Working With People

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She’s a bit introverted. She’s happiest when she’s by herself, holed-up from the rest of her coworkers and customers at the department store she works at. But sometimes she volunteers to come out of her office cubby and assist her coworkers on the sales floor. Like yesterday.

Things began okay. She helped stock shelves with new toys, kitchen appliances, and fragrant candles. Then she assisted the photo department whose worker went to lunch. The photo department ha machines that print photos from other photos, digital media, tablets and phones, as long as the customer agrees not to copy photos taken by professional photographers. Those photos are copyrighted, so anyone wanting them reproduced needs to have a release form signed by the photographer, saying it’s okay. Otherwise, it’s against the law. And that’s where the trouble began.

A portly man in need of a bath and a change of soiled undershirt and blue jeans came to the counter and wanted her to show him how to scan his Olan Mills photos of a dead relative so he could have copies for a funeral board. He had no release with him and had never bothered to obtain one. “Why should I?” he asked. “They’re my fucking photos.”

The woman apologized for the inconvenience and he stormed away. She returned to packaging and pricing photos that the busy high-tech printer spat out from the 8 kiosks outside the photo department that were in use. The kiosks were several yards away and partially hidden by an excessive bloating of electronic merchandise, so the woman who packaged and priced photos didn’t see the man return and use the next kiosk that became available. Nor did she see the kind, white-haired woman next to him show him how to use the kiosk’s scanner.

When the high-tech printer printed the man’s photos, the woman recognized them immediately. And when the man came to her counter, she took the photos to him and explained again how she couldn’t sell to him the copies of the professionally made pictures without a signed release from the photographer.

Well, the man whined and swore at her and actually stomped his feet. The woman wondered if he had Asperger Syndrome. When he fired off a litany of profanities at her, she figured it was Tourette Syndrome. After all, the man certainly had to have been schooled in proper public behavior. If so, he didn’t show it. He did show, however, a red, angry face, a waving of arms and fists, and some name-calling she hadn’t heard since elementary school. And then he snatched the photos from her hands and ran.

As she came out of her shock of disbelief, a woman next in line said, “If he can leave without paying for his pictures, I can too. And there’s nothing you can do to stop me, bitch.” And to prove it, she shoved her packaged and priced photos into her big-ass pigskin purse when the woman handed them to her. Then she pivoted and walked away with her nose in the air.

The woman called her manager from the photo department’s phone, of course, who immediately called security who quickly called the police who rushed over and arrested the two shoplifters in the parking lot.

Later that day, after she returned to her office cubby and found solace behind her closed door, the woman vowed never to help in the photo department again. Life was nicer and safer to her when she was holed-up from the rest of the world, just the way she liked it.

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