Eventually, the employee is always right

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I used to believe there was something inexplicable about my face—a je ne sais quoi, if you will—that invites oddity. But after wearing a mask for more than a year, I think that inexplicable something—a phrase that really does sounds better in French—isn’t connected to my face at all. At least, that’s one thing I discovered on a recent Office Depot visit.

“Can you tell me where to find padded envelopes?” I asked the first employee I saw.

He looked around, and at first I thought, he’s looking for the padded envelopes, this bodes well. But then he hit me with a hard truth.

“Honestly, I can’t,” he said.

“Can’t, or won’t?”

“Can’t. It’s my first day, and I have no idea where stuff is.”

“Is there someone you can ask for help?”

He looked around the store again. The only other employee was working the register. Because there were several people waiting in the checkout line, and because I didn’t want to be that guy, I decided to play the hand Office Depot had dealt me.

“Do you want to search for padded envelopes together?” I asked.

The new guy shrugged and said, “Yeah, OK.”

Our first stop was the stationary section, which was my call.

“It seems like envelopes should be here because you need stationary to write letters and you need envelopes to send letters,” I said.

“Yeah, maybe.”

Or, maybe not. We saw plenty of stationary, but not a single envelope.

“What about school supplies?” I asked.

“I don’t know.”

Oy. We’ve already established that you don’t know where the padded envelopes are. That’s why we’re doing this Lewis & Clark go to Office Depot schtick. But damn it, man, let’s at least start with a hypothesis and see if holds water, shall we?

“I don’t see any envelopes here,” he said after a few minutes looking around the school supplies section. “Do people even use envelopes anymore?”

“They do if they can find them,” I said.

“Just send an email.”

“I’m shipping books,” I said. “I wrote a novel and people want signed copies, but whenever I try to email a paperback, Gmail says the attachment is too big.”


“Never mind.”

“Wait—you said, shipping.”

“That’s right.”

“We have a shipping section!” he said. “The envelopes are probably there.”

“Hot damn, Meriwether! Time to show old Clark the way.”


“Forget it,” I said. “Sometimes my internal monologue malfunctions and it goes external monologue.”


“Can you show me where the shipping section is?” I asked.

The new guy led the way, I followed. We found the shipping section, located the padded envelopes, and said our goodbyes. The new guy left to wander the strange wilderness of the Office Depot, while I slipped away to wait in the checkout line.

“Did you find everything OK?” the cashier asked.

“Yes, but I can’t take all the credit. It was a team effort.”

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back next Sunday with a new story. Meantime, be sure to pick up your copy of my new novel NOT SAFE FOR WORK!


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