The Miracle of Winn-Dixie: A Series, Pt. 6

Ah, here we are. The final part in the six-part series about my days at the Allandale Winn-Dixie. It’s been pretty fun reminiscing about my first “real” job as a teenager and it’s brought up several memories I thought I’d forgotten.

I left Winn-Dixie about 6-8 months after I started, perfect timing for me to pick up my lawn-mowing business in the summer again. I was told early on to never ask for time off and in my last month I made the mistake of asking for some so that I could go on tour with my high school’s drama team (I was on the tech team). I found out that even though I was asking for time off to do something school-related, my coworkers knew that asking for time off would result in me never getting scheduled again. And they were right. For the next two weeks I’d only get scheduled for one, maybe two, four-hour shifts. They even hired a second evening-shift bag boy. I put my two-week notice in and never looked back.

But that’s not where this saga ends. No, I have to tell you about the Man with No Nose.

He was a man. And he didn’t have a nose.

As stated before, we were next door to some housing projects that acted as home base for some real characters. The Man with No Nose was one of said characters. I don’t know what happened to the poor gentleman. He was older — I’d guess he was in his 70s — looked a lot like a malnourished Oak Ridge Boy and, of course, he was missing a nose. He had a bandage wrapped around his face and the only thing separating his enlarged, always-surprised eyes and his mouth that was permanently hinged open was a void; a sunken portion of his bandage.

He always came in with who I can only assume was his daughter. She did the shopping and communicating for him because he also couldn’t speak. He wasn’t deaf or mute, he just lacked the ability to form words. Not sure if it had anything to do with his condition or what, but he was a weekly visitor to my store.

And then the day came when his daughter wasn’t there. Maybe she was at work, maybe they were fighting, maybe he just snuck out or maybe he was lost … either way, he shuffled into my store and came up to — of all people — me, the bag boy.

He approached me and began murmuring, growling and making other incoherent noises. Thinking maybe I just didn’t hear him correctly, I asked him to repeat. So he did, more of the same. In a panic and not knowing what exactly to do, I said “Let me find someone who can help you,” and I went over to the only other person on the floor with me: my cashier and friend from middle school, Dana.

Me: Dana, can you help this gentleman?

Dana: Sure! Yes sir, what can I do for you?

The Nose: aarrrrrbbuuuffghhhhrrrrmmmnphtthahhhhhaannananana

Dana [with wide eyes]: … can you repeat that?

After he repeated his same unintelligible monologue, Dana used the same phrase I did on him: “Let me find someone who can help you.”

She went to the office and pulled out a manager who had — no shit — the exact same conversation with the man, only instead of finding a fourth person to help him, he suggested the man write down what he needed and said manager would help him find it. BRILLIANT. There’s a reason this man was a manager and I was a bag boy!

Armed with a notepad and a pen, our manager went off into the vast grocery with the Man with No Nose. They were gone about 10 minutes before our manager returned … alone.

Dana: Hey so … Where’s the man?

Manager: Hell if I know. I couldn’t figure out what the fuck he wanted.

Our manager went back to the office and closed the door. The last I saw, the man was wandering around aimlessly in the dairy section. I never saw him leave that day.

I like to think that he found his way to our break room where he ate the rock-hard and moldy pizza before drinking from the meat department’s water hose and bursting out the back door. Now he’s just walking … he’s walking … he’s walking down the street.

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