All right, so, Staples is officially weird as hell. And I’m not just bitter because they didn’t have a note card organizer with enough tabs to accommodate all the classes of html tags I’ve written down. I’m not just saying that because all of their business card carriers were ugly and totally made for corporate dudes. I was very bitter about my office supply shopping experience, yes, but that is not why I was really freaked out by the mutants that run that God-forsaken shit bin of paper clips and ultra white copy paper.
It’s because, when we were standing at the register so Agent Big Guns could pay for her stuff, we were approached by the store’s mascot. He was wearing his Staples polo shirt, which had been washed one million times, and his pleat-front dress pants, which office supply store people always wear in that no-really-I-always-dress-this-professionally kind of way. Of course, it was a sneak attack, so it wasn’t his attire I noticed first, it was his honking voice, as he came up behind us and screamed, “HOW WAS YOUR SHOPPING EXPERIENCE TODAY LAAAADIES? DID WE FIND EVERYTHING WE NEEEEEEED?”
Now, I don’t know if I’m just naturally filled with guilt, but when he talked to us in that super-positive, overly-loud way, I immediately thought that one of us was going to be accused of stealing and tackled in the doorway. It was so upbeat and loud that I thought for sure something was about to catch fire and kill us all.
So Big Guns says, “Um, good…yeah,” and I say “Yeah, thank you…”
The freak in the polo just stood there, staring at us. JUST STOOD THERE, STARING AT US. I don’t know how else to describe it; it was standing, and it was staring. There were a few jerky, robotic little nods of the head here and there. We both just looked at him, then at each other, then back at him, then more nervously at each other. It was fucking out of control. I looked plaintively at the check-out girl, who didn’t seem to notice that the entire world was sinking into a bog of awkward. I think we stood there for about six and a half hours, this guy just staring us down. All right, no, I don’t want to be over-dramatic so that everyone thinks I’m exaggerating the whole thing. I will be 100% honest and say that it was a good 30 seconds of standing and staring at us.
Finally, finally, the bastard spoke up again. “Oh! Don’t thank me! It’s MY job to thank YOU! You’re the customer! We wanna see you back here again!”
I hate it when retail employees say that shit. It’s like, I get it. I understand how it works. If I don’t come in and buy stuff, the whole thing grinds to a halt. Me Consumer, you Seller. No doy, Staples.
So he’s standing there, and he’s said his piece, and Agent Big Guns and I sort of smile in that really obviously uncomfortable way, that makes you look like you haven’t been able to poop for two weeks. There’s more nodding, more staring, and FINALLY the Office Prick just sort of melts away, into the background. That’s about when, in an empty empty EMPTY (except for me and the tumbleweeds) store, another Staples employee (a short, skinny, cornrowed young man with his forearms held high, bent at the wrist) sashays past me, grazing against my back, and says “Essscuuuuuuuuse me?!” I reacted by looking into the void that existed in the ten foot radius all around me, to be sure I wasn’t misjudging the amount of empty available space through which he could have walked.
And that’s when the slowest checkout girl in the universe started complaining about the fact that Prince was playing over our heads in the store. “Is it like, the nineties or whuut?” She stared at us and we both grimaced again. Less than a yard away, the first crazy was yelling at another set of poor customers, “DID WE HAVE A GOOD SHOPPING EXPERIENCE TODAY? IT’S MY JOB TO MAKE SURE YOU GUYS HAVE A GOOD SHOPPING EXPERIENCE. WE’LL SEE YOU TOMORROW THEN, ALL RIGHT?!”
I can only think of one scenario in which you might go to Staples the day after you go to Staples. It involves a stapling emergency which happens overnight and causes you to run out of the ten thousand staples you bought the day before.