An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.

Monday, July 12, 2004

What about the New Doc Ock?

I ambled in to the comic kiosk in the "mall" to see what my weekly fix might bring me. The shipment hadn't arrived yet, but I understand issues of the new Swamp Thing and Firestorm books are mine as well as old favorites such as the Liberty Meadows Sourcebook, Stray Bullets, Tom Strong and Supreme Power. All are great books and I'm hungry to receive them.

So I chatted with Garin the comic shop guy for a while until our conversation was brought to a screeching halt by one of the most Lynchian people I've seen outside of the "liberry" itself. A woman, probably in her mid 50s, came up to the counter and began talking at Garin in a thick drawl, completely oblivious to the conversation she was interrupting.

"My husband called up here and asked if you had a Doc Ock and he said the girl on the phone told him you did have a Doc Ock, which is what he wanted, so I came up here to see if you had the Doc Ock, which is what she said you had."

She said all that with no pauses. It was like someone turned on a firehose. I could only assume she meant an action figure of the Spider-Man villain Doctor Octopus, as she kept staring into the display cases where Garin keeps his toys while she rambled on.

When at last she took a breath, Garin was able to get a word in.

"Uh, I don't have a she working here," Garin said.

"Well, she said you had a Doc Ock, which is what he wanted."

"Ma'am, I don't have a she working here," Garin repeated.

The woman just stared at him.

"There are no women working here. It's only me," he said.

"But... but... well, she said..."

"There's no she... No..." Garin paused for a second, no doubt trying to allow that line of argument to die before moving on to something that could be tackled. I was pretty sure that this woman was at least five mental limbs short of a full Doc Ock herself and was amazed I didn't recognize her as a patron. Still, I watched to see what would happen as Garin tried once again to exert some logic on the situation.

"When did your husband call?"

"A few hours ago," the woman said.

"Well, I'm sorry, but I don't remember any call about Doc Ock and I'm the only one working here today. It doesn't really matter, though, because I sold my last Doc Ock figure ten minutes ago."

The woman immediately became distraught. "But she said you still had Doc Ock! He called and she said you had Doc Ock!"

"No. I... Look," Garin said, remaining admirably calm. "I did have an old Doc Ock figure, but I sold it. And I don't have any of the new Doc Ocks."

"Do you have the old Doc Ock?" the woman asked without even a beat.

"No."

"Well, what about the new Doc Ock?"

"No."

"Well, she said you had one."

"I did have one. I had the old one, but since no one called to ask me to hold it I sold it about ten minutes ago."

"You sold it ten minutes ago?"

"Yes."

"You sold it ten minutes ago?"

"YES."

"Well, what about the new Doc Ock? Do you have one of him?"

"No," Garin said wearily. This was rapidly turning into a bad Dr. Seuss book, or at the very least an anachronistic Abbot and Costello routine.

The woman began furiously checking the display cabinet again.

"Do you have one in here?"

"No. I don't have one at all."

"You don't have an old Doc Ock?"

"No, ma'am. I don't have ANY Doc Ocks."

"What about the new Doc Ock?"

"No!"

And so the routine proceeded for nearly another minute with pretty much the exact same dialogue as in the first two. I could see that Garin was rapidly running out of options that didn't include being rude to the woman and he didn't like it. Having some experience dealing with the mentally unstable on a regular basis, I spoke up.

"Excuse me, ma'am, but have you looked at K-Mart for a Doc Ock? Their toy department has a pretty big Spider-Man display."

"Where?"

"K-Mart," Garin and I said in unison.

"Where's that at?"

"Right through there," we said, both pointing toward the far end of the mall where it narrowed into a short corridor that connected it to the conveniently located K-Mart next door. The woman grinned and started toward it without another word.

"You are my hero!" Garin said.

"Welcome to my world," I told him.

I left soon after, vowing to return when UPS had delivered my books. When I came back, Garin told me that shortly after I left two other women approached his kiosk and asked if the first woman had been bothering him about something. He said, yeah, and told them what had happened. They laughed and said she does that sort of thing all the time. Apparently one of the two ladies works for the layaway department at Wal-Mart and has to deal with Doc Ock Fetishist Woman on a regular basis. From what they told Garin, DOF-Woman frequently comes into Wal-Mart to put toys on layaway. She sorts through their selection of stuffed animals, discarding the ones that she feels look too mean or too depressed until she's found that perfect happy and mentally-centered teddy bear. I know you think I'm making that up, but this was exactly what the ladies reported, including the part about bear depression. It gets better. Once she's found a bear of superb mental-stability, she puts it on layaway, urgently insisting that the clerks leave the plastic layaway bag open a crack so that the bear can breathe.

Now, that would be crazy enough for most people, but DOF-Woman has taken it to further crazy heights...

According to the Wally World employees, DOF-Woman was once purchasing a baby doll when she flew into a crying rage after the cashier accidentally dropped the doll into the plastic Wal-Mart bag rather than gently placing the doll into the bag. The woman got so upset that she called 9-1-1 to report the incident as child abuse.

I cannot make up shit that crazy!

Part of me really hopes she comes in the library some time, because she is an unfathomable ocean of comedy material as yet unfished. The rest of me, though, hopes I never see her in any kind of official "liberry" capacity. Beyond the whole issue of whether or not it's suitable for me to ridicule someone with an obvious and untreated mental condition, can you imagine the routine that would proceed from me trying to tell her why her interlibrary loan request for Doc Ock comics has been rejected? I'd have to hit her with a chair to shut her up.

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