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Commentary: Leaving Prince Albert in the can with a running refrigerator

“Can I have your phone number, sir?” the young man at the checkout counter asks me.
 
He looks to be no more than eighteen years old and has shiny spiked hair and wears a bright, red vest. His name is Scott—according to the tag on his breast—and there’s a tiny skull and crossbones tattooed on the side of his neck.
 
“What?!?” I snap.  I was feeling a bit cranky that Saturday morning, and wanted only to pay for my stuff and go home. 
 
Scott sighs, obviously weary from the weight of having to deal with morons like me. He reaches up and tugs on the dangly earring that matches his tattoo.  “Your phone number…I need your phone number.”
 
“Look, Scott,” I say, recognizing an opportunity to entertain and amuse myself, “I guess I should be flattered, but I’m not that kinda guy.  Besides, I’m probably three times older than you are.”  
 
I’m alone in the checkout line so my devastating wit is wasted. I laugh anyway because, frankly, I thought I was being just as funny as hell.
“What?!?” Scott blurts out.
 
“I thought you were hitting on me,” I tell him. “Asking for my phone number and all. I kind of had the feeling I was looking just as cute as a button this morning when I left the house but, really, I had no idea.”
 
“No!!!” Scott yelps. He glances nervously over at the young girl manning the checkout counter next to us. She’s chewing gum and admiring her fingernails and has sparkly stuff on her eyelids and has absolutely no interest in Scott or the old bald guy tormenting him.
 
Scott poises his finger over the keyboard of the register. “I have to have your phone number for our records,” he says loud enough for the sparkly-eyed girl to hear. “That’s why I asked for it.  I wouldn’t have any other reason to want your phone number.”
 
“But, Scott,” I ask, “how do I know you’re not going to remember my phone number and call me up at two or three o’clock in the morning and ask me if I have Prince Albert in the can or if my refrigerator’s running?”  
I couldn’t help it.
 
Scott’s mouth slowly droops open and he gazes at me with an intensity I find encouraging.  It was the first real sign of life I’d witnessed in him since I’d walked up to pay for my stuff.  He decides something besides being a genuine smartass is wrong with me and begins to speak very slowly and clearly.
 
“I…have…to…have…your…number…for…our…records,” he says.  
 
The sparkly-eyed girl has taken some interest in what’s going on and leans over her counter, wanting to help.
 
“Do…you…have…a…phooone?” she asks, holding her hand up next to her head with the three middle fingers curled in and the thumb and little finger extended.  “A…phooone?”  
 
Scott smiles at her gratefully and rolls his eyes in my direction.
A guy about my age and appearing to be as cranky as I am walks up next to me and puts his stuff on the counter.
 
“Scott wants my phone number so he and his buddies can call me later and ask if I have Prince Albert in the can,” I tell him. “They’ll probably want to know if my refrigerator is running, too.”
 
“Is it?” the guy asks.
 
“Why, yes…yes it is,” I reply.
 
“Well…I hope you catch up with it soon,” he says and we both laugh and laugh.  Scott huffs disgustedly and sparkly-eyed girl goes back to admiring her fingernails.
 
Scott musters some authority and squares his shoulders a bit.  Time to show me who’s boss.
 
“Sir,” he says, “I have to enter your telephone number so I can complete the transaction.  It’s Company Policy,” he adds ominously.
 
“Okay, Scott,” I tell him, thoroughly chastised, “my phone number is 1…2…3…4…5…6…7.”
 
“Fine,” Scott spits out through gritted teeth as he rings up my purchase. “Fine, sir. Twelve dollars and eighty-three cents please…sir.”
 
I pay up and nod to my partner in crime.  
 
“Watch this,” he mouths.
 
“Could I have your phone number?” Scott asks him.
 
“If I told you, I’d have to kill you,” the guy says.
 
Scott calls for a manager.
 
We cranky old guys have to stick together.  
 
William Carter is a longtime Franklin city employee and published author. He may be contacted at wcarterfranklin@aol.com.
 

Posted on: 1/9/2014

 
 

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