Here's the story: This old man came up to Customer Service. He had a pack of pinochle cards. He wanted regular playing cards. I told him the regular cards were out on Register 15 - about 20 feet away and within sight of Customer Service. His answer? "That's too far to walk." So I had to go get the cards and bring them back to Customer Service for this contrary old fart.
Now, here's the story as written in the style of Jane Austen.
Springtime in England used to smell of clover, of sunshine, of apples and roses and meadows and poesies. Springtime in England is the season of love - young love, puppy love, of men and boys and wenches and lasses and lovebirds and long country lanes - the love that makes women curl their toes and moan and men plead for a merciful Father who art in Heaven.
Springtime in dear old Blighty is not the province of busty shopgirls and gleaming mega-marts with floors of polished ecru stone.
Couponita with her dark brown hair struggled to remain attached to this mortal world. To care, to feel, to do, to be, to exist - it was all swiftly becoming an exercise of the utmost futility for her. The unceasing noise impeded on her love-shattered psyche only slightly as she moved as an automaton to a place at her register.
The lusty, skin-tingling memories of a month's worth of passionate midnight encounters and stolen kissable moments spent locked in an embrace with her married lover came crashing unbidden into her head. She lovingly fingers the colorful wooden beads strung along each section of her carefully tended coarse black hair and remembered ...
"My sweetest love, my darling cocoa princess, the burning fire in my loins blazes hot for you. ... Every day, every second we are apart is a ruination upon my heart. ... I cannot but look at you that I feel the furnace of my heart begin to fire. .... Tonight we must part .... my wife, she returns from gay Paree." Then only blackness, falling, despair ...
A sour old Yankee bumping his gnarled and polished wooden cane along the slick white tiles jerked the moody lass back to attention. The recycled air of the store hung low with the sour breath of the unwashed masses; the air was rent with the grasshopper hum of machinery and the shrill din of registers clanging ...
The saddened shopgirl curtsied deeply at the gentleman's approach. Despite her not-so-trifling troubles in the intrigues of romance, she cared deeply for her three-shillings-a-week job. The trifling few pennies made way plain to pay for incidentals such as those would be found necessary by a dashing young lass seeking lasting love, to wit rubbers of sheepskin and limitless supplies of raspberry lip gloss.
"Can I beg of your assistance lass? Purchased unknowingly did I these cards of gaming without the august knowledge that they were of the type commonly used to play that most dastardly French game - pinochle."
"Surely a fine gentleman such as yourself, who patronizes our shop daily, must have retained his bill of lading for the goods in question. We must have the properly authorized and notarized bills of lading to offer you a speedy refund and send the aforementioned product back to our suppliers back in the Rue Dauphine."
"My good lass, how sweetly simple you make the entire complicated process sound. But whilst my feelings of woe and unhappiness with the product are matched only by my general outlook on the sad betidings of life on this mortal coil, my only desire is to gain through means fair or foul a mere replacement for the mundane objects which my merry friends and I while way the afternoon at games of chance and merriment."
"My good sir, my fine old English gentleman, the objects of your heart's fondest desiring, the playing cards that you seek, they make their home not on Victoria Grove but merely a few short steps away at the register named in honor of the God-King of all France Louis Quince - Register 15."
A bellow of rage that resembles the sounds of a mad bull being boiled alive splits the air of the shop. Timid mothers seeking on the makings of Sunday dinner rush madly to cover the delicate ears of their toddling youngsters, least the foul-mouthed vitriol poison their delicate minds and blast the tiny bones of their ears into dust.
"This is a poor excuse for service that you dare trade to offer me. Loyal customers that such am I should never be asked to retrieve my own goods from your filthy, dirty and disgusting stocks like a common Irish peasant. I am old and infirm."
"My service with the British army during the conquest of the heathen savages of the boiling hot Raj is legendary. Meant to serve the lowly commoners are, for they are placed on that station in the wheel of life by the gods of the heavens above, who are surely not unfeeling to their lot in life."
"You, serving girl that you are, are meant to be the dog to this master, and I will not fetch and carry for you."
"Good sir, behind you stands yet more fine folk needing assistance for their own problems of dire and dread state. Can you in good conscience not force recognizance of the simple truth that those gentry have rights equal and unassailable as your own to service? Can this poor lass of a child in mine own good conscience leave mine appointed post for so little as a reason as to save such a fine gentleman as yourself a mere few steps?
“Wench, recognize thy betters,” roared the Yankee, stilling the massed crowds and drawing stares of utmost pity for the poor, pitiable, tired and bedraggled English lass left to deal with such a surly and unruly, bitter and unrepentant, disreputable and sour old wretch of an excuse for a human being.
The girl sighed deeply inward, to her toes, nay, to the very depths of her despairing soul, drawing strength from the thoughts of the stolen kisses, the memory of the burning touch of her lover’s flame-tinged fingers making circles along the knobs in her spine and caressing the mounds on her breasts. She took a step, then another and another and yet another from behind her register. “If I may but serve you my liege,” she shot sarcastically and in an evil glare. “I will return in good order and in a short time with the right and proper merchandise as such is required by such a fine old gentleman such as yourself.”
She lurches over to the display as if existing in the state of a perpetual walking, waking dream, unable to see, to hear, to feel or to bear the pain of living life. Snatching the proper merchandise to make this horrid creature leave her sight, her sound, her very life, she runs as if for her life back to her appointed post as if the very hounds of hell were nipping her heels and causing the rips in her stockings and sniffing the soles of her feet.
“Are these the goods in question to complete the requirements of your much discussed and previously maligned gaming experience, my taunting, teasing, nefarious, black-hearted soul of a gentleman?”
Ledgers. Inkpots. Scribbles. Paper. String. Packages.
Later that night …..
“Oh my love, I knew you would come. I knew you would not desert my lonely heart’s ship upon the storm-tossed seas of fate, to be tossed like tiny craft left adrift in a hurricane of emotion. Take me my Lord, take me ….