Day 96: Stockpile as much free sugar as possible.

I don’t often find myself in the sorts of places from which one can harvest sugar packets – fast-food joints, diners, Starbuckses, sugar factories.

I used to work for Starbucks — nearly eight years of green aprons and unnecessarily complicated beverage orders. In eight years of employment anywhere you’re going to encounter some strange shit — sometimes literally, like when I found a turd on a piece of newspaper on the floor of the bathroom, right next to the toilet.

Yeah, that really happened.

At one of the stores I worked at in San Antonio, we had a semi-regular customer who did exactly what the Book instructs me to do today: he harvested the sugar we so foolishly left out and unguarded.

It was funny the first few times, because the dude was loaded – gold Rolex, Jaguar, ridiculous Magnum, PI haircut, one of those black AmEx cards – he was a plastic surgeon or something like that. All that, and he stole sugar – just shoved handfuls of it into his pockets as he was dumping packets of splenda into his nonfat, sugar-free whatever-the-fuck-it-was.

Eventually, though, it stopped being funny – he carried off a case’s-worth of sugar packets in the space of a month, and our manager decided it was time to say something. Which meant, of course, that it was time for me to say something, because, apparently, I was the asshole who was mean to customers even on my good days. (I once made a woman cry because she wanted pound cake at 9:30 in the morning – true story.)

So, one morning, dude walks in, orders his drink, pays for his drink, waits for his drink, picks up his drink, carries his drink to the condiment bar – and yes, I know how boring that sentence was to read; try going through that hundreds of times a day with people who all end up looking the same, for years on end, and that’s foodservice! – and I walk up to him as he’s making his drink undrinkable with packet after packet of artificial sweeteners.

“Look,” I says to him, “you’re going to have to stop walking out of here each morning with handfuls of sugar packets in your pockets. You made off with an entire case last month.”

Dude doesn’t say anything, just looks at me with this inscrutable, steely stare. Then – never breaking eye contact with me – he sticks his right hand into his pants, rubs it all over his junk, pulls it out, and then starts grabbing shit off the condiment bar – sugar, napkins, straws, stir sticks, napkins – and throwing it on the floor, all with his penis-hand. Everyone in the store has stopped in the middle of whatever they were doing and is staring at this bizarre tantrum.

Finally, he grabs a handful of sugar packets and stuffs them into his pants – not into his pockets, but in with his junk – picks up his drink, and leaves. Weirdest, most uncomfortable morning I ever had at work, but the dude never came back. I heard he started frequenting a store in a different part of town, but never bothered to verify it.

Honestly, I was afraid he’d try to rub his penis-hands on me if he saw me again.


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