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Campus store employees dish the dirt, la Kevin Smith's "Clerks"

CASSIE TOMLIN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
U-Mart employee and journalism sophomore Kari Schaffer
By Kylee Dawson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
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From drunken fraternity guys and conspiracy theorists to bug-eyed weirdoes who just creep you out, the strangest customers who enter the U-Mart, always leave a lasting impression on the shop's employees, who just want a little courtesy and respect for their hard work.

Instead, workers occasionally get a mess to clean up or an eye full of spittle from some screaming customer upset that the cashier doesn't want to play 20 questions while other angry customers wait in line.

Despite the various fields and numerous courses available to the students at the UA, it seems that some things are not necessarily taught - or learned - in the classroom.

One is common courtesy, another is respect, but one of the most lacking qualities seems to be common sense, something many of the employees of the U-Mart, the convenience store located in the Student Union Memorial Center, can attest to.

Well, now it's the U-Mart employees' turn, because they've taken note of all the freaks who've tried to make their jobs a nightmare and it's payback time!

To protect the not-so-innocent, the U-Mart staff has provided nicknames for its favorite patrons, none of which have been identified by name. So, in no particular order, here are just a few of the bizarre experiences several U-Mart employees have encountered over the years.

CASSIE TOMLIN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
U-Mart employee Kyle McQuerry, a sophomore at Catalina Foothills High School

Mom and daughter

One of the all-time strangest events, according to U-Mart employees, had to have been the night when a woman and her pregnant daughter, a student, came into the U-Mart to stock up on food for her hospital stay.

The pair accumulated about $300 worth of food, which they tried to pay for on the daughter's meal plan, said Anthony Pawelski, a history junior who has worked at the U-Mart for about a year and a half.

Because it was late, only one register was open, so students, most of which only had one item each, had to wait as the mother and daughter made several trips to their car with the food.

Before departing, the daughter, who was probably eight months along, began having contractions while standing in the store.

The General

Every town, every community and just about every local mini-mart has its conspiracy theorist. The U-Mart has "The General": a fatigue wearing, middle-aged man who claims to receive phone calls from President George W. Bush and knows where Osama bin Laden is hiding.

"This guy kinda freaks us out," Pawelski said.

CASSIE TOMLIN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
U-Mart employee and civil engineering sophomore David Ruvalcaba

Fiji Water Girl

Some levels of stupidity can be incomprehensible. Such is the case of "Fiji Water Girl," a geographically challenged student who obsessively purchased Fiji brand water last fall semester.

"Fiji Water Girl! Oh. My. God. She's the stupidest person I've ever met in my entire life," said journalism sophomore Kari Shaffer, who has worked at the U-Mart since January 2004.

When the U-Mart had run out of her prized water, some employees jokingly told her that it was because there was a drought in Fiji.

Fiji Water Girl responded, "But I'm from California and it just rained there yesterday, so how could there be a drought?"

On another occasion, she offered employees $20 for one bottle of Fiji water after they'd closed the U-Mart, but was turned away because the registers had been closed.

"She's actually a nice person," said Andrew Eschbacher, a sociology junior who has worked at the U-Mart since August 2003.

Paranoid drunken thief

Almost without fail, UMart employees will get drunken or hungover student-customers, especially anytime between Friday and Saturday nights. The loss of brain cells undoubtedly shows in their conduct.

Martin Kaasa, a general biology senior who has worked at the U-Mart since last summer, explains: "We can only go up to $20 on the register and then you have to pay and do another order. So, if you buy $21, you actually have to do two separate orders.

"One guy came in and he was drunk and he did the first order, then cashier told him that we had to do a second order and he said we were trying to con him, so he ran out with all of his food stuff."

Before the infamous Isaiah Fox candy bar and bagel thieving incident, another major "stealing spree" took place at the U-Mart three years ago when one disgruntled U-Mart employee sold everything in the store for a penny per item.

"People cleared out the store and the employee was turned into police," said Bethany Boord, a communication senior who has worked at the U-Mart for four years, or "one day too long."

"Many people who thought they got a 'steal of a deal' got in trouble because, I guess, it's still technically stealing."

CASSIE TOMLIN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
It's all in a day's work for aerospace engineering freshman Carson Scott

Hot Dog Guy

Speaking of stealing, this guy thought he had it down to a science.

"He comes in, prepares his hot dog, leaves the packets of ketchup and mustard everywhere, walks around the store eating the hot dog and then makes another one and tries to act like he only had one," Boord said. "I think he realized we had cameras one day and stopped."

No, his shenanigans don't end there.

"He would also make Weight Watchers ice cream and if it wasn't 'pretty' in the cup, he would throw it away and make another one," Boord said.

Jesus Woman

Eschbacher became a victim of one customer's affection due to his blond, shoulder-length locks.

When "Jesus Woman" first saw Eschbacher's hair, he immediately reminded her of Jesus Christ.

"She came in one day and she was like, 'You know who you look like? You look like Jesus,'" Eschbacher said. "And I just said, 'OK, have a nice day,' and she said, 'God bless you,' and she's been saying it ever since.

"She always makes references to God and Jesus when she's around me. It's kinda uncomfortable."

Mean bitches

Eegee's frozen drinks and soft-serve and Shamrock Farms ice creams may be some of the biggest sellers at the U-Mart, but the foods also cause of some of the biggest messes.

One night, just before closing, Lauren Mayes, a microcellular biology senior, said two "sorority girls" spilled a large glob of softserve ice cream all over the floor, which moments before, Eschbacher had mopped. The two girls then proceeded to slide across the ice cream, and then ran out of the store laughing.

"It was really fucked up," Mayes said. "Needless to say, Andrew had to mop it up again."

CASSIE TOMLIN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
U-Mart employee and communication senior Bethany Boord

The Eegee's Couple

This duo has developed a reputation for bickering from the time they walk into the U-Mart until the time they exit it. And who knows what they argue about when alone?

"They come in every day and maybe nine out of 10 times, they're arguing about something, usually what to buy," Anthony said.

On one occasion, Boord said "Mr. Eegee" got tired of waiting in line to purchase his Eegee drink, so he went into the "Employees Only" section to demand immediate service.

When they told him they were on their break and that he would have to get back in line, he told his girlfriend, who in turn went back to express complaints of her own.

"She had the nerve to tell us that we should leave the store so people don't mix us up with working employees," Boord said. "They are the most annoying people ever."

Greek geeks

Several students try to purchase non-food items through the meal plan, but one student, who Shaffer calls "Random Frat Guy," tried to prove to her just how edible the item he wanted to purchase really was.

"He was trying to buy condoms on the meal plan and I told him, 'No, you know you can't do that,'" she said. "And he goes, 'Why? It's gonna go in someone's mouth anyway. Doesn't that count?'"

"Sorority girls," Rich said, typically make the strangest of requests when it comes to ice cream.

"They ask for diet sprinkles," Rich said. "Like, sugar free sprinkles. I mean, sprinkles are sugar."

Regular geeks

There are typical cloak wearing "Lord of the Rings" fans and then there is "Lord of the Rings Guy," a customer who always speaks in quotes from the beloved J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy.

When not quoting lines directly from the film, he ad-libs by reaching into his "pocket of doom" to pay, Pawelski said.

As his nickname denotes, "Cell Phone Guy," is always on his cell, intensely arguing about Dungeons & Dragons or Anime cartoons with whoever is on the other line.

At the end of the working day...

After balancing classes with the madness of work, U-Mart employees are still grateful to work there and said the number of good customers greatly outweighs the accumulation of crazy ones.

"For every really crazy person, we do get many nice people," Schaffer said. "I'd say we get more good people than crazy people, but the crazy people are just so frustrating and so demanding."

"Sometimes they're funny," Rich interjected.

"We get all kinds of interesting people," Boord added, "but for the most part we take them all in fun, get a good laugh, and then go about our business.

Sometimes, people like 'Fiji Water Girl' and 'Hot Dog Guy' become such a daily routine that we don't notice them until a new employee or a customer mentions something about them."

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