Monday, April 14, 2008

Coworkers: Part 33 - Rainman

   Rainman was finally banned from the store a month ago.
   He first surfaced in early Spring, and swiftly became a Regular in the R 'n B section. Jangly white male with a fever passion for Soul. He twitched and shuffled, bobbled and stammered, while voicing his opinions about vocalists and groups to any human within earshot. Hardly an expert, yet definitely opinionated. Under different circumstances, he could have been a music critic. For all I know, those columnists twitched all humbledy peggity like Mister Rainman.
   The film nickname had been tagged by friends and coworkers after release of the Cruise / Hoffman flick. He was flattered, and thereafter introduced himself as Rainman, whether people asked or not. He'd launch unbelievable conversations on the the most absurd topics, whether anyone asked or not.
   "If Sam Cooke wasn't dead, he'd be old by now. Better that he's dead than in some wheelchair, huh?"
   Generally, no one asked him anything.
   "Why'd they keep calling themselves The Four Tops? They keep replacing members. Ought to be called The Eleven Tops."
   As one might imagine, Rainman unsettled people, especially other customers. He weaved and wobbled, jabbered and joked. Interrupted complete strangers. Blurted out whatever sprang to mind. "You're really pretty. Those aren't implants, are they? Cause they look soft, I mean." or "You know, after I threw up this morning, it didn't look at all like what I ate last night. How come?"
   For all that, the guy bought. Cassettes and CD's. Handful of items weekly. He was a Regular, and a steady Regular. Plus, several employees found him highly entertaining. Greg, Dan, myself. There was that balance we tried to maintain, keep him buying, not let him chase other clients off. That could be difficult.
   "Martin Luther King doesn't sing. Yet he's got some CD's in Gospel. Whassup with that?"
   By late Summer, Rainman had gotten too comfortable in our store. His eyeglasses permanently fogged up after he was smitten with Jennifer. He boldly asked her out. Despite some obvious limitations. Jennifer smiled, and politely declined. Rainman began to stalk her. Despite some obvious limitations.
   Rainman neither owned, nor drove, a car. Sole transportation, bicycle.
   Yes, laugh, Sunshine.
   Every day, when Jennifer headed home, Rainman followed. He stationed himself a little bit further on her route, then peddled fast and mighty as long as he could. Next day, he stationed himself at his last stopping point. Some of the other females had been stalked, most notoriously Pat by Double A. Jennifer was younger, less experienced, and totally creeped out.
   The Boss decided.
   Rainman was finally banned from the store a month ago.

   Being Sound Warehouse, the flame of Rainman was kept alive.
   September, Jennifer headed off to Alaska University, some place like that.
   Layla and I got a blank card. She sketched an image of Rainman inside. Big smile, spectacles, striped shirt. Waving. Bicycle lying on the ground behind him. I scrawled a message with my left hand. Still miss you. We're forever, the long run. Closer every day. Halfway, maybe. Rockies are hard. Can't wait to see you. Hold you. Marry you. Love, Rainman.
   I stuffed the envelope into a letter to Katalena, my sister-in-law, who lived in Aspen. Asked her to mail the card and ensure it received a Colorado postmark. Let Jennifer think Rainman was cycling his love gourd towards her.
   Then Layla and I waited to hear distant screams from Alaska.
   Instead, we received the, "Ha ha, aren't you funny?" response from the great northern frontier.
   Caught out.
   Layla and I shared a joke. We couldn't win them all.
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