Thursday, August 14, 2008


I went and visited Marcie at CVS several times, all but two of them completely against her will. Nevertheless, her coworkers were nice and she admitted years later that she enjoyed my visits.

One of those visits was more than a little entertaining. It happened to be one I was invited to conduct. Marcie and I were going to head to the cafe by May Company and enjoy a lunch, then after her work day ended see a movie.

We needed no movie that night.

I was engaging Marcie in very light banter, whiling away time in the near-vacant store as she tended the front counter. Her eyes locked and then narrowed and she looked past me as a hunched, black-garbed figure tottered in.

"Smsh mup rummum mubbum mum," a distinctly female but whispery voice said, the sounds wafting out from under multiple veils of black lace under a wide-brimmed hat. I saw no face.

Marcie watched and made eye contact with a coworker named Maia, who came to the front and took over the counter. Marcie slipped out from behind it, eyes locked on the slow, unsteady figure as it lurched and hobbled into the aisles.

The words became clearer but no more sensible as we got closer.

"So she so she so she so she does, does, does, goes there, she does, yes, yes, yes," the woman said under her masking veils. "I know. I know. I know."

I looked at Marcie, who stood with one arm under her breasts and the other propped on its hand, playing with the curls by her ear as she watched intently.

"Who is..." I started to ask, but her hand stopped me cold.

She leaned in close. "That's Peggy," she said, quietly. "She's a regular but you have to watch her or she leaves without paying. She hates me because I watch her the whole time and I make her show me ID when she writes her checks."

Peggy had offended Marcie by screaming bloody murder when she was caught leaving the store with unpaid-for goods. She made good, but a security guard had yelled at Marcie for stopping Peggy and bringing her back in by the arm.

"Everybody was looking at me and thought I was totally abusing her," she said. "And that's just too bad, because I don't care what age you are. Nobody shoplifts from me."

But her actions had ended with her boss allowing the woman to return. That did not mean Marcie let her get away with anything. In fact, Marcie was now even tougher with Peggy.

"I do not like her," she said. "So I just watch her and let her get pissed off at me. I don't care if she doesn't like it."

Marcie cut off the conversation and marched forward as Peggy pulled a large container of Advil off the shelf and into her many layers of clothes. She smiled and turned her head a bit, looking down at the woman.

"Can I help you with that Advil, Peggy? Do you want to know how much it cost?" she asked.

And that's how the MumbletyPeggy game began.