Do You Work Here?

I’m back to school this week. Time is short. Nerves are frayed. Free time is nearly nonexistent.

So, a lack of posts lately. Sorry about that. But here’s a quickie for today:

I’m on my way to work yesterday morning. Shirt and tie, because that’s how I roll (and yes, in several rooms full of teachers preparing for the upcoming year, I was the ONLY guy wearing a tie). And because I’m running early, and because, as the theater teacher, I have been given an unholy jumble of keys to contend with, I decide to stop off at the Wal-Mart to get some key labels. (Yeah, I know, Wal-Mart. It’s the only place I know that sells these things.)

So I go in, but it’s laid out differently from the Wal-Mart closer to my house, so I’m wandering the aisles looking for the key doodads. It’s taking a while. As I’m walking, trying to avoid human contact (because that’s what you do in a Wal-Mart: who knows what communicable diseases are lurking on the clientele), I notice this guy stalking me. I round a corner by the housewares, he’s there. I double back somewhere around the fishing lures, he’s there.

Finally, he approaches me. “Do you work here?”

For some reason, I get asked this all the time, doubly so when I’m in a shirt and tie. (Though why anybody would suspect a Wal-Mart employee of wearing a shirt and tie is beyond me.) I give the polite get-the-fargo-away-from-me smile. “I don’t, sorry.”

The guy looks at me oddly and walks away.

I still can’t find the key thingamajigs, so I’m still wandering, and somewhere around the power tools, I see him out of the corner of my eye, birddogging me again. I take another turn down yet another aisle (seriously, where the hell are the key flibberdijibbits?), and wham, there he is.

“Hey man,” he asks me with a hint of desperation in his voice, “are you sure you don’t work here?”

I mean, let’s analyze here. What could possibly be the thinking that would make him ask me again? That I do work here, but was just lying to get him to leave me alone (which I might do if I did, but I don’t), and that I will now be convinced to help him out because, hey, sorry, you got me? That I work here, but I’d just forgotten, and have now been reminded thanks to my anonymous stalker? My brain lights up with a pinball machine as I’m trying to figure this out.

I finally shake my head. “No, man. I told you, I don’t work here.”

He shakes his head, looks a little lost. “It’s just that I’m looking for this guy, he’s supposed to work here, I thought he’d be in this section.”

I’m past being polite. “Hey, I dunno what to tell you. I can’t help you.”

Again, that odd look — like maybe he thinks I’m gonna unzip my skin and underneath I’ll be this guy he’s looking for — and he shuffles off.

Thankfully, I find the key doohickies around the next corner.

I am still trying to figure out what the hell went on in this guy’s head to get him to ask me twice.

Probably drugs.

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