- In addition to wine, beer, hard liquor, mixes, cigarettes, yada, yada, yada, the store sold tickets for various lotteries: Mega Millions (a multi-state lottery), Illinois Lotto, Powerball, Little Lotto (a nightly drawing that starts at $100,000 and rolls over if there's no winner), and Pick 3 and Pick 4 lotteries. There was also a vending machine for "instant" tickets, ranging in price from a dollar to twenty dollars.
One day when Mega Millions was up over $100 million. A customer bought a ticket, examined it, and said, "If I win this, the old lady can cut back to part time."
- Customer, reading aloud from newspaper: "North Carolina law describes malicious castration as cutting off, maiming or disfiguring a person's gentiles . . . ."
(Yes, I know that the above two appeared on an "overheard" site several years ago. I sent them in.)
- On occasion I found myself one of only two employees at the store, the other usually being someone who deals strictly with stock. Very occasionally this created a brief conflict between my responsibilities. One afternoon a regular customer walked in, an Indian and a taxi driver. He routinely bought one can of beer and several minis. He went to the cooler and got his beer, but just as he approached the counter the phone rang. I answered and found that the caller was the store owner. He had a couple of brief instructions and we talked for perhaps thirty to forty-five seconds. I walked back to the counter and the customer.
Impatient customer: "You shouldn't answer the phone. You should take care of your customers first."
Donnie: "Oh, we're going to give each other job advice? Don't drink when you're driving a cab."
We've gotten along much better since then.
- It's not only drivers who are PITA cell phone users. Customers would walk in talking on a phone, transact their business, and walk out still talking on the phone. It's rude, but I could live with that. However . . .
One busy night a customer approached the counter, arms loaded with bottles of various kinds and cell phone jammed between his shoulder and his ear. He put the bottles on the counter and I began scanning them. Several customers got into line behind him. I got a total, bagged his purchases, and quoted him the amount he owed. He looked at me, held up a finger signaling me to wait, and continued his conversation. I waited a few seconds and told him I needed to finish this sale. He held up his finger again and turned away, still talking.
I deleted his items from the register, pushed the bags aside, and took the next customer. About halfway through this transaction, the first customer finished his conversation, turned around, and saw what I had done. He was hopping from foot to foot, unable to believe that I didn't just continue to wait for him. The line had grown to five or six customers and I pointed to them.
"You see these people? Your conversation may have been fascinating to you, but . . . ."
He fumed, but his choices were putting up with me or starting all over again at some other liquor store. The next couple of times he came in he walked by me silently, ignoring my greeting, but he got over it eventually. We resumed smiling and chatting, and although he sometimes repeated the phone conversation routine, he never again tried to make everyone else wait until he finished.