Yesterday I applied for work at a local chain bookstore. I thought I could walk in, explain that I managed a bookstore and my husband had been laid off, and would they like someone seriously overqualified for the weekends? No, no. It isn’t like that. You have to do an interminable online application in which they ask you many questions which seem to be designed to get at your level of violence, drug use, and tendencies toward the showier forms of depression.

You must agree or disagree, strongly or unadorned, with statements like the following:

“It is fun to go to big events with lots of people.”
“Many people are very annoying to me.”
“When people are wrong, I correct them.”
“When I get angry, I usually swear.”
“I have many big regrets about my past life.”
“I feel very upset when I make a mistake.”
“I can’t fake politeness if I don’t feel it.”

Really, I was enthralled. There was no point at which you pushed a button and they told you what sort of textile you were, but anyone who enjoys online quizzes might want to try it out anyway.

There was also a bit of a math test, but nothing in any way related to books or anything like that. Where I work, we ask people what their favorite children’s book is. (Hint: if you say “Dr. Seuss,” you have messed up.)

Later in the day, at my actual job, I had an opportunity to think of these questions again, because the Stupidest Customer came in.

“Are them the only hearts you got?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“I wanted pink hearts. Don’t you got any pink hearts?”
“No, ma’am. I’m sorry.”
“You only got these hearts?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“I don’t want these hearts.”
“I’m sorry.”
“You used to have pink hearts.”
“Yes, ma’am, but they’re gone now. I’m sorry.”
“You don’t got any other hearts?”

This is how conversations with this woman always go, except that this time she had brought her mother with her, so every now and then they switched it up a little.

“Are them the only shamrocks you got?”
“Yes, ma’am, those three kinds.”
“Are them the only shamrocks they got?”
“That’s what she said.” This last must be delivered in a dubious voice, as if this speaker, too, feels that the question may still be open.

And indeed, those people were very annoying to me. And I felt like swearing, although of course I did not. Fortunately, I was able to hide my feelings with a veneer of politeness.

I finished the second pattern band of Erin. This was a simple geometric bit which didn’t require much looking at the chart, or stitch markers or any of that stuff. Next is a Celtic knot thing, with a major change in colors. Sort of like the treadmill programs where you have a while on the flat between spikes.

Since there is a bunch of space here by the picture which I must fill, I will tell you the story of the Couple in Wheat Markets.

Long ago and far away, I went out to dinner with a boy whose initials were RRIde laRGyT. We went to a popular seafood restaurant by the beach, and there were no tables left. We were just about to leave when an older couple invited us to share their table. These kind people, about our parents’ age, turned out to be interesting conversationalists, and we enjoyed our abalone. When the bill came, they paid it.

We were surprised and grateful. When they invited us to come to their house to continue our conversation, we agreed, and followed them to a nearby gated community. After a little bit of negotiation with the guard at the gate, we all went in.

I no longer remember what we talked about, except that the man told us he was in wheat markets. I was surprised by this, since wheat was not grown in that area, and I had never seen any wheat markets around. I was thinking it would be some kind of farmer’s market. This confusing thing has stayed in my mind ever since.

Mature readers will have seen this coming, but we were flabbergasted when the wife said to us, “Why don’t we all go to bed?”

Looking back, I figure that they must have made several previous sallies which flew right over our innocent little heads. We stared at her in consternation for a moment, while it sank in that they were propositioning us, and then stammered out some excuses (having to do, I think, with early classes and lots of homework rather than moral repugnance or how OLD they were. We were, you see, able to fake politeness) and hightailed it out of there.

As you can see, this story is very similar to Hansel and Gretel, except that this couple did not put us in cages or anything, but just watched us leave. I suppose middle-aged people who prey upon youngsters must budget for a certain proportion of kids who do not remember that they were told never to take abalone from strangers, and yet are still ready to escape once they realize that there is something to escape from.

It’s funnier in person.