Friday, May 26, 2006

Crazy Fish Guy

So there I was Wednesday night, navigating the aisles of the supermarket. It was my night to cook and I had a hankering for some seafood. I had already picked up a bag of frozen broccoli florets and had only one more stop before check-out time. I turned the corner, spied who was working the seafood counter, and then muttered under my breath: “Damn! Crazy Fish Guy!”

For more than a year now I’ve been plagued by the good-natured and friendly overtures of Crazy Fish Guy. He took notice of me the winter before last when he observed that, even on the coldest days, I would show up to the store wearing my bike outfit — so it all began one day with him asking how I could stand cycling in such frigid weather and me explaining that I’m probably warmer than everyone else. That might have been the last thing I said for about 15 minutes, for right after that Crazy Fish Guy talked and talked and talked, and when he was done with that he talked some more. He had a mumbly, slurry way of speaking, and it required great mental effort on my part to follow what he was saying, which was uninteresting, disconnected, and seemingly without resolution. I prayed for another customer to show up to place an order, anything to distract him so I could make a quick exit. I had no such luck, and Crazy Fish Guy rattled on and on. And since then, whenever I stray near his department while he’s on duty, he finds a way to buttonhole me and won’t let me go.

Crazy Fish Guy’s age is hard to pinpoint, but I would guess late-thirties, early-forties. He has a slightly “special needs” way about him, something about his constant stare when he talks to you, his imperfect enunciation, and how he does everything at super-slow-mo speed. His body looks putty-soft and boneless, as if he hasn’t done a lick of exercise in 20 years; I’ve never shaken his hand, but I can imagine squeezing its flaccid fleshiness like you would a child’s squishy toy. But I’ll say this about him: he’s not shy.

Last Wednesday, after I placed my order for a pound and a half of the salmon filet, he asked, “Did I do something to piss you off?”

“I don’t think so,” I said with a smile, assuming my patented “light-bantering mode.”

“I waved at you the other day and you looked right at me but didn’t say anything.”

“Gave you the cold shoulder, eh?” I said, still in my light-bantering style.

“So what was up with that?”

“I don’t know. I don’t even remember it,” I lied, knowing full well that on Monday I walked by his department on the way to the produce section acting as if I didn’t notice him, seemingly too engaged in my quest to select just the right green pepper and cucumber. However, I doubt I looked his way, because the plan was to avoid eye contact with him at all costs.

“You didn’t notice me waving?”

I shrugged. “I don’t notice anything. That’s the thing about me.”

That was enough to satisfy him, and then, for the next 10 minutes, I heard all about his 10-year-old daughter’s behavioral problems at school and how he sees a counselor once a week. On and on and on. Blah, blah, blah. Then he said he couldn’t talk to his wife. Then I heard the store cut back on his hours. Then he told me his vacation plans. Then he informed me of an Internet business he wants to try.

Look, I’m willing to give someone three, four, maybe five minutes tops of my time, but after that I think I have a right to extricate myself and go about my business. Does that make me a bad man? Will I go to hell for that?

Question du jour: how do you get out of these situations?

26 Comments:

Blogger Beth said...

Mr. Schprock, my life is full of crazy fish guys. Mrs. T finds it humorous. Wherever I go, someone finds me and tells me their life story. They just talk and talk. If you find a cure, please, let me know. I'm polite though so be sure it isn't a rude cure! I feel your pain though. You just want the damned fish, NOT the whole person's story!

6:14 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"You just want the damned fish, NOT the whole person's story!"

And certainly not a fish story.

I've tried "Look out behind you! I'm not kidding!" and then when they turn around I run away. My problem with that are the stares I get from bystanders.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

Schprockie - You're too nice. I would simply say, "Nice talking to you, gotta go. Wife's waiting for me in the car." or something like that. Interrupt if you have to!

I have this issue with my downstairs neighbor. She has the same issue as your Crazy Fish Guy in that I think she's slow, but I do have the time to sit and listen to her chat. I keep my answers short and to the point and will walk away if I have to.

6:46 AM  
Blogger LL said...

How do you get rid of someone that won't go away?

I have no idea, but I'm with Beth, when you figure it out -- let me know.

As for your fish guy, you could try the old, "Hey good to see ya, but I'm a tight schedule and I gotta get going."

6:47 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

Oops, DON'T have the time...I need to learn to proofread!

6:47 AM  
Blogger tiff said...

Talk to the store manager and have his aggravating ass fired. Yeah, that's right, fired. He's not doing his job in the customer service area if he's scaring off the actual customers, now is he?

Naturally, I would never, ever do this, becasue I am Queen Wuss, but you da man, you can, you can!!

7:19 AM  
Blogger Flood said...

You should suggest to CrazyFishGuy that he get a blog. Tell him insights are too good to be kept to one CrazyCyclingMan.

Then, when CFG finds CCM's blog, your problems are solved! yay.

7:34 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Schprockie - You're too nice. I would simply say, "Nice talking to you, gotta go. Wife's waiting for me in the car." or something like that. Interrupt if you have to!"

"As for your fish guy, you could try the old, 'Hey good to see ya, but I'm a tight schedule and I gotta get going.'"

Good suggestions, but how about: "I have explosive diarrhea and I really should leave now!"


"Talk to the store manager and have his aggravating ass fired. Yeah, that's right, fired. He's not doing his job in the customer service area if he's scaring off the actual customers, now is he?"


Yes, I'll stride right up to the manager and say, "Listen, you know that fish guy you have? That crazy fish guy? Well he's got to . . . got to . . . uh, be the craziest darn best fish guy I ever met. Give that fellah a raise. Don't ever let him go."


"You should suggest to CrazyFishGuy that he get a blog. Tell him insights are too good to be kept to one CrazyCyclingMan.

"Then, when CFG finds CCM's blog, your problems are solved! yay."


We're presuming Crazy Fish Guy is literate, but, yes, that could work.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous dreadmouse said...

I think Kathleen's idea is probably best; social white lies are wonderful things in these situations.

"Sorry, but I have to get going. I've got to get dinner into the kids tonight before they head out to dance class."

Sometimes lying is better than saying what you really want to say. Screaming "Shut the F@#K up, you pasty-faced Freak, you're boring me to DEATH!!!" is tempting, but perhaps a tad cruel.

8:06 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Dreadmouse, I want you to know I just read your comment aloud to the guys at work and it drew a big laugh. And, yes, I think you're right.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(sniffle)
I did piss you off, I knew it.

Blaine
(Crazy Fish Guy to you)

8:45 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

No, Blaine, not you! You're COOL Fish Guy. I'm talking about that coworker of yours — you know, CRAZY Fish Guy.

Boy, he sure is crazy, isn't he?

9:19 AM  
Blogger fringes said...

A cashier once told me the whole story about her relationship with her stepdaughter who, according to her, had not been well-raised by bio mom. 15 minutes at least while she is holding my check doing nothing with it. She finally cashes me out and I get to walk free. She calls me back after I'd been free for about three steps and whispers: don't tell (stepdaughter's mom) that I told you any of that. I don't want her to think I'm spreading her business.

Um, okay, Crazy Check-Out Lady. I won't say a word to the other crazy lady that I've never heard of before today. I promise.

9:29 AM  
Blogger John said...

Buy some fake blood and keep it under your tongue. When he strikes up a conversation, shake his hand firmly and repeatedly, then start a sentence, but that start coughing up blood. Fumble around in your pockets for a tissue, spilling out several orange pill bottles. Struggle to collect all the bottles, then give him a big hug. Make sure to wipe some blood from your mouth onto his shoulders.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Do you remember Ned from Groundhog Day? Murray got rid of him by finally giving him a big embrace (John reminded me of this) and saying, "Do you have plans later tonight? If you do, cancel them." Of course, CFG might thing this a dandy idea.

10:10 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Um, okay, Crazy Check-Out Lady. I won't say a word to the other crazy lady that I've never heard of before today. I promise."

I hope you keep that promise, Fringes.


John and Scott, both of you have offered excellent advice which I will certainly act on.

Or how about if I say "bronski" to everything he says? First it starts like this…

What would you like?

Bronski.

What?

Bronski!

…until finally it winds up with me screaming, "BRONSKI! BRONSKI! BRRRRONNNNNNNSKI!!!!!" with saliva spewing out everywhere, veins bulging out of my forehead, and my shirt ripped to shreds.

That could work too.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Flood said...

Tell him
you want to
share the
good news
of Jesus Christ!

Think that would work?

12:48 PM  
Blogger magnetbabe said...

We're presuming Crazy Fish Guy is literate...

His literacy is questionable but he's definitely procreating. Fabulous.

1:30 PM  
Blogger trinamick said...

I have the same problem, which is why I often wear my What Am I? Fly Paper for Freaks? shirt in public.

I try edging away as I talk, smiling and nodding, but headin' for the door. If that doesn't work, I suddenly start frantically looking for my phone in my purse. Then I grab it and start talking, while waving at the person and gettin' the heck outta Dodge. Sure, one of these days it'll ring and I'll get busted, but until then it will spare a few minutes of my life. That's worth it.

1:50 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Tell him you want to share the good news of Jesus Christ! Think that would work?"

I don't know — that just might resonate with Crazy Fish Guy, what with Jesus being a "fisher of men" and all . . . but I like your thinking, Flood.


"His literacy is questionable but he's definitely procreating. Fabulous."

I think the word is "spawning."


"If that doesn't work, I suddenly start frantically looking for my phone in my purse. Then I grab it and start talking, while waving at the person and gettin' the heck outta Dodge."

THAT is an excellent idea. Thanks, Trina.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Paul (rock star wanna be) said...

Wow! I guess I really did piss you off...Just kidding:)

Your story had a very Sienfeld vibe to it.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Flash said...

I know som amny people like this. And being in a small town...well, it's usally very easy for people to button hole me into one of their crazy self-centered stories. So here's what I do:

Make up some lame excuse. Something so outrageous that the person has to stop and think about what the hell you just said. Something like "I'd love to stay and chat, but I have a ton of celery skinning to do before the next recital".

Then exit, stage left.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Farrago said...

The next time you have to buy fish there, stop first in the canned foods section and buy a can of beef stew. Go next to the kitchenware aisle and get yourself a can opener. Open the can and hide it on you somewhere and when CFG says, "Hey, how's it going?" say, "Not so well, I think my lunch isn't agreeing with MOOWWWWLLLAAACKK!" and deftly toss the contents of the beef stew can across the counter onto CFG. Then say, "Aw, CRAP! Do you know how much I spent on that meal?!" And then start picking out bits of beef and corn and potatoes from the counter and eating them. And then pick out your cut of fish, especially if it's one that has some of the beef stew on it!

I don't know if it'll make him want to quit you, but wouldn't that be NEAT?!

6:53 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

I am LMBO that someone posted as crazy fish guy! hahahaha!

Mr. Schprock, you're like me. I read these responses and think, "He doesn't want to hurt anyone." I feel the same way. I don't want to be accosted, but no good can come from hurting them in return.

4:58 AM  
Blogger Wordnerd said...

That's hard, I know. I'd just say something like "I'm generally in a hurry when I come in here...I run into people all the time that tell me they saw me and I didn't speak to them...gotta run!"

6:19 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"I'd love to stay and chat, but I have a ton of celery skinning to do before the next recital."

And then when he asks me, "What recital?" I'll look at my watch and say, "Uh oh! My floppers must be dry now! Gotta scoot!"


"I don't know if it'll make him want to quit you, but wouldn't that be NEAT?!"

Well, if he goes, "Mmmm! Pre-digested! Mind if I join you?" I better have an answer for THAT planned.


"I feel the same way. I don't want to be accosted, but no good can come from hurting them in return."

Rather than being rude or make him feel bad, I'd simply switch stores.


"That's hard, I know. I'd just say something like 'I'm generally in a hurry when I come in here...I run into people all the time that tell me they saw me and I didn't speak to them...gotta run!'"


That's probably the only approach that's really my style.

6:54 PM  

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