Clerk Conversations

I work at a convenience store and it sucks.  But I have to say, we have some interesting conversations and some equally interesting encounters with less interesting people.  So, I’ve decided to start a series called:  Clerk Conversations.  The series will be loosely based on true conversations and events that have taken place at my place of employment.  Without further ado:

Clerk Conversations:  Autistic vs. Retarded

I grabbed a handful of gummi bears from the bulk candy rack and wandered idly around the store.  Occasionally, I would pause to pick up and peruse items, then put them back in the wrong places.  I stopped near the counter to read a flyer taped to the front window.  A line of customers was lazily winding its way toward the rear of the store.

“A little help, please,” said the female clerk behind the counter.  I was supposed to be working the other register.

“Look at this,” I said, popping a vaguely fruit-flavored bear in my mouth and tapping the flyer with my finger.

“This line’s getting really long,” she said, giving me a pleading look.

“‘Special Olympics’,” I read from the flyer.  “How retarded do you have to be to join the special olympics?”

A few of the customers glanced at me in disgust, trying to see if I was serious while simultaneously attempting to read my name tag, which should have said “Mike D.”, but actually said “Bruce Wayne!!!”.  If the higher ups don’t want me playing with the label-maker, they should do a better job of hiding it.

“I don’t know,” replied my co-worker. “I could really use some help.”  What a needy bitch.

“It’s a serious question,” I said, magnanimously ignoring what a selfish bitch she was being.

“Seriously, this line–” she started whining again until I cut her off.

“I mean, do they classify athletes based on their level of retardation?  Is there a ‘Retard Richter Scale’ or something?”

“Oh my God–” She began.  I did her a favor by interrupting her again.

“Seriously, are there retard qualifiers for the Special Olympics?  Do they separate events based on retard-type?  Is there an Autistic Hammer-Toss?”  I wandered back to the slurpee machine and filled a cup.

“Autism and retardation aren’t the same thing,” announced my supervisor, emerging from the building’s only office.

“Fuck you they aren’t,” I said.

“Why aren’t you at your register?” He asked suspiciously.

“Because my frozen cola levels were dangerously low,” I replied.  “Now explain to me how autistic people aren’t retarded.”

“They just aren’t,” he said.  “They’re two different things.”

“Can you tell the difference?” I queried.

“Well, no–”

“AH-HA!” I shouted, causing some of the nosier customers to glance nervously in my direction once again.

“That doesn’t prove anything,” he said.

“This line is getting really long,” said my incompetent co-worker from her perch behind the counter.

“In a minute, cupcake,” I said, using some film noir slang to grease the wheels with her.  Chicks love that stuff.

“Look, it’s like the difference between African Americans and blacks,” my supervisor explained.  “Not every black person is of African descent.  You can be one without being the other, but I can’t tell the difference.”

His logic was sound, though an analogy comparing black people with retards is probably considered politically incorrect in polite company.

“Really, guys, I could use some help here!” came a shout from our bitchy cashier.

“Jesus Zombie Christ!” I said amicably. “I’m on my way, doll-face.”  I made my way to the register, still arguing with my supervisor.

“So, by your logic, ‘black’ is a blanket term that includes ‘African American’ as a subset, right?”

“Right.”

“Then wrap your balls around this:  ‘Retard’ is a blanket term that includes ‘autistic’ as a subset!”  I smiled triumphantly.

“You’re using the word ‘retard’ in a colloquial sense,” he replied.

“Fuckin’ A, I am!” I said, or maybe yelled. “If you use the word ‘special’ as a politically correct synonym for ‘retard’, then you must be using the concept in a broad sense of the word.”

“Ok, so you’re wrong in a technical sense, but right from a colloquial standpoint.”

“I can live with that,” I shrugged.

“Excuse me,” interjected some blonde girl with puffy bimbo hair who had been standing in line, rudely eavesdropping on our conversation.  “My brother is autistic and I find this whole line of conversation offensive.”

“Why?” I said, ignoring the alarmed look on my supervisor’s face.

“Because my brother is not retarded!” she practically spat at me. “He’s autistic!”

“Who told you that?” I asked.

“His doctor,” she smugly replied.

“So, if a doctor hadn’t told you he was autistic, you wouldn’t have assumed that he was just plain old vanilla retarded?” I asked, ringing up her items and swiping her debit card.  I surrepticiously snagged her pin number:  4437.

“NO!” she shouted, outraged.

“You’re in denial, sweetheart,” I wrote my number on the back of her receipt. “Call me sometime, and I’ll help you deal with these guilt complexes you’re having.”

“This is ridiculous!” she raged.  I want to talk to your supervisor!  What’s your name?!”

I pointed at my name tag.  “‘Bruce Wayne!!!’, but we have several ‘Bruce Waynes’ working here, so make sure you include the exclamation points.”

At this point, my supervisor stepped in to mollify the bimbo before she developed an aneurysm.  I shrugged and stepped over to the bulk candy for a handful of gummi bears…

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~ by mfive on April 16, 2008.

One Response to “Clerk Conversations”

  1. Fair enough.

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