Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Bad Seed and Walker

One of the most difficult jobs in our family is running interference for Walker at work from time to time. If there is a pay problem or schedule problem or a personnel problem, I generally turn it over to his dad and his more laid back nature. A while back, we got a call from Walker's boss that they were going to send him home because he had been rude to a customer, had called her a name. I sent Big Walker to deal with it, because I was afraid I'd get either angry or emotional if they fired him, and this sounded pretty serious. While I stayed home and worried myself sick, Walker handled the whole incident calmly, and they let Little Walker finish the work day after all, much to my relief.

By the time they got home after work, I had calmed down enough to ask the magic questions and figure out what had happened, one thing I'm much better at doing.

Something just didn't add up. Walker gave up curse words many, many years ago after a mouthful of our favorite cursing remedy, a drop of Ivory Liquid on the tongue. About the worst thing he ever called anyone was when he announced that Sister Judy was a pig when he was about five years old. He might get angry, and he had even fired his boss a couple of times when he was unhappy, but cursing just wasn't in his repertoire

Even my son-in-law, John, who has initiated Walker into the kind of guy repartee that he never learned at Catholic School, had never aggravated him enough to get him to curse. He just doesn't do that. Not that he doesn't occasionally hear an expletive from his dad or me, but he knows better than to use one. Or so I thought.

Now he had called a customer a bitch. He had apologized, somewhat under duress, and wasn't going to lose his job, but I couldn't let it rest.

"Walker, could you just tell me exactly what happened today at work," I asked as he sat uncomfortably on the couch, shifting around and avoiding eye-contact.

"Well, this is really embarrassing...." Long pause.

"That's okay. You're not going to get in trouble. I just need to know what happened. Did you call a customer a name?" Another very long pause. He knew I knew.

"Well, yeah, I'm really sorry...I did...but she was really rude to me...I just can't tell you..." Tears welled up in his eyes.

"It's okay. Just tell me what you called her." Tears welled in my eyes too.

"Well...I called her a Bad Seed...She really was...She said she wanted paper instead of plastic, and I didn't hear her, and when I started loading plastic she yelled at me so I called her a Bad Seed. I promise it won't happen again. I know I might lose my job."

Now this made sense in Walkerese...almost. He talks in movie talk a lot, but most of the movies are Disney and at the most PG rated. I was kind of bewildered that he might have seen "The Bad Seed", a movie about a wicked little girl that came out in the '50's and one that I didn't remember from his shelf last time I had cleaned and sorted out. Turns out, there was a reference to the old movie in one of his newer favorites.

The customer, the cashier and his boss had heard what they expected, and probably knew deep down. They heard him call her a bitch, when he really called her a Bad Seed.

After some lecturing about the customer always being right, the matter was put to rest. In my heart, I knew who the Bad Seed was, though. I think Walker's boss did too.

I hope I'm not a Bad Seed too often. I hope people hear what I really mean to say, and not what they think I say.