The Rap

Damon Runyon

DEAR SIR last night my wife Ethel and I went into a drug store because I wanted to buy some razor blades and there was a couple of clerks talking to each other back of the counter but they did not pay any attention to me so I rapped on the show case with my knuckles and Ethel ses why Joe I didn’t know you was one of those?

I ses one of those what Ethel? She ses a counter rapper. That is a terrible thing to be. I ses why I was just trying to attract the attention of one of those fellows so he would come and wait on me. I ses those two guys are standing back there chewing the fat and not giving me a tumble and I wanted to let them know I was here.

Ethel ses O they know you are here all right Joe and one of them will come and wait on you as soon as he can. I ses well both of them are taking a long time about it and Ethel ses how long? I ses about ten minutes thats how long and she ses why Joe Turp we have not been in here three minutes and what is all the hurry about anyway? Don’t you know that millions of people are killed in this country every year in automobile accidents just because they are in a hurry?

I ses Ethel in the first place its not millions. I ses its only a few hundred thousand and besides that has got nothing to do with this situation. I ses I come in here to buy something and I am entitled to attention instead of having those guys stand back there gabbing together. Ethel ses well Joe maybe they are talking over something important that has just come up and besides thats no excuse for you to be a counter rapper. Have you always been a counter rapper Joe?

I ses see here Ethel whats the use of making all this fuss about me tapping a little to attract one of those guys attention? She ses that wasn’t a little tapping Joe. That was a regular counter rapping. Its worse than being a whistler at clerks or a cougher. When I was working in that department store I hated counter rappers more than I did any other kind. I hated them more than I did the ones that tugged at my sleeve or tapped me on the shoulder.

I ses well how did you expect them to attract your attention if you didn’t notice them Ethel? She ses why they could say I beg your pardon Miss or good afternoon or something polite and I would notice them right away and hurry to them as soon as I could. Joe clerks don’t keep customers waiting on purpose because they know they have to wait on them sooner or later. I ses well it looks like I am being kept waiting on purpose here and Ethel ses Joe did I ever tell you what I did to a counter rapper?

I ses no and I guess it will wait until we get home beautiful. She ses well I was getting down a big bolt of cloth one day when he came up to the counter behind me and rapped and I turned all of a sudden but hard as if he had startled me and with the bolt of cloth held so it would sweep across the counter and it hit him alongside the head and made him see stars. But I didn’t know it was the boss Joe and I lost my job. I am glad I didn’t know you was a counter rapper before I married you or maybe I would have refused you.

I ses lets get out of here and go to some other store and Ethel ses no Joe you must learn to be patient and remember what I told you about the millions of people who are killed in automobile accidents because they are in a hurry and just then one of the clerks came up and ses I am terribly sorry to keep you waiting but my associates wife just telephoned him that their baby has the colic and I was telling him what to tell her to do.

Ethel ses why if I had known that I would have told him something my Moms used to do and the clerk said well lady I have three kids of my own so I have had some experience and they stood there talking until finally I rapped on the counter again and Ethel ses Joe you know what I told you about a counter rapper. I ses Ethel I wasn’t rapping for the clerk this time. I was rapping for you.

Yours truly