The Clerk

Life’s too short

Tim Donovan didn’t like shopping for clothes. Abhorred it actually. He did it out of necessity and then only once a year. But this time, he was shopping for dress clothes because he’d be knocking on doors to promote his new roofing business. He had learned enough over the past 16 years as a roofing contractor to get his own business up and running. He had a crew already working on one job and was eager to drum up more business.

Donovan didn’t know the door-to-door sales aspect of the business but he was willing to go through the school of hard knocks. Literally. So, the clothes he chose today would be a cut above the jeans and scruffy t-shirts he wore on the roof all day.

Even though he was a roofer, he had spent his last hours on a roof three weeks ago when he gave notice. It was an exciting and nerve-wracking time. He had a decent pile of cash saved up ready to invest in his new business.

Donovan had been in the store already for 45 minutes, and had tried on every item now hanging over his arm. If he was going to invest time in the store, he didn’t want to go back to get something different if it didn’t fit. There was something about clothing stores that just grated on his nerves, something from his past that he never quite appreciated.

He figured he had almost half a week’s salary of clothes in his hands so that should last him a solid year clothing-wise, maybe more. The register line was open and a long-haired teen-aged boy was about four feet away from the register, texting someone. His large silver button post in his earlobe screamed for attention.

Having spent enough time in the store, Donovan said, “Excuse me. I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”

The boy shook his head. “Naa, you’re good” and continued texting.

“Millennials,” Donovan muttered. “How are we ever gonna make it through this period?” Donovan was the only customer in the store at the moment, but he was still a customer.

Two minutes passed.

Just as Donovan was about to make an even more sarcastic remark, the boy threw his head back, closed his eyes, and shook his head. He took a deep breath and walked over to the counter.

His name badge read: Seth – Employee of the Quarter. “Sorry about that, sir.”

“Girl troubles, Seth?”

“Er, not really.”

Seth – Employee of the Quarter, rung up each item, shook his head, and shoved it into the large plastic bag. There was quite a bit of self-talk going on but Donovan wasn’t privy to it.

“Worked here long?”

“Three years, since I was a Sophomore. Graduating in a month.”

“Congratulations, Seth.”

“Thanks,” Seth said as he wrung up the last button-down shirt. “That’ll be $482.52. Would you like to save 10% by signing up for our, oh never mind. $482.52 please. Slide your chip card into the reader please.”

Whoever had texted Seth – Employee of the Quarter had truly upset him. Donovan put his credit card in the machine and 20 seconds later the cash register spit out a receipt.

Donovan said, “Seth, I don’t know what’s going on but on my way to the car, I’ll be praying for you because it appears you’re upset about something.”

“Yeah, you could say that, sir. Sorry I haven’t been as attentive to you as I normally would. Just found out my mom passed away in the hospital about an hour ago. Fighting cancer for the past 2 months.”

“Oh, I’m sorry about that, Seth. I, I, I’m sorry.”

“Thanks. But that wasn’t the troubling part. I mean, the doctors really didn’t have a lot of hope beyond a month after she was diagnosed, so we got to spend that a little more time with her. We’ve all said our goodbyes a lot of times since then.”

Seth took a breath. “No, sir. The troubling part is that the owner of this store couldn’t spare me so he wanted me to work to closing today before I could see my dad and sisters.”

“That’s terrible, Seth.”

“Yeah, it is, but what can you do? Money’s money.”

“I hear ya. I hear ya. Say, listen. Two things. Um, I’ve got an opening in my new company that begins in about 10 days. If you say yes now, I’ll pay you for the days and hours you’d normally work here. Same pay, even. It’s sales so you might have to dress up a bit. I’ll train you in everything you need to know and say.”

“I, uh, but I have to close…”

“Actually three things, text your boss and let him know that you’re done and locking up the shop in 30 minutes.”

Seth – Employee of the Quarter darted his eyes all over the store and was flustered. “Sure, I like that idea.”

He picked up his phone and quickly typed out his resignation. The smile on Seth’s face as he typed was one of satisfaction. Almost too satisfied.

“Oh, and lastly, I’d like to return all these items. I’ve never worn them. Let’s say they just didn’t fit.”

“Yes sir. I can help you with that too,” Seth – Employee of the Quarter said.


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