Adventures In Retail: ‘Tis The Season (Or, The Fight Before Christmas)

I don’t wear a Christmas shirt to work (a long story where I got kicked out for wearing a shirt that had Christmas Scripture verses on it) but I do wear a nice, tiny, red hat with green ribbons. It’s my pride and joy this Christmas. It’s perky and fun and jingly.

Christmas Hat

I was wearing it today when I got back from lunch, tilted at a rakish angle above my bun. When I got back to the service desk (which I run with a rod of iron) I was informed that a woman in one of the checkout queues was about to have hysterics as she claimed she’d been assaulted. Crazy Cow 1, hereafter designated CC1, was in the line with her four or five year old son, who was packing groceries onto the belt like the awesome little kid he is, while she shook and hyperventilated and gasped: “Where are the cops? He assaulted me, last time he broke me jaw!” and similar.

I understand that the cops have already been called, so I sit CC1 down on the bench in front of the service desk while I help the kid put all the groceries through. When that’s done, I sit with both of them, continuing to assure CC1 that I won’t let her (cousin? boyfriend? both?) attack her, and that the police will be there soon. All this time, let it be understood, CC1 is shaking, gasping, and having hysterics, while her awesome kid is sitting there being cool about the whole thing.

The police are busy, it seems, and twenty minutes after they were first called, haven’t shown. CC1 shows every sign of going into a rage-induced fit, so I think it best to call the cops again, who tell me they’re awfully sorry but they’re very busy and they’ll get someone out to us when they can. So I’m on still the phone with the cops when an older dame (Crazy Cow 2, or CC2) approaches CC1. She looks bogan but relatively clean. I think she’s going to comfort CC1.

No such luck. CC2 speaks literally four words to CC1, who then proceeds to leap onto the bench she was sitting on, and start screaming at CC2 to get away from her. I’m on the phone to the cops, remember? Well, not for long. CC1 is dancing about on her bench screaming: “Get away from me, get away from me!” which CC2 evidently takes as provocation, because she starts swinging. Then CC1 starts swinging. Me? I’m in the middle, shoving CC1 away from CC2, and CC2 away from CC1. Imagine the air rent with screams and profanity and inarticulate rage.

My phone, of course, is sent flying. Ah heck, I think. There goes my brand new phone. CC2 is trying to punch me in an attempt to get to CC1. CC1 is leaping on my back in an attempt to get at CC2. My scarf is torn off and flung aside, with my battered badge somewhere under the Christmas tree. Awesome Kid is sobbing on the bench, scared to death.

By the skin of my teeth I keep them apart until someone hauls CC1 off my back, which reminds her that she’s meant to be the victim, so she goes and hides in our toilets. (Leaving Awesome Kid behind, BTW.) I’m shouting as loudly as I can for CC2 to get out of my store, which she eventually does, leaving me to pick up Awesome Kid and cuddle him until the cops show up- about thirty seconds later. CC1 has forgotten she has a kid, so I keep cuddling Awesome Kid until everyone is bundled into cop cars and hustled away (another half hour).

By this point I’m sporting strangulation marks around my neck, am feeling bruises that won’t come out until tomorrow, have lost my scarf and badge, and am feeling like I fought the battle of the century.

But you know what? My hat stayed on. This is a fighter of a hat, ladies and gentlemen. I was sure it was gonna get knocked off, tearing out handfuls of hair as it did. They tell me that at one point I was just a tiny hat bobbing around in the middle of the scrum. But against all the odds, my little hat survived. If that’s not the fighter’s spirit, I don’t know what is. It deserves to live again next year.

To everyone out there in retail at this time of year, good luck. I hope your days are uneventful and your customers wonderful. To everyone else: try not to start fistfights at my service desk. Thanks. I appreciate it.

Merry Christmas.

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