Monday, February 18, 2013

Ladybug Man

    As most businesses do, the place where I used to work had a lot of "usual" customers; people that would come in every day, or every week, and recognized the employees and had very casual acquaintanceships with them.

     I'll never forget, there was one customer in particular who would always come in while I was working. I guess he learned which car was mine (he was incredibly intelligent) and would only come in while I was working. He would also only be rung up for his purchases by me; he would wait specifically for me to ring him up.

     He was always dressed the same; button-down short sleeve shirt tucked into khaki pants. His face reminded me vaguely of William Hung; he had a sort of perpetual small smile on his face, and also had similar hair. Every time he would come in, he wore the same attire. I think he was an engineer, he said. He was very smart, and could figure out the total of his purchase before I even rang it up by calculating the taxes and CRV rates. Maybe that's an easy feat and I just don't know it because I'm terrible at math. I don't know, but it was sort of impressive, in a creepy are-you-a-robot kind of way.

     In the beginning when he first started coming in, conversation was kept to a minimum, if not altogether nonexistent. He would mumble to himself as he added up the total, making his robotic calculations. He would smile and hand me the total in exact change, take his receipt and things and leave. As time progressed, though, I guess he became intrigued with me. He started coming in more often, and became more personable, asking me how my day was and simple things like that during his transaction. He was very strange, almost disconnected with reality.

     Things became really odd when he would come in, and sort of hide behind the aisles and just watch me while I worked at the register. It was almost like a child playing peek-a-boo; he would conceal himself behind the aisle and then peer around the corner, and when I made eye contact quickly duck back.

     One time, he came in, and just simply got his things and came to the counter, without playing his usual odd game of hide and seek. He put his things on the counter and I proceeded to ring them up. I noticed him digging around in his pocket; I just assumed that he was fishing around for the exact change that he would inevitably pay with. I looked up at him, told him the total, which I'm sure he already knew. He hadn't been mumbling to himself, though; he hadn't been calculating anything this time... He was even more disconnected from reality than usual. Finally, he produced something from his pocket that I would never ever forget...

    He looked me right in the eyes, smiled his odd little smile, and, while maintaining eye contact with me, raised his closed fist slowly to my eye level, and then opened his hand... On the tips of his fingers was a tiny red ladybug. As if it sensed some cue from the pulsing blood in his fingertips, the ladybug immediately took flight and flew off into the store. I just stood there staring at it, watching it leave the bizarre scene. The man never stopped staring at my face the entire time. Finally, I snapped back into reality, slowly and confusedly looked back into the man's eyes, searching for some explanation of the surreal and bizarre even that had just transpired. The man said in the strangest voice I've ever heard "make a wish..." and his mouth curled slightly into an even odder smile than usual.

     Slightly jarred, I told him what his total was. He payed with a credit card that day. He had never done that before. I handed him the receipt, he took his things without saying a word, and he left.

     I never saw him again after the ladybug incident. I'm not sure where he went, or what happened to him. Maybe he evolved into some kind of monster, parallel to his evolution as a customer, getting odder and odder until one day he broke the scale of oddity, his sanity flying off into the world in the form of a humble ladybug. 

No comments:

Post a Comment