Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Friday, July 24, 2009

The saga of Elderly Biker Dude

Two days ago whilst I was running around filling out applications (?!?) and leaving résumés all over West Knoxville, I had to stop at Walmart for a couple of minor things. I wish it had been a smaller store, but beggars can't be choosers. I needed bobby pins to get my long hair off my neck. It was hot, dang it.

Anyhoozle. I got bobby pins and some concealer and powder, and I got in line at the 20 Items Or Less cash register. I could have gone the "self check out" route, but those lines were all backed up.

Unfortunately, I was behind the unhappiest man in Walmart.

He was an older gentleman, dressed like a biker in leather jeans and a sleeveless jersey shirt that showed off his misshapen, drooping tattoos. He even had a kerchief tied around his forehead and tangled up in his long, stringy, white hair. He wore more jewelry than is entirely seemly. Somehow. For a fellow his age, I mean.

Anyway, Elderly Biker Dude was writing a check for $9 and some-odd cents. He was unhappy about that. He didn't want to write a check. But wrote it he did, and he signed it and handed it over to the cashier.

This was when Elderly Biker Dude came face-to-face with the 21st century. It had apparently escaped making his acquaintance earlier.

Woe be unto all of us.

The cashier, who was about Elderly Biker Dude's age, but dressed far more conservatively, was calm, cool, and detachedly professional throughout the remainder of the transaction. (And I use the word "transaction" here loosely. It was really more of a drama in three acts. But generally, the theatre of the cash register tends to consist mostly of purchasing transactions. But not this time. Oh, no.)

The cashier asked Elderly Biker Dude for some ID, most specifically, his driver's license. Elderly Biker Dude was not prepared for this request, and he exclaimed, "This is for some shit!"

Personally, I don't think I've ever heard that particular sentiment expressed in quite that arrangement of words and expletives, so it struck me. It was going to strike me a few more times.

The cashier explained that the computer would not approve the check without the entry of a driver's license number in the works.

Elderly Biker Dude exclaimed, "You already have my signed check! What else do you need?"

The cashier said, "Well, sir, to begin with, I need to see your driver's license and enter the number into the computer."

Elderly Biker Dude finally dragged out his wallet and thumbed out his driver's license, the entire time grumbling that he had already signed the check.

The cashier took the license and put it into the computer. Then he asked the Elderly Biker Dude for his phone number.

"No!" groused the biker. "You already have my license number and a signed check! You cain't have my phone number! This is for some shit!"

Again. "For some shit"? Seriously?

The cashier said yes, he needed the phone number if the transaction were going to be completed.

Elderly Biker Dude again said no, the cashier could not have his number. And he added, "For a nine dollar check! This is for some shit!"

Finally the cashier talked him out of the phone number, and he ran the check through the cash register again.

Now, anyone who is still writing checks -- and yes, I am one of you -- knows that Walmart no longer deals with paper checks any more. They run that thing through the magical computer and hand the check back to you. It's all done electronically, whether you want it to be done that way or not.

And then....

Well, you know.

The cashier told Elderly Biker Dude to please sign the keypad to his right.

Guess what the biker said. C'mon, guess. No! He did not say that! He squawked incredulously, "What?"

The cashier repeated himself, and I stood there thinking that maybe the biker would be happier if he weren't wearing leather pants in July. Seriously. Leather? Come on. He had to be cooking his nibblets in those things. No wonder he was so unhappy.

Well, when Elderly Biker Dude found out that all this check-writing was going to end up with him getting his check back and having to sign the little electronic keypad, he came un-f***ing-glued. "THIS is for SOME SHIT! You already have the check! WITH MY SIGNATURE! All this for nine dollars! I hope this is worth it! FOR SOME SHIT!"

I really kind of thought about telling him to chill out. I thought about laughing at him snottily. (Yeah, the snotty laugh. It's a weapon I reserve for special occasions. It's pretty scathing.) I also wondered if I was safe or if Elderly Biker Dude was going to pull out Elderly Rusty Switchblade and go crazy right there in line.

Instead, he grabbed the stylus so viciously that the cashier and I both cringed, waiting for the plastic strap to snap. It didn't. Elderly Biker Dude signed the keypad, got his receipt, gathered his nine dollars' worth of crap, and stomped out into the parking lot, grumbling the whole way.

I stepped up to the cashier and smiled sunnily. "Hi!" I said, "I'm not NEARLY as unhappy as THAT GUY was."

And the cashier laughed, and I laughed, and I made my purchase without damaging anything or anyone.

Today while I was discussing the cost of modems with the Charter Media representative who wanted to charge me for a modem that belonged to them and did less than the modem that I now have, I exclaimed, "Wow! This is quite a lot of rigamarole, isn't it?" And while the girl tried to explain to me that the cost for services was really straightforward versus the cost for material parts, part of me realized, "I could have said 'this is for some shit,' and I would be making as much sense as that guy at Walmart the other day."

Yes, she could have explained it better. And yes, I could have been more patient. I'll try again some other day.


At 25/7/09 12:00 PM, Blogger Amy said...

Hilarious! Now I want to see a grudge match between Elderly Biker Dude and the clerk from two stories ago!

At 26/7/09 8:45 AM, Anonymous Connie Catlin said...

Bay! I just discovered you were blogging again - I used to read it years ago - LOVE your writing - you tell a great story. Somebody's got to pay you for it - somehow, someway, someday.


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