Monday, May 17, 2010

Random memory: Not enough soap to make those hands feel clean

When I was in college and shortly thereafter, I worked in a pawn shop.  This time in my life is loaded with odd memories of the various characters, weirdos, monsters, and criminals that one would imagine frequenting such a place.  They made up only a small percentage of the people who came, but sadly, nice people trying to get by or looking to upgrade their stuff don't stick in a person's memory the way maniacs do.  It was a good experience on the whole, teaching me about about simple economics through barter, enabling me to have dorm room full of great gadgets at a time when I had relative little cash(I do so love gadgets), and besides, where else would "...and I did a gold scrap for a pre-op transsexual prostitute who came in with a monkey on his shoulder." be part of the answer for "What did you do today"?   

Every now and then, I have a flashback to things I wish I could forget for good.  Sometimes, these are nuggets that reveal the nasty side of human nature that puts lie to most of the fairy tale version of the world I live in. Other times they're simply disgusting.  This is one of those times.

I was working the in the store's jewelry department when a late 50-ish scruffy looking man came in and asked whether we took "dental" gold for scrap and how much we paid.  In my memory he was thin-faced and unshaven, with oily salt and pepper hair and a general look of a background extra in a Scorcese film about 70's NYC.  My friend Tony (manager of the jewelry department) gave him a quick run-down of the per karat rates and said I'd help him when came back.  With a greedy glint in his eye, he shuffled out the door.   He came back a while later with a box in hand, and gestured for me to come over to help him.  I told him that I'd  need to test and weigh his gold, extending my hand.  This was a tragic mistake on my part, as the man dumped the contents of his box into my palm.  It's hard for me to remember now exactly what the whole mess looked like, because my brain is stuck on the human teeth with gold fillings that were included with it. HUMAN TEETH! In my hand! And not my own, which would be bad enough.

Needless to say, the right phrase for how I was feeling is "skeeved the fuck out".  Tony must've noticed the aghast expression my face (which betrays me every time) has twisted into and came over to tell the gent/possible grave robber that we couldn't accept the teeth, and that he'd expected leftover bits of dental grade gold.  I left them to argue about it while I ran to the bathroom to scrub my arms up to elbow, with a thoroughness that one hopes their surgeon would use.  Unfortunately for me, no matter what I tried(soap, rubbing alcohol, Softscrub), all I could think of was those damn teeth.  I'm not a germophobe by any means, but my sandwich went untouched that day.

As much as I wish memories like this would stay buried.  There are some things you just can't un-experience.  And my hands still felt too dirty to eat with.


Anonymous,  May 17, 2010 at 10:41 AM  

Love it, Dave! LOL (Sarge)

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