Thursday, November 12, 2009

Veteran's Day III

Coffee Crisp is a candy. I can't describe it at all (I wouldn't touch anything coffee - even if it involved chocolate - with a ten foot pole). I really only know it exists because I vaguely recollect seeing it in my youth at the store where I now work, and I only vaguely recollect that after having people ask me incessantly whether we carry it once I began working the candy counter. To make matters worse, we don't have Coffee Crisp bars. I'm not sure whether they're seasonal or the company has stopped making them altogether, but I do know, due to countless fallen faces upon hearing the news, that they are very hard to find. The Coffee Crisp query, about 50% of the time, goes hand-in-hand with one about Aero Bars (they sound way cooler than they are), which we also lack.

Yesterday - Veteran's day, an insanely busy day due to schools and some offices being closed - I swear, every other group of people who wandered in asked me for Coffee Crisp (and or Aero bars.) Some didn't ask me, just began exclaiming about them as soon as they walked in. "I'm sorry, we don't have Coffee Crisps. No Aero bars either," I began automatically adding, upon just hearing the term "Coffee Crisp," whether or not it was directed at me.

By the end of the day, I truly WAS sorry. I don't even mean in a sarcastic way. I am honestly sorry when we lack something. This particular five and dime is a place where to which many people travel from great distances to track down something from their youth, or something their aged mother loves that they can't get anywhere else. People expect to find anything here. When we don't have something I HAVE heard of before - chocolate lipstick, say, or jumping jacks (the toys, not the excercises) - I feel like a failure, like we've let them down and inconvinienced them. Even worse is the fact that this is my family's store; it's like I DO bring dishonor upon my family because we were all out of Sponge Candy. I feel terrible when we can't bring someone the happiness they desire from items of yesteryear.

And I know what you're thinking: it's consumerism, that won't make anyone happy. But it's not. Oftentimes it's people trying to find the perfect gift for someone. The satisfaction I get from finding something someone's son asked for for his fifth birthday that couldn't be found anywhere else is as intense as the failure/guilt I experience by NOT finding it. I feel I have to search every cupboard top to bottom in order to find a requested item - and because the store is so huge, I feel that whatever people ask for (especially if we have had it in the past... 79 years) MUST be there, and that I'm just not being the best employee I can be if I do not find it.

One of my first days, an adorable little girl asked if we had any ladybug "wobots." I lead her to the wind-up toys, among which was a ladybug, and, pointing it out, asked if that was what she meant. She said yes, but then asked if we had one that flew around. I said no, this time knowing we didn't carry one, having never seen one of those anywhere. I felt terrible, and her speech impediment didn't help that. I imagined her in fifteen years standing at the top of a bell tower with a machine gun, shouting over the helicopters to the cops who came to talk her down, "You know why I'm up here? Because there ARE no flying ladybug wobots!"

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