[FridayFlash] I’ve Got Bills in All the Right Places

I thought I’d go way back into the archives of my life for this week’s episode of FridayFlash. A little background: in 2004, straight out of graduating magna cum laude, three internships under my belt, and a history of nearly all straight-As, I found myself unable to obtain a job in my chosen field. Thus, I found myself in the most humiliating position possible for a 20-something with a sense of entitlement — a cashier in the automotive department at Wal-Mart.

I was there for a mere two weeks before I put in my notice, and I rounded out my stay at five.  The silver lining is that I had plenty to write about for my first venture into NaNoWriMo back in 2005. Now, I present to you an updated excerpt from that novel/memoir —  a snapshot of a day in my life as a Wal-Mart employee.


I’VE GOT BILLS IN ALL THE RIGHT PLACES

Somewhat inexplicably, the automotive department at Wal-Mart attracts an unusual number of very strange women.  Most pass out of memory within a few hours if not minutes, but there was one woman who will be forever burned into my mind barring any sort of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-style brain therapy.

One day, late in the afternoon, nearing both the end of my shift and the end of my service to the Big Blue Sign, a very overweight woman, probably nearing 400 lbs., came up to the counter to pay for some merchandise.  I tell you this not to be rude or judgmental, but simply to paint an accurate picture of the situation.

I rang up her merchandise and presented her total, which was less than $2.  She began digging around in her sweatpants’ pocket for change, which she handed to me one coin at a time as she found it.  Though this was certainly annoying, and while it took all my mental prowess to ignore the disturbing warmth of the coins in my hand, I was mostly unfazed.  I’d experienced worse.  My discomfort was not enough to prepare me for what was about to play out.

“I think I put a dollar in my bra,” she proclaimed.

My first response to this was confusion.  It was followed quickly by horror, as my mind could no longer ignore the body-heated coins in my hands. I tried to convince myself that I was simply having some sort of David Lynch-style nightmare.  Surely, I was bound to wake up any second.  All hope was shattered, though, as I watched her begin to fondle her own massive and ill-supported breasts.

I began a silent chant to any god that would listen to make that dollar bill so hidden within the depths and folds of femininity before me that it would never be found again — or at least not until after my shift had ended.  But her hands only searched more fervently as the intensity of my prayers increased.

I was about to offer a dollar from my own meagerly-supplied wallet in order to prevent having to handle anything that had come out of the crevasse of this woman’s cleavage.  But then, as abruptly as the caressing and squishing and prodding had begun, it stopped.  We stared at each other for one of those moments that seem impossibly long.  Terrible thoughts of her next attempt to find the dollar bill filled my mind — one in particular ending with a sweaty triple-F Maidenform bra flung at my face sent an involuntary shudder through my body.  And then, she uttered the most glorious words I’d heard up until that point in my life.

“I must have put it in my billfold,” she resolved.

I laughed, half in relief and half at the absurdity as she pulled a black leather billfold out of her purse.  She looked at me if I was touched in the head.  I muttered an apology and took her unsullied dollar bill.  As she left with her purchases,  she spared me one last, curious-annoyed glance as she walked out the door.  And I, beaten down and exhausted, could only smile politely back.


© 2010 Elizabeth Ditty

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25 thoughts on “[FridayFlash] I’ve Got Bills in All the Right Places

  1. Mary W. says:

    Oh. my. dear. god. in. heaven. The “caressing and squishing and prodding” almost did me in. Having worked in the service industry, I know only too well about suspiciously warm currency. This had me on the edge of my seat, as Dan said, in a good way. But it also made me wonder: do women actually put money in their bras, and if so, WHY? Great story!

  2. ~Tim says:

    I have to wonder why her billfold was not the first place she thought to look for cash? Oh, now I have really awful pictures in my head. Time for a coffee break — good thing I keep a five spot in my sock….

    • ditty1013 says:

      Believe me, I wondered the same thing. And I have to say, if you’re really keeping a bill in your sock, you deserve the awful mental images! 😉

  3. ganymeder says:

    Scary as that was, it isn’t the worst customer service story I’ve ever heard. Or experienced. *shudder*

    Well written and absolutely terrifying. As a cashier, I always hated being handed sweaty money. Blech!

    • ditty1013 says:

      Oh, believe me, I’ve got more where that came from. But I don’t doubt that people have worse than mine even. Retail, especially in place like Wal-Mart, is a horrible, horrible job.

  4. Olivia Tejeda says:

    I had this same customer when I worked in a grocery story in the inner-city in New York. All her food stamps were folded and kept in her MASSIVE cleavage. When I got them, they were damp and foul!!! After her second visit, I kept gloves at my register. I shudder at the memory and curse you for bringing it up again!! Okay, I don’t really curse you because you relay the experience so well! Great little ditty! ~ Olivia

    • ditty1013 says:

      Oh, my. See, that’s exactly what I feared would happen to me, but I was somehow spared! You poor thing, actually having had to go through it! :-/

  5. CJ says:

    Heh – you described the situation, I could see it. Thanks.

    Anyhooo, I was actually thinking that perhaps she did all the searching for coins, one at a time, then upped the ante to the bra digging in HOPES that you would just offer to pay for such a small amount. You could save yourself the further pain of watching her off-putting behavior and she’d save herself $2. A person can save a lot of money not nickel and diming themselves to death. The fact that she HAD a wallet, and didn’t resort to it makes me think that might have been her game.

    Just sayin’, been known to happen.

    • ditty1013 says:

      It’s entirely possible, but a lowly Wal-Mart employee might not be the best mark, you know? I’m not sure what was going through her mind, and I’m not sure I’d want to!

  6. Cathy Olliffe says:

    Well-written and all but I find myself offended. Why is it that we’re appalled by warm money that comes from a fat woman digging from within her bra… when, if a more comely woman had done the same thing it would be a story fit for a men’s magazine, not the butt of jokes?

    • ditty1013 says:

      I’m pretty sure I would have been just as weirded out had Angelina Jolie come in and done the same thing, especially if she’d done it with the gusto this woman did. As I said, the mention of her weight was merely to paint a fuller picture. Sorry you found yourself offended. 🙂

      • Mom says:

        I’d be appalled by any money or object that came from someone’s body whether or not they were overweight or skinny as a rail. Skinny people can sweat too, and handling anything with body dampness would not be something I would care to do. I find myself shuddering just thinking about it. Ugh!

      • Cathy Olliffe says:

        Hey Elizabeth: I’m been feeling crappy and guilty about this all day. I apologize for my negative comment. It would hurt my feelings if anybody wrote this on mine and I am sorry I did on yours. Your story is actually very good… I’ve reread it a few times and talked about it with friends (to try and alleviate my guilt, I suppose) and you did say at the beginning you didn’t mean it to be rude or judgmental, so there… in fact I was the one who was rude and judgmental.
        No excuse really, except I’m old and cranky and old and cranky and I really shouldn’t comment anything when I’m feeling hormonal.
        Forgive me? Please?
        If it makes you feel better, go to my blog and criticize the hell out of it because I’m not nearly as good a writer as you.
        Peace!
        I look forward to your next Flash.
        I’m sure it will be as brilliant as this one.

        • ditty1013 says:

          @Cathy: Hey, no worries on my end! I feel bad that you’ve felt bad all day! Believe me, I’ve had comments that have made my blood boil, and yours was not one of them. I appreciate you stopping by and both your comments!

    • ditty1013 says:

      Um, well, I suppose she could have been a lesbian. However, there was nothing about her demeanor that would have suggested her trying to pick me up. Nice try, though. 🙂

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