Public Service Addiction

[Ed. Note: This customer was one of the drunkest I’ve dealt with to date, so when reading anything he says, slur it up in your head and mix the consonants around to get the full effect.]

Customer: “What’s the biggest bottle of lube you have?”

Me: “Sixteen ounces.”

Customer: “That’s the biggest bottle you have?”

Me: “Yes.”

Customer: “I need bigger.”

Me: “The biggest we have is 16 ounces.”

Customer: “Bigger.”

Me: “This is the biggest.”

Customer: “BIGGER.”

Me: [shrug]

Customer: “Okay.” [whispering] “I’m a slut.”

Me: “No kidding.”

[five minutes later]

Customer: “What’s the biggest bottle of lube you have?”

Me: “You just bought it.”

Him: “Just checking. How much is in this other lube?”

Me: “Sixteen ounces.”

Customer: “How much does it cost?”

Me: “$28.”

Customer: “WHAT?! Open it.”

Me: “I can’t do that.”

Customer: “$28?”

Me: “Yup.”

Customer: “BITCH.”

Me: “Still $28.”

Customer: “I hate you.”

Me: “That’s cool.”

Customer: “RUDE. It’s RUDE to charge so much.”

Me: “Then don’t buy it.”

Him: [slowly counting out 28 dollars] “Rude…”

A number of sober acquaintances were horrified appalled filled to overflowing with brimstone and judgement very concerned when I started working at the Forge. “If you hang out at the barbershop, you’re going to get a shave,” they chanted, while placing bets on how long it would take me to guiltily slink into a meeting and collect a new desire chip. But despite their hopes the odds, I’ve done remarkably well at both the store and in the bar where it’s housed, and customers like the guy above are major contributors to that.

Even after five years in recovery, I still get triggered occasionally. I can think of maybe one or two times when this has happened at the Forge, but it’s mainly occurred during stressful moments at my day job, or when I’m at a family gathering watching relatives polish off a couple of bottles of wine, or in the middle of a hurricane. Thing is, if a craving hits, all I have to do is look to a customer spending an additional $30 on personal lubricant because he’s forgotten how much he’s already purchased, or getting unnecessarily excited about the painfully obvious, or repeatedly smacking into a display case to remember why it’s best to keep alcohol out of my system entirely.

Novelist Catherine Aird once wrote, “If you can’t be a good example, you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.” I definitely don’t think every single dude who ties one on at the Ripcord is a certified (or certifiable) alcoholic, but as a card-carrying rumhound myself, I am grateful for the humility provided by these semi-regular portents of what my life could go back to resembling.

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