There’s always variety at the Habitat for Humanity Restore where I volunteer weekly. That’s because
- The merchandise is continually changing. A sizeable shipment of chandeliers one week, a hundred hotel sleep sofas the next.
- While we have a group of hardcore volunteers, we also get fly-by-night helpers who drift in and out and who tend to be interesting characters.
- Our clientele runs the gamut. At one end we have the person who would have to do without a fridge if he couldn’t get a cheap one from us. At the other end, a wealthy shopaholic who burst into tears when we wouldn’t knock a dollar off a four-dollar lamp which she needed like she needed a hole in her head. And every kind of person in between.
Still, some weeks are particularly lively. Case in point…
It started when the guys arrived to hang signs labeling various departments—lighting, plumbing, hardware, cashier. The store has a super high ceiling, like a Home Depot. So the guys had a platform that expanded like an accordion to lift them way up to the top. They planted the contraption right in front of the entrance to the cashier station. We had to climb over the counter to get in and out. (We don’t just sit around at the cash register when no one is checking out. We’re out on the floor cleaning the clutter, tracking down prices, checking out the merchandise, running our mouths.) It was an intriguing inconvenience having to clamber back and forth over the counter.
My partner and I both were at the register when the CASHIER sign, printed on corrugated plastic to be suspended with plastic strapping, was being hung. We weren’t actually looking up at the guy, but we saw a look of horror on the customers’ faces as they watched the proceedings. At which point we looked up and saw the sign dropping through the space, heading right for us. It could have been a bit nasty if it had sliced into either of us, but we were both unscathed. But pity the poor guy hanging the sign. He stood up there at the ceiling looking horrified. His face turned ghostly white. The plastic that had been sufficient to hold the other signs was not up to the task for this particular one.
A while later I happened to look down and saw a generous wad of cash on the floor. I picked it up and wondered what the heck to do with it. A lady ran up, obviously in a panic, frantic because she had dropped all her money somewhere. I presume we got the money back in the right hands as nobody else approached us about missing money.
Still later a guy brought a storm door up to the cash register. As he stood there pulling out his wallet he must have jarred the door in just the wrong way. A small crack appeared. It expanded into a bunch more cracks, like spider veins. Tiny pieces of glass started dropping out. The process seemed to do in slow motion, more cracks, more glass falling. After thirty seconds or so, the floor at the front of the store was covered with infinitely many tiny glass pieces. And the shopper was standing there with an empty metal framework. Looking very sheepish.
The slogan for the store is “Miss a Day…Miss a Deal.” Perhaps it should say “Miss a Day…Miss the Drama.”