There is one thing that seems to happen to me every time every time I visit a store. The first time it happened I was in a big department store, and I was maybe fourteen. And no, I did not look mature for my age.
I am the eternal victim of something that should never happen. This is not quite up to the embarrassment level of asking an overweight woman "When is the baby due?" but it does involve a question that should never be asked.
"Do you work here?"
First of all, if you are in a store and the person you are addressing has a name tag prominently displaying the name of the store along with their own name and you ask them that question they will automatically think you are annoyingly stupid. When I worked in a big box the question would drive my friends up the wall. It never really bothered me, because I would always answer with something like "No mostly I stand around with my hands in my pockets".
But that is not what I came here to whine about. The thing is, whenever I am in a store, any store at all, I am constantly asked that question. A few notable incidents stand out in my mind.
At one time I made my living as a gardener. The gig was not far from my house and usually I would go home and clean up a bit after work before going into town. I guess you could say I really got into my work. I didn't just get dirty. I would get ground in, stinky, dirt in your hair, muddy, perhaps bloody Pigpen kind of dirty, the kind of dirty people notice. Anyway for some reason on this particular day I found myself in a grocery store pushing a shopping cart when someone asked me The Question. Really?
Another time I went into Walmart. I had taken off my nametag but I was still wearing my Kmart shirt. She asked me The Question and when I said no she argued that I was wrong. I think I would know...
And then there are the plant nurseries. I can't begin to visit a greenhouse without at least 5 people asking my opinion on a certain plant. This does not bother me at all because the reason I ever got into the plant trade at all was because I found at an early age I knew more about the plant in question than whoever is running the register.
Now here comes the funny part.
I was at a plant store.
I hang out at this particular store a lot and I am accustomed to being asked The Question there, I always reply "What do you need?" This time I had a question of my own. I asked the lady standing there and she went over to help. In the course of our conversation it was revealed that she did in fact not work there. I apologized. A woman nearby overheard our conversation.
She said: "Wait, I am sorry, do you two actually not know each other? I thought you were twins."
I looked at the other lady and saw a beautiful girl maybe 10 years my junior. She did not say anything. All I could think to say was: "I am flattered".