Since tomorrow is July 11, or “7-11”, I thought I’d share with you my story about a real life “APU” that I worked for in my very short stint as a “7-11/Quickie Mart employee”.
One of my favorite characters on “The Simpson’s” is “Apu”, the manager of the “Quickie mart”(The “7-11”) One reason for this is that I WORKED in a “7-11” for a man very much like “Apu” named “Mr Lailani”, who was also, like Apu, of Indian descent.
The story begins waaaay back in 19 “va va voom” when I lived in San Jose. I had just gotten a job at a 7/11 working as a clerk and assistant. The manager of the store,”Lailani” (Pronounced “LayyyyyyLannee”) was quite a character, as was his wife, as you will soon see.
Now for some reason ‘Lailani” (Who talked exactly like “Apu” from “The Simpsons”)was always convinced that I was “Stealing his candies!!” The communication between us would often go something like this:
“Bliiiiyan!! Bliyaaan! Where are you? I need you out here Bliyan. We have customers out here, pleeeeease come here,THANK YOUUUUU.”
Usually when he would yell at me I would already be doing “sidework” that he had asked me to do—–but when customers came in,he would conveniently forget that, and yell at me like I was loafing around. (My job description = “schlepp boy”)
After I had dropped what I was doing and taken care of the customers,”Lailani” would look at me and claim I had been “stealing his candies.”
“I know you Bliyaannnn!!” He would say with a grin waving his finger at me.
“You are stealing my candies”
Now I have never been a fan of candy,and Lailani never said this to me with any real malice,so it was hard to tell if this was his idea of a joke, or if he just wanted me to know that he was watching me and that “I better not try to steal anything from him”.Regardless,it was a constant refrain I heard dozens of times in the short time I worked there.
Another one of his favorite lines to me was:
“Bliyan—When you are done working— you will go to the disco ehh? I know you Bliyaaan. You are going to the disco and dancing with the ladies eh? Heh heh.”
( I also found this particularly humorous as “discos” had been out of fashion for years,not to mention that I wasn’t old enough to drink anyways!! )
But my funniest “remembrance” of my short experience working for 7/11 actually occurred when I had to deal with his wife.
One day I went in to the store to get my check and “Lailani’s wife” was there. I went up to her and said “Hi! I’m here for my check” .Without even looking up she said to me(In the most typical Indian accent)
“LAYYYLANNNEEEE,HE WILL COME.”
So I said “OK” and started wandering around the store attempting to “kill some time.” While I was wandering around the back of the counter,I saw that my check was hanging on a pin——RIGHT NEXT TO THE CASH REGISTER. Upon seeing my check I went back up to “Mrs. Lailani” and said:
“Excuse me—-my check is right there!! Could you just give it to me? I’m really in a hurry.” Again,w/o batting an eye,”Mrs Lailani” said in the exact same voice/volume:
“LAYYYYYLANNEEEEE——-HE WILL COME.”
As you might imagined,I was a bit annoyed. I said “But my check is right there!! That’s all I’m here for and_________”But before I could finish,She cut me off with—-you guessed it:
“LAYYYLANNNEEEEE—-HE WILL COME.”
Well,what could I do? So I waited for “Lailani he will come”.Finally about 20 minutes later “Layyylanneee” showed up all nervous and sweaty(Most likely from gorging on curry LOL) He saw me and said(In the “Original Apu voice”)
“Oh,hellllOOOOOOO Bliyan—–I know why you are here.You want your money eh?”
To which I said:
“You know,I’ve been here for 20 minutes,but your wife wouldn’t give me the check!!”
What ensued after I made this comment was the most old school “Dressing down” of a wife I have ever seen!! Seriously,it was of biblical proportions. Poor Mrs Lailani didn’t say much.Mr Lailani did all the talking (or should I say “shouting”) None of what he said was in English, so I had no idea what he said, but it wasn’t too difficult to imagine what he was saying.
What was really incredible to me was the stoic way “Mrs Lailani” took his abuse! She didn’t bat an eyelash, and nothing he said affected her mood in the least.
(In fact, she never even looked at him)
After launching into this tirade with his wife,”Lailani” then turned to me and doing the most drastic of mood changes he smiled and said:
“OK Bliyan. I am sooooo sorry to make you wait. I know you want your money so you can go to the disco eh? I KNOW YOU BLIYAN”
Well,I tried not to laugh—which wasn’t easy!! I had grown up in Spokane, Washington (one of the whitest middle sized cities in the world) so my experience with peoples from other cultures had been drastically limited,and this bizarre exchange between these two/their relationship was outside of my normal experience. I was both amused and a little bit shocked to be perfectly honest.
But to this day,whenever I watch the Simpson’s and the “Apu character” comes on,I can’t help but remember the man I briefly worked for & his wife from the 7-11 and the phrase:
“LAYYYYYYLANNNNEEEEEE—-HE WILL COME.”