Smile Like You Mean It: My Life As “Fish Person”

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a seasonal volunteer for a CSF (community-supported fishery); on Thursdays from 4 to 6, at a location in Durham, I distribute seafood to shareholders/customers in exchange for a couple of pounds of seafood.

People greet me with “Hey, Fish Person!” Some would be offended by this, but mostly I am relieved that they don’t know (or care about) my actual name. That’s personal and we’re not friends.

Half of them complain that 4-6 pm is too early; the other half complain that 4-6 pm is too late. And one Super-Special Shining Star* grumbled, “You know, this really isn’t a very convenient location.” I explained about the other four pick-up locations in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Raleigh, and Boone (!), to which S4 replied, “Those aren’t convenient either.”

I was tempted to ask “Where the f*ck do you live then?” and also to suggest, “Maybe, if you want fresh fish so badly, you should move closer to the ocean.”

But to all of the aforementioned, I just shrugged and said “Sorry, I don’t have any control over that.” Which is true. I’m a volunteer; I am NOT the Decider. Like most people with a part-time gig, I just show up on time at the venue and do exactly what’s on the list.

Besides, these folks aren’t engaging in retail-level shenanigans, which is the gold standard by which all shenanigans should be measured.

On the other hand, I’m conflicted — I don’t really miss the abuse (or the wage theft or the sexual harassment or the million other little insults to human dignity), but at the same time I listen to mild examples of customer dissatisfaction and think, “Really? THIS is your A-game?”

Where’s all the spitting tobacco juice on my clean floor 10 minutes before closing? Where’s the brandishing of six-inch serrated knives by morons who can’t or won’t understand that sales tax gets added to things that are sold and that’s why $29.99 really means $31.79 (or thereabouts)? Where are all the weirdos who insist that there’s an intermediate size of battery between C and D** and also that “the power system” goes up to double-G (like bras, I guess?)

It’s not that I miss this nonsense; it’s more that I worry I’ve lost my edge when it comes to tearing the public new ones. I need to practice, somehow, somewhere…



*Who, tho’ I know I shouldn’t generalize, probably went to Quaker School followed by a stint at a lesser liberal arts college before essentially retiring at the age of 24.
**Turns out the customer was thinking of 9-volt, which isn’t true, but whatever.

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