Demons come in all sorts of forms, shapes and identities. But fortunately so do angels.
The attack came calmly, an older gentleman with disheveled hair suffering from an early onset of Parkinson’s disease. Dressed in a faded Hawaiian shirt that reeked of stale body odor he huffed up to me, hands shaking. He asked for the number of the main office. In the back of his pickup neatly stacked sat 860 beer bottles in their six packs or cases of twenty. My Wingman had explained our policy. We only count to 200 and weight anything over that amount. This did not make the older man a happy camper, but i suspect life didn't make him happy.
People who have emotional issues tend not take responsibility for their own actions. For them, blaming others is a more reasonable approach. When he had asked to see the supervisor, little old me, looking just as dirty as the next employee, wasn’t going to satisfy him, especially when I wouldn’t engage in a shouting match.
“Who can I call? Where is the number?” I provided both.
“Where is this policy? Is it written down somewhere?” I pointed to the posters explaining the process. “You expect people to read that?”
“This is not what I was told at the other site.”
“Sir, you are here. I have nothing to do with the other sites on the island.”
“Well, I am running out of time. I’m tired of arguing with you. Take two hundred and give me my money.” As we did so, the insults began. “You people are so stupid. You have the stupidest polices. You don’t even know what you are doing.” I processed his ticket, and politely directed him to the cashier. He stormed off to the recycling bins. I needed a walk.
Moments later he returned. My Wingman looked at me and said, “Let’s treat me like we never saw him before.” After a fist bump, we went to work. The man came out of his truck still griping, “What a ridiculous waste of time. Take 200.” My Wingman greeted him with “How ya doin' today, brawh?” As he filled four barrels of glass each containing 50 beer bottles Wingman discussed the weather. "Is it going to rain?" Our target looked at us like we were indeed so stupid we hadn’t remembered him from five minutes ago.
I decided to weigh his bottles to show him he would get a little bit more money. That should make him happy.
Wingman was shocked. Why bother? Because if we are to treat him like all others I'll try to educate him just like I would for anyone else. Except for plastic and pony glass bottles you’ll get more. I weighed the last barrel. “Sir, if we weigh your 200 bottles you’ll get $10.48 for them instead of $10.00 by the count.
He gave me a suspicious look. “I don’t believe you.”
I invited him to view the computer screen. Line by line I went through the ticket: the weight, the barrel tare, the net amount, the price and the final total.
“Then give me the forty-eight cents for my other 200.”
“I can’t do that. You signed for the material and it is disposed.”
“You people are so stupid.”
“Sir, if you don’t like doing business with us, there is another recycling center down the street. You are welcome to go there.”
“I will continue to come here and torment you. You are so stupid. I don’t know how much you are making but you are making too much.”
Not enough to deal with you.
My Wingman had enough of his yelling at me. Other customers were shifting around for a good view of the character.
“Okay, that is enough,” Wingman interrupted. For the first time his voiced was raised.
“You get away from me,” he replied.
A couple more posturing statements were exchanged.
I asked, “Do you want your money?”
“Give it to me.”
“Then please sign for it.”
His shaking hands signed the signature pad. I stepped back so I couldn't smell him any more.
“I want the rest of my bottles weighed.”
Wingman went to unload the rest of his stash. They were stacked far out of reach in the back of the pickup bed. I reminded Wingman not to reach into customer's vehicle. Policy. The man’s feebleness showed as he struggled to get into his bed. As we emptied the bottles into the weigh barrels, he asked if we disposed of the cardboard. Unfortunately, we do as a courtesy. He proceeded to dump all the cardboard on the ground making no attempt to avoid hitting me in the head. Another customer rolled in and Wingman went to greet them.
“Hey, we aren’t finished here", he growled at Wingman.
“Sir, I’m still helping you."
I told Wingman not to dump any of the glass until the customer was gone. And sure enough after it was all weighed he refused to sign. He went to his truck and returned with the count. “How much is 860 times five cents?”
"$43.00." Quick math in my head and I confirmed he made more money on the weight.
“Why didn’t you tell me this in the beginning?”
"What? Why did you start yelling at me in the beginning? You insisted on the count. Remember?
At lunch, Wingman and I sat down and grinned at each other. I was upset. I was about to post on Facebook, “the dumbasses are out in full force”—there had been another incident the day before—when an angel rode up on a scooter. Unexpected. Unplanned. Before he left he prayed for me.
After lunch Wingman said, “I hope the rest of the day is better than this morning.”
I said it would be. And it was.