Sunday, August 9, 2009

Boys will be Boys

I heard their skate boards clicking twice over each sidewalk panel before they were even in front of the shop. Over top of the traffic and the indistinguishable gibberish mixed with laughter that the two young boys were shouting at each other en route. They Came in with skate boards under their arms and remarked at the sheer about of "shit" that we carried at the store. They were both short and looked like they might have been in the fifth or sixth grade. They wore the uniform of skate boarder youth consisting of jeans, ZERO t-shirts and toques. Both were covered in nicks and cuts assumeably from skating and the long haired blonde one had what looked like a black eye. He was kind of chubby and spoke loudly where as his counter part was slim and dark haired with a more nazel tone of voice. The blonde one walked through the store with large strides and the confidence of a bulldozer while with friend slunk around befhind him like an erractic wild ferret. I real dynamic duo to say the least. They walked through the store and began eyeballing the replica ninja swords as they read alloud the sign posted beneath them that the swords would not be sold to any one under the age of 18. They gazed over at me glassy eyed like hidden children seeing their stumbling dranken father placing gifts beneath a silver christmas tree. As I was handing each of them a sword I hesitated for just an instant but proceeded when their excitment come to a boiling as they both exclaimed "AWESOME." in perfect unisin. They grabbed the swords and begean what looked like a practiced swordfighting routine complete with severed limbs hidden inside their t-shirts and grusome slashing sound effects. I took a couple of photos for them with their cell phones at which point the blonde kid asked me if a wanted to see a photo of his AK-47. I told him that I did. There were photos of him and his friend both wearing balaclavas and holding AK-47's. They had a friend of theirs tied up on the grown and they we holding him down by stepping on his back and pointing the guns at him. They told me they wanted it to look like a taliban exicution. I took the swords back from them. They explained how their parents ordered them parts from china that were in fact real AK-47 parts modified put on paint ball guns. Before they left they invited me out to play with them some time and said that they would even let me use one of their guns. I graciously declined but I couldn't help but think that they were really nice guys for having even asked.

Friday, May 1, 2009

suicide premonitions and paranoia

My brother told me that while he was at work yesterday a man shot himself in the head with a shot gun. He works in construction and while working in the backyard of a customers house he said that a man came outside in a neighboring yard stood on the porch and then walked out of site behind the dividing fence. A loud bang was heard and a few moments later a woman's scream and crying and then a few moments later, sirens. My brother said the the man had been outside earlier in the morning and even exchanged pleasantries with his boss a few hours prior to his suicide. This left me with an uneasy feeling. I know that our jobs are quite different but for some reason every costumer that has visited the store has left me feeling vulnerable and suspicious. I pictured every person walking around the store seemingly content and then pulling out a gun and blowing their brains out all over the World of War craft Cards. A casual woman walks in. BANG. Hair and skull and blood all over the magna and Japanese candy. This dude walks in looking at magic cards, and asks me to see a deck. BANG. Parts of his face and teeth and blood splattered all over the War hammer 40 K. A man and his son walk in and browse the back issues. BANG. His eye balls explode and blood and brains smack against paper and soak through an old issue of the black panther. Any one can do it. And you can do it any where you want to. Then i realized this is a pretty morbid thought process to being going through while at work. So i read some Scooby-Do to even my shit out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

looking for nothing

The phone rings and I put down my book on the counter and answer it. I say "Hello." and "How can I help you?". A man replies. He sounds as if he is in his early thirties or perhaps forties and is speaking with a mousy tone of voice. Quiet and soft, all most like the voice of a mother trying not to wake up her child but I could tell that it was in fact a man. He told me that his name was Paul and he was wondering if there was anything in the store for him. We have what we call comic pull files for frequent customers. They give us a list of what they collect and each time i new issue of those particular series come out, we put it aside for them. I assumed this is what he was talking about. I asked him his last name and he stuttered as he told me. I flipped through the name cards not finding his. Puzzled I asked him if he perhaps ordered something (we have a separate section for customer orders) and he didn't quite understand. He stumbled on his words and generally seemed like he lacked both confidence and basic conversational telephone skills, sounding like he felt he was being a big inconvenience even by calling me.
"um...i dunno...uhh, maybe. I'm really not to sure." he said and then laughed uncomfortably. I am picturing him sweating and tugging on his collier with a hooked pointer finger while pushing up on the center of his glasses. I could sense he was nervous so I asked him as calmly as I could what it was that he ordered, because I didn't see anything with the name Paul on it. He seemed to get frightened and he quickly said "uh, um...never mind, I'm really really sorry for wasting your time." in a tone so sincere and apologetic that I actually felt sorry for him even though i had no reason to. I tried to ask him again in a calming tone, almost like trying to coax a pigeon to your hand with a piece of bread but he hangs up and I hear a dial tone. I wonder what it was he was looking for. I wonder why he sounded so pensive and uneasy. I wonder why he called a store asking for something that he himself didn't know that he was looking for. And I wonder why I care, and how this man was able to make me feel sympathetic in a situation where normally I wouldn't give a shit just by his tone of voice. For some reason I look through the order section and the pull files again.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bad COMMUNICATION

As i walk towards the front door to unlock it i hear the sound of plastic scraping across the concrete beneath the soul of my shoe. I fiddle with my keys and notice a broken cell phone and fragments of its shattered screen and keys littered all around it. I nudge it with my toe a bit and then give it a slight kick before i unlock the door and enter the shop. During the day every once and a while i glace out the window and look at the broken phone laying in the sunlight. It's being kicked ever so slightly inch by inch as customers trample it before coming into the store in a pattern not unlike the illustrated diagrams found in dance step theory books. This guy comes in wearing a grey, white and black Columbia jacket, a Montreal Canadians hat and really thin framed glasses. He is a semi-regular customer, but not regular enough for us to know each others names and we say hello. He is tall and thin and has large dark circles under his eyes. Judging by his facial hair in comparison to his previous visits it looks as if he hasn't slept in a few days. He is your typical super hero reader, X-men, spider-man and green lantern but today he looks unsatisfied. With a grimace he examines the shelves and actually sighs when he is through. He asks me if i could recommend any alternative comic books. Something that doesn't necessarily include super heroes. Something maybe a bit more reality based. I offer many suggestions and eventually land on a personal favorite about a young man in relationship crisis upon returning to his home town. I describe the plot loosely to him and he replies saying that it sounds good but maybe too close to a personal dilemma he is currently going through. I ask . He tells me that he had been dumped by his long time girl friend a few days ago. I ask. He tells me that she had problems concerning their inability to function as a successful couple unless in a public situation. They never talk. When they do he never listens. The broken record that plays for seemingly all males at one point or another in their lives. He decides that maybe its time for a change and on second thought he will give the book a try.
He attempts to pay for the book with debit but after an uncharacteristically long "processing..." period the screen flashes at me and reads " BAD COMMUNICATION."
The guy says "I'll just pay in cash."
Out of the corner of my eye I see a pedestrian kick the broken cell phone out of view.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Industry has Changed

Just opened the store and this dude comes in the door before Ive even hung up my coat. I say "Hey." and he says; "Hockey Cards." He is wearing a blue wind breaker and matching pants, some really new looking Nike's and a tattered earth toned baseball cap that said "Copenhagen." The H in hagen was an evergreen tree. His face was slightley wrinkily and his moustache was white and spars. I showed the man where the cards were and he proceeded to barrage me with questions on specifics about the cards that I must admit was a little embaressed to not have the awnsers. What the defference in the series were, why some of the packs were more expensive than others, where they were manufactured. I just didnt know and eventully got tired of tip toeing around it and just began saying "Dunno." immeadiatly after each question. He finally decided on the packs that he wanted to buy saying that they were for his nephew and he would most likely be happy with anything. As I'm ringing him through and he is punching in his debit code into the hand held he decides to leave me with this comment; " Yeah i used to collect hockey cards back when i was a kid. But the industry has changed way too much...too many niggers." The printer spews out his receit. I tear it and hand it to him and he walks out the door.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

unattainable

A mother and her two children walked into the store. She was tall and blond, very pretty and had a really friendly demeanor. Her son (who looked about six years old) knew exactly what he came for and started eye balling the pokemon cards with both plams placed firmly on the glass case smearing tiny hand prints from side to side as he browsed. Her duaghter (who looked about five) walked around with a somewhat confussed look on her face. Perhaps she had never been in a comic store before, but it was obvious that all of her preconcived notions of what would be sold in a store like this were wrong. She was looking for soemthing and clearly not finding it. The boy selected the cards he wanted and the mother took out her wallet to pay when her daughter pulled on her coat and whispered "puppet" to her mother. The mother looked confussed and then said "What do you mean?" The daughter said that she had been looking for a puppet for years and it was about time that she got one. After explaining this she looked at me and then said "Puppet" as casual as an adult ordering a drink. I told her we didnt sell them and she reacted as if it was absurd that we did not carry a wide variety. She looked at her mother and then at me and more sternly this time said "Puppet."
The mother paid for her sons cards and took both her childrens hands and proceeded towards the door when her daughter broke away from her grasp and screamed at the top of her lungs "PUPPET! PUPPET! PUPPET! IF TIM GETS CARDS I WANT PUPPET!"
Perhaps she wanted to control something? Maybe she required a personal escape from day to day life and could find such in a puppet? Whatever her reason she started running around the store, the whole time screaming for a puppet while her mother chased her down, threw her over her shoulder and said thanks to me as she left.
I could still hear her screaming about getting a puppet from the parking lot.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Condescending Stole-Away

It's one of those points where there are so many customers coming in and out of the shop that i loose track of how many there actually are. Once they have all checked out and left i seize the opportunity for death metal. I like lots of different types of music and for the most part i get to play pretty much whatever music i like at the shop. However, i tend to stray away from the more heavy music while customers are in the store. I don't want to make moms uncomfortable and metal heads too comfortable. So when the store is empty i like to get a fix and play some death metal. So i do. I'm repricing some anime because of the constantly fluctuating interest rates and Satan takes hold of me. I pick up two pens and im playing a drum solo on the counter. Leaning back shredding a guitar solo and head banging. I start pretending to metal scream. Not like a real scream, like a deep throughty one. Like the ones you would do as a kid playing with action figures pretending to be loud. Then i see a bit of movement behind the shelf of back issues. And a middle aged black man that has been in the store many times stands up and gives me the crazy eye. He had been sitting cross legged on the floor reading and i didn't notice that he was still in the store. I was really embarrassed so i turned off the death metal and continued repricing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

pins and needles

i wake up. i get in my car. i start to drive to work and my day is all ready fucked. I'm less then three minutes away from the shop and i see them. The ones that go to the conventions. The ones i have described in a previous posts. The people who dress up in costumes of their favorite characters. And they are headed right in the direction of my store. I immediately panic. Racking my brain. Could there be a convention in the city that I'm not aware of? Perhaps they are just going to the GO station across the street from the shop. But i couldn't even fool myself into being that naive. I was starting work in two minutes, and this flock of hopeless foolishness was going to invade my store. I've dealt with their kind before. The ones that don't only dress up for conventions, but for fun in everyday circumstances and more often than not, to go shopping at a place where their kind is to an extent tolerated. They come and they browse and they ask five hundred questions and they shriek and scream in excitement and they are loud and they are rude and they will often ask to order something they know is impossible to find just so they know that I know they are into some seriously underground shit. Waste my time, and patience and fuck wit my chi like a sonovabitch. I get in, open the shop and make a tea and i wait. I sit and i wait for them to arrive. Its kind of like how the few seconds before a doctor sticks you with a needle feels like ten minutes. I sit and I wait and I pace and I sweat and get nervous. I wish it would just happen so I could get the whole ordeal started and then over with. Customer after customer normal people come in and shop and leave. I'm waiting for these ghouls to enter at any second, and I'm cringing every time i hear the door open. Minutes into hours, and before I know it its closing time and there was no appearance of the costumed brigade of nerds. As I lock the door and turn off the OPEN sign i have an unsettling feeling that all though i was dreading their appearance, because i was expecting it my day some how feels incomplete. Sort of out of sorts. Half a step back words. I'm worried that those people in the costumes actually had some thing ELSE to do other than come to a comic store. I guess i feel a little rejected. But I'm more worried about how these people who I chastise and mock behind their backs were able to control my day and some how actually make me feel a specific way. I'm all out of whack now, and i think i have a weird co-dependent relationship with nerds to make me feel good about myself or something. I dunno, comic stores and emotions is like onion. layers nigga. mad layers.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hang-overs avec Van Halen

So i am really hung over and tired after being out in the city until six am having been drinking since six at night. Lots of fun and lots of friends but to say the least i felt like shit. I came into the shop and made a nice cup of tea and put on some soft sounding relaxing music. I was ready to enjoy my tea, chill the fuck out and loose my hang over in some low volume Otis Redding. I hear the door open and before i even turn my head to see him, i hear him. He is a head phone exhibitionist. You know those people, who walk around with their head phones around their neck with their music at full volume just so they know that you know that they not only like Disturbed but like them enough to advertise it. Well this dude is one of those dudes. Its unseasonably freezing out. He has got on a denim jacket, dirty looking white shirt on and cut off jean shorts. High white socks and some brown nikes. But its not disturbed coming out of his head phones. Its Van Halen. Particularly that song "JUMP". You know it but just in case you don't know that you know it, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8e-vgQSqNtA
I would have been a little annoyed becuase of his energtic and loud pressence but as he walked past me behind the counter he pointed at me with both hands in the signature heavy metal hand gesture and said "Whats up brother!?" in a really positive manner and i kind of admired his enthusiasm. He walked around the store a for a few minutes and i noticed that when the song eneded, it simply started back up again. Same song. Jump. Van Halen. I thought it was a little weird and then when it started again for the third time i jsut found it halarious. This dude woke up on sunday morning, put on shorts and a jean jacket and walked to a comic store with jump on repeat. That was his morning. Jump started for the fifth time and he was drumming on his legs and tapping his toes when i asked him if he needed a hand with anything. He took one hard look around the store scanning for nothing in particular and said. "Nah...there's nothing for me here man...thanks though." and then he left. Stoic and content, he walked off into the distance. He kind of reminded me of kwai Chang Caine but if he listened to really upbeat power rock.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Panic! at the Campus

So school started and I'm at the comic store a lot less than in the summer. So not as many jokes at the store. However, because i go to a college deeply rooted in the arts industry a lot of the general clientele that would frequent the shop also attend classes in the same building that i do. So i guess the comedy i find in this situation is this: Because i work at a comic store the people that come in assume i am on the level and will have no hesitation what so ever about full disclosure based on the extremely nerdy and often embarrassing interests that they might have. I'm all ready in the store. The store is a safe haven and i am one of them. No ones has any problem asking me if the wall mounted Dragon statue has a good chance of selling in the near future or to special order them a PVC statue of a naked twelve year old girl with a giant banana between her legs. However when i bump into these customers made aquintances on campus its like a deer in head lights. Wide eyed. Focused on me and then looking down at their feet, paste on a smile and then look back up. They look at me like a we met at a party and fucked and they gave me a fake phone number and are now bumping into me at the mall. They look at me like a closet homosexual who left their journal on a park bench when they were writing about sucking dick or licking box and i am the guy who found it, called the number and we are meeting so i can give it back. They Say "Hey" and they studder and their voices crack and they some times sweat. And i say "Hey" back. They feel threatened because no matter how tight the jeans are that they wear or how many unique tattoos and piercings they have or how many cigarettes they smoke or how many cool under ground band t-shirts they have, i know the truth. They all look at me as if i know some kind of horrible secret that if revealed could tear the very fabric of their existence. And in a way i guess i do, right? sort of?
Thats pretty funny i guess then.