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Adopt A Straight Face, We Implore You

, , , , , , | Right | September 21, 2022

Years ago, during my time at a bookstore, I was staffing the information desk on a busy weekend afternoon. In the brief lull between customers, the phone rang.

Caller: “Hello. Do you carry parenting books?”

Me: “Yes, sir, we do.”

Caller: “Good, because I have a very special parenting matter. You see, I have become the guardian of four children after their parents — my best friends, my soul’s companions — died within weeks of each other of three different types of cancer apiece…”

I looked up to see someone approaching the information desk and smiled apologetically at them.

Me: “Yes, sir, was there something in particular—”

Caller: “…and of course, all four children are heartbroken, so much so that their psychic powers are developing apace…”

Me: “Their psychic powers?”

The customer who had come up to the desk lifted their eyebrows.

Caller: “…and I worry that they may bring unquiet spirits to haunt the house, or that they might use their telekinesis to destroy items in their grief.”

Me: “Unquiet spirits? Sir, this is not—”

Caller: “The oldest is a teenage girl, and I think she may have been impregnated by one of the spirits — which reminds me, do you carry home birthing kits? We don’t trust hospitals anymore.”

Me: “Sir, we do not have parenting books for psychic children, nor do we carry home birthing kits.”

Caller: “This is terrible customer service, and me, a grieving adoptive parent! Get me your manager!”

Me: “One moment, sir.”

I put him on hold and looked at the customer at the desk.

Me: “I am so sorry. I’ll just be a minute.”

Customer: “Oh, no, don’t be sorry. I want to hear how this ends. Is one of the children named Carrie?”

The manager on duty arrived. I apologized in advance and then helped other customers while the manager was on the phone trying to placate this man. Eventually, they hung up.

Manager: “Well, he was due.”

Me: “What?”

Manager: “That man calls once a year, always with the most outlandish stories about his adoptive children. This year, they’re psychic. Last year, they were magical Wiccan children who might have been fathered by a god on Halloween. The year before that, they were part-alien kids who teleported out from under an eighteen-wheeler!”

Customer: “I think you all should write a book about him.”

Manager: “We refuse to give him the satisfaction. Thank you for your patience.”

Customer: “This was more fun than I expected to have today. Can I buy you both a coffee?”

So, Mr. Guardian of Psychic-Magical-Alien Kids, thanks for my mocha that afternoon!

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