Spring (or at least March)

You can tell spring is coming — the quality of the snow is different. It’s icier now, less flaky.

Actually, it got above freezing yesterday and the day before. Monday I think it got up to 50, warm enough to have the door open at work. It’s nice to have the fresh air, and the open door helps draw in customers.

Sometimes I’m not sure it’s worth it. The customers it brings in tend to be people just wandering around enjoying the warm weather; they don’t even necessarily have any money on them. One guy came in who appeared to be a homeless guy. He had all the teeth on the upper left quarter, all the teeth on the lower right, but not much else, dentally speaking. Alcohol on his breath, and he sort of reeked. It was early evening, and I was in the store alone.

He held out his hand and showed me two pennies. “Somebody gave me these. Any chance you could spare a little more?”

I emptied the penny dish into his hands, quadrupling his net worth. “There you go. Good luck to you.”

He thanked me profusely, but wasn’t in a hurry to leave. “I get paid tomorrow, then I’m going to come in and buy a couple rings. I want one with an OM and a pentacle. Maybe you could fit me for those now and put them aside?”

For somebody else I’d do it, but I’m not about to keep this drunk in the store any longer than I have to. “Nah, why don’t you just come back tomorrow and we’ll do it then.”

“Well, okay.”

“‘Bye now. And keep your eyes on the ground, with the snow melting and everything. I found thirty-five cents this morning.”

“That’s true. Hey, guess what I found on the ground this morning.”

The possibilities are endless. “What did you find?”

“Take a look at this.” He pulled a gun out of his jacket and set it on the counter.

I don’t know much about guns. It was black, and looked real enough to me. Like a pistol. I picked it up, thinking it would be light and plasticky like a toy gun, but it wasn’t. It was cold and heavy. “What is this?”

“It’s a CO2 gun.”

I’d never heard of a CO2 gun before, except for paintball markers, and the ones of those I’ve seen are larger, rifle-shaped and often colorful — and plainly are not real. I looked it up later and found out there is such a thing as a pistol-shaped CO2, but I’m still not sure what you’d want one for. Especially downtown, which I’m assuming is where a homeless guy would find it. It looked like the kind of thing you’d carry if you wanted people to think you had a gun, but didn’t want to get in trouble for carrying a real one.

“We actually don’t allow guns in the store. I’m afraid you’ll have to leave.”

Yeah, good luck on that one. He kept talking for another five minutes, while I kept trying to politely but firmly get him out the door. Drunks don’t respond well to tact, but I didn’t want the guy mad at me.

Finally he left, and no harm done, but I wonder if I should have called the police or something. The whole thing was a little weird.

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