...Home Depot, for their extremely confident hiring practices!
My sister brought her husband and two young boys, aged 5 and 8, to NYC last Saturday, and we spent a very relaxing day snaking around for hours in line at the Empire State Building and having our souls raped by stampeding tourist foot traffic in and around the Times Square Toys 'R' Us. I got a real kick out of watching my nephews, Oliver and Avery, react to the many weirdnesses and social extremes they experienced throughout the day. Avery was observant enough to note that Oliver sat next to a "Chinese lady" on the subway. (at five Avery is already a world-class racist.) Near Rockefeller Center, we passed a fleabag group of beloved children's characters soliciting donations in exchange for free balloon animals. My nephews dealt admirably with the fact that the guy dressed as Santa Claus looked like he hadn't slept in five days or that the Elmo costume has some burn damage. Oliver even had a laugh when he saw Spongebob Squarepants' left arm fall to the pavement, leaving only a hollow shoulder joint in its place. It didn't even get weird when we watched Spongebob accidentally step on his fallen limb before realizing it was missing, then pick it up off the ground and carry it away.
However, things did get weird outside Home Depot, when a crazy old man carrying a wooden tray ran up to my sister and started yelling at her to (and i'm paraphrasing but pretending to quote) "bring your children to my secret, sound-proof workshop filled with saws and hammers, where NO GROWN-UPS ARE EVER ALLOWED!!!" The old man was small, his height truncated by twisted, bowled legs, and he was wearing a flannel shirt, beneath which was a very large, square torso that crept up all the way to his chin--common among sufferers of spina bifida. His face was weathered--creased with angry lines--and round fleshy nubs of cystic tissue blossomed in various sizes and lengths all around his cheeks and neck, like a five o'clock shadow of boils. In short, he was the kind of person who, when he approaches with a wooden tray and is screaming at you, you might pull your child a bit closer, which is exactly what my sister did.
This did not please The Man Who Was Covered In Boils And Also Had A Gigantic Torso. As we passed, we overheard him yelling, "I work at Home Depot, STUPID!!" Later, we were able to piece it all together. He was an employee of Home Depot (as evidenced by the freshly-sanded wooden tray in his scabrous hands, and nothing more) who was asked by the very wise, very prudent management to stand on the street, yell at passersby, and plead with them to bring their children to his workshop in Home Depot where he might teach them how to use power tools and sandpaper until they're proficient enough to make a wooden tray. That was the pitch, and my sister was obviously too stupid to realize it. Instead, she saw a man with wild hair and a serious, possibly contagious skin disease, brandishing a piece of wood at her children.
Did I mention he wasn't wearing a Home Depot uniform of any kind? Well, now I am, because he wasn't, unless you count "possession of unpainted wood" as an official store uniform. But if you count that, you would also have to allow for someone promoting a steakhouse by running around the street with a bloody steak knife, trying to drag people inside.
It is with great pride that I honor Home Depot with this month's 'Mr. Confidence' Award for apparently being OK with placing the following job listing on CareerBuilder.com:
Seeking competent woodworking craftsman with short temper and poor hygiene to drag children off the street. Must not take no for an answer! Uniform, comb not necessary. Wet leprosy a plus.