I promised to write of a nice, though somewhat creepy loonie I had to deal with on the job on Saturday night. October is our major fundraising month, when visitors descend on us- we rely on the revenues from admission fees, the merchandise sales, and the effect that increased "door" has when it's time to apply for grant money. Suffice it to say, I have to deal with the public quite a lot throughout the month.
On Saturday night, we had a visitor who was a nondescript woman- she was of indeterminate age, small... the sort of individual you'd never notice in a crowd. She was very pleasant, and she turned out to be a barking loon. After a couple of hours of running around setting up for the influx of visitors, I ended up in the visitors' center/gift shop to help visitors (this usually involves telling them where they need to go) and to dissuade potential mischiefmakers through force of presence.
While holding court, the shop manager approached me and told me that one of the visitors had purchased $1300 worth of merchandise (yikes!) and needed help loading her purchases into her car. Unusual, but not an unreasonable request. I toted a half-dozen bags full of tchochkes (she'd also bought a couple of paintings which we had on consignment) to her SUV, which was full of all sorts of stuff. As I pondered where the hell to put the bags, she told me, "Don't worry, everything's clean." I made a joke about being the sort of person who regularly trudges through mud, so my definition of "clean" was pretty elastic. After we loaded her car, she told me that the shop manager had mentioned, in offhand fashion, that the artist who had painted the paintings she'd bought was at another event about ten miles from our present location. She asked me if I thought she'd be able to make it there before the event closed down, and I told her that the prognosis wasn't too good. We parted ways, for the time being (add ominous ellipses).
After the woman left, the shop manager told me that she'd left her bag in our gift shop. When she realized that she'd forgotten her bag, she called to say that she'd swing by in order to pick up the bag. Being the person who dots the i's and crosses the t's after an event, I had the dubious honor of waiting for her to return. All of the regular staff had left, and I was in the building with a half-dozen contract employees. One thought kept running through my head- "Hand off the bag in the parking lot, and whatever you do, don't let her into the building." After fifteen or twenty minutes of milling around, I got sick of wasting time, and started on the tasks that I needed to complete so as not to dick over my relief. I had to grab a sign from the road adjacent to our property, about six-hundred meters from the door to the building. Big mistake... as soon as I grabbed the sign, I spied her driving down the road, and realized that she would get to the door of the building before I did. I must have looked hilarious scuttling down the sidewalk carrying a "sandwich board".
When I got to the building, she was waiting outside. Damn, damn, damn, I had to open the door to get her bag. I get the door open, and hear the dreaded words, "Can I use the bathroom? I have to pee." Oh, double bing-bang hell, I really can't say without feeling like a heel.
She entered the bathroom, and I figure she'd be out in five minutes tops. Tick... tick... tick... what the fuck? Where the hell did she go? Did she fall in? Not being the sort to barge into the women's bathroom, I asked one of the contract employees if she would check the restroom. The visitor was in there shooting the breeze with one of the other contract employees... for what seemed like twenty minutes.
After she left the bathroom, a kitschy, overpriced ornament caught the woman's eye. One hundred bucks for a goofy, whimsical curio. She instantly fell in love with the damn thing.
"Can I buy it?"
"The sales staff has left for the night, and I can't do any sales."
"Can I give you the money?"
"I'm not authorized to handle sales, even if I were, the registers are closed." Are you nuts? The salespeople will see this thing missing, and a loose hundred dollar bill stuck under the till- I'd fire me for pulling a stunt like that!
"Can you leave a note on it telling the sales staff not to sell it?"
"I don't know who will be here, I don't know if our staff can reserve items." Lady, nobody is going to buy this piece of crap out from under you.
"Can I come tomorrow?"
"Sure, we open at 9:30 in the morning."
"Will I have time to go to church before coming in?" What the fuck? I don't know where you live, I don't know where your church is. I don't know if you go to one of those three-hour ecclesiastic extravaganzas every Sunday. Why would you even ask such a question?
"I'll be back tomorrow." Great, just fucking great, now please get out of here.
By this time, the lady had eaten up almost an hour of my time, and I still had shit to do so I didn't dump it in the lap of my relief. While she was unfailingly polite, I felt my soul being sucked out of my body slowly- my will to live was being sapped by the persistent inane inquiries. When she finally exited the building, I literally ran off into the night to get away from her. I had to go to an auxiliary parking lot to kill the lights, and I figured she wouldn't follow me down the darkened pedestrian walkway. Usually, the only thing I run is a tab, but this was one of those instances in which the "flight" response was appropriate.
As I write this, I have to note that the kitschy crap she was so concerned about buying still sits on the shelf.