Don't judge. I cannot help it that Old Navy Joe is a.) adorable, b.) funny, and c.) constantly working whenever I go in to shop. It's not like Shelby and I stop in just to see if he is there...often. And it's not like we scan the aisles once we walk inside, just to see if we need something off of the shelf that he is stocking...every time. Besides, it's common to recognize people who work in a store if you go in there often enough, right? I mean, I worked at a grocery store for two years, and I definitely knew our regulars by name, business or organization, and buying habits -- it doesn't make me creepy, it makes me OBSERVANT.
The key is to be subtle. Now, I know what you are thinking -- "Carly? Subtle? Right." Ah, but you underestimate me. Let's not forget, I am an actress. Can I pull the coy, "I think I know you from somewhere..." card? Of course. Do people like Old Navy Joe realize that I recognize them and, in fact, giggle about their cuteness with my sister as I walk out the door? Absolutely not.
Unless, of course, my mother is with me.
Although Julie has taught me many wonderful and valuable things ["Carly, you can change a man's clothes, but you can never change a man."], I must have learned the art of inconspicuousness on my own. Mom knows all about Old Navy Joe from Shelby and I, so when we were shopping a few weeks ago and he was the cashier, she rolled her eyes at my little smile. "He's not even cute," she said.
"Mother!" I gasped in horror.
"Well, I mean, I guess he's sort of cute in a not cute way?" she offered. I shook my head. Poor, sad woman, she can't even recognize completely adorable when it's standing right in front of her anymore.
Old Navy Joe looked bored at the register. There was quite a line building up, and he just sort of looked at us all like, "Really?" He had a Speedracer shirt on, a nametag that said "Amanda" [see? He has a great sense of humor!!], and his thick, dark hair was spiky and faux-hauky. My mom was crazy for not finding him cute. As we got to the front of the line, Jewels went first and put her stuff on the counter. Old Navy Joe gave her an upwards nod. "What's up." He said as way of greeting. Mom smiled and looked at his shirt.
"Do you really like Speedracer?" she asked him in an accusing tone. "Or are you just being trendy?"
"Uh, it's just kinda trendy," he said lazily. "You know, it's kind of my style." Mom laughed.
"Oh, okay, Amanda. Mandy. A-MAN-DUH!" She said. A normal daughter would be mortified by such actions, but really? I'm used to it. Old Navy Joe, however, was not.
"Why you gotta be makin' fun of my name?" he asked, grinning.
"Oh, I don't have a problem with the name Joe," she said. My heart stopped and I looked at her wildly. Old Navy Joe got a confused look on his face. He wasn't wearing his own nametag -- we weren't supposed to KNOW his real name!! I had to turn around and try to compose myself so that I didn't start to die laughing and look like an idiot, but Mom didn't get the hint. Oh no, she just kept right on going: "I really like the name, actually," she said. "If my fourth kid was a girl, I was going to name her Emme Joe...but I got a boy, and his name is Taylor instead."
"Did you know my name is Joe?" he asked with an extremely weirded out look on his face. Clearly not understanding the fact that it isn't normal for non-regular customers to just know a salesperson's name off the top of her head, Mom nodded.
"Uh-huh," she said.
"How...how did you know my name?" he asked. Mom finally began to see why I was hiding behind her, trying desperately to compose myself. She faltered.
"Oh, she's psychic!" I blurted out, before I could even think. Now Old Navy Joe looked at me strangely, but not for long.
"Yeah!" Mom agreed. "I have my own hotline and everything." At this point, I telepathically willed my mother to never speak again.
Through this whole episode, Old Navy Joe got more and more confused -- you could the his brain working overtime, trying to figure out how in the world we knew him. "I was gonna say..." he sort of stuttered, unsure of WHAT to say to the crazy, supposedly psychic woman in front of him. "That would be weird...."
Then it hit him. Thank God another employee had walked past the register a few minutes earlier, while Mom and I were still waiting in line. He had waved and said, "Have a good night, Joe!" as he left for the day. Light spilled across his face as he remembered this.
"Oooh -- you heard Kyle say my name! That's how you knew!" he said, triumphant and, I dare to say, relieved. Mom, of course, wasn't really paying attention and as she opened her mouth to say something, I cut it.
"That's it! That's right. That's how she knew!" *fake, nervous laugh* Mom closed her mouth and smiled and nodded, and I shooed her out of the way as quickly as possible so that I could make my purchases and we could leave.
Now, OF COURSE, this is the day when Old Navy Joe actually flirts with me. Since I protected him from my crazy [albeit endearing] mother, he probably felt like he owed me his life. Who can blame him, really? But since the offending party was standing mere feet away, watching the entire transaction with bemused sort of look on her face, it was very rushed and limited. He smiled at me sweetly as I walked out the door, at which point I burst out laughing and immediately called my sister to tell her how our mother had nearly blown our cover with our beloved Old Navy Joe.
Small point of interest: a few weeks after the whole escapade, I was hanging up the shirt that I bought that night, and a little tag along the neckline caught my eye. I held it closer to read what it said, and my mouth dropped open. Old Navy Maternity: Small.
SO, hopefully my future boyfriend didn't notice the fact that I inadvertantly bought a maternity shirt [it's the empire waist that is so popular right now! It was mingled in with everything else on a sales rack!! It's just a black top!!] and think that I'm pregnant with a baby psychic stalker and crazy mother to go with it. Somehow I just don't really think that such an image leads to a second date...or any date, now that I think of it.