An Epic Lack of Clapping Back

Customer: [gesturing to the solvents, attempting to look sly] “Are these… what I think they are?”

Me: “Yes, they are.”

Customer: “How much is a small bottle?”

Me: “$12.99.”

Customer: “Would you take $10?” [flashes ten-dollar bill like he’s trying to bribe a maître d’]

Me: “No, I would not.”

He ended up buying a bottle anyway, but you know what kills me? When he offered the $10, I didn’t even think to give him a knowing look and say, “Yes… yes, I would,” and then pull out the actual nail polish remover I keep under the counter specifically for occasions just like this one.

Clearly, I’ve gotten soft and slow in my dotage. I’m going to have to arrange for some kind of alarm to trigger whenever customers leave themselves open for savaging.

I Got Your Stamp Right Here

Shhh.

The problem with writing a blog about bad and/or weird customer service experiences is that if I don’t have any bad and/or weird customers, I have nothing to write about. Fortunately, I’m also a notary, which doesn’t necessarily lend itself to bizarre situations, but does give me plenty of opportunities for creative kvetching.

A friend of a friend recently reached out and asked if I could notarize some papers for him. My response was, of course, “FUCK YEAH, NOTARIZING,” on account of I love being a notary even more than I love cursing. But then he explained what he needed me to do, and I was like, “Okay… yeah, that’s illegal, but thanks for thinking of me!”

I find myself in this situation a lot. Someone will bring me a pre-signed and dated document, or will want me to notarize a blank form that they’re going to have someone else fill out later, or, in the case of a particular impatient co-worker, will try to steal my stamp instead of waiting for me to come back from lunch or whatever, to the point where I have to keep it in a locked bank bag stashed in my briefcase with protective amulets attached to avert her evil intentions.

I may have overreacted a little on that last one.

But only a little.

Anyway, while I’m waiting for Forge customers to generate blog fodder, I thought it might be helpful to explain to everyone what the purpose of notarization actually is, so that you never inadvertently put a notary in an unethical position. Because if something goes south, you probably won’t get in trouble… but the notary will. Like, big-ass fines and possible jail time.

[Ed. Note: Ha HA, didn’t realize that, didja? Everything is totes the notary’s fault. Plus, if I got busted, Texas would never let me stamp anything again, and that would murder my bliss. You don’t want to murder my bliss, do you? I didn’t think so. Read on, yo.]

So, notaries: A notary, or notary public, is an official appointed by the State to serve as an impartial witness. (In some states there’s a whole certification process, but in Texas, you just send in $80, and they ship you a stamp with your name on it and are like, “Good luck!” which is a bit of fuckery, truth be told.) A notary is a ministerial officer, which means that he or she is expected to follow written laws without discretion. Judicial officers — magistrates, justices of the peace, Judge Dredd, etc. — have the authority to make decisions regarding the application of law, but ministerial officers perform functions under the law. In other words, we have shit to do, but we don’t have a say in how that shit gets done.

The main duty of a notary is to verify the identities of the signers of important documents, their willingness to sign, and their understanding of the documents themselves. Depending on the nature of what’s being signed, the notary might have to put the signer under an oath, in which he or she swears that the information contained in the document is true and correct. This is my favorite notarial thing, because when people ask me what I do for fun, I can be all, “I administer oaths,” and that makes me feel like fucking Gandalf.

A lot of people seem to think that the stamp itself is the part that matters, that it makes a document official or something. But in reality, the stamp is the notary physically giving his or her word that the signers are in fact who they say they are. This is why notarization is usually required for affidavits, mortgages, powers of attorney and wills. As an example, written testimonies have to be notarized before a court will consider them, because, y’know, the signer has to swear everything in the statement is true, and somebody has to aver that yep, he swore it.

So that, in a nutshell, is What Notaries Do™. I hope you guys found it interesting, and I hope I’ll have the chance to notarize stuff for each and every one of you in the future. Seriously. I’m pretty obsessed with it. Just do me a solid and don’t hit me up for anything questionable — if I’m going down, I want it to be for something way more newsworthy than the wrong name on a warranty deed.

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.

It’s actually more like Scruff, but you get the picture.

Customer: “What are these?”

Customer’s Straight Female Friend: “Duh. Those are bandanas.”

Me: “Those are hankies. For the Hanky Code.”

Customer and SFF: [blank stares]

Me: “The Hanky Code was basically Grindr before there was Grindr. Each color represents a specific sexual preference or fetish, and the hanky itself is worn in either the left or right back pocket to indicate top or bottom.”

SFF: “Oooh, like those bracelets we wore in high school!”

Me: “Wait… what?”

SFF: “Yep, just like them.”

And then they left, and a) what the hell kind of bracelets was she talking about, and b) what the fuck was going on at her high school? I mean, we had slap bracelets when I was in school, but those just meant “I am dangerously close to severing an artery.”

Oh, and in middle school, we had those handmade friendship bracelets that I could never figure out how to weave. One of my teachers used to call them germ catchers. I don’t judge, but it kinda sounds like this chick was wearing germ catchers, too.

ETA: Mystery solved. (Thank you, Jessie! You’re a fuzzy peach.)

AromAversion Therapy

Customer: “What’s this?”

Me: “That’s leather-scented lube.”

Customer: “Yeah, the smell of leather has kind of lost it’s appeal.”

Me: “Has it?”

Customer: “The first time I got fucked, we used my friend’s mom’s hand cream. That’s the scent that does it for me. Ha ha!”

Me: [weakly] “Ha ha…”

Customer: “Ha ha ha!”

Me: “Um…”

Customer: “AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAA!!!”

Me: “…”

And right as he doubled over with maniacal laughter, the bar’s jukebox kicked on and started playing “The NeverEnding Story.”

I wasn’t really using my childhood, so it’s probably okay that it just got ruined.

Status Update: Currently fixating on the following cover in a bid to clear my palate. The kicky dance moves seem to be helping.

Location Locution Loquation

Customer: “What does your shirt say?”

Me: “Oh, this? It says FoLK.'”

Customer: “FoLK?”

Me: “Yes, short for ‘Fellowship of Leather and Kink.’  It’s a local leather club.”

Customer: “Nice! I’ve never been there.”

I started to clarify that FoLK was actually a group of like-minded individuals and not a seedy gay bar, but then his boyfriend wandered in and was all, “Wow, great porn shop! I love it when these places have porn shops,” and suddenly I didn’t feel helpful anymore. Must’ve been the weather or my sinuses or something.