For a few months in 2001 I lived part-time in Buffalo, New York. Like late October foliage in the Adirondacks, the city is clearly past peak, though in the right light I could see its charm. What wasn’t charming, as I recall, was the Night of the Living Dead attitude of the service workers. Salespeople or store clerks would perk up only if I happened to ask for something out of stock or discontinued.
Me: “Do you carry [item]?”
Them: (Sudden great big smile, wide open eyes, cheery vocal tone) “No, we sure don’t!”
A moment later, back to flatlining.
Fast forward to last week in Henderson, Nevada…
The cashier lady in Walgreen’s is 110 years old and if her husband’s still alive, I bet they have matching mustaches. In slower than slow motion, she rings up my two packs of Altoids and reaches for a plastic bag. A big plastic bag. For two little packs of Altoids.
“That’s okay,” I tell her, with the usual smile in my voice. “I’ll just put them in my pocketbook.”
She stops and blinks deliberately. “You don’t want a bag?”
“Uh, no. I’ll just put them in my pocketbook.”
She looks at me like “What the hell kind of freak are you?” and then holds up a tiny paper in her right hand. “Well, then,” she snarls, “Do you want your receipt?”
“Yes,” I reply, matching her steely gaze. “I’ll put that in my pocketbook, too.”
I could only conclude two things: 1) She has to be a transplant from Buffalo, and 2) that "unexpected friendliness" concept I've talked about was not going to apply to this one.