Older guy I worked with was looking a little depressed.
I knew he was depressed because when he rolled up the rim to win—on a free double-double I’d bought him—he actually won a free coffee.
Didn’t even crack a smile.
Just glumly tore off the little strip and tucked it into the watch pocket of his jeans for later.
Only I know he’s going to forget about it and throw the jeans into the hamper and they’ll go through the washing machine and the type on the little piece of cardboard will become illegible and you can’t get a free cup of coffee with a mooshed up little ball of cardboard that looks like a booger.
Believe me, I’ve tried.
Not my first rodeo when it comes to free coffee.
And I sat there and kind of squirmed and wanted to say, “Dude, give me the free coffee instead of letting it go through the washing machine,” but that would make me look like a jackass and I’m not comfortable being a jackass unless I’m six bourbons in and don’t plan on making it home.
But he should have smiled when he won.
Hell, he should have whooped it up some.
Because winning is kind of a big deal.
If you’ve rolled up the rim, you know it’s easier for some 40-year-old, weekend, non-body-contact rec league player who last strapped on his skates when he played Pee Wee to score on Patrick Roy than it is to win by rolling up the rim.
I mean, there are cut-throat, mob-connected, evil casino lords in Las Vegas who look at roll up the rim and say to their nearest henchman: “Geez, Vinnie, I sure wish we could run a game that paid out so little.”
“Well boss, we’re only the mob. We ain’t powerful like that Tim fella.”
So not celebrating when you win a free coffee?
And he was obviously irked because when I finally said, “Hey buddy, what’s wrong?” he suggested that I perform an anatomically impossible act.
And no, it wasn’t that I touch my toes.
It was the other one.
The one that is definitely against the workplace code of conduct.
“Dude,” I said, “really?”
He sighed. Said he was sorry. “Trouble at home,” he explained.
“What kind of trouble?”
“The wife read Fifty Shades of Grey. And then she took me to the movie.”
“Oh man,” I said. “Condolences.”
For those who don’t know, Fifty Shades of Grey is a novel that got turned into a movie.
It is a Harlequin romance with whips.
I am not kidding.
Young, innocent young girl falls under the thrall of a rich weirdo.
You know how most people’s idea of romance is dinner, maybe a neck massage, lit candle?
This guy’s idea of romance is dinner, the only thing he wants to do to her neck is slap an MMA-style chokehold on it, and the only time he lights a candle is so he can pour molten wax on the girl.
So he can hear her yell.
Books were so popular, the poor guys who work at hardware stores are stuck having conversations like this with the kind of women who never venture into hardware stores.
“Where’s the rope?”
“Over here ma’am.”
“What kind of rope is best for … um … well. Tying things?”
And the poor clerk’s got no clue what’s coming next. He’s just glad somebody asked him about rope. Guys are like that.
“Depends on what you’re tying, ma’am. Polypropylene or polyester don’t hold a knot that great but they’re stronger and more abrasion resistant than natural fibres. Nylon’s the strongest, but it loses about 15 per cent of its tensile strength when wet so it’s not the best for your basic boating applications. That 550 parachute cord is a great rope, not very big around but basically the same as the ropes they use for mountain climbing.”
“Um, which one won’t leave marks on my wrists?”
“Ma’am?” All of a sudden the poor clerk isn’t so glad to be talking about rope.
“Which one won’t leave marks on my wrists?”
“Um, ma’am, you do know this is a hardware store. Right?”
I looked at my buddy. “So … what’s the problem?”
“I don’t want to tie her up. It seems weird to me. What if I have a heart attack from all the weird sex embarrassment and she’s stuck there. I mean the kids are grown up. It could be two or three days before it occurred to somebody to send the cops around to see if we were OK. She’d be awful upset if the cops came in and found her that way. She’d be awful thirsty by then and mad, I’m pretty sure. Mad at me for dying. And after a week, why I’d be starting to stink. I don’t want that to be her last memory of me, smelling like somebody threw a pike up under your porch in August cause they’re trying to get even with you.”
“What? Somebody threw a pike under your porch?”
“Damnit, try to pay attention! What should I do?”
I didn’t know what he should do because fortunately, I married a feminist. (Which is the answer to the question, “What do guys almost never say?”)
And as a feminist, she looked at the plot of Fifty Shades of Grey and turned Fifty Shades of Righteous Angry.
“What should you do?” I asked. “Well, you could give me your free coffee. You’re gonna forget about it and it’s gonna go through the washer.”
He told me to touch my toes again.
Well … the equivalent.
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