After reading Tuesday’s installment of the polish remover saga, my friend Mike was like, “You know, what you should do is…”
So I did.
I had to hide the bottle immediately after snapping the picture so that my customers wouldn’t see it and think it was economy-sized and go all Tex Avery on me, but I legitimately can’t stop giggling.
It also occurs to me that working in niche retail is a lot like being in a British sitcom, in that the same shit happens over and over but never stops being funny. If he’s up for it, I’d like to formally request that David Mitchell play me in the inevitable series.
If you gathered a group of my friends together and asked them to list my one defining personality trait, they’d all look at each other, nod their heads in unspoken agreement and say, “Thomas curses a lot.” And it’s true. I love to curse. Cursing is awesome. I collect curses the way small children collect butterflies: exuberantly, yet with reverence (my all-time favorite coming from my friend Thalia, who once screamed “FUCKING OUT CHRIST” during a truly epic moment of public angst).
Curse words are the linguistic equivalents of Swiss Army knives. Since I’ve already said it twice in this post, let’s take the word “fuck” as an example. Fuck is a noun, a verb, an adjective, and even an adverb if you try hard enough (#fucktastically). One can use it to convey anger (“Fuck you, Clarence!”), joy (“Fuck yeah, soup!”), or disillusionment (“Fuck it. Just… fuck.”). Cursing makes everything better, and there is no conversation in the world that can’t benefit from the extra emphasis it provides. (“Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?” “Fuck yes I do.”)
All that shit said, there are a couple of invectives I never use. These are words with only one meaning, that can only be applied to people of color, and only offensively. You can’t slap “-ing” to the end of a racial slur and use it to describe how much you love breakfast cereal, y’know? You can’t replace the “fucking” in “I am so fucking excited right now” with an expression of xenophobia and expect your glee to be infectious.
I posted the following meme on Facebook last night, because a) It’s fucking hilarious, and b) Nazis are stupid, and it’s okay to make fun of them:
This morning, a dude I know posted a comment.
“Does ‘cracker’ have the same connotation as ‘nigger’?” he asked.
“It does not,” I replied. And it really doesn’t. The word “cracker,” in and of itself, is about as innocuous as a string of letters can get, and, even when applied negatively, doesn’t have any weight behind it. If a black guy came up to me and was like, “Hey, cracker,” I’d be all, “Hey, Francis” (assuming his name was Francis). There is not a word in the English language that exists solely as an offensive term for white people, and “cracker” is only derogatory if you take it to mean “white and easy to break,” which, honestly? A lot of us are.
I wasn’t sure if dude was asking a genuine question or being a troll, but I figured my short, clear response was enough to end the discussion. I was wrong. Moments later, he posted again:
“It’s a pejorative term for white people — maybe not as bad as ‘nigger’; that’s being debated. Why (according to your logic) is it okay for black people to use pejorative terms for white people but the reverse is racism? Do you see what a silly white person you are?”
He had some other things to say that I’m not comfortable repeating, but which are ultimately moot, because I blocked him. In retrospect, I wish I’d sicced the White Nonsense Roundup on him, although I’m not even sure if those guys could’ve helped much in this situation. I do not think dude is ignorant and just needing education, nor do I think he’s too wrapped up in his privilege to see things rationally. What I think is that he gets off on using the n-word specifically because it’s hurtful, which, as far as I’m concerned, makes him a big fucking racist — which means that cutting him right the fuck out of my life makes me very fucking happy.
I’ll go back to writing lighthearted tales of customer service tomorrow, but in the meantime, don’t be fucking racist, okay? Seriously, don’t suck like that. Punch some fucking Nazis instead.
Me: “Actually, I just found a promo code in the system for 15% off, so that would make the total price $92 with tax.”
Customer: “Hmm. I’ll give you $80.”
And with that, the sacred bond between retail workers was irrevocably broken. Attempting to bargain is right up there with “No price tag? That means it’s free, right?” on the Official List of Annoying Shit Customers Say ™ and is unforgivable under the best of circumstances. I have no choice but to call Wal-Mart’s 800 number and report this dude as a devil worshiper, then wear his blood-spattered name badge as a warning to anyone else who seeks to betray the Brotherhood of Service Representatives.
Okay. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that this is in fact a candle instead of a tub full of thickened mineral oil. How would one a) get the lube into it, and b) get the lube out during sexy time? It seems like the obvious light-and-drip method would either a) leave welts, or b) start a really inconvenient inferno, but maybe that’s just me.
I leave it to you, dear readers, to decide and explain.
Me: “But we do have a fine selection of solvents and polish removers.”
Customer: [blank stare]
Me: “Retail establishments in Texas are prohibited from selling alkyl nitrites or any related chemical compounds for recreational purposes. However, we’re able to keep these products in stock, with the understanding that they are intended to be used as dilution agents and/or room deodorizers, not inhalants.”