Not everything absurd happens inside the pet store. Every shift comes with a break, and every break seems to be a lesson from Santa. If you’ve been good, you are given a delicious snack and peace of mind. If you are bad, you receive proverbial coal; or in my case, the Old Subway Sandwich Ladies.
On one particularly trying day where I had apparently been bad, I ventured to Subway for a delicious sammy. As I was about to enter the store, I noticed an old lady with a walker, slowly making her way up the ramp. Obviously, I couldn’t ignore her; we had already made eye contact. So, I patiently held the door for her. She walked unhurried, but with intention. I instantly regretted assisting this woman.
I will name her Margaret. Margaret yelled her coffee order from the door. When she found out that they in fact did not offer coffee, she was livid and relentless. She “couldn’t understand why they didn’t have coffee, and all she wanted was a coffee. Was that too much to ask?! In the morning, a coffee? What kind of business was this?”
Eventually, with my break time ticking away, she abandoned the notion of coffee. Instead, she asked for “the 475”. It took five minutes for myself and the Sandwich Artist to realize she meant the sub that cost $4.75. We only realized this when she screamed, “Then why does it say that?!”, pointing wildly to the illuminated pricing board.
When this outrageous encounter eventually ended, I got my cold cut combo and left. Santa was not done with me. Like a skeletal, naggy boomerang, she somehow made her way into my store. This is how the conversation went.
“Oh, hi there, how was your sub?”
“Your submarine sandwich.”
“How do you know Matthew?!”
I hated Margaret. Shockingly, she had a cell phone. I know this not because I saw her answer it, but because I heard the 1998 ringtone, an answer, silence, and then this response.
“You think YOU’RE stressed out?? Have you ever been in a van.. with a bee in it?? I have, 20 years ago! Still gives me anxiety!”
I then heard about the buzzing, and the swatting. Margaret is definitely a good storyteller. I felt like I was in the car with her. I also felt like I wanted to open the door of that hell bound vehicle, and roll out onto the highway to avoid spending one more second with her. One lingering question remains though; why the hell would Margaret be the one you would call when you were upset?! I felt terrible for the person on the other end.
After boycotting Subway for a good month, I decided that I was being silly, so I went back. Meet Beryl.
This time, I walked into the situation. She was leaning against the, “Debit Not Working” sign, before she had ordered anything, incessantly jamming her card in the slot.
Beryl was screaming about green olives. Asking if they had them, telling everyone within a reasonable hearing radius that they were her favorite. They ended up having a stash, under the counter. The kind gentleman behind the sneeze guard produced them, and instead of a thank you, was greeted with a, “Well that’s good to know! I didn’t see them! How are people supposed to know they’re there?! I think your debit machine’s broken.”
She then asked for a combo. No, not a diet coke and a chips or cookie combo. She decided to make up her own. Like if you clamored loud enough, it would just come into existence.
“Gimme a tin of apple juice, and a granola bar.”
I physically couldn’t handle how ridiculous this was. When she was informed that they don’t carry any of that, “Ah well, I have enough granola bars at home. Diabetes.”
What does that mean? Like, “I like sunshine. Diabetes.” Old people love talking about their health problems. The only thing they like talking about more than their health, is how to make things more practical in stores. Diabetes.