Tyler was a great employee in the sense that he was dedicated to the store, as dedicated as he could be from his level of exhaustion. It was a Thursday night, the night I always had him scheduled with myself and our mutual dear friend Michael. He walked in wearing the uniform from his retail job he had been working since the early morning, only to come and take in a six hour shift in my store. His hair was disheveled, his eyes were surrounded by dark circles, and his shoulders slumped, giving way to exhaustion.
It was the day our shipment dropped and in the back there were a pile of boxes left to pilfer through, unpack, and then breakdown to dispose of. While Michael and Tyler worked on the shipment I typically took care of the customers, occasionally switching out with Michael, but as a new and only stand-in manager I felt terrible asking Tyler to much of anything outside of sitting on the stool with the box cutter.
This particular night we finished freight early and there was a tiny faint spark of life back in Tyler’s demeanor as we stood around in the empty store and took sometime to visit. A mother walked in with her tiny daughter and they headed directly towards the Hermit Crabs which were displayed just a yard from the register. Michael and I let Tyler take the sale, as it would help his stats and he could really use a win. Helping children with the Hermit Crabs was a true upper, there is nothing quite like a six year old girl squealing with delight as she picks out her favorite cartoon shells, or jump for joy when you fill the crab habitat with her favorite color of sand.
While Tyler gave the information to the mother on the incredibly easy care for the creature the young girl stood on a stool between the cash wrap and the table. She grabbed her second and final hermit crab and was turning from the crab table to the cash wrap to hand Tyler the crab when it happened. It was bright tangerine orange, thick, and as she turned it splattered completely across the stained concrete, across the aisle and onto the cash wrap. Perhaps it was a Dreamsicle, perhaps it was orange soda, whatever it was, it was the most neon vomit I’ve ever witnessed in my life.
The mom looked horrified, the daughter placed her hermit crab down on the cash wrap not missing a beat. No amount of throw up was going to kill her joy. The mom offered to help clean it, but I refused, let her know we would take care of it immediately and had them relocate to the other cash wrap. I felt for the mom, I know I would have been so embarrassed, but really how could she have known? The child showed absolutely no sign of nausea. I told Tyler to go ahead and ring them up and I would take care of it, “No Jess, I’m not letting you do that I got it, just finish ringing them up.” Before I could protest he was gone to the back to get the mop, and I looked at this poor young man, soul sucked from his body and appreciated that despite it all he still took care of me as much as I tried to take care of him.