Lose Yourself While Finding Yourself

Hey there Sunshine, I’m back yet again! Sitting at work today, trying to put back together the pieces of my life recently. You know how things go with me (and with pretty much every one else out there these days): as soon as things start to fall into place, other things start crumbling down around them.

One thing that had been crumbling for me for many years was my identity. I would find an event, or an activity that I really enjoyed and that brought some sort of sense of accomplishment into my life. Then I’d try to cram my life full of a reasonable facsimile of that thing. I didn’t sit down and think, “What about this makes me happy? What about it brings me joy? What other things could bring me the same feeling?”. No, I just rushed out there and tried to cram crap into my life.

Case in point, for 10 years I helped out with one very specific fundraiser. The frat boys I hung around with did an event every fall called Homeless for the Homeless. Basically, they would make a shelter on campus out of wooden skids, cardboard boxes, tarps, and twine. Then, they would “live” in this shelter for three days. No one person stayed the entire time. They made a schedule so people could go to class, and go to work, and take the time to eat and warm up somewhere. But at night, a bunch of people would all hang out until the wee hours of the morning, and part of that group would actually sleep in the shelter. The entire time everyone involved would be collecting food, money, clothes, and blankets for the local Downtown Mission.

I spent a few year sleeping in the shelter. Every year, I would gather up bags of clothes and food to bring down to donate. There were even a few times when no frat brother was available to supervise the site, my friend and I were the ones left in charge. I helped build 6 different shelters, tore down 8 of them, and got to remind the design team each year why we needed a peaked tarp roof (the Year of the Flat Roof also happened to be the Year of the Sleet Storm and the Year the Roof Caved In in Multiple Places During the Night). It didn’t matter how cold, or wet, or sleep deprived I got. Something about this one particular fundraiser seemed to give me life.

So what do I do? I sign up for ALL the fundraisers!

I joined student groups that I didn’t give a crap about in university. I marched in protests, walked in parades, sold cupcakes for charity, baked cupcakes for charity, and even once walked around in a blizzard wearing a banana costume over my clothes. None of these things gave me the same feeling as that one fundraiser, so I figured I just needed more fundraisers.

Looking back now, I see the error of my ways. That one fundraiser had meaning to me. At one point in time, I spent sporadic nights sleeping on the street. I had to make a box of mac’n’cheese last me three days. I once had nothing to eat in my cupboard for a week but two cans of corn, a Mr. Noodle, a loaf of bread, and half a jar of peanut butter. I had a very rough idea of what it’s like to be homeless (though I did have somewhere to go back to after a day or three, it’s a very long story). I knew what it was like to go to bed hungry and not know if I would eat the next day. I had used the food bank at the mission quite a few times, bringing home zip-lock bags of rice and butter wrapped in tin foil.

Basically, this one fundraiser I did every year was super important to me, deep in the cockles of my heart. Maybe in the sub-cockles, maybe in the liver, maybe in the kidney, maybe even in the colon. But it was me giving back to somewhere that had helped me so much 15 years ago now, and helping people who were in situations similar to what I had been through. My heart wasn’t in the act of fundraising, it was in helping the homeless.

It took me many, many years to realize this, though. I poured myself into volunteering with every single organization and campaign that asked me. I can remember standing in the Student Center in my fourth year of university, selling Cinnabons for a social justice organization. I was on their board of directors and chair of their Event Planning and Fundraising Committee, but couldn’t find the need in me to throw myself into any campaign. I think I failed at every single event I tried to put on, the Cinnabon sale included.

When I was transferred to the store downtown last year, I knew that there were changes coming. I swore that I would be true to myself, and not lose what made me me. I was determined to be the girl behind the counter who wore funny hats, danced to the radio, and marathoned Vines like they were going out of style (which they kinda did, since Vine is just gone). I thought that these were the things important to me, that these were the things that made me special.

Over the summer, Strength came into my store without a shirt on and was asked to leave. He came back in a minute later wearing jeans wrapped around his neck like a scarf. My manager came out to talk to him while he stood there shirtless in my line. Here was this super buff shirtless man standing here, trying to reason with management that his jeans/scarf concoction was no different than a woman in a tube top or a man in one of those ridiculous tank tops that is basically thread with a loose band of fabric around their middle. I’m not going to lie, Sunshine, the man was majestically gorgeous, all glistening and sweaty. He argued with my manager for a bit, giggled at my reply to his questionable fashion, and then said something I wasn’t expecting.

“I’m homeless. Where the hell am I supposed to get a shirt?”

This majestic being in front of me didn’t look like my preconceived notion of what a homeless person should look like. He was goofy and sincere, muscly and in shape, and he was cute as hell! In the movies homeless people were always dirty and stinky and covered in poop. This man looked like the opposite of that, and I was seriously shocked.

After arguing for a while, Strength was asked to leave and not come back. A few months later, he stopped in on a Sunday when I was in charge. He said he didn’t want to cause any trouble or bother anyone, he just wanted to apologize for his behaviour. He shook my hand and told me that he was all kinds of messed up, but he wanted to at least be the kind of man who could walk into our store and buy something. I got him to talk to our manager later that week, and soon Strength was a regular fixture.

One day, they shut down the streets for a festival for half the day. Strength was running around cleaning up garbage, directing traffic in our tiny parking lot, acting as security for roadside stands, and even playing basketball with random people. Once the festivities had died down and the streets had reopened, I found him curled up in a ball in the back of our parking lot. Up until that point I had been very hesitant about getting to know any of the regular homeless folk in the area. But for whatever reason that day, I just walked right over and plopped down next to him. We spent my break talking about how much work he had done, and how much I appreciated him keeping our parking lot clean and accident free. In the end I gave him the last dollar I had, plus the bag of snacks I had just bought.

From that day forward, something changed. Strength and I started hanging out in the parking lot. When I started my second job, he would (and still does) randomly meet me so that I don’t have to walk back to my car alone. After he was banned again from our store (another long story), we spent a month apart and then jumped right into coffee dates and hanging out in fast food places together. I had started keeping bags with socks, snacks, and rain ponchos in my car for him. In that month apart, I would search downtown for him and pass out whatever I had in my bag to others who needed it.

I know it sounds more than a little crazy, but hanging out with him awoke something in me. Being with him, helping others in his position, it gave me the same feeling as the old Homeless for the Homeless fundraisers. Ironically, this past year was the first time in more than 20 years that fundraiser hasn’t run. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself walking through alleyways in the middle of a rainy afternoon, passing out ponchos. I never expected to be happy to see a homeless meth addict walk through the doors of my workplace. These were not things I was taught were good things.

I know that some people take issue with me doing some of the things I do, and that they especially take issue with my friendship with Strength. But the people who know him, the people I work with at both of my jobs, for the most part get it. We all worry about him, but no one there does more than me. Sounds crazy, right?

But this man somehow reminded me of the things that were important to me. When I looked at him and thought, “Well that’s not what a homeless person looks like”, I had to ask myself “then what did I look like 15 years ago?”. Most people don’t know much about that part of my life, but since meeting him I’ve been able to talk about it a lot more freely. I’m a lot more comfortable in my own skin, and I’m doing the things that make me feel like me.

The strangest thing, though, is that the things that I thought made me so special before really don’t hold much meaning to me now. I didn’t bust out the tiny hats this Christmas, at all. I still dance at work, but not in the same way I used to. And I haven’t had a good old Vine marathon in ages (although a coworker and I do still quote them to each other). The things that I thought were important to me were just things others noticed about me, regardless of how I felt about them.

I guess in finding myself downtown, I lost the West End me. I had to lose myself to find myself?

I know this is all rambly, Sunshine, but there is a lot going on here. I’ve gone through some super huge changes since my last run on this blog, and it looks like I may have some huge and super hard changes coming up in the near future. This change, finding both strength and Strength, are a precurser to many things going on right now.

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Well That Break Went A Little Long, Eh?

So, it’s been a while, eh Sunshine?

The last time we talked, I was all scared and freaked out in my new store. Let me tell you, that store is the best thing to happen to me in a long time.

Remember I was talking about the “parking lot people”? We have a pretty steady rotation of men who sporadically stand in the parking lot and either ask for money or ask someone to buy them booze (those ones are banned from the store). Well, on of the previously-banned asked permission to shop again from my manager and started cleaning our parking lot in return. Months later, he’s banned again (he is a very long story that you will hear lots more of), but he’s also one of my favourite people in the world at the moment. Lil ‘ole me, who was shaking in my steel-toed booties at the thought of dealing with downtown people, went out and befriended a piano playing homeless meth addict.

For real. Like, seriously.

For the sake of his anonymity, I’ll just call him Strength (anyone who’s met him know why). We’ve gone out on coffee dates, taken some long walks together, I bring him snacks and socks, and he’s come to my other job to play piano for me.

Oh ya, that reminds me: I got a second job.

Late in the summer, I had testing and an interview with our public library system. I came home afterwards, called my mother and spent an hour telling her how it was a lost cause. The job was for an on-call supply person to fill in at all of the library branches in the city. There I was with limited availability thanks to my customer service job, no car, and a reliance on a laughable public transit system.

Well, they loved me. I mean, who wouldn’t? I somehow got hired and wound up in a training group of eight with a guy I went to University with. He’s like the love child of Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Chandler Bing from F*R*I*E*N*D*S, but much more charming. Made for an interesting week of training.

So I’ve been mainly picking up shifts at the library closest to the store I work at. Sometimes on his more lucid days (meth is one hell of a drug, kids), Strength will stop by the library for a private piano concert and to walk me back to the store. Other days, while walking between the jobs, I will randomly run into him while he hunts diamonds and data mines. We try and make plans, but his memory is so far gone that he forgets to meet me at work an hour after I remind him to. I was actually surprised the one day when he remembered to meet me for breakfast so I could take him out for a drive in my car.

I did mention that I bought a car, right?

She’s a little green lemon….I mean, a 2005 Pontiac Pursuit. I haven’t even given her a proper name yet, since she pisses me off so much. Looking back now, I know I got royally screwed by the dealer I bought her from. There’s a recall on her power steering system that was never attended to, which causes me to lose power steering randomly at low speeds. There’s also an issue with the transmission filter being clogged because her transmission fluid has never been flushed and the filter has never been changed. This causes the traction control to turn itself off and the transmission to slip from time to time.

It’s quite terrifying, really.

Let’s see, it there anything I missed? Little Sketchpad McCaffrey turned out to be a boy. Things with the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend have been falling apart faster than the Trump cabinet. I’ve been volunteering again, wandering around and talking to homeless people and bringing them sandwiches and granola bars. Annoying Roommate is still uber annoying.

I think that’s everything.

Well, hopefully in this new year I’ll be better able to make time to write again. I’ve been working on a few things here and there in notebooks, but nothing too serious. I’ll try to update here more, get some of my twirly brain commotion onto the interwebs.

Until then, stay classy Sunshine!

A Very Late Update, with More to Come Soon

Hello, lovelies!

Yes, it’s been about a month and a half since my last update. I have had a lot going on in 2018 and came to realize that I was using this blog more as a personal diary than as what I had intended it for: a tool or resource to help others learn from my mistakes and experiences.

Yes, some good came of that. I was able to open up quite a bit about my anxiety, and about the issues I’ve had involving alcohol in my life. Those are huge things for me and really helped me grow as a person. Also, I got a few emails (which I chose to keep to myself and not post here) from others going through similar experiences with alcoholic partners and family members. Still, this seemed more LiveJournal than ProfessionalWiter’sBlog. So, while I took the time to adjust to my new store, I imposed a blog-hiatus on myself: no writing, no note-taking, no pre-planning at all. I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo to help get this blog back on track, but I’m still unsure as to my participation in it.

So what has been happening in my life lately?

My new store is quite a bit rougher than the old one. We have “parking lot people” who beg for change and a few have actually grabbed people and demanded money. So there’s that to deal with.

Also, have a lot more shoplifting. No one likes doing the reports and camera work so I could spend a whole day catching up on that if I could. We have banned more people for stealing in the 6 or so weeks I’ve been at this store than we did the entire almost 4 years at my last store. And some of them are so brazen. Just the other day one walked in and just started loading up her backpack. When the assistant manager caught her, she dumped everything and started receiting legal jargon at him about how he couldn’t call the police on her because she technically hadn’t stolen yet (which would be true, if we didn’t have her on camera stealing a few times in the past week, and if she were not permenantly banned from the store). She’s been through the system enough that some stores know her by name.

There’s also a lot more people with different addiction issues. We have a very heavy meth user who tried to attack our security staff one day, who keeps trying to come in. He scares the hell out of me. The other people with these issues are mostly fine, but this guy almost put his fist through a plate-glass window because I refused him service once. I am actually terrified some nights that I’m going to be attacked by one of the people we refuse or ban from the store.

I do have a former coworker I had a crush on working with me now. I will freely admit that physically, this man is perfect. I mean, his ass should be framed and hung up in the Louvre because it is a damn work of art. Working with him again, though, the crush isn’t there anymore. We can still tease each other back and forth, but I know that the two of us are a horrible match. It’s fun now having him around because we get along great and he’s a great person in general. Now that we both have pets, every shift pretty much starts with the sharing of pet pictures.

I’ve taken a lot more sick days at this store in the last 6 weeks than I usually take in a year. I usually take maybe two a year. Today was my third day since moving to this store, after already taking one before the move there. I took two days off one week because this store is horrible for my anxiety, and I was puking more than I was eating for a while. I needed a few days to get my strength back and keep some food in me. I had my first full-blown, laying on the floor in hysterics, screaming and crying and shaking, totally scary panic attack since my last year of University. Usually, it’s more of the jittery, pukey, head constantly spinning and heart racing feeling I get, and that I’m able to somehow deal with. But this time, I just went over the edge. It scared the hell out of the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend, who had no clue how to help. His first instinct was to hold me, but that’s pretty much the opposite of what I needed. I let him try to help, though, and got myself calmed down a bit. Later that week, though, when I still hadn’t completely come down, I had to take two days off. I just told the boss I was having stomache issues.

Also, I’m not as forthcoming with my anxiety issues with my coworkers here as I was at my other store. My former assistant manager moved to this store the week after me, and he knows a bit about my issues. But I don’t talk about them freely like I did before. There just seems to be so much more judgement, and gossip, and back-talking that I don’t feel comfortable speaking up. That was a big reason why I didn’t update here: I knew I could talk freely on here, but needed to become comfortable in my daily life with it again too. After renaming my group chat with my former work fam to “Fam Squad”, and sharing in the misery with them, I realize now that there are too many trust issues in my store for me to be open. I don’t have the bond with my coworkers that I did before. I’m much more guarded about sharing information about pretty much anything with anyone but three coworkers I knew before moving here.

To top all of this off, I took another sick day Wednesday. My wrist has been bothering me due to the increase in use. Remember, I was bumped back to 4 hours a week. That means I got roughly 175 customers a week, or 700 a month. At my new store, I’m getting closer to 10,000 customers a month, which means more time on the scanning gun. This is in addition to my new duties scanning the store (with a gun that uses the same motions), The increased strain has left me with the beginnings of a repetitive stress injury. How did I find this out? A bird flew in through an open door at home. While trying to corral cats and shoo the bird, I fell on my already sore wrist and sprained it. Took a day off work, went to a clinic, and am now medicating with wine because the doctor knows I’ll listen to my body and what I need to do rather than drag myself halfway across town to a series of different medical appointments over a series of months. If I have any further issues, I’m more than welcome to come back and see him. But he didn’t give me papers for work, or a prescription.

My wrist has been ok so far today. I practically destroyed it at work last night, so I’m surprised I’m not in more pain. To top everything off, we have a new District Manager who is changing everything about every store, and is passing down new motion study procedures to all of our larger stores from her bosses. Somehow it’s supposed to take us only 10 minutes to fully scan and put away a skid of product, even though most stores are short handed and some have only one person working the load at a time.  And then they wonder why so many of us are getting injured………

Of course, this has all been on top of everything else that comes with life. The apprently accepting Bowser Kitten has fully embraced his new baby sister Baby Sketchpad McCaffrey. The two are pretty damn adordable together now. He’s a bit protective of her at times, and she’s a hyperactive accident waiting to happen. It’s a match made in heaven.

We had some family issues to deal with for a while, and had the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend’s father stay with us a few nights so AAB could help him out the following morning. That really took a toll on AAB, but baby kitten snuggles have been helping a lot. I have some new work possibilities coming up, and have been thinking about doing some more schooling if none of those pan out.

So with this all off of my chest, I’m hoping to get back to this blog’s original purpose: to give people to knowledges, resources, tools, and advice that they generally aren’t given to make important decisions, create better habits, and live the best life they can. Yes, I will update about myself and my life from time to time, but not at the rate I was recently. I want this blog to be more of a help to others than glorified LiveJournal.

And with that, Sunshine, I bid you adieu for the day. One of my former coworkers gets married tomorrow, and I have a lot of beauty crap to do today before work to get ready for the party tomorrow. AAB and I will be heading out there with my WorkBFF and her fiancee, and we’ll all be reunited with the FamSquad for the day. Now, go out there and enjoy the day!

Updates

Wow, I really forgot how much I hate having random roommates. The creepy roommate left for 8 weeks to go visit his family and came back very early this morning. I’ve been hiding out in the bedroom all morning with my homemade granola, trying to avoid him before I’m sufficiently caffeinated to deal with the world.

I have to talk to random people all day at work, where I’m awake and chipper and full of flavoured water and bubblegum. I don’t want to have to do the same thing here, not even showered, with someone who thinks that every time we pass each other in the hallway we absolutely need to have a long and awkward conversation.

I guess that’s par lately, though. I’ve kind of avoided coming on here the last few weeks because……… well, everything just sucks. And when everything sucks, my brain goes blank. I can’t even write erotic friend fiction anymore, much to the disappointment of my coworkers.

Right after Easter, our hours were cut at the store. Not just “well, guess I can learn to survive on 25 hours instead of 30 hours” cut. I mean “well, that 37 hour week was nice. What the hell am I going to do with myself when I only have 4 hours next week” slashing.

For the entire month of April, I was lucky to get scheduled for more than 4 hours a week. The boss pulled me aside, went over the scheduling and budget with me, and swore things would get at least a little better. Just not any time soon. So, I had to start looking for a second job.

Had a few interviews, got a bunch of rejections. Then I signed up with a placement agency that seemed super promising. They recruit for a place I’m dying to work for and said they always have openings there. They promised they’d send me every listing for there as it came in. That was weeks ago, and I haven’t seen anything since.

I’ve spent days going over cover letter tips because those damn things are the bane of my existence. I’ve got at least half a dozen different versions of my resume ready to tailor, and have a small collection of application packages from various local businesses. Basically, when I’m not at work I’m at home looking for work.

That doesn’t seem to matter, though. The second week of April the boss called me on one of my many days off. The transfer notices came out for our district, and I’m being transferred to our downtown location.

Now, there’s a little group of us who have worked together for years. When they built our new location, we did the move from the old one together. We’re like a little family, the five of us. So as soon as I got off the phone, I went into our online group chat to tell them the bad news. Turns out, all five of us are being separated. Four of us got transferred to different stores, with one staying behind. We have been a collective emotional wreck since that day.

This group of us is family. We’re all super protective of each other, and of the other people at our store. When the big scary customer guy came threatening me and stabbing at me with his pen, it was my work family that came to my rescue and got him out of the store.  We’ve gone to each other’s kids’ birthday parties and weddings. We’ve celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, cats, and Sundays together sitting poolside with too many drinks. MamaBear’s two sons are my favourite little gentlemen, while PapaBear’s kids are the cutest little balls of awkwardness and hyperactivity. Sugar and I (she calls me Cinnamon because of my red hair) have been leaving chocolate bars in each other’s lockers for years now. And the WorkBFF, well if I get into why she’s awesome I’m going to start crying again.

There have been a lot of tears shed, and a lot of group hugs. Our last day at this store is Saturday, and it is going to be one sloppy day. The WorkBFF and I are closing together that night, and don’t think we can make it through the shift without crying a few times. Every time we close the store together, she drops me off after work. The last few times, I’ve managed to contain my tears until I’ve gotten out of the car in my driveway.

Throughout all of this, things at home have been ridiculously strained. The Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend has been anything but amazingly awesome. I’ve caught him hiding alcohol from me a dozen times in the last weeks, and caught him shopping at other liquor stores to hide his purchases from me. He’s been back on the hard liquor with a vengeance, and his drinking is just spiralling.

We had planned on doing so much together while our roommate was gone. Instead, we spent more time sleeping in separate rooms than together because of the fights about his drinking. His drinking puts a huge strain on our relationship, and his lack of caring makes it worse.

At night, I fluctuate between two types of dreams now. In one, AAB gets drunk and angry with me. I know he would never hit me in real life, but he does in my dreams. He hits me, or pushes me, or tries to hurt Bowser. Whatever he does, I wind up getting hurt badly while he just rages on.

In the other dreams, he’s gone. I’ve left him and started over in a new apartment alone. I have a cute little bar cart, Bowser has a sibling, I have plants growing on the window sill. I’m happy. Even though I’m working all the time and super stressed in the dreams, I’m still happy to be alone.

I don’t think it’s possible to leave him, though. He’s pointed out dozens of times that regardless of how much he’s drinking, he’s still much better than he was when we met. The only thing that would ever drive him to drink like that again would be if I left him. If I left him he would drink himself out of a job, and a home, and wind up on the streets. If I leave, then that will drive him to drink even more, and it will be my fault that his life is destroyed. I can’t do that to someone, and couldn’t live with myself knowing I’m responsible for someone else’s alcoholism.

I’ve spent the last 4 weeks in a constant state of panicked haze. Nothing seems real, nothing seems safe. I’m constantly waiting for something more to go wrong. Every time I drive with AAB I panic, wondering how much he drank so far that day. I’m constantly worried that he’s going to hurt himself or someone else while he’s driving, or while he’s at work.  And he gets so mean and demanding when he drinks, too. The other night he announced that we’re getting a kitten, he’s picking it out, and the sometimes scratchy Bowser Kitten needs to get declawed because he’s a vicious beast of an animal who will kill anything smaller than him.

This was also the day after he out-catted Bowser Kitten in the Battle of the Bathroom Centipede. Bowser was too gentle with it, and it almost escaped. Oh, that vicious little beast, eh?

I’ve been trying to write more to take my mind off of everything, but nothing is coming of it. At least, nothing I can throw on here. I have dozens of half-finished pieces sitting on my desktop, and a few more scribbled in notebooks. I don’t know, maybe I need a new blog. Or multiple blogs for multiple genres. Or maybe just stop altogether.

I don’t know, my brain isn’t clear enough for rational thought anymore. I think it’s time for my lunchtime cry now.

The Tale of the Couple That Damn Near Broke Me

Financial panic. I had a few weeks here with almost no hours before they started slowly increasing. Now I’m obsessively doing things to try and better myself. I’m making my game plan to scrub this house down completely, now that my knees will bend properly after my fall. I’m writing more, and going through the giant stacks of research I have piled around the bedroom. I’m going through all my usual job search sites, looking for something to help me afford to pay my bills and pay off my debt. I cut back on my drinking quite a bit too. I’d usually have 2 or 3 glasses of wine a night to help me relax. With the exception of a glass of wine Thursday night after my fall, and a bit of sparkling wine in my juice last night with dinner, I didn’t drink since last weekend. I switched over to fruit juices mixed with club soda. It’s helped me get up early each day feeling awake and refreshed, instead of going back to sleep for another 2 hours.

I’m trying to put myself out there in a bunch of different ways. Usually, this makes me feel really great like a giant weight is being slowly lifted from my shoulders. But my anxiety is getting in the way of that feeling this time. It seems like the smallest thing can make that feeling go away. I’m trying my best to push through it, but working in customer service makes it pretty damn hard. The nasty customers are starting to get to me.  I had a couple of Saturday night that just made me slam my head into the counter. Seriously, I dropped my head onto the counter when they left, and the customer in line behind them just said, “Take your time. That was rough.” And they had only seen my interactions with them during the sale, not the part that happened before that!

So, here is the story of a couple who damn near broke me. As usual, in order to comply with my company’s social media policy, certain details have been changed to protect the identities of those involved, and so that you can’t figure out exactly where I work. I guess they think the 7 of you out there reading this are going to incite a riot in my store to try and protect me from nasty customers or something. So anyway….

The Tale of the Couple That Damn Near Broke Me

Saturday night started out like a regular night. I was working my favourite register by the door, chatting away with customers and checking ID’s. I had the usual mix of pleasant people, happy to be getting supplies for their weekend of relaxing, and moody young folk upset that I need to see their ID before letting them buy certain things. I’m a very bubbly but strict cashier, so I’m used to people trying to give me a hard time. I can brush it off a good 99% of the time.

Then that 1% walked up to my counter. They had a cooler bag with them, and inside was two very large bottle of pre-mixed drinks that we sell. Both bottles were a little more than half-way full, so neither of them was sealed. Store policy is that no one can return an opened product unless there is something wrong with it, and they’re willing to make a product complaint. We take down all of their information and send the product off to be tested to see if there was something seriously wrong with it. Usually, if we get something back for a complaint, then other stores in our chain are getting the same thing returned to them. We get a notice from HQ telling us to pull the product while they investigate.

So Mr. and Mrs. Wankerpants come up to my counter, put their cooler bag down, and ‘Karen’ launches into her story.

“We were away on vacation a while back and bought this bottle here. We put it in the fridge when we got home, and then we saw the same product in a different location. So we bought it there, too. They don’t look the same, so we opened them and each had a glass of each one. It didn’t make us sick or anything, and it tasted fine. But we want out money back for these. There’s obviously something wrong with one of them.”

Now I’m not allowed to just give people back their money. There’s a certain process to everything. So I offered to run to the office, just a few feet away, and grab my manager so they could talk to him. No returns at all can get processed without a manager or shift leader’s say-so.

Well, Karen wasn’t having any of that!

“Well, wait! Look, you can see right here that the bottles are totally the same. The labels are identical even! These are supposed to be the same drink! But this one (holds up the first one they bought) is almost white, it’s so damn light! Look how blue this other one is! This looks like all the others on the shelves! There has to be something wrong here. Just give me our money back and we’ll forget the whole thing.”

Every time I tried to leave my till to go get my manager, Karen would start yammering on again about the colour difference, and how they bought it in a different town. It took at least three more tries before I was able to convince her that I was just grabbing the manager so he could enter a ‘return code’ into the register so I could return their things.

My manager isn’t an idiot. He and I both know that if you think there’s something wrong with the ginormous bottle of blue freeze you just bought, you don’t drink a good liter of it before returning it. He tried to explain to the couple that we couldn’t take the bottle unless they did a product complaint, which means we would have to enter all of their contact info into our computer. It’s a safety thing, in case your food or drink somehow really was poison, so we can contact you and let you know. But the Wankerpants couple was having none of that.  Karen kept trying to shut us down every time we opened our mouths.

“We don’t want to cause a huge fuss here. We’ll just take our money back. No need to send this away or anything, we don’t want to cause you all that trouble.”

We tried to tell her, yet again, that in order to return the bottle we needed to send it away for testing. If there’s a serious problem with one bottle, then there could be a problem with a whole batch of this stuff. We needed to make sure that there’s nothing in that bottle that can seriously harm your health.

“Well, there’s just no need for that! I mean, we each had a little glass and we’re both fine! This can’t be poison or dangerous, it’s just a little off. We’ll just take our money back and leave.”

We tried a different approach. There was a scandal a few years back where someone out there somehow was getting into juice bottles without breaking the seal on them. They could extract all the juice, and then refill the bottle with water. Then they would return them to the store, where they would be put back on the shelf. Eventually, someone would buy the bottle, open it up, and find water where there should be OJ. With people out there capable of that, we can’t just take back a bottle without sending it off to be tested. Then we’d be able to find the tiny traces of tampering that method leaves behind to prove what happened.

“Oh, I’m sure no one did that to our bottle! I mean, it didn’t look tampered with when we bought it! Just give us our money and we’ll leave.”

Ok, one last try. At this point, the boss flat out tells Karen and her hubby that he’s not returning her items because they are open. That means that anyone, at any time, could’ve put anything in that bottle and then brought it in to return it. He used our version of the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech: “We’ve been burned enough times by people trying to scam us that it ruins things for good honest people like yourself”.

What he didn’t tell them was that there is no way in hell that only one bottle of this stuff could be tainted like that without someone tampering with it. The colour difference was ridiculously obvious, and this is a very popular product for some reason. Even in our little store, we have a few dozen bottles of this in stock at all times, even more in the summer when people freeze it into slushies to drink on their patios. Someone (a stock person, the cashier who served them, someone unloading the truck) would’ve noticed this one bottle that looked nothing like any of the others. It would’ve been pulled from the stock and sent away for testing. And then we would’ve gotten the recall notices to pull all stock until testing was done, just to be safe.

And how do we know that there weren’t more bottles like this? Because if an entire batch of this stuff went out like this, we would’ve heard from HQ immediately after it had been unloaded at the first store. There would’ve been a mass recall, which would’ve made the news. We all would’ve heard about it. That means that this one individual bottle is the only one of its kind. And since it was bought from a store while they were on vacation in a town that is home to our flagship store (ie., the very last store that would ever let something like this out of their store because they’re just that strict about everything), then it must have been altered after it left the store.

In short, Mr. and Mrs. Wankerpants were trying to pull a fast one on us and didn’t expect anyone with a brain to be working retail.  Mr. Wankerpants caught on that they weren’t getting any money out of us, and finally opened his mouth.

“Come on hun, let’s just get our shopping done. This isn’t Costco, where they actually care about their customers.”

They wandered off into the store, little cooler bag all sealed up in their shopping cart. Security had to watch them to make sure they didn’t try to slip anything else into that stupid bag. Every now and then they’d wander past my till and Karen would practically yell out, “You’re right dear. At [K-Mart/Freshco/Target/WalMart/some other big store] they know how to treat their customers, not like here!”. Seriously, she must have said it like 7 times. They wandered around the store for what felt like forever, only to come back up to my register with Perrier and hotdogs. $43 worth of Perrier and hotdogs, to be exact.

I kept my customer service face on, smiling while I rang everything through. I asked for their points card and gave them their total. So, Karen pulls out a roll of loonies and a bag full of change. I took her roll of loonies and opened the ends to make sure it really was full of loonies, just like we’re trained to do.

“Oh look, Gerald, now we’re counterfeiting money too! I guess we really branched out from being common bootleggers like these idiots think.”

Right then and there, I had enough. I knew I couldn’t snap back at her, so I just dumped out all the change onto my counter. Then I counted out her damn $43 in the slowest, longest way possible. Why take a quarter when I can take five nickles? Oops, I think I miscounted those loonies, I’d better start from the beginning. I just dragged it out as long as possible.

Finally, I was through with them. I packed up their things, told them to have a nice day, and turned to greet my next customer. That’s when Karen had to get in one last barb at me.

“You know dear, I really don’t think customer service is your thing. You don’t really care about the customers. Maybe you should try going back to school, getting an education. Do you think you could find a school that would take someone like you?” Then she smirked at me and walked out the door.

And that’s when my head hit the counter. Luckily the next customer in line was someone I know, who also works retail in our little plaza, and who is in the same boat as me.

Look here Karen, I have an education! I’ve got two university degrees (BA[H] Criminology, BA Psychology), a college certificate (Certificate of Office Administration), and computer training (Microsoft Level III equivalency in both Word and Excel, with Intermediate level training in PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, and OneNote). I’m drowning in student loan and credit card debt, all so I could find myself a job where the Karens of the world wouldn’t be able to talk down to me like that. As it turns out, everyone has their Karens and everyone had the same idea. There are so many grads out there, with not enough jobs that we trained for to go around, that a whole tonne of us wind up working the very jobs our Karens think are beneath her. After hearing for years and years that without an education I’d wind up working retail, the very same people are telling me to be grateful I work in retail, and maybe I just need more education.

This just set off all kinds of things in my head. I was doing so well all week, and this one bitch set it all back. I feel like I’m just wasting my life right now like I’ll never amount to anything. If I didn’t have all of this debt, I would love to just keep the job I have forever. I love my coworkers and my friends from work. They’re like a second family to me. But I spent so much time and money trying to achieve certain things, and I just never did. And now I just feel like nothing.

I know, I can’t let one customer get me down, especially someone like the Wankerpants couple. They just struck a nerve that’s been exposed for too long.

Sir, Please Don’t Shove Bottles in your Pants

It’s been a long, strange few days. The Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend is worn out from his 10-hour days at work and just wants to curl up on the couch and eat pizza tonight. So instead of his usual experimentation in the kitchen, he’s making a frozen pizza and some garlic bread. Of course, he can’t just throw the pizza in the oven. He’s in there right now throwing on extra mushrooms and cheese, and grating cheese and garlic for the pre-made garlic bread. Even when he’s too tired to be creative in the kitchen, he is so damn creative in the kitchen!

I think part of the reason we’re not cooking tonight is because of the damn fruit flies in this house right now. I tried for weeks to get rid of them. I’ve scrubbed the kitchen down, gotten rid of any food sitting out, I even set up little traps for them with wine and dish soap. But they just keep coming from somewhere. Well, AAB may have found where they’re coming from. It seems that the roommate in the basement is doing more than just stealing forks from us. Every two weeks or so, we run out of cutlery and plates, before suddenly everything is clean and put away while we’re both gone. We’ve known that it’s him hoarding it all in his room. Well, it turns out it’s worse than I thought.

AAB went downstairs to do his laundry. There, in the laundry tub in the laundry room, is a massive pile of plates, cutlery, pots, and pans. They’re not washed, and some of them are not even rinsed. If he’s letting this sit out in the open, what the hell kind of shape is his room in?

I’m thinking that our biggest goal for 2018 should be to figure out our housing situation. I’ve been putting off making any decisions because I’ve applied for jobs in other cities. I don’t want to buy a house or sign a lease, only to get a job four hours away. This is getting to be a little ridiculous, though. I think it’s time to either shit or get off the proverbial pot. I mean, living with people who have such an overarching sense of entitlement is really starting to get to me. I mean, can you imagine moving in with other people, taking all of their kitchenware, hoarding them in your room covered in filth, and not even thanking them for letting you use them? Or how about not even asking if you can use them in the first place!

Ironically, that sense of entitlement is something a few of us were talking about at the end of my shift tonight at work. We were sharing stories about truly honest people who forget to mention the case of water on the bottom of their cart, only to return later to pay for it. I know, I didn’t think such people existed, but I work with one of them! People like her seem to be very few and far between, especially where I work. Standing outside the store tonight, we were going over the shoplifters we’ve caught on camera so far this week, and how many we possibly missed.

You see, a lot of the shoplifters we catch seem to follow a few different scripts. There is the “run in, grab and conceal the bottle, run out” kind. They’re kind of like the Smash’N’Grabs I witnessed when I was with friends in a convenience store late one in Detroit. That night, after the store had stopped selling beer and had just turned the lights off in the beer cooler, a group of kids came running in. Two of them grabbed as much beer as they could carry and headed for the door, while the other two smashed pop bottles on the floor as a distraction. This isn’t a new schtick, and it’s something they actually train pretty much any and all retail workers to look out for. Sure, their exit methods vary at times. Some run out claiming they forgot their wallet in the car. Others pretend they didn’t find what they were looking for and just head for the door. Some are in and out so quickly, you don’t even notice them at first.

Another popular type is the “bring a big bag and hide stuff in it” people. I mean, how do they think they’re getting away with this? Sure, they may be able to walk out the door, but that’s only because we’re not allowed to tackle suspected shoplifters anymore. We still have them on camera, and we document the crap out of them. When we have security in the store and they catch these people, they’re going down for every single theft we have them on camera doing. Some of these people are amazing though. I’ve seen people load bags up with hundreds of dollars worth of bottles and just walk out the door with a big grin on their face like they just got away with murder.

My personal favourite is what I like to call “The Pants People”. These people walk into a store and just start shoving stuff down their pants. It’s amazing just how much one person can fit into a pair of pants, really. These are the worst people to catch because if we get the product back it all has to be sanitized if we can still sell it. I’ve actually seen people walk in with elastic bands around the bottoms of their sweatpants just so they can fit more stuff in there without it falling out the bottom. Of course, this makes them easy targets to follow, considering elastic bands around your ankles is not exactly a huge trend this season.

What gets me with each and every one of these people we catch is the sense of entitlement they have. Most of the ones that we do catch with either security or police present just seem to think that it’s their right to walk in and take whatever the hell they want, without paying for it. We’re not talking about people stealing a loaf of bread to feed their starving family here. I have seen people who have the money to pay, sometimes with them in their wallets, and just not want to. More than once, I’ve seen someone get caught somewhere and then pull out the money for the items. They seem to think that if they just pay for it then and there after being caught, they’ll just be let go. The thing is, it doesn’t work like that.

Believe me when I say that I understand how expensive life can be. I have had to do without many times before. I’ve had to survive off of what I could get at food banks. I don’t have cable, or a car, or pricey electronics (aside from the computer I saved up for). I’m not out taking trips, or going on shopping sprees like some of my friends can do. I have to budget, and grocery shop at the dollar store at times. I haven’t eaten name brand macaroni and cheese in years because that’s a splurge for me. I know what it’s like to live paycheck to 4-days-before-the-next-paycheck. It sucks. But I keep doing what I’m doing, trying to get ahead even just a little bit. I know I’m not entitled to anything, the world doesn’t owe me a damn thing, and it’s no one’s job but my own to pay for my life choices.

Then I see these little Draco Malfoy brats coming into the store, shoving a bottle or two in their coat pockets, and pulling the “don’t you know who my father is” crap when they get caught. They seem to think that because their daddy is someone important, they can get away with anything.

Or we get the “well I’ve had a hard life, this is life’s way of giving back to me” shit-nobs who seem to think that because life didn’t go the way they planned, life somehow owes them. I have actually heard someone (not at my store, at a nearby drugstore while I was cashing out and security grabbed them) say that because they went to school for a certain career, and then couldn’t find work in that career six months later, the universe owed them for letting them waste all that time in school. Hell, if that were a good enough reason to steal, I’d be knocking over banks left, right, and centre!

It really just boggles my mind how people can rationalize something like stealing, making it seem like they have a right to do it. I get it, some people are in a place in life where stealing really does seem like the best option. Maybe they’re starving and are stealing food or something to sell for food. They could be in the throes of addiction, and can’t find any other way to pay for their habit. For them, stealing seems like the only option. These are the people society failed, the ones who need more social programs, the ones who need help. Still, that doesn’t give them the right to walk into my store and just load up their bag with whatever they damn well please. We need to fight for better social programs to help people like this, in order to stop people like this from resorting to theft.

The ones that bother me the most are the ones who have options. The ones who have the money to pay, but don’t think they should have to. The ones who do it for a thrill, or for a cheap night out. They’re the ones who pull the “don’t you know who my [relative] is” crap or pull out their wallet after they’re caught. These seem to be the majority of the ones I’m able to catch on camera, or in the act while on the floor at work. And these are the ones that piss me off the most.

I don’t know about you Sunshine, but I was raised not to take what isn’t mine. It doesn’t matter if it’s another kid’s toy, a product in a store, or credit for another person’s work. All of that is stealing, and it’s wrong. Why do these people seem to think it’s alright for them to do it?

Yes, You Really Do Need To Show ID

Well, today is a bust. I woke up feeling like death, dragged myself out of bed, and went to work. I am sore all over, my head is pounding, my neck is stiff and sore, and to top it all off I have cramps that could cripple a giraffe. We were also short staffed at work today, so I couldn’t even leave early. I have felt like falling down all day. Cases of coolers that I can usually throw around two at a time felt like they were filled with cement today. I could barely lift things, let alone be of much help doing our Monday afternoon load.

Luckily for me, the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend took the day off work today. He usually does four or five 10-11 hour days a week, one day of 8-10 hours, and a 5 hour day on the weekend. So, sometimes when Monday rolls around he’s just too damn tired to get up.  Instead, he stays home, watches a little tv, and just relaxes. But today he saw how sick I feel, and he’s been working at home all day. I came home to a freshly scrubbed kitchen. He even cleaned out the toaster and the microwave. The bed is all made and looking extra comfy for when I collapse after I finish typing this. And the ever playful Bowser Kitten looks like he’s played plenty of fetch today and will sleep well during my nap. He basically did everything I do in a day (except for the writing part) and is still going to make dinner, let me nap, and take care of me all afternoon and evening.

Having him around really cheers me up on days like today. On top of feeling horrible, I also had to deal with customers. For the most part, this usually goes ok. They put their item on the counter, I scan it, they pay, we say goodbye, and they leave. But sometimes, asking people for ID throws a wrench in our little routine. For the most part, people have no issue showing me their ID. There are always those few people out there who make a big deal out of it. Too big a deal, if you ask me. They seem to think they know my job better than I di, and frequently lecture me on why they don’t need ID. Or they huff and they puff and whine and pout and generally waste everyone’s time. Actually, there’s a whole lot of different things people do when it comes to ID that either really pisses most cashiers off, or gives us a damn good story to tell our families at Thanksgiving when they say, “Wow, your job is so easy. Must be nice to not have to deal with any real drama or work, eh?”.

And yes, I had someone say that to me last year at my parents’ New Years Day party.

1. I know the rules better than you do.

We get trained over and over about the rules when it comes to IDing people in our store. We’re told repeatedly about the consequences we could face if we don’t ID people properly. We know that corporate pays mystery shoppers just to come in and see if they get ID’d, and if we don’t ID them we could get in serious trouble. So for those of you who are wondering, all the different reasons we can have for legally asking you for your ID are as follows:

  1. You brought the product up to the counter, or are paying for the product, and look like you could be under 25.
  2. We saw you touching the product in the store while you’re shopping with someone else, they are buying something, but you are with them.
  3. We see you give money or any other form of payment, like a debit card or credit card, to someone who is buying booze.
  4. We hear you ask someone to buy you something.
  5. We hear you tell someone which product to buy.
  6. You came in as part of a large group, where multiple people are all picking up the product, talking about products, and it is all part of one large purchase.

If you bring a bottle up to the counter, put it down in front of the cashier, and your friend is paying for it, you both need to show ID. We actually had a guy last weekend put a bottle down on the counter in front of one of my little Kitten Crew cashiers, and his friend pulled out his wallet to pay. When she asked them both for ID, the one who carried the bottle up right in front of her said, ” I literally never touched it.”

She. Watched. You. Put. It. On. Her. Counter. Dude.

Luckily, this was the sassiest member of my little Kitten Crew. She can take abuse from customers, stare them down, and talk to them in a totally deadpan manner. She stared this dude right in the eye, grabbed the bottle away from him, and said: “I literally saw you put it down on the counter, so now I literally need to see your ID or you can literally just leave now.”

We get a tonne of young people who take a fit and claim they know the rules better than we do. We’ve had young kids claim they are the children of police officers and lawyers, so obviously, they know the law better than we do. They get right in our faces, try and taunt us, tell us their father will hear about this. They go the full Draco Malfoy.

If we ask you for ID, it’s because we had one of those 6 reasons above to do so. We’re not backing down. Once we ask you for ID, legally you have to show it to get your purchase. Once the words “I need to see your ID” leave my mouth, you’re showing me your ID or you’re leaving empty-handed.

2. No, you don’t need it.

Seriously, people tell us this all the time. We ask for ID and they say, “you don’t need that”.

Look, if we didn’t need it, we wouldn’t ask for it. You’re not the one who decides if I need to see your ID or not. If we have a reason to see your ID, we’re the ones who decide to ask for it. It has nothing to do with whether you think you need to show it.

3. Why would you threaten us?

One night, I had three guys all shopping together in our store. They were talking pretty loudly, so all of the cashiers knew they were shopping together. Like, we heard them talking about how much each of them was paying the other one to buy the rum for the three of them for the night. One of them grabbed the bottle, brought it half-way to my register, and then handed it to his friend who put it on my counter. I asked all three of them for ID.

Only one of them had it.

The one gentleman asked me a bunch of questions, very calmly and honestly, about why he needed ID, and what he should do the next time he comes in shopping and forgets to bring his ID with him. The other guy was nowhere near as nice. At first, he just kept insisting he didn’t need his ID. Then he basically took a sidebar with the friend who did have an ID. They whispered to each other just off to the side of my line, and then came right back up to my till. Then buddy had the nerve to look me in the eye and say, “I don’t know these two guys. I’m not with them. I don’t need ID.”

Seriously. He walked in with his two friends. He shopped with his two friends. He very loudly talked about giving his friend $15 towards a bottle of rum. Then he carried the bottle of run halfway up to my register before giving it to his friend to bring up. And suddenly he’s never met these guys in his life?

To make what turned into a very long, drawn-out, expletive-riddled story much shorter, I denied their purchase because they didn’t all have ID. I did what we’ve all been trained to do. Of course, this didn’t sit well with them.

These boys yelled and screamed at me, tried to convince me to sell to them anyway, and were just a general nuisance for a few minutes. I told them to leave, and that they weren’t being served by any of us there that night until they all had their ID with them. This didn’t sit well with them. They slowly walked back towards the door, still yelling at me. Once they got to the door, the only one in the group who actually had ID stood there staring at me. He stood there just pointing at me, and suddenly yelled out that he was going to “track [me] down and fuck [me] up”.

Want to know how you make sure you are watched by management and security in a store for the rest of your natural life? Threaten an employee.

I don’t think these guys realize, but they are being watched ridiculously closely any time they walk into any of our stores. Security knows their faces. We all do by now. All any of them have to do is step out of line in the slightest way just once, and they’re banned for life. You can’t just go around saying you’re going to track people down and mess them up and expect there to be no consequences.

4. We don’t take pictures of ID

I had a coworker who had the greatest reply to this once. It was so great that years later, we use this reply regularly. And I do mean regularly. Even on a slow weekend, the front end gets this situation a handful of times.

Someone will come into the store. In this situation, it’s usually a member of a small group of people. This group will walk around for at least half an hour, with a shopping cart, with all members of the group putting things into the cart. When they’re asked for ID at the counter, at least one person in the group will pull out their phone. They didn’t actually bring their ID with them, but they did take a picture of it on their phones. I mean, it’s not like pictures can be manipulated by modern-day technology or anything, right? A picture of a passport or license should be good enough.

No. No, it’s not.

As my coworker once said, “If all you have is a picture of your ID, then all you’re leaving with is a picture of the booze. Sorry.”

5. We don’t care if you let your kid drink at home

Seriously, we all drank underage at some point. Ok, except for my mother. She waited until college before going crazy on the cherry whiskey and orange juice. But my friends (and siblings, and their friends) drank underage. But back in my day, because I am ridiculously old and can say that, we knew well enough to give our money to our of-age purchaser before they went into the store and told them what to get us without walking in with them and yelling, “Oooh, this is what I want! Buy me this!”

My parents knew we drank underage. Like most of my friends’ parents, they said they would rather we do it at home or at the home of a friend (with trusted parents somewhere nearby) than stealing booze and hitting up a bush party somewhere. When I really really wanted a bottle of Crown Royal for a party, and I had the money leftover from babysitting, my dad went out and got it for me. I didn’t have to go to the store with him and tell him what I wanted. My friends and I knew that if we were mature enough to drink, then we were mature enough to know what we wanted and give someone the money to get it.

Ok, so our parents knew better back then than to bring some whiney, hormonal teenager into the liquor store with them to pick something out. Dad basically said, “Am I grabbing something for you? Or do you have a 19-year-old friend who’s going to buy you booze behind our backs anyway?” Dad didn’t let me get the cheap gut-rot stuff. He sat me down and taught me about responsible drinking. Then, mum told me the story about the college party she went to where she and her friend had too much cherry whiskey and orange juice. The grass never did grow back properly on her neighbour’s lawn where she threw up. If watching your mother roll around on the floor doing her impression of 19-year-old her rolling around in the back of her friend’s boyfriend’s van doesn’t scare you into drinking responsibly, nothing will.

The point is that my friends and I didn’t walk into the store advertising that our parents were buying us booze, and our parents didn’t let on that they were buying for us either. If we did get the privilege of going into the store with them, it was a “blow this and you’re drinking Kool-Aid at parties until you’re legal age” kind of deal. I wish I could say that kids these days keep screwing this up, but it’s the parents I take issue with.

I have lost track of the number of parents who have loudly yelled across the store, “Honey, do you want whiskey or vodka for your prom party tonight?” while talking to their very under-age child. Again, if we think you’re buying it for someone who doesn’t have ID proving they’re of legal age to buy it themselves, we can’t sell it to you. It’s called a “second party purchase”, and a cashier could actually do jail time for that.

So when you’re yelling across the store, or we hear you say something like, “Just grab what you want and bring it up to the counter”, legally we need to ID your kid. And really, we don’t care if you let them drink at home. Seriously, we don’t. If I had a kid that age, I would let them drink too. I want to teach my kids about responsible drinking, the consequences of drinking too much, and the legal restrictions put on the sale of alcohol. And part of that means not obviously buying for your kid right in front of me.

Look, if you come in and buy a bottle of whiskey, I’m going to assume it’s for you. If you buy 12 bottles of whiskey, I’m going to assume you’re buying gifts or stocking up on something. Any of those could be for your kid, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about that. But the second you let your kid pick out that whiskey in my store, we have a damn problem, Brenda!

6. The drinking age here is 19

The next province over, the legal drinking age is 18. You still have to be 19 to buy alcohol here.

I’m in a border city. In Michigan, the legal drinking age is 21. Many many American young adults trade in their stars and stripes and freedom from ‘Merica to come to the Great White North and drink legally in bars. When those 19 and 20-year-olds go back across the border, they still have to be 21 to buy alcohol there.

If you’re a student here from another country, or on vacation here, or visiting a friend, or on an international quest for love, or doing whatever the hell you’re doing that brought you to my store, and you’re from a country that has a lower drinking age, you still have to be 19 to drink here. End of story.

7. No, I won’t seriously ID your 5-year-old

When someone comes in with little kids, I like to joke around with the kids. I ask them for ID.

You mean you don’t have anything? Drivingt lisence? Fishing lisence? Boating lisence? A lisence to kill? What about a health card? A sick card? A feeling a little pukey but still want to go to school card?

What can I say, it’s my schtick. If your 5-year-old grabs a can from your basket and tried to put it on the counter, I know you’re not buying it for them. While they’re not allowed to touch anything in the store, I know they’re just trying to be helpful.

When people bring their 17-year-old kid into the store, let them pick out something, and then let them bring it up to the counter, do you have any idea how many of these parents yell something along the lines of “What, would you ID my 5-year-old if I brought them in with me?”

8. We’re IDing you because we have to, not because we want you

The Kitten Crew probably gets this more than I do, but even I get this sometimes. And I’m really damn old, remember?

If I ask for your ID, it’s because I need to legally verify that you can buy what you’re trying to purchase. Not because I want to sleep with you. Seriously.

That’s just what I can think of off the top of my head right now. And that head is freaking pounding. I think it’s time for me to lay down with the always snuggly Bowser Kitten while AAB finishes dinner for us.

So is there anything else you have to deal with when IDing customers that I missed here? Leave a comment, or drop me a line at TheFailedGrownUp@gmail.com.