The Man in the Mall

28 Aug

My dad attracted the strange and semi-crazy wherever he went. A trait he passed on to me. I work retail for the clothes discount and for comic relief. Last night, the comic relief walked right into the store.

I’ll admit right up front that it was all my fault. I was at the front of the store straightening skirts in full view of the strange and semi-crazy. A guy in his sixties stopped in the doorway and looked around. Figuring he’d misplaced his wife—it happens all the time—I asked, “May I help you?”

“Hi. Do you sell the opposite of women’s clothes?” This caused me to take a closer look at him. His straw cowboy hat had a silver bucking bronco in the center. His multi-colored plaid shirt gaped below the last button and above the waist-band. His tan jeans were tucked snugly under a small beer belly.

I smiled (we’re polite no matter what) and said, “No, we sell women’s clothing.” Foolishly, I thought this would be the end of the conversation. But, no.

He walked in and said, “A friend of mine in Florida just lost both his mother and father to heart attacks within 24 hours.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” This is where I should have kept my mouth shut, but I didn’t. “Sometimes that happens when people have been married a long time.”

“He was really upset. He said I always gave him good advice and he wanted to know what to do. I told him to get in his car and drive to Elko and go gambling.”

Odd advice, but whatever. I should mention at this point that I don’t have a poker face. So, I’m sure the, odd advice, but whatever, showed because he continued.

“That’s what his parents kept telling him to do.”

Okay, again, odd advice, but whatever.

“He took my advice. At the casino, he put a coin in the slot machine, pulled the handle, and won 1.7 million dollars.”

At this point, the needle on my BS meter has firmly in the “Yeah, right” zone. I said, “That’s lucky.”

“Yup.” He nodded.

I looked around for an escape. No one was in the store and my cohorts were at the cash wrap in the back. I was on my own.

I stepped back.

He followed. “Yup, this week I got a check for $475,000.”

“What a good friend. Most people wouldn’t do that.”

“He said he’d never have gotten the money if I hadn’t told him to go to Elko.”

I nodded. “So, you’re out buying some new clothes with your new money?” This had to be the end of his story.

“Yeah, I guess.”

Okay, why would you ask me if we had men’s clothes if you weren’t shopping? I wanted to point out that Eddie Bauer is just across the hall and they have lots of men’s clothes. I looked around. Still no help in sight.

He’d gone on without me. “When he sent me the money, he asked me what he should do with all the his winnings. I told him to take it down to Hollywood. He’s down there now and there’re three producers who want to make a movie of his life. He told me he’d give me half of what he made because without my advice he’d never have gone.”

“He’s a very good friend,” I recapped. Again you’d think this would be the end of the story. No such luck.

“We’ve been friends for years. I met him when I was the youngest Ranger ever. I was 18 and up in the back country on horseback.”

I’m not saying another word. I nod.

“When I was up in the Owyhee’s, I came across a couple of wolves.”

We’ve evidently switched topics. Will someone come by and just shoot me? Please!

“They were just like dogs.”

At this point, my BS meter suffers a breakdown.

“I could pet them and they hung around my camp all the time.”

The thing about wolves is, they’re wild animals and you’re prey.

And the story continued. “I was sitting around my campfire one night and I looked up to find a big grizzly bear standing on its hind legs, ready to attack me. In those days we weren’t allowed to carry a gun.” Wait for it… “that’s when my two wolf friends and their brothers attacked the bear. They were biting him in the face and back and they chased him away.”

I’m not even going to comment on the idiocy of going into the wilderness without a gun. Besides, at this point, my BS meter is in pieces on the floor of my brain.

“That was lucky for you.” Still no one is around to save me. So I did the only thing I could before I started losing brain cells. I said, “I better let you get back to your shopping.”

“Okay, well bye.”

And off he went.

You can’t use this in a book. No one would believe it. But it did break up the evening.

Have you had encounters with the strange?


Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Blogs


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20 responses to “The Man in the Mall

  1. Liz Fredericks

    August 28, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    You have my absolute worship for the weirdest personal encounter ever. Until this point, it was the guy with the card tricks in the Starbucks for me. But. I stand in awe.

    • Peggy Staggs

      August 28, 2012 at 8:42 AM

      I know. I’ve got a sign that only the normally challenged can see. I think it revolves above my head and reads, “Please, come and talk to me. I love crazy’s.”

  2. Liz Fredericks

    August 28, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    Hold it . . . I think I know this guy . . . from an online dating site. Whoa, small world LOL

  3. Janis McCurry

    August 28, 2012 at 7:05 AM

    I used to work in restaurants and the weird showed up regularly. There was Ringo Starr, a wannabe who had legally changed his name (He showed me his Idaho driver’s license. Not Richard Starkey, mind you. It read Ringo Starr). Ringo wore huge rings, had the bowl haircut, the nose, and wore a big black cape. Not sure if he confused Ringo with Dracula, but he made a great spectacle when he came in to eat.

    I had fun back then because of the variety. Nice memories.

    • Peggy Staggs

      August 28, 2012 at 8:45 AM

      What a wonderful character. I love the Ringo/Dracula twist he had going on.

  4. Mary Roya

    August 28, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    I worked in retail for a while. I worked for Seven Eleven and I have had some strange adventures. Robbed by gun twice. Saw a man with lavender eyes, this was before contacts. There was this really, really nice black that came in to drink coffee and to talk. He quit coming when I started losing weight. Ok? Too funny. I think I like your adventure better.

    • Peggy Staggs

      August 28, 2012 at 10:09 AM

      I’ll forego getting robbed. That’s way too scary. The lavender eyes sound interesting. I marvel at the way people treat the person behind the counter. And don’t get me started on the way people leave dressing rooms.

  5. Corina Mallory

    August 28, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    I think I have that sign spinning above my head too. I was recently on vacation with a friend and after the fourth awkward conversation with a complete stranger he turned to me and said in an accusing voice: “It’s YOU! People never talk to me. These insane people keep talking to us because of YOU! Whatever vibe you’re sending out, stop it. Right now.” I had to explain that it wasn’t something I knew how to turn off. Believe me, if it was voluntary I would shut that thing down with a quickness that would spin heads. I mean, did my friend think I really wanted to hear that cab driver’s story about showing up at a wedding reception naked? No. No I did not.

    I work at a spa/yoga studio and it never fails to amaze me how many people want to open up to a complete stranger about their personal journey to enlightenment. Or about the extra breast tissue they have in one armpit that makes finding yoga tops difficult. Or that time they went on tour with the Rolling Stones. People are nuts.

    • Peggy Staggs

      August 28, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      Sounds like you’ve got some great stories.
      It’s amazing isn’t it? I think they must feel safe because they think they’ll never see us again, or they don’t care what we think of them because we’re not a friend they see every day. OR they’re just nuts.

  6. maryvine

    August 28, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    Great blog post, Peggy! Love how you tied it into writing, too. Truth is stranger than fiction for sure.

    • Peggy Staggs

      August 29, 2012 at 8:56 AM

      I know. Don’t you wish you could use some of the crazy people in your WIP? If you did no one would believe it.

  7. ramblingsfromtheleft

    August 28, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    Okay, Peggy … you made that up 🙂 Although as a die-hard New Yorker who has encountered many a guy with foil under a woolen cap in the middle of July … I must admit your guy was great comic relief 🙂

    • Peggy Staggs

      August 29, 2012 at 9:09 AM

      I was looking around for the Candid Camera, camera.

  8. marsharwest

    September 1, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    So, Peggy, did you make up the conversatioin? I mean come on. I did LOL while reading. 🙂
    Been on vacation in Maine, and am just deleting like crazy. Glad I didn’t this one.

  9. Peggy Staggs

    September 3, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Nope. He was real…unlike his story.

  10. Clarissa Southwick

    September 4, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Never nod, Peggy. LOL. This must be why I’m a hermit who rarely leaves home. Great post.

    • Peggy Staggs

      September 7, 2012 at 9:57 AM

      I know. Like I said it was all my fault. I’m afraid that if I became a hermit they’d come knocking on my door.

  11. Lynn Mapp

    September 5, 2012 at 10:06 PM

    Peggy, you have a gift. What if it were a true story. Not the Hollywood part, or the wolf part, but the big winnings part. That would be an interesting story.

    • Peggy Staggs

      September 7, 2012 at 9:58 AM

      I wouldn’t be as interesting on paper as it was in that guy’s head.


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