IT HAD BEEN A HORRIBLE day for Ralph up to this point. His 10-year old son had woken him up just after midnight retching and vomiting all over the house. First his bed, then the bathroom.
It was 1:30 before he had gotten all of the vomit cleaned up and he was back in bed, so he decided to turn off his alarm and go into work whenever he woke up in the morning.
It was Christmas break and there had been a winter storm the day prior. When he dropped his child off at the sitter he found the roads in the sitter’s subdivision had not been treated and were covered with a solid sheet of ice. To make matters worse, there was an uphill climb to get into the subdivision and another to get out. It took Ralph over an hour to traverse this wonderful winter wonderland.
So Ralph ended up arriving to work three hours late. Perfect.
Even with a 5-hour work day his day still sucked. As is typical, Ralph’s boss did nothing and left all of the work for Ralph to do. Things that were supposed to be done by 10 o’clock were still left undone by the time Ralph arrived at 11. And so he had to do them in addition to getting 8 hours of work completed in 5 hours.
Five hours of nonsense and agony later, Ralph left work for the day.
With a crummy night, a crummy morning, and a stressful day of work behind him, Ralph headed to his local Wal-Mart to return a shirt he had received for Christmas that was one size too small.
He arrived to find that line for returns stretched all the way to the store’s entrance. Ralph waited patiently in line to be led to a register where he could return his shirt. Well, he exuded patience, but inside he was starting to seethe. He’d had a terrible day and this was doing nothing to improve his mood.
It was roughly an hour before he arrived at a register where he could return his shirt.
“Good evening, sir. What can I do for you?” the kindly cashier asked him. She was extremely young and her demeanor perky. Probably a college student, Ralph thought to himself, irritated.
He threw the shirt atop the register. “I need to return this shirt,” he said, making no attempt to hide his frustration.
The perky cashier, whose name tag read Cynthia, was unfazed by Ralph’s scowl and surly disposition, and maintained the cheerful smile she wore upon her unblemished face. “Do you have a receipt?” she asked jauntily.
Ralph irritably shook his head no. “It was a gift,” he snapped.
“That’s no problem,” she explained. “The UPC is normally on the tag in the back. I won’t be able to give you cash back, though. I can only give you store credit without the receipt.”
Ralph waved a dismissive hand towards no one in particular. “Whatever. I just want to get out of here.”
“Sure thing!” Cynthia said happily.
Cynthia dutifully picked up the shirt and examined the tag on the back of the shirt. She then began busily keying numbers into the register. A moment later the register beeped angrily and the display facing Ralph read “Item not found.” A look of dismay fell upon Cynthia’s face and she began keying numbers into the register again. The register again beeped angrily and notified them both that the item could not be found.
Cynthia looked to Ralph and asked, “Are you certain this shirt was purchased at Wal-Mart?”
That was the last straw for Ralph. He had reached the end of his rope and the fuse had been lit. “It’s a Wrangler shirt, for fuck’s sake!” Ralph exploded.
Cynthia was taken aback. “I, I’m sorry, sir,” she stammered, “but the register does not recognize the UPC code. Kmart sells Wrangler, t-”
“It came from fucking Wal-Mart!” Ralph roared. “Not from Kmart. Wal-Mart!”
Despite Ralph’s hysterics, Cynthia was able to maintain her calm. “Okay, sir, I’m going to need you to calm down please. I am not required to assist you if you insist on speaking to me like that.”
“The fuck you won’t!” Ralph continued to rage, “All I want is to return this fucking shirt and to get the f-”
Ralph was suddenly lifted bodily from the ground. Two arms had snaked around him from behind and plucked him from the floor. His momentum quickly changed as he abruptly started headed rapidly toward the floor.
Ralph was thrown down forcefully onto his left side. He attempted to brace his fall with his left hand, but was not able to raise it fast enough. Instead, Ralph slammed into the concrete floor shoulder first, snapping his clavicle. His head then struck the ground violently. Ralph lost consciousness momentarily.
When he looked up towards his attacker through dizzy eyes, what he saw befuddled him even in his semi-conscious state. Amid the clouds in his vision, he saw a man standing over him dressed in a blue jumpsuit with a black terry towel tied around his neck. The man wore a dirty hockey mask, concealing his face.
Confused beyond comprehension, Ralph just laid there, writhing in pain.
CYNTHIA GASPED AUDIBLY WHEN SHE as she witnessed the ill-dressed man hoist her irate customer easily and heave him brutally to the floor. She overcame her shock quickly, though, and demanded the man, if he could be referred to as such, explain himself.
“What did you do that for?” she queried, aghast.
“For you, madam,” the perpetrator responded in a regal tone. “I could no longer sit idly by and watch this contemptible buffoon affront you any longer.” He then lifted both hands up and held them out in a noncommittal gesture. “Your thanks are not required, m’lady. I was merely doing my duty,” he announced while bowing deeply.
“This is not okay!” Cynthia exclaimed loudly, suddenly infuriated. “You can’t just assault people because they’re meanies!” Cynthia could not recall being so angry before.
“But, but,” the ill-dressed sputtered, confusion evident in his voice.
“No!” Cynthia screamed while simultaneously pulling her cell phone from her pocket. “I’m calling the police!”
By now, a massive crowd had gathered around the scene while Ralph lay on the ground groaning and holding his head with his uninjured arm as if he were combating a migraine.
“You ignorant fool!” the man in the blue jumpsuit spat through his grimy hockey mask, “I am Miraculous Man! Protector of my customer service brethren everywhere! If you report me to the police you will be branded a traitor to the cause!”
By the time Miraculous Man had finished his rant, a 911 dispatcher had answered Cynthia’s call.
“911. What’s your emergency?” the operator droned.
Cynthia had barely begun to report Miraculous Man’s assault of Ralph before Miraculous Man unleashed a fiery verbal barrage.
“Idiot! Imbeciles like you perpetuate the abuse our customer service brethren endure! Judas! Heretic!” Miraculous Man paused to catch his breath before continuing. “Shall I assist this fool to his feet so he can continue to berate you?” Miraculous Man inquired whilst gesturing to Ralph, who was still laying on the floor dazed and confused.
“Uh..” was all that could escape from Cynthia’s mouth before Miraculous Man’s verbal onslaught resumed.
“If you wish to continue to be walked upon and mistreated that is your choice. Dunce! There are plenty of others who would love to be rescued in such a fashion. I take my leave of you! Traif!”
His tirade complete, Miraculous Man spun and strode away with his head held high. Cynthia, and most everyone else in her peripheral vision, simply stared as he walked away, not sure what else to do.
Eventually, Cynthia turned her attention back to her phone, when the cries of the 911 operator finally penetrated her stupor.”Ma’am? Ma’am? Ma’am?!?!”
“I’m here, “Cynthia answered. “He just left.”
Cynthia finished describing Miraculous Man’s ridiculous attire, and recounted everything that had happened. Eventually, the police and paramedics would show up to take statements and to tend to Ralph. Ralph would apologize to Cynthia before he left, explaining that he simply had a bad day and had taken it out on her. He even spoke to Cynthia’s manager and commended Cynthia for the way she handled the situation.
Cynthia couldn’t escape the feeling that her entire day had been a dream. It wasn’t of course, but she had at least gained an idea for her upcoming English project!