Would you like to hear a funny story? Of course you would, everyone loves a funny story! The problem is that I may be the only person who thinks it’s funny. I’ll give it a shot anyway. You just sit back and relax as I tell you the tale of the Boiled Egg Woman.
It began long ago (maybe a month?) and it was a regular day at work. I’m a cashier at a sporting goods store which, for one reason or another, seems to attract a lot of characters. We get plenty of people who are strung out on drugs, homeless, stealing everything from flashlights to Pillow Pets, mumbling incoherently to themselves, and talking to things that aren’t there. Yes, it makes me sad to see these things. And yes, I do treat these people with kindness and respect when I encounter them (even if they call me “that whore Melissa” or ask me where the zombie killing section is when I greet them. Even when they smell of booze and something else that’s mildewy, and ask me through black teeth if I’ve ever been with a “real man” before. Yes, I treat them with respect even then). But I’m telling this story because these people also have the ability to cheer me up and make me smile, even when my day has gone horribly wrong.
On this particular afternoon, a woman came in wearing electric purple spandex leggings, a Land’s End fanny pack, and a belly shirt which showcased her stomach that was sagging over her elastic waistband. She also had a tiny dog on a leash (who was wearing a diaper?) who resembled Dorothy’s Toto very much. The woman was slurring her words and said something to the effect of, “ssshhwwwsshh you got socks? ssshwwshhhgghh” and then started laughing to herself as if she had told the funniest joke in the world. I just smiled and pointed to the sock section, hoping she would find what she needed quickly. I made sure she saw the display and waved when she said, “Thissssshhggh them? sssghh”. Then I went about my business. I answered the phone, wiped down my countertops, hung up some misplaced clothes behind the register, and then turned my attention back to the store. I had my eye on the center aisle when I heard a rustling noise. I looked down and saw a little fur ball wandering aimlessly. Poor Toto, he looked so lost! Especially in that diaper, it made him look pitiful. I took his leash in my hand (we aren’t even supposed to let animals into the store…..my bad) and went to find his owner. And boy, did I find her.
I turned the corner and heard her before I saw her. Actually I saw the packages of opened socks strewn about the department, and then I saw her. She was flopped on the floor, laying on her side with her right hand supporting her head. She was flapping her legs open then shut, open then shut while yelling, “Cowgirls! Saddle up!” It was like a Thigh-Master Infomercial. But Suzanne Somers had nothing on this lady. Seriously, for someone her age, the range at which she could spread her legs and bring them back to the ground was nothing short of impressive. I hope when I’m in my 60′s, I’m as limber as she was. It actually took my breath away and if we had instead been in a pilates class (as apposed to a sporting goods store on a Sunday afternoon), I’m sure she would’ve blown her classmates away with her flexibility and commitment to range. Aside from the leg spreading, she had also helped herself to a few packages of socks and then started to layer them on her feet; a black Nike sock on top of a gray wool camping sock, on top of a neon green jogging sock, on top of a men’s basketball sock. She was on a mission and unfortunately I was the one who had to stop her. As sweetly as possible I said, “Ma’am, I found your dog. Did you want to purchase all these socks?”. She stared at me with the kindest of gazes and said, “Sssshwggggh You ever get sssshwwsh sad when you look in the mirror and your ass is sagging?”. And then she stuck her hand down the front of her pants and scratched herself in the most un-ladylike place, in the most un-ladylike way. It took me a minute to process it, and then I answered, “I sure do”. This seemed to please her, and she gathered up a few packages of socks, along with Toto’s leash, and met me at the cash register.
I had rung up all of her socks, placed them in the bag and was convinced I was going to send the crazy Sock Lady on her way. That’s when I smelled an awful stench. My first thought was, “Poor Toto, no wonder he’s wearing a diaper. The little guy can’t control his bowel movements”. I then realized it wasn’t Toto’s diaper. The stench was coming from my friend in the fanny pack. For one horrified moment, i thought the crazy Sock-Layering-Leg-Spreading-Cowgirl had crapped herself. The stench was overpowering and enough to make your eyes water. I told her the total for all of her socks and as she handed me a wad of cash, I noticed they were covered in something. She looked in her hand and with a look of sincerest disappointment said,
“My lunch! I was looking forward to those eggs, even if they do give me the farts.” She handed me the egg-covered cash and then left the store. I didn’t get the chance to ask her what she was doing for lunch, but there’s a grocery store next door to us and a little while later I saw her scarfing down a tray of sushi and what looked to be, a huge ass burrito. I was relieved to see that my friend hadn’t gone hungry, and had found some food so she didn’t have to boil/cure with vinegar anymore eggs. And as she walked off into the sunset (actually I watched her jaywalk and almost get hit by numerous cars), I was thankful for crazy characters who bring so much color and fun into this world. My job (and everyone’s jobs) would be so boring without these people who make us laugh and smile. And although I’ll admit, there are many ways to win my affection, I couldn’t help but be charmed by the crazy lady in her purple pants.