* This story was originally featured on the infamous yet dormant blog by N.L. Belardes, Paperback Writer. N.L. Belardes is the author of Lords, Part One. He is a journalist, blogger and videographer. He’s currently the editor of an independent bakersfield news source FaceBakersfield. *
A young lady wearing dirty old jeans and a flannel shirt walks across the street from the Tav Cam and stands by my desk for what seems like at least five minutes. I think she’s with one of the salespeople so I don’t bother asking if she needs help. Then I figure she needs to use the restroom, or get some water from our water cooler, or even ask me for money. That happens a lot. I keep on working.
Minutes later I realize she’s still just standing there. She looks kind of lost so I ask if I can be of service. She ignores me. Typical. I get that a lot. Or at least I THOUGHT she was ignoring me. About 30 to 45 seconds later, she sloooooooooowly turns her head towards me. It seems like an eternity before she finally turns all the way around to face me. When she finally does, she slowly opens her mouth to speak. It seems like a another five minutes before any words come out. With a blank look on her face she says, “Can I use your phone?” Oh oh, this can’t be good. An eerie feeling comes over me as I wonder what’s going on.
I don’t let ANYBODY use my phone. I once let somebody use my phone and the mouthpiece stunk like Cheetos for hours after that. I even I wiped it down with an alcohol wipe. But the smell just wouldn’t go away. Another time somebody else used my phone I could smell their rotten bad breath and every time I answered my phone after that I felt their rotten, cavity infested teeth close to my very own mouth and almost threw up each time.
THEN.. a different time, a customer asked me if she could make a “quick” call and she stayed ON MY PHONE gossiping for a long time. On the plus side I found out that someone named Jessica lost tons of weight and as it turns out, didn’t make her any prettier or any nicer. Meanwhile, my other lines rang and rang and she didn’t shorten the call or seem to care.
BUT I don’t want to be rude and say no, though. There is something obviously wrong and she needs a phone. So I do the next best thing. I direct her to somebody else’s desk across from me and tell her she can use THAT phone. Ha! I secretly hope she has Cheeto breath. I go back to work and forget all about her. I get off work at 5:00 and so I’m trying to finish up what I’m doing so I can leave on time.
About thirty minutes later the coworker whose phone she was using comes up to me and whispers in my ear, “When the cops get here, please direct them straight across to that office and tell them the lady is in there.”
I ask, “What lady?”
No way it’s MY lady, right? How long could it possibly take to make a phone call? I thought she’d be long gone. I look over and sure enough, it’s the blank stare lady. And seriously, she’s just SITTING there, looking straight ahead, without blinking, or moving ONE time!
Is she in shock? Did she recently experience some sort of trauma? Does she even know where she’s at? Will she remember me tomorrow? Obviously she’s on something and the managers can’t risk her making a scene or whatever. They tell us to stay away from her until the cops arrive so we do.
Minutes later, a lone police officer arrives, talks to her for about 10 minutes, then coaxes her to get up and walk out with him. “Goodbye lady. I think to myself, “I hope you find your peace.” Hopefully she is in rehab somewhere right now and she’s straightening her life out.