Wait… let me go back farther so it makes sense. When I arrived that morning for my shift, I noticed a few things, it wasn’t real busy, we had gotten a new stock of huge stuffed animals (what can I say, I’m a child; I love stuffed animals), and one of my favorite service clerks was there (Yay! I love talking to him).
Before I went to my register, I stopped by the box of large stuffed animals and peeked inside. The box held leopards, birds, snakes, and other animals. I wanted to buy every one of them but they were expensive, so I took one last look and went to work. The day seemed to go by fairly smooth, my favorite clerk (we will call him Lee) was working with me that day which meant I would actually enjoy my shift. Lee was in his late fifties and he and his wife were always so nice to talk to.
We had just finished ringing a customer up when another stepped into our line. A woman and her daughter stood ready to pay while I scanned the groceries and Lee bagged them. The mom was tall so I could see her over my register but the girl was hidden behind it. Eventually she moved to the other end and I watched as she fiddled around with something down at the end. Kids get bored so easily.
I was scanning the last item in the ladies cart when she pulled out a hundred dollar bill.
“Can you make change for a hundred?” She asked me.
I heard the question but I also heard something else. A bird, well not A bird, a lot of birds. In the middle of the grocery store. I looked up into the ceiling, half expecting to find a colony of birds above us. I knew the random bird got in every now and again but not this many. I scanned the windows and the ceiling and there wasn’t a single bird in sight. I looked back down at the woman and Lee, who were both staring at me, waiting for my reply about the hundred dollar bill. The birds were still chirping but neither the lady nor Lee seemed to hear it.
I managed a long ‘Uh—’. Was I losing my mind?
“A hundred,” the lady said again, “do you have change for a hundred?”
She slowly waved the bill in her hand, confused at my reaction. I did have change but I also had bigger problems. Now I could hear rushing water, almost like a waterfall; the birds were still chirping. I turned and looked around me to try to find the source of the noise, but there wasn’t one. Keep in mind this was before ‘ringtones’. I turned back to the lady and Lee who clearly could not hear it. They both seemed concerned. Well, that makes three of us now…
Another noise cut off my answer, a flute. I’m hearing a dadgum flute, with water, and birds! It was a high pitched sound too, so why were these two not hearing it? I decided then that I was probably having a stroke or maybe slipping into an out of body experience type deal. I felt Lee rest his hand gently on my shoulder.
“Change,” he said, “She’s asking if you have change for a hundred dollar bill.”
That’s thoughtful of you to try to explain Lee but I KNOW WHAT SHE’S ASKING ME! DO YOU NOT HEAR THAT? I thought this, didn’t say it. I was screaming inside.
I caught a glimpse of the little girl staring at me, I could tell she thought I was a ‘weird’ cashier. She moved away from the end of the registers back to the other side of her mother where I couldn’t see her, I assumed she thought being close to her mother would save her when I finally flipped my lid.
“Yes.” I managed.
I could tell I seemed dazed and confused to Lee, he probably thought I had gone stupid.
I added, “Do you not hear that?”
Of course the sound stopped then.
“Hear what?” He asked.
You’ve got to be kidding me. How would I explain this to him, in front of an already concerned customer, without sounding crazy? I opened my mouth, determined to seem as stable as possible at this point, when the little girl walked back into view holding one of those black panthers out of the stuffed animal box. She mashed it’s front paw and the chirping birds echoed from inside it’s body. I pointed at the stuffed animal in accusation.
“Is that thing making a noise?” I asked exasperated.
Lee looked down at the leopard in the girl’s arms and back at me.
“You mean the birds?” He asked.
“Yes the birds!” I spit.
“Yeah,” he spoke, “Those things have been making noise all day.”
I turned to look at the box they came in again, in big bold letters it read, ‘Sounds of the Amazon”.
That lady never entered my line again…