These two very short stories are about people, and the things I learned from them.
In college, I worked in customer service at a bank. I opened accounts, helped people figure out how to add and subtract, that sort of thing.
My office was at the end of a long hallway. The other customer service guy, whose office was right next to mine, was named Jimmy Carter. (No relation. In any way.)
The hallway outside our offices was dark, and because the front of the bank had glass walls, everyone who approached us was backlit, like they were walking out of Heaven.
One day, just as I was headed to the teller line, I noticed someone coming down the hallway. It was a man. He was slightly disheveled. Shocks of hair protruded from his ballcap. As I approached him, I noticed another detail: His pants zipper was down, and regally emerging was a single, pink, (12 inch, possibly?) taper candle.
A candlepenis, if you will.
“Hi.” I said cheerfully, mentally reaching for my pepper spray.
He mumbled “Can I open an account?”
“Sure,” I said, “Have a seat. I’ll have someone with you in a second.” Yes. I thought. Someone else will help you. Anyone else will help you. I’ll see if someone from the street outside is free.
I seated him at my desk and went to get the manager because I didn’t get paid enough to deal with candlepenis, and that’s when I noticed that he had also (a) dismantled a wire hanger; (b) rolled it up into an 8” diameter circle; and (c) threaded it through the back of the ballcap, where it hung, like a towel ring.
The manager opened an account for the guy. She went back to my desk, gave him his stuff and walked him out.
And that was the day I learned that any household item can be a fashion accessory. Extra points for placement.
A long time ago, I worked in music retail in North Carolina. The store had windows all along two adjacent walls, and where they formed the corner was the entrance/exit.
A co-worker and I were innocently chatting on a slow day when we saw, approaching from the right, a very tall, overweight guy dressed head-to-toe in a too-small boy scout uniform: he had a wide-brimmed tan hat; a shirt stretched across his stomach with small brown buttons holding on for dear life; a pair of khaki shorts with a belt tightened across his equator; and knee socks. Knee socks.
He walked along the right window wall and entered the the store. Silently, with a steady pace, he circled the store interior. Then he exited, and proceeded along the left window wall until we could no longer see him.
My friend Don and I quietly meditated on the spot where he’d last been seen.
Finally, Don asked, “Hey. What the hell was that?”
And that was the time I found out that somewhere, there is a troop of giant boy scouts roaming the malls of North Carolina.