Writer. Warning: opinions. My lawyer advised a disclaimer, but didn't include any jokes to go with. Damned if I can think of any either.

Employee Action Report

Brad chose his moment carefully, during the mid afternoon lull, to call Cody into the office. Misty couldn’t be left in a busy store alone even for a moment. The pressure of even two people in line would be too much for her. She’d heat up and seize like an oil-starved truck motor. So Brad waited until mid afternoon. The lull. Then he called for Cody.

Cody sloped into the office and sat down. Brad sat down too, and sighed.

“We have to have a face-to-face because you protested formally. So let’s read the complaint.” Brad read from the card.

Boy did not help. Brought many shirt but no fit. Boy also step on tail. I think fire boy.

“I think don’t fire boy,” Cody said, emphasizing boy because he was a grown man of fully 19 years.

“Want to tell me what happened, in your words?” Brad asked.

“Have you reviewed the video?”

“In cases of a customer complaint the manager isn’t requi-”

“You should just watch the video.”

Brad thought about it. He did have the managerial power to review tape, although he usually only did so when he suspected theft or lackadaisical shirt folding. He turned in his swivel chair, being careful not to bark his knees against the little filing drawer, and faced the tape recording equipment. It was older than Cody.

On the screen were four quadrants from cameras around the store. One looked out over the entrance from the mall walkway. On it people walked by holding shopping bags and looking at their cell phones. Two others pointed at the rear and side displays, and a third looked down at the register area. Brad could see Misty near the front of the store, staring off into space. Briefly he wished he had a camera view of her thoughts. What could they be?

Brad used the machine’s controls to switch the view from the recording deck to playback, then pulled the TUESDAY tape from the rack. He chunked and whirred it into the machine. An image of Tuesday Misty appeared, assuming her position at the front of the store. Brad fast forwarded the tape. Misty in fast forward was eerily still.

Yes, still, until the customer who had filed the complaint walked into the store. Then she gave a visible start. The head was massive. The body was enormous. The shoulders barely dipped low enough to let the customer through the entryway, and the powerful tail knocked a walkway trashcan lopsided as the customer walked past.

“See?” Cody said.

Brad was speechless as he watched the customer nosing through piles of tee shirts with various ironic sayings. Finally, the customer seemed to want to try on a shirt that read “It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green,” a slogan which had been slightly modified from the original “It’s not easy being green” to avoid copyright lawsuit. The customer was not able to lift the shirt over his head. His arms were disproportionately small relative to the size of his body and head.

Cody stepped over to help the customer, but it was no use. The XXXXL size shirt, known to store employees as the “circus tent,” fit over the customer’s head, but then looked ridiculous on the customer’s body, giving him the impression of an enormous green table lamp.

The sight made Cody smirk, and even Misty, who had been looking on in terror, gave a giggle. It was clear from the customer’s face that this had enraged him. He opened his massive jaws and gave a bark of frustration, then made flailing motions with his tiny limbs, trying to get the shirt off. The flailing made Misty giggle again, and in the process of trying to help the customer, Cody stepped on his tail.

The customer roared, and in his menacing reptilian eyes Brad could see the customer calculate whether or not to bite Cody in half. Instead, once the shirt was off, the customer stomped over to the register area — Brad could see the customer exit one video quadrant and enter another at an odd angle — and filled out a comment card. The customer then slammed his comment into the comment box and strode out of the store with a snort, his tail whipping angrily from view.

Brad paused the video. He turned to look at Cody.

“There will be no further action on this matter, Cody. Thank you.” he said. Cody nodded. Once the office door closed again, Brad allowed himself a heavy sigh. Another day in retail.