Saturday, September 9, 2006

Coworkers: Part 64 - My Darling Boy

   "My darling boy, please come over here and tell me what that divine cologne is."
   Chris dropped his face in his hands and began laughing.
   "Oh, that smile, I could swoon," I gushed louder.
   Joe approached. "You and Chico need a little alone time?"
   "I'd have to stand in line, Dude," I joked and headed towards the front. Joe would pick up where I left off and torment Chris. Such were the pitfalls of being cute and working with bastards.
   A trio of otherwise competent coworkers became distracted lizz-bots when Chris worked. Angela and Sarah flirted shamelessly, dropping innuendo, adjusting their tops, bringing small gifts. If either drank too much caffeine they soared off the scale. Competition heightened the friendly rivalry. Female customers behaved likewise. Chris grinned and confirmed pulling girls had always been super easy. If he honored offers, he was discreet about it.
   The bonus hat trick was Payton. Book manager.
   Books were the latest stupefying business maneuver, courtesy of Blockbuster. We were a music store, not a book store. What were HQ penguins thinking? Trying to compete with national booksellers? Could they be any more obvious? Or half hearted? The section was minuscule, eight rows of bestsellers. Four months on, over 90% of stores reported flat or negative profits.
   Our location, however, was one of the shining exceptions.
   Because of Payton.
   He hired on directly from Barnes & Noble, where he had been frustrated with their insane, chain of command, management hierarchy. Every store was layered with bureaucracy. Job satisfaction seemed a nonexistent fantasy.
   Still, Payton knew book retail. The Boss gave him free rein in the section. Payton arranged his own end-caps, tweaked the layout, constantly rotated stock. Helped also, that our book nook went in just after nearby Taylor's Books went out of business. For customers on our side of town, who didn't want to deal with cross city commute, we were perfect.
   Payton knew books, and he knew what he liked. He liked Chris. No one as good looking as Chris could possibly be straight.
   He suggested they go out for drinks, mentioned movie theaters, weekend parties. A new and exciting scene beckoned. Fun music! At our store, the type of "fun music" only I played, and got razzed for doing so. Girlpop and mindless dance.
   Chris became plastic duck in the shooting arcade. Ditzy store females chasing the love. Payton, offering the love. Joe, Stacey, me, a couple other guys, lobbing rocks.
   "So, you going clubbing tonight with Pay-Load?" Joe heckled.
   "Mmm, he buy you that cologne, darling boy?"
   Payton frequently referred to Chris as his darling boy.
   "Shut up, you don't even have a sense of smell."
   "Mmm, smells like ... Love."
   "If all them ladies find out about you and Pay-Load ... "
   Angela and Sarah already knew about Payton's fixation. Neither of them worried for a heartbeat. They thought it the funniest thing ever.
   Then ... the Psycho Gurls.
   Quick definition for this pair, large & in-charge. Not fat, but they'd never refused extra fries in their lives. Seventeen, maybe fourteen, hard to gauge what age they were. These nymphs were pushy and aggressive. They had no social check switch, and their behavior was completely out of control. Chris was their bigger than life play doll, whom they yanked off the rack and played medical exam.
   Psycho Gurls worked as a team. Cornered Chris in the back Budget corner. Grabbed, held, squeezed for a hug, a kiss, or something more saucy. He tried to slip away, they gripped his hand and slipped it to party town. Adolescent boys often nursed the nympho fantasy. Psycho Gurls were Nymphos from Hell. He fled once to the customer's restroom, where they all but broke the door down.
   In-store girls cooled their Chris flame, undoubtedly fearing the Psycho Gurls would noisily bite their heads off. Payton redirected his attention to Sonnorson, a sullen, brooding, new hire, and blew Chris the farewell kiss.
   Psycho Gurls never bought anything. Pat finally kicked them out of the store. Stacey kicked them out, then banned them. The Boss banned them, threatened to summon the police. No effect. They were insane, crazy, underage jail bait.
   One afternoon, they quit coming in. In fact, they never came in again.
   Space aliens must have teleported them away.
   Anyway, the store became quieter for a period. A handful of employees missed the Psycho Gurls. A few even placed crank phone calls to Chris impersonating the Psycho Gurls, but those employees weren't so nice.
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