Anyway under the age of 35 remembers those fantastically graphic "THIS IS YOUR BRAIN; THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON DRUGS" commercials that involved an egg and some iteration of a frying pan from the 1990s. Well, I got hit in the face with living proof that not everyone saw those commercials or got a dose of Nancy Reagan on "Diffrent' Strokes" back in the day.
Once again, I get stranded at the service desk after I get back from my lunch. It's about 7:30 p.m. when this woman comes up. She's either on something or is so fried she doesn't have any grey matter left to communicate with.
At first, I thought she might have been mentally challenged, because there is a group home/halfway house nearby and the residents do come in to shop frequently. But she wasn't. It was like talking to a brick of cheese. Except that Velveeta would probably have been smarter if you gave it an IQ test.
This was wearing green jeans and brown checked Western shirt. On top of that - in July in Florida - she had a ratty pink zip-up jogging suit top. She was so thin - so thin I could see every bone in her hands and arms - so I'm really thinking crystal meth.
She came in with a remote control. I'm like "Can I help you?" and all I get is a blink. "Ma'am, do you need something?" and she sort of waves the remote at me and says "Got this."
The ensuing conversation was painful beyond belief. It was just eye-ball gougingly awful trying to get something approaching comprehension out of her - especially because she parked herself in front of my register and refused to move. On my honor, this is the best I can reproduce the conversation. I wish I had a tape recorder.
ME: "OK. You got a remote. Do you got a receipt?"
DRUGALICIOUS WOMAN: Silence. Then "Uhhhhhhh. This broke." That, unfortunately was a pattern. Question followed by silence and then an eventual sort of answer.
ME: "OK. Did you buy that here?"
ME: "Yeah. You don't have a receipt for this anywhere do you?"
DW: "It go with my TV." I didn't think it went with the microwave.
ME: "OK. So this is your TV remote? And it broke? Why did you come to Wal-Mart?"
DW: "Want a new one."
ME: "Uh. When did you buy the TV?"
DW: Thinks about it for a while. "Last year." Ha. Good one.
ME: "See, that's gonna be a problem."
DW: "My TV got games on it. Right here." And I get a demonstration of the GAMES button on the remote.
ME: "Yeah. We don't take stuff back after 90 days."
DW: Works this over. "Go see they gimme new remote."
ME: "Uh. No. Do you got the papers that came with your TV? Anything that came with it?"
DW: "Threw the box away." Figures.
ME: "Yeah. That's not so good."
DW: "Need a remote."
ME: "I bet you do. You need to go home and find the papers that came with the TV and call them and tell them you need a new remote."
DW: "Gimme a new remote."
ME: "See, we don't do that. We don't take stuff back after 90 days. We can sell you a new Universal remote. Or you can go home and get on the phone."
DW: "Need a remote. Gonna call. Can I use you all's phone?"
ME: "Who are you gonna call?" Yeah, it went down like that. At this point there were eight or so customers in line to be helped -- ALL of them were giving her a good six-foot berth while in the line for the other register. Everyone was just STARING at her like "MY GOD IT'S A CRAZY PERSON IN LINE. I MIGHT GET LOONY-COOTIES AND DIE."
ME: "Do you want to buy a remote? Hold on. Let me get somebody to go with you. If you don't like it, just save the receipt and bring it back."
DW: "Yeah. Do that."
ME: "OK. You wait right there. Don't move. I'm gonna get somebody to come up and talk to you about remotes."
ME: on the phone to Electronics "Please bring the cheapest and most compatible remote you got up here as fast as you can. Don't ask, just pick up a remote and run."
DW: "How much this cost?"
ME: "It's about eight dollars."
DW: "Damn. That high." Seriously, not as high as you are.
ME: "I'm gonna give you a receipt. Try the remote out and if it don't work, bring it back."
ME: "How you wanna pay?"
Girlfriend might be be an addict, but she know cash - she whips out a tiny wallet stacked full of cards, papers and cash and gives me a $20.
I cash her out and bag the remote up and make sure she stows the receipt.
Surreal. Absolutely frelling surreal.
She might have been crazy. Even so. Even the lunatics at the asylum need their TV. I'll sell her anything she wants. She might have been strung out or insane, but I'll say one thing - she never yelled at me. Which rates her a lot higher than most of my difficult customers.