Thursday, February 10, 2011

On The Commuter Bus to Hell

In the unlikely event that - even for a moment - I were to forget that upon death I am going straight to Hell without passing "Go" and without even getting a whiff of $200, yesterday afternoon brought me a reminder. In the interests of full disclosure, I anticipate my soul's eternal resting place shall not only be somewhere really, really warm (one of the best The Far Side cartoons ever featured the Devil at Hell's front desk checking in new arrivals, "Inferno or no inferno? Just kidding. They're all inferno.") but it is a destination that shall be reached only after an interminably long trip on an overcrowded city bus.

A city bus on which I occupy a center seat.....sandwiched between two obese men both of whom are sweating profusely. In the event I opt for burial over cremation, Margaret shall have, "Dress light", etched upon my tombstone.

The nice thing about being a truly rotten bastard is that I never forget who and what I am. A failing perhaps but one that actually enables me to anticipate a moment such as the one yesterday afternoon before it has completely unfolded, to anticipate how it is going to play out and to savor it in its entirety.

At some point not too terribly late in the afternoon I went to the bank to cash a check. There is a branch of our bank just a mile or two from our office, which I matriculate to on an average of one time a week. Such has been my practice for the past several years. While it has long seemed to me that this particular branch has had an exceptionally high retention rate during the time I have banked there, yesterday they broke in not one, but two, new tellers.

While neither of the youngsters looked familiar to me, I would not have known either was "new" absent them sharing that information with the several customers who were in the bank while I was there. One of the newbies was a young man. His time was being occupied by a guy who was whining to no one in particular about the fact that the roots of a tree on his property had done something to his sewer line, which necessitated him to have to spend $15,000 to repair the damage and to install a new sewer line. He looked my direction for support. I was tempted to say aloud, "Do I look like I give a shit?" which - given the subject matter - would have been wholly appropriate but judging from his reaction to my reaction (his "re-reaction"?) my look alone conveyed that sentiment succinctly.

While Captain Poopy Pants was regaling Newbie Male with his tale of woe, the hyper-caffeinated little flibbertigibbet ("Take me to the volcano!") who represented the distaff side of the new wave of employees almost knocked herself unconscious making me aware of her availability at the far end of the counter. I did not realize that this little bundle of energy - in order to make eye-to-eye contact with me the customer was standing atop a box or a platform of some sort until after I handed her my check and she had to step away from her side of the counter momentarily. She damn near disappeared from view. Thankfully, with a voice occupying a space on the sound spectrum normally reserved for dog whistles and V-2 rockets even when out of sight, she was impossible to put out of mind.

An experience that felt as if it took all afternoon likely wrapped in less than five minutes. At its conclusion, I had what it was I had come to the bank in search of, which was a cashed check. However, during the experience it took all I could muster to not free the omnipresent counter pen from its chain and poke it squarely through the eye of the young woman on the other side. No single human being should have as much faux good cheer and positivity as was permeating through this young woman's tiny frame. On more than one occasion I thought she was going to spontaneously combust for she was manufacturing so much enthusiasm and energy.

Most assuredly somewhere there is a "New Employee Customer Service Manual" or some such thing for this young woman's employer that lists what to do and what not to do when interacting with customers. I am willing to wager that the print in the manual is black and white and to date no one at the Parsippany branch of my bank has explained to Princess Pep that life is lived in the gray areas. I hope they do so - and soon. I am far too lazy to drive the extra five miles to the next closest branch of the bank to my office. I fear if she does not temper her ridiculous enthusiasm I will one day scale the counter, crumple her up into a little ball and try to send her to the drive thru window in one of those pneumatic tubes.

And while her more experienced cohorts are teaching her the ropes at the bank, I hope they tell her that the lollipops are for customers only. If there is one thing this kid does not need, it is unfettered access to a stimulant.

-AK

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