(I work part time at a hardware store these days. Just FYI.)
There are a fair amount of purchases at the hardware store that seem creepy. Zip ties and plastic sheeting, a hatchet to a soft handed quiet man, a plastic poncho on a day that’s not rainy. There’s a guy who’s still in my head because he said to me while I was ringing him up, “my boyfriend is coming over, so I had to get bubble wrap.” With a tone that said, “you know, like you do.” He seemed to feel it was self explanatory. If I’d known how it would haunt me, I would have demanded an explanation at the time, manners be damned.
But hell, when my pet rabbit had to be put down, I bought a shovel at noon on a Weds, while crying softly. So I try not to assume.
Today a woman came in. 50ish, mom-esque. I asked if there was something I could help her find and she said, “yes dear some rope.” I motioned for her to follow as I headed down aisle four.
“What kind of rope?”
“Fifty Shades of Grey kind of rope.”
She might have been kidding, it’s the sort of joke I would make, and hell I figured, good for her if she isn’t kidding.
“Someone is gonna get it on tonight.” She tapped her chest.
I smiled blandly because I thought responding with anything resembling shock or amusement would be insulting, pointed at the back counter and headed back to my register.
W was helping me bag purchases when she came to my register. She had A LOT of rope. Over 100 feet. And ……….. other things. Tape. ……………. a ….. clamp. To an imaginative girl like me, trying to not react, this was, ironically it’s own form of torture. You folks know I don’t shock easily but she just kept talking. I was going all Victorian around the knees. You don’t know. You weren’t there. YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND. I sucked in a deep breath and said to myself, “this cannot get more awkward.”
That’s when she took a phone call from her ………. intimate friend. ON SPEAKERPHONE.
ON SPEAKERPHONE YOU GUYS. And it was clear they only knew each other in the sense that I know the guy I got that Ikea computer desk from. *coughcraigslistcough* He had made a list and was checking it twice with her. And me, unwillingly.
I wish I could describe what I heard. The least creepy thing I heard was that he wanted her to get cigarettes but he didn’t smoke. I can’t tell you the rest. I’m not ok, you guys. Any shred of girlhood innocence I still clung to is gone.
I am a woman now.
When she left, I grabbed W’s wrist and sat down. To the next customer I said, “I’m sorry, but I need a minute.”
Tomorrow I’m going to that woman’s house to make sure she’s ok. I’ll tell her anyone who buys that much rope gets one free check up, company policy.