That’s exactly how I planned to open today’s post. The second I saw her walk through the door–barefooted, clad only in a thankfully long t-shirt–I saw the bold, block-lettered headline in my mind. My only worry at that point was how to write it so that I’d be believed.
I clutched my mop handle tightly, to ward off any laughter, and said, “You’re not allowed in here without any shoes.” I didn’t mention the pants because–to be honest–I wasn’t sure where I stood, legally, on that issue. No shoes, no shirt, no service was all I’d ever been told.
“I refuse to wear shoes!” she proclaimed (it really was a proclamation.) “It’s a symbol of my Native American heritage. I’m half Mic Mac Indian.”
This surprised me. My husband–coincidentally enough–is also half Mic Mac, and he has no problem with wearing shoes. Or pants. Sometimes he wears both at the same time.
“And,” she continued, “I’m here so I can buy my drugs-of-choice.”
I simply nodded, because I knew what she meant. She wanted a pack of cigarettes and probably some liquor. I gave her bare feet another quick glance, but decided, What the hell? It’s two in the morning. Nobody’ll care. Besides, I knew that I’d have to burst one of her bubbles in another moment, it being an hour past liquor-selling time. I wheeled my mop and bucket behind the counter and stood at attention, awaiting her command.
“A pack of Pall Malls and a fifth of Allens.”
I grabbed the smokes for her and scanned them into the register. It let out an annoying musical ditty, the lyrics to which are: “Someone’s trying to buy tobacco!!!! Ask for their ID!!!!!!”
Now would be a good time to tell you about my store’s policy for selling tobacco and alcohol, and it will reveal the identity of my employer to anyone who’s ever attempted to buy either of those products from this particular chain of convenience store in the fair state of Maine. Several years ago, Maine passed a law that requires cashiers to ask for ID from anyone wishing to purchase alcohol or tobacco who appears to be under the age of 27. That’s right…appears to be. Rather subjective, no? And it puts cashiers in a rather sticky position. Legally speaking, if I sell a pack of smokes to a 23-year-old without carding that person, even though that person is old enough to buy tobacco, both the store and I–yes, me personally–could each be fined $1500. And I’d lose my job. My employer decided to save everyone’s asses by requiring cashiers to card everyone. My 77-year-old grandmother could walk into the store for a six-pack and I’d have to say, “Can I see your ID?”
So I asked No Pants Lady–easily in her mid-fifties–“Can I see your ID?”
It was my first mistake.
I smiled apologetically. “Yep. Your ID.”
“I’m fifty-three-fucking years old! Can’t you just give me my goddamn cigarettes instead of treating me like a child?”
I could see her point, and I sympathized–although I personally think smoking is the second most disgusting habit there is (nose-picking being the first.) I would have liked nothing better at that moment than to give her the goddamn cigarettes and get her the hell out of the store so I could finish mopping my floor. In fact, if I had a time-traveling DeLorean, that’s exactly what I’d go back and do. Instead, I pointed to one of the four security cameras pointed directly on our little conversation and said, “I’m sorry, ma’am. I can’t.”
That was my second mistake.
(…to be continued…)