Me: "Meat market, this is Nessa Roo. How can I help you?"
Mr. Sandoval: "No. I don't wanna talk to you, dammit. I want to talk to the fish department."
At this point all of the seafood workers were busy assisting walk-up customers. They weren't even grateful that I'd answered their phone. They would rather that I had ripped it off the wall and stuffed it in the meat grinder.
Me: "You got it. What can I do for you?"
Mr. Sandoval: "I need to find out if you have any trout."
Me (after getting the info from Caleb, Seafood King): "We sure do. We have rainbow trout fillets and we also have whole rainbow trout."
Mr. Sandoval (impatiently): "No. I don't want fillets. I want the whole fish. I want the head and the tail and the eyeballs and the scales. I'm going to start eating healthier, like the Japanese. I want it Japanese style."
Ooookay. I don't know what the fuck Japanese-style means. I'm thinking sushi, but...
Me: "Yes sir, the whole trout has all that."
Mr. Sandoval: "I want it right out of the ocean. Fresh fresh fresh. I don't don't want any old dead fish."
Me: "We only sell dead fish sir. If you want a live fish, you should probably call a pet store."
Yes. I did say that to him. I also deliberately did not tell him that rainbow trout is a freshwater fish, no oceans involved. Caleb was looking at me inquisitively, and I was giving him the look that said "This guy's being an asshole." He nodded and smiled in understanding, happy that he didn't have time to answer the phone. I can only imagine how the conversation would have gone if Caleb had answered the phone. I'm positive there would have been more profanity.
Mr. Sandoval: "I don't want a live fish! Who would want a live fish? Why would I eat a live fish? I want a dead fish. I want the whole fish. I want the scales still on it. I want the tail."
Me: "Yes sir. We got a dead fish we'll sell it to you for $3.99 a pound."
Mr. Sandoval (enunciating each word, as if maybe I don't understand English, really pissing me off): "Walk over to the counter and take the fish out and put it on the scale and tell me how much does it cost?"
Me (just as pleasantly as I could possibly be, and I mean really laying on the syrup, because I can't slam the phone down. The guy already knows my name, and I'm pretty sure he'd be calling my boss to complain about me): "Okie dokie, sir. Hold on just a sec." I walked over to the counter to weigh a damn rainbow trout, whispering the words "what an asshole" to Caleb on the way back to the phone.
Me: "It's eight tenths of a pound, sir, and it costs $3.19."
Mr. Sandoval: "Is that the whole fish?"
Me: "Yes sir, that's the whole fish. That's the head and the fins and the tail and all the eyeballs."
Caleb was laughing, and so was Pam, but she was trying to stifle it because she was still assisting a customer.
Mr. Sandoval (suddenly very cheerful, because I think he might have multiple personalities): "Whooo-ee! Okay, lady, I'm gonna call back in a minute and get some fish from you."
He hung up, and all I could think was yippee, because now I knew better than to answer the phone when he called back. I was finished with this jerk. Caleb could deal with him from that point onward.
Boss: "Nessa Roo, you have a phone call."
Me: "Is it Mr. Sandoval? I don't want to talk to him. He's an asshole."
Boss: "Too bad. He asked for you specifically. He said he wants to talk to that nice lady he talked to a minute ago. I know it wasn't Pam."
Of course it wasn't Pam. During her entire Seafood Queen career, I don't believe anyone has ever referred to Pam as "that nice lady." I reluctantly took the call.
Mr. Sandoval: "You're such a nice lady. You have been so sweet to me. This is why I only want to talk to you. How long have you worked there?"
Me (in defeat, because now he knows my name, he knows where I work, and he thinks I'm nice, so he's going to be calling me all the time!): "I have worked for this company for fifteen years."
At that point, I made myself comfortable by sitting on top of my double-decker cart, because the guy just kept talking to me about his lot in life, his abusive mother, his bad marriages, his bouts with cancer, and his desire to make something better of himself. He thought I was going to grow up to be something pretty special because I was just so inherently kind, and he was so thankful to have been able to reach me on the phone.
Caleb and Pam were chuckling and chanting things like, "Nessa's got a boyfriend." I gave them the stink-eye, because they deserved it, and made a silent promise to sneak fish-juice into their soda cups later on in the day.
Mr. Sandoval: "Okay, I want to buy two of those fish. And this is what I want you to do. Cut off the fins and fillet them for me. Can you do that?"
Didn't he tell me earlier that he wants the whole damned fish, eyeball, fins....
Me: "Well, sure, we'll do that. We'll have it waiting for you here at the seafood counter."
Mr. Sandoval: "Oh no. I need you to bring it out to my truck. I'm not coming in the store. I'll give you the money when you get out here."
Me: "Okay. I can" (find somebody else to do that) "do that for you."
Mr. Sandoval: "And another thing. I don't want you looking at me like I'm crazy when you come out here."
Gosh. I would never have thought that....