Friday, November 9, 2007

Racist Grandpa

I don't know what it is about the copy shop environment that attracts crazy marginal challenged individuals. Lots of folks with grocery bags full of hand-written notes and other ephemera seem to congregate around the copiers. It was worse when I worked at Kinko's (that Kinko's sign seemed to be a flame to many psychotic moths), but even the small shop I now work at has it's fair share of crazy folk. These folks seem to always gravitate toward one employee over al the others. My friend Devon seems to be a beacon for these types and has more stories than you can shake a stick at about his interactions with them. Work at any one location long enough and you'll no doubt gain your own fan.

I now have my own. I call him Racist Grandpa.

Racist Grandpa (RG for short) is of indeterminate age; somewhere between 80 and a hundred at a guess. He's either Polish or German and has a sort of shrunken appearance. Summer and Winter he wears a puffy down-filled ski jacket. He's been coming into the shop where I work since I started there, but in those days he fixated on Deb, a coworker of mine who is in her mid-fifties and displays more patience than I can muster. After Deb left, RG seemed pretty upset. He would ask us all the time if we had any news from her.

After a while, I noticed that I was helping him more and more when he came in. I chalked it up to the fact that my coworkers are bastards and ducked out of sight whenever RG came into the store and I didn't think much about it. But then RG started asking me to come to the front to help him even when someone else was already up there. I realized too late to do anything about it that he'd imprinted on me. Hell.

RG is religious and I spend a lot of time helping him create intricate collages. He brings in photos he asked to have reduced and then then does this really amazing cut-and-paste jobs to produce pictures where, for instance, two children sitting on a couch are flanked by angels and hold the Baby Jesus across their laps. He builds these over time, adding elements to the photos as the weeks pass. He will have the pictures laminated every so often and they eventually get to the point where I tell him that the collage is too think to laminate properly. He then starts a new image.

And how did he get his name? Every time I help him, Racist Grandpa regales me with... well, to be honest, I don't always know what he says because I'm pretty good at tuning him out. One time, not to long after our weird relationship started, I was standing there as he ranted. I stared off into the middle distance and would occasionally nod and make a sound of agreement. And then, for some reason, I started to pay attention. He was talking about Mexicans. I am Mexican and this piqued my interest. He went on and on about how Mexicans were no good: he worked with a whole bunch up in Alaska and to a man, they were all lazy and they cheated on their wives. He finally paused and looked at me and I thought that maybe he'd clued in to the fact that I'm more swarthy than your average Aryan type. But what he did was to lean a little closer and say, "The Italians, too." Since then, he's told me about how gays are ruining the country, Jews run the world, Protestants are all going to Hell, etc. At this point, I'm just hanging on to see how bad it gets.

I don't have a great talent for bestowing nicknames, but after telling that story everyone in the shop started calling him by the name Racist Grandpa.

And now he brings me little gifts! Fruit for the most part. And he can't come in without calling to the counter and whispering something to me with a conspiratorial air. Usually a story relating how the whole damed country is going to Hell in a hand basket. His only redeeming quality is that he has a deep, unwavering hatred of President Bush.

No one is all bad.

1 comment:

Stuart Rue said...

Hilarious! Is that where the fruit you've been giving me comes from?