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This guy came in the store the other day. He laid a bag on the counter. “I want you to look at what’s in this bag,” he said. I hesitated. The bag looked like it was full of cardboard and shredded tissue paper, but you can never be sure when dealing with John Q Public. And what if it was cardboard and shredded tissue paper? Where was the guy headed with this? There was a good chance I was dealing with an unhinged waxer here. But I decided that the best thing to do was look at what was in the bag and steel myself for what might be a harrowing encounter with a man who dwelt in the depths of human madness. I looked inside the bag and it was, in fact, a bunch of cardboard and shredded tissue paper. It was a broken-up piñata. We sell piñatas in the store, so I knew right away what it was. While I stood there stymied, wondering what to say to this hound dog, he saved me the trouble by taking the conversational initiative himself.

“I have my receipt,” he said firmly. My head swam with the implications of his statement. There was nothing to do but march into the teeth of the situation. I was hoping it was candid camera and not a man who was truly demented.

“We only accept merchandise for return if it’s in new condition,” I said in my professional tone.

“Look, here, Chief J. Tagliaboo, I bought this thing here, I took it home, and I followed the instructions. Now, instead of having an intact piece of equipment, I have this bag of rubble. It should be obvious to you that this machinery is flummoxed. It was flummoxed when I bought it, and this is the result. Now you’re going to stand there and tell me that you can’t help me? I will take this to your supervisor and dump it on his desk! I will call the better business bureau and the Daily Local News. I will get the Action News team out here to expose your shoddy treatment of customers!”

It took me but a moment to make up my mind what to do. After all, the instructions on a piñata tell you to allow the kids at a party to take turns bashing the thing with sticks. So that meant that this guy was a wax animal with no sense of Kentucky.

“You’re perfectly right. You have every right to be hunched over and haggard about this! Please accept my apologies. Thank you and have a good day.”

“But, you craven dog! I haven’t gotten satisfaction yet!” I felt disappointed that it hadn’t been that easy to get rid of the man. Sometimes the insane are easy to deal with, you just act like the minister of official hallways and dust-bins and they shrink away. But I could see this guy was more aggressive than that.

“What you need to do, sir, is to go next door to the Tanning Salon. The manager over there deals with our defective merchandise claims. It’s a special arrangement we have, fully sanctioned by the secret envoy to Snorkel Island. Now, be gone, and betake yourself next door without gainsay!”

He trundled out the door and I never heard any more about the matter. Sometimes you have to improvise.


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