I'm a regular at the local, indie video store. They don't have a very large selection, and I'm certain that they stay afloat because of the not inconsiderable porn section in the back. In fact, it's rare that I see a non-porn-buying customer in there. I'll enter the store and it will seem empty save for a lone, nerdy clerk. I browse the aisles, checking the new releases and scouring for something I haven't seen yet, the store to myself, but then suddenly a balding guy in a bad suit will bump into me as he emerges from the back.
I try not to look at any of these guys, because they often seem embarrassed at seeing me and I don't want to make it worse by making eye contact. I do, however, look at the shop staff. They're all guys and all about the same age: early- to mid-twenties. There's Nerd Guy with Great Taste in Music, and Jock Guy with Horrible Taste in Music, and Nerd Guy Who Is Probably Back There Reading Comix, etc.
I go in several times a week, as it's only about two blocks from my house. I usually get two flicks, one in English and one in Japanese with subtitles. I always request No Bag, since they put the videos in these useless little black bags that aren't even big enough to be reused as bathroom trash bin liners.
I've worked in quite a few service industry jobs, including several in food service. Coffeehouses, a bakery, cafés, a sandwich shop. And as fellow pastry-pushers and sandwich-slingers know, the workers have nicknames for the regulars. Sometimes they're simply related to their regular orders. For example, we had
(hard-nosed blue-collar guy, who snapped at new employees and growled when we didn't get his order from memory, but who was clearly pleased when we remembered and started pouring before he reached the counter)
(bacon on ham. bacon on cold cuts. bacon on tuna.)
(tell me when to stop, mmkay? squirt. squirt. squirt. squirt. squirt? squirt! two inches of mayo, one slice of turkey, NO vegetables, on white bread)
Sometimes it's more a part of the behavior, a sticking part in appearance or personality that informs the nickname. Like
(brought in his study materials, but looked like he'd come straight from the gym. would sit for hours and make multiple trips to the can)
My Favorite Gay Man
(the nicest customer, sweet and clean-cut guy with a stud in one ear, who became My Favorite Married Gay Man with a Bitchy Wife. she was so rude, and he looked at us like he knew it, and I was disappointed)
(a pretty nice guy, kinda geeky, who seemed to be smitten with my friend and kept offering her jobs as a personal assistant - except he was about ten years her senior, which is not a small age gap when the younger party is about seventeen)
Oh yeah! That reminds me! There was
(the TOTALLY middle-aged man who would hover around with his bald spot on my break and watch me do crossword puzzles. i was 19, he was at least 45. one day he brought me an old sweater of his as a "gift". i hid every time he came in after that.)
Having named all these regulars thusly, and having names for my video store clerks, it makes me wonder: what do they call me? I don't want to puff myself up by assuming that they talk about me all the time, but I'm a really regular customer and a foreigner in a pretty non-foreigner area, as well as one of the only females I EVER see in the shop, so it must come up SOMETIMES. Bad-taste-in-movies-girl? Messy-haired-chick? Get-a-life-foreigner?
Guess I'll never know.