said...

I'm puking in my mouth. But loving it.

Stephanie said...

Wow, that was siiiick.

jenny said...

Oh god - this was hilarious and disgusting all at the same time! But really... can someone actually have "a touch" of the gangrene? Kind of seems like having a touch of the leprosy. :)

Tracey said...

First, *ewww*.

Second, you are a funny funny girl because I went to Bonnaroo and you know what I got? Yeah...I got bit by a tick instead of being serenaded by Kanye. LOL.

Well, actually it's not funny and it kind of well, hurt, and I have a cute li'l scab on my side as evidence and Kanye's show was TERRIBLE. Terrible.

But not quite as terrible as those gangreemish feet. Poor you, you funny funny girl.

Muse said...

I was going to cut and paste the phrase that I found to be my most favorite, but then I realized I would just be re-posting your story.

You ARE my new favorite find.. I think I may have a serious crush on you, minus the whole foot-in-palm (bleh!) bit. I hate feet.

The Clandestine Samurai said...

You weren't fired for just leaving the job?