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Polite Behavior Gerry Hine

Polite Behavior

Gerry Hine

4 pages
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Polite BehaviorJingle jingle the front door fluted as a dark shape momentarily filled the glass and then vanished within the storefront. I moved silently towards the front of the building placing my equipment on the floor under the rack ofMorePolite BehaviorJingle jingle the front door fluted as a dark shape momentarily filled the glass and then vanished within the storefront. I moved silently towards the front of the building placing my equipment on the floor under the rack of aquariums. Dieter my dog obediently followed me. I came to the end of the rack on the north side of the building. I choose this path so that I would not appear right next to the person who had entered. I did not want to startle anyone. I had a moment to observe the man in the Peanut brittle colored trench coat before approaching. A tall man with head pulled down to his shoulders turtle style stood looking at one of the end cap display tanks. Rumpled thin nylon slacks and grubby black running shoes anchored him to the floor. I had a sense that a strong breeze would knock this guy down. As I approached, he moved away without looking my way. By his movements, I knew he was aware of me but did not want to engage with me at this point. I get many customers that behave this way so I went to the front of the shop and started fiddling with the pond in the front window. I wanted to be in view in case any inquiry can from the man but also wanted to keep on with some task at hand. As I worked, I noticed that the man had huge ears that looked crusty. Along with greasy bedraggled hair hanging over his glasses the impression of homelessness grew even stronger. Dieter walked over to him and started sniffing at his heels. When he lifted his nose to the coat and started to poke at his backside, I came over out of embarrassment to tell Dieter to move away. The trench-coated man muttered something about not minding the dog and again moved away looking at fish tanks. At this closer inspection, I noticed a fanny pack around the belly. Most people wear that kind of thing with the pouch over their behind not in front. The man kept fingering the pouch as he looked at fish mumbling quiet words to himself. I took no mind and again moved away. Dieter went right back to the guy and again started sniffing his legs and back side in a most forward manner. I could see this was beginning to cause discomfort to the man so I went to him again, took Dieter by the collar, and brought him into the backroom. Dieter did not want to go and gave a soft growl as I lead him away.Dieter and I are close and feed off each other’s vibes. With this behavior, my radar was up and I called my neighbor John from the Piano store to drop in and back me up before approaching the shopper again. John entered shortly after and announced that he was stopping in to visit. He expressed in a circuitous way that he dropped by unannounced often through the day so that by-standers would know that we two were good friends that looked in on each other often throughout the day. Inside I felt renewed warmth from this display. After more time passed with the customer moving into the back of the store I again approached to discuss general fish topics to draw the man out and find out if there were any fish related questions I could answer. The man spoke quietly replying that he was new to this store and wanted to look around. As he spoke he kept his eyes averted and constantly fingered his fanny pouch. All this time Dieter, in the backroom, was barking. John and I went back to talk to the dog and calm him down. Once he was quiet, I let him back into the showroom. Like a bee to a flower, Dieter went straight back to the guy’s coat and started sniffing him again. Now I was really wondering what was going on. John said to me that it would be a good idea to get Dieter away and get the guy out as soon as possible. John knows the relationship between my dog and me so he told me to go into the Piano store and mind that while he waited on the customer. I took the dog along with me, more to protect the man than for any other reason. It was another ten minutes before Dieter let me know that the person in the trench coat was leaving the fish store. We went back in after we watched Mr. Coat pull away in his dilapidated sedan. John explained that he tried to engage the person in conversation about pianos and then hobbies in general but could get no more than three words in a sentence as a reply. He went on to say the guy’s skin looked sallow and that any part of skin he saw seemed to be dry and flaky. It made his skin crawl. We spent the rest of the week wondering about the quiet trench coat wearing man and Dieters reaction to him. It wasn’t until a few months later that John and I learned the truth about him. It seems that Dieter knew all along.