A nutter was hanging out by our sale cart talking loudly to himself, doing everything in his power to warn people off aside from wearing a cartoon style I'M CRAZY, KEEP AWAY! sandwich board. For some reason a procession of co-eds kept engaging. One of them asked his name and he responded by prefacing it with "HTTP" and punctuating it with ".COM", and then nonsensically adding his phone number to the end. And still, her friends refused to flee.
Finally, having run out of agreeable co-eds, he shambled up to the counter to purchase a handful of cart filler.
He was nearly as tall as I am, with a hearty potbelly and pronounced slump to his shoulders. He had one of those plastic ID card holders on a chain around his neck, which upon closer inspection was full of receipts from Wal*Mart & Jack in the Box. Next to it hung a pair of small scissors, blades restrained by a filthy blue rubber band. Around his waist, of course, a massive, bulging fanny pack.
My role in the drama was to avoid engagement, so here is his unedited monologue with minimal interruption.
(synchronicity- as I type this, he's across the street haranguing a little old man about whether the Bulls are playing tonight or not.)
"Are these really twenty five cents? I mean, how do you tell? Really? Spin Doctors for a QUARTER? I think I have cash, let me check." He dug through his pockets, fishing out an array of reciepts, a folding knife, a broken pencil, a prodigious chunk of lint, and a pair of dice. "Did you know, the first three times I rolled these it came up SEVEN. Three times in a row! Let me...let me roll them for you and see what happens!" Ignoring my mild protestations he rolled them. "OHHHH, snake eyes! I don't believe it! I'm telling you, THREE SEVENS IN A ROW! I should roll them again and see what comes up." At which point I walked away & priced books, returning when he'd finished his explorations of random number generation. Some more grumbling and digging and he came up with $1.08 in dingy small change, I bagged his order and left the register to help a gal looking to sell us some books.
At which point he unfortunately became enamored of the small basket of magnifying glasses the boss picked up at an estate sale, priced $4 each & left on the counter as a certified NUT MAGNET.
"Oh...OH, I need one of these! What is, it looks like it needs a battery? What is that? HEY! Hey, I want to BUY ONE OF THESE! DO I NEED TO SPEAK UP?"
I wrapped up the buy and headed back into the abyss. He tried to pay with a card, but our machine doesn't handle ATMs which utterly confounded him. He dug through his sack, unearthing another trove of junk, until finally, thankfully, discovering a $5 wadded up in a dirty kleenex. I rang the sale gingerly, grabbed the hand sanitizer and headed for the back room to forestall any further grandstanding.
Further synchronicity- about two minutes the outburst noted above, he was back in front of the store and I watched him intentionally fumble a grocery bag full of junk into the path of a waitress heading to the restaurant next door, then try to talk her into helping him pick everything up. Hardened by food service, she blew him off with an "I'm busy, sorry" and kept walking.
My fear is that he's not a transient, but rather a new resident of the old folks hotel across the street.
Here's hoping he's just passing through.