THE SONIC BOOMER
You haven’t heard me BMW (Bitch, Moan & Whine) about my Missouri antiques mall for a while, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to catch you up.
Following a letter to the mayor asking her to “do her job” (from me) and the passing of the buck to my local councilman (from her), the vagrancy problem behind our store has been somewhat cleaned up. To wit, a bunch of city workers came and dragged all the vagrants’ trash and belongings (indistinguishable, one from the other) out of the woods and piled them onto the empty parking lot next door. Within an hour, a camper pulled up, ostensibly to claim the more “valuable” trash, and then the city hauled away the rest.
So, things calmed down for my store — less theft, less drama.
Until last Sunday.
Last Sunday, a woman with turquoise hair came in and spent five hours going through every teensy, weensy thing we have in there, which is a lot. If a jewelry box was marked “$50, includes jewelry” she would tell us the dealer probably didn’t know the jewelry was in there and then proceed to separate the items into bowls — bracelets, rings, earrings — before heading off to also sort out the postcards. Thank you so much for that.
Her boyfriend — a tall, skinny guy whose teeth clearly stated “I use meth” — gave up waiting for her and told us, “I’m going to Burger King. But don’t tell her that.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “You’re just going away without telling her? Aren’t you her ride?”
“Yeah,” he admitted. “I guess I’ll be back — sooner or later.”
And he was gone.
By closing time, Thing One had amassed $140 worth of trinkets on the counter and wandered off once more.
“You haven’t been writing those up, have you?” I asked my manager.
“I have. Why?”
“There’s no way she has any money,” I said.
This is the type of subjective, judgmental, politically incorrect (yet 98 percent statistically accurate) statement one uses when one has been in retail for much of one’s life. But no time for convo — the girl was back.
“That will be $140,” my manager said, and that’s when the girl went into her pitch. Turns out her plan was to have us radically discount half the items and then donate the rest to her as she was putting together a fundraiser for “the children.”
“Do you have a letter or brochure or anything about your event?” I asked.
She did not, but she had an even better plan. We would give her the names, addresses and phone numbers of our 30-plus antiques dealers, and she would contact each one of them herself “so they can be included.”
I am sorry to say we politely declined.
I did offer to hold the items for her until 5 p.m. the next day, so she could get her money together, and she graciously agreed to that since she had “$900 in Confederate bills, but the police have been holding it ever since they let me out of jail yesterday.”
That I would believe.
I think you know how this story ends up. She did not come back; we had to void all our dealers’ sales slips; we had to unwrap everything out of its tissue paper and bags; and we had to get each item back to its proper dealer’s booth. Fun.
Here’s who did come back — Thing Two, from Burger King. His car was full of everything she owned, but not her. Somewhere along the way, he’d lost her.
And there, but for the grace of God, go I.