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The paint department at Home Depot wasn’t busy last night when I went there to pick out some trim colors for my house. I hung around the sample chart section for awhile, pulling out cards and holding them up to a larger sheet that displayed my main exterior color, Blanket Brown. What would look good with that? Plum Raisin? Revival Mahogany? Cougar? I liked the name of this last one, but knew it wouldn’t work. It never does.
As I held one sample after another against Blanket Brown, I kept hearing the one young man behind the counter rattle off a line he must have said a million times: “Thank you for your patience I’ll be with you as soon as I can.” He was a deliberate, hard-working guy with the teeth of a horse. When I had finally narrowed my trim samples down to twelve, I approached the counter. “Thank you for your patience I’ll be with you as soon as I can,” said Mr. Ed as he galloped by. He was apparently working alone.
I looked around and only saw one couple before me, although Ed seemed frantic in his pace to continue mixing paint. The couple and I sized each other up: I was normal, as usual, and they were odd—both very pale. “We shouldn’t even be here!” the man blurted out, almost laughing, propping up his wife. “We’re both so sick! We have MRSA and botflies! We can hardly stand but we needed paint!”
I smiled and took a step back. Thank you for your patience and get away from me right now.
“I really liked your blouse!” the man shouted as I moved down the counter. “Great colors!”
I nodded and moved further away, waiting for the homely Depot guy to finish up with the happily infected couple. I studied my shirt as I tugged down my sleeves and tried to huddle inside: it did have nice colors. In fact, all the trim colors that I’d selected matched this shirt. If I wore it and posed in front of my newly painted house, I would probably blend in to the point of disappearing, as I was trying to do now.
“Thank you for your patience I’ll be with you as soon as I can” I heard whistling by again. I knew my turn was next. Ed rang up the polluted people and turned to me, snorting. “How can I help you?”
“I just want you to say that you work really well under pressure,” I said, standing in the deserted paint department. “You’re really good at what you do.”
“Thank you for your patience,” he brayed. “After I help you, when you get home, would you mind going on our web site and filling out the survey? That’s the kind of stuff my boss likes to hear.”
“I’ll do it as soon as I can,” I promised, and I did. If there is one customer service employee out there braving the threats of plague and virus, working harder than necessary in order to keep his job—dealing with snarky customers who just happen to have better dental insurance than he does—then there are thousands. I plan to name all of my botflies after them.