If my coworkers and I tally the "interesting characters" around the store where we work, we must begin with a look in the mirror. Today, that look at myself mirrored a plush pink goat (a.k.a., ram) hat, complete with ears and horns and a protruding nose, and ear flaps for me with a fluffy pink ball dangling on each end. My coworker, Mandy, was feeling hum-drum until she comes back from her lunch break with a pink piggy hat she "stole" from her nine-month old.
A transformation takes place when she pulls the hat on, fitting more like a yarmulke, and the ears perk right up as puppet limbs on a string. Her face lights up. "Now I'm a farm animal, too!"
Some Fridays, when Mandy and I work together, lucky customers can catch us in the midst of dancing a jig, making up lyrics to our own songs or to the overplayed songs broadcast through the grocery store radio station, talking in nonexistent accents, or, as with today, mimicking farm animals. But the colorfulness of our little corner of the store extends beyond us. It's these morsels of life at work that elevate our jobs beyond just-another-day.
Yesterday, it's the guy decked in leather and a motorcycle helmet, demonstrating how to package his Venti drip coffee so it doesn't spill on his bike. "May I have an extra cup and a plastic bag?" he asks. He takes the lid off his coffee, wraps the plastic bag over the top like Saran wrap, fits the lid back on snug, then slides the second cup up over the bag that's now wrapped around the first cup. "See," he flips the coffee upside down, "It won't spill."
"Brilliant," we say.
And then there's the "regular" who leaves us, happily sipping her iced coffee, only to return five minutes later. Standing at the top of the stairs, she calls down to my coworker, "David... can I have another coffee? A bird pooped on this one." I've seen her look before in the face of a child whose popsicle fell in the dirt, and I can't hold in my laughter. Thankfully, she possesses a good sense of humor.
And some days, it's the animals. Customers in Seattle like bringing their animals to the store, and when they do, I like to pet them. One "regular" is a recent graphic-designer-turned-dog-walker and she has her favorite client with her today, Benny. Benny is all the stockiness of an English bulldog packed into the petite frame of a French bulldog. He's a firecracker when I stoop to put him, ricocheting off my knees and elbows and hands, leaving a trail of hairs on my apron. I don't typically like bulldogs, but I like Benny.
It's all part and parcel to an average day on the farm, reminding me why I love my job.