(This is the first of a multi-part series depicting the unusual customers I deal/have dealt with while working in the outdoor retail market.)
This is not a post about Armageddon. This is not a post about Ben Affleck. This is not a post about a man that resembles Ben Affleck. There is no Bruce Willis in this story. Sorry to disappoint.
Working at an outfitter provides you with a great deal of customer variety. Most customers are not familiar with what an outfitter is nor what types of merchandise are sold, so it’s always entertaining to see what people look and ask for. I’ve been asked if we stock everything from cheerleading bloomers to shotgun shells to RV satellites. (For the record, we stock none of these things.) For background purposes, we supply customers with the finest hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, and adventure travel equipment and clothing. That being said, let us continue the story of End Of The World Guy…
It was a Saturday afternoon, unusually warm for November and therefore unusually slow. My co-worker and I were discussing the finer points of religion when EOFTWG walked in with his daughter. Standing at about 5’6″ and a solid 2oolbs, he reminded me a lot of the Friar Tuck in the Walt Disney’s Robin Hood cartoon. Short with a large bald spot and a mop-top type hair style, he carried most of his extra weight in his stomach, which he accented with a large shirt that draped over it, pronouncing it further. He had a jolly look to him and his eyes widened as his head turned from side to side, eyeing all the gear and clothing we had to offer. I could tell immediately this guy was hooked to our shop.
As per usual, we greeted him with the standard tidings and then let him browse for a bit. After he took a lap through the store, thoroughly inspecting every little corner, shelf, and crevice in the store, I asked if he needed anything or was looking for something in particular. He asked about sleeping bags, particularly compression bags for them. I directed him towards our display of various types and sizes of storage sacks and began with the standard talk. He pondered over a few, reading packages and the like with a puzzled look on his face. Hoping to clarify, I ask him, “Sir, what exactly are you using these for?” and that’s when he dropped the bomb.
“Well, in case the world gets goofy.”
“You know, in case something goes down. See, I do a lot of travelling, and you never know when something will happen and I need to go underground or go into survival mode and get back to my family.”
(Shit, he’s one of those.)
“I see. Well, we’re not exactly designed to cater towards those specific needs, but I can give it my best shot.”
We talked a bit more and his eyes got wider and wider as he talked more and more about how the world is going to end and we need to be prepared, which is why he’s building his “in case the world get’s goofy” pack. From what I was able to tie together, the guy plans on having this “goofy” pack with him wherever he travels (domestically for work). If something goes awry, he can take his pack and then use it to help him travel back to his family by hiking, stealing a bike, or some other such means that keep him off main highways and other people-concentrated areas. Personally, I doubt he’d ever be in shape to do cross-country hiking, but at this point that’s beyond the scope of this unrealistic vision he’s painted. Among the highlights of the conversation, he openly discussed how he travels with a radiation detector, a 2-way radio/GPS with 8 separate USB sticks containing all the maps of North America, and 2 sleeping bags in case of nuclear winter.
Apparently now the shop will have to add “armageddon preparatory” along with backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, and adventure travel. Look for more updates on End Of The World Guy.