The Rule of the Drawer

March 31, 2009 at 8:55 am | Posted in Life | 2 Comments
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The Brazil posts, they are late. They wait in various word processing programs and little paper notepads for me to transfer them here, to the interwebs, aging and maturing like fine wine. They will resume, shortly, surely, but until then, a tale from Hartford that mirrors an experience that I used to have more than most, I surmise.

In the Advocate this week, the tale of how local thieves are stealing items like liquor, meat, and baby formula in order to sell or barter them to small businesses for other items. 

This actually happens, people, and with greater frequency than you may imagine. I know this because I spent several years of my misspent youth working behind the counter in a local liquor store in Worcester, Massachusetts, where I was offered, over the course of my stay there, CD’s, ham (as in, an entire ham), stereo’s, and, one time, a zucchini.

crusader-zucchiniWhen you are waiting on a very long line of people fresh from work and stopping for their required fifth of booze on their way home (this is true, and working at a liquor store does a lot to reveal the sadness of the human condition), it is hard to know how to deal with a customer that has just requested a forty-ounce of Old English and is now attempting to pay for it by trading you a zucchini. 

You can get upset (my colleagues often would), you can act indignant, or, as I chose, you can have a little fun with the situation. I would invoke, on these silly, silly people, the rule of the drawer.

The ROTD went like this: “Sir, I would love to accept your zucchini/ham/basketball as payment for this alcohol. I would. But my boss has a strict rule that if it doesn’t fit into the cash register drawer, then I cannot take it. I would like to, but I just can’t. Here. Let me show you.”

You would then take the item from the customer, the clearly insane customer, and attempt to manipulate it into the cash register drawer. I would try to close the drawer, but would, alas, fail, as the zucchini would stick out of the top of the drawer or the ham wouldn’t even fit in the first place. I would sigh, hand the item back, and apologize. It was all enacted with great drama, the actions full of emotions and very, very overdone.

Thing is, this worked. They wouldn’t get upset at me like they did at my colleagues. They wouldn’t curse me out or yell at other customers.

I suspect that, when you’ve reached the point in your life where your mind has reasoned that yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to trade dubious produce for forty-ounce quantities of malt liquor, then it’s not that far of a leap for you to believe that the nice liquor store clerk would accept your plunder as payment if he only had a larger cash register.

If only not for the rule of the drawer.

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