It’s My First Time Working Late Nights at a Convenience Store, and If I Keep Getting Demon Lords, Kappa and Other Oddballs as Customers, I’m Giving My Two-Weeks’ Notice
This is my twenty-seventh convenience store graveyard shift.
“Welcome, irasshaim-... Ah! Irasshaimase!”
Startled, I can’t help but call out the greeting a second time.
You want to know why? Because a real, live, regular human being has finally walked through those doors.
“My goodness! The door opens all on its own! Why, it’s just like magic!”
An absolutely gorgeous young woman rolls into the store, sitting in a wheelchair. Her pink hair flows out in waves from the white, floppy, wide-brimmed hat that compliments the floor-length white dress that obscures her feet. I swear, she could be a movie star.
...Most people don’t make such a big deal of the automatic door, though. Still, she seems human enough.
Who cares? The evening that I get an actual person as a paying customer has arrived!!
The gentleman pushing the wheelchair is wearing a black suit with sunglasses. Is she famous or something? And he’s like, her bodyguard?
The young woman claps her hands together excitedly as she bathes in her surroundings.
“Oh! Oh my, my, my! So, this is a human convenience store! How splendid!”
Okay, that line makes me do a double take. I squint, staring a little harder at the new arrivals.
Now that I’m really looking at her, I can see what looks like gills poking out from beneath her ears. Hang on, and isn’t the guy behind her kind of...shiny? I mean, no one’s face glistens that much.
Don’t tell me... Tonight’s guests aren’t my long awaited first human customers, are they?
“Well, now! You must be this store’s overseer. We shall be in your care this evening.”
The young woman gives me a graceful bow, while her bodyguard offers a deep, respectful nod. I can’t help but reply to their elegant manners with a...
“Oh, uh, the pleasure’s all mine.”
Coupled with a decently polite bob of my head.
...What’s gotten into me?! “The pleasure’s all mine”?! I’ve NEVER said anything that flowery before!!
“Goodness, there’s so much to see here! It’s thrilling, isn’t it, Umibozu? Hurry, let’s do a lap!”
“Right away, Miss Mermaid Princess!”
Uh, “mermaid princess”?! ...Like the one from that super-famous fairy tale? ...She was a princess, right? And she bothered to come up on land to visit a convenience store?! Nah. No way. That can’t be possible. ...Can it?
With an energetic pump of their fists in the air, the fishy-looking pair start their grand tour. They’re so into it that I can’t help but smile.
“Umibozu, what do you think this might be?”
Wait, did I hear that right? Did she just call him “Umibozu”?
Isn’t that the name of some kind of legendary sea monster?!
“Hm, let’s see... This is... I’m not certain. I’ll ask the gentleman behind the counter.”
Umibozu inches a little closer to the register, as he tentatively calls out to me.
“Excuse me, sir? There’s something we were hoping to ask you about.”
“Sure, what seems to be the trouble?”
With a polite grin, I leisurely make my way over to the bubbly duo.
It’s what the mermaid princess is holding, though, that stops me dead in my tracks.
“Something the matter?”
I wobble, my vision swimming, which prompts the concerned question from the bodyguard.
“Oh. Um. I’m fine. It’s just, uh...”
“My! That was fast! Mr. Human, what might this be? Strangely enough, it doesn’t seem to want to open.”
That’s because what she’s holding is porn. Ignoring the mermaid princess’ attempts to remove the plastic ties protecting the lewd magazine from prying eyes, I focus every fiber of my being into figuring out how to explain porn to the two innocent customers. Actually, wouldn’t it be better if they stayed blissfully ignorant of the subject material? Should I just...come up with some kind of white lie?... Oh, hell! How should I know?!
“Uh...! It’s, um, y’know. THAT. It’s only meant for adults. Unless the book recognizes that you’re, uh, a certain age, that band around it won’t even budge.”
“You don’t say! And after all that fuss I went through to get the Sea Witch to turn me into a human! ...Then again, I suppose that doesn’t make me a proper human adult. Well! It must be aware that I’m not the genuine article.”
The mermaid princess slumps slightly in defeat, so Umibozu offers his assistance.
“Miss, allow me. It might acknowledge me as a human adult.”
He takes the sealed magazine in his hands, turning it this way and that, inspecting it from every possible angle. As I watch him tug on the plastic band, I feel a twinge of guilt.
“No, it’s no use. Then again, that’s no surprise. I was, after all, one of the massive black monsters of the depths... That is, until I became a being of flesh and blood, thanks to the Sea Witch’s powers. This is quite the impressive artifact, if it can discern that neither one of us is a fully human adult.”
It’s...really not that all-knowing. I’m so sorry. It’s just your everyday, run-of-the-mill, R-rated magazine.
“Are you feeling well, sir? You’ve hidden your face in your hands.”
“No, it’s... Never mind, it’s nothing.”
I don’t know what to say anymore.
Still, I wasn’t going to be the one to introduce these two naïve convenience store newbies to the seedy world of adult entertainment.
“Thank you for your assistance. Should we have any other inquiries, we shall be sure to ask! Tee hee!”
Grinning from gill to gill, the princess and her bodyguard restart their circuit with the same vibrant energy as before.
Meanwhile, I drift back to the register, still keeping an eye on them.
“Could it be?! Are these...the instant noodles that I’ve heard so much about?! Oh, my word...! They’re so very light! And listen to the sound they make when you shake them!”
“Miss, they even have extra-large ones!”
I watch as the mermaid princess excitedly inspects the instant noodle cups one by one. Sure, there are a few people who’ve never set foot in a convenience store before, but I doubt any of them would race around with such unbridled glee.
I know I should probably warn them about manhandling the merchandise, but I’ve never seen anyone have that much fun with a container of cheap noodles. So, I let it slide.
“Goodness me! Look at all of the sweets! This must be what they call ‘penny candy’! Oh, these ones only cost ten yen a piece!”
“Now miss, don’t go opening any items before you pay for them.”
“Oh, you silly! Even I know that much! But, isn’t this convenience store just the most amusing little place? It’s like something from a dream!”
Clasping her hands together in a kind of awed reverence, they turn down the last aisle, towards the ready-made food section.
“Umibozu! Look! It even tells you to ‘please enjoy warm.’ Isn’t that thoughtful? And it’s been so thoroughly sealed, too!”
“It’s quite something. Since we’ve come all this way, why don’t we dine on one of these warm meals?”
After some discussion, the pair settle on the seafood pasta and bring it up to the register.
“Can I heat these up for you?”
The mermaid princess’ eyes are sparkling in anticipation, and I wonder why I even bothered to ask.
“Yes, please! That’s what that box behind you is for, is it not?”
While the microwave works its magic, she gets distracted by the food in the display case on the counter.
“Now, what might those round, white objects be?”
“These? They’re meat buns. It’s basically bread stuffed with meat.”
That’s a pretty lame description, but it’s all I’ve got.
There’s no way that explanation would compel anyone to eat one, but...
“Well, isn’t that clever! Shall we try some of these as well, Umibozu? In honor of the occasion.”
“Certainly, miss. I’m interested in them, myself.”
Their eagerness to try pretty much everything — despite my crummy explanations — makes me feel a little better.
“Two meat buns, coming right up.”
We’ve got a few different flavors here, but our best seller is the classic pork bun.
I didn’t really get into it, but we’ve got buns stuffed with sweet red bean paste, buns stuffed with cheese — there’s all kinds. But, I figure it’s best to just keep things simple and sell them one of the meat-filled ones that I’d mentioned.
I add in the cost of the extra snacks, and they actually pay in actual money. Since his hands are currently occupied, I place Umibozu’s share in the plastic bag that I hand over to the mermaid princess.
“Oh! It’s warm! See! They’re so soft and fluffy! How lovely!”
The mermaid princess presses her hands to her cheeks as she gushes over the meat buns.
I’ve never seen anyone be so moved by these basic balls of bread. But, I kind of get it.
When their pasta finishes warming up, I put it in a bag with a couple of disposable forks, which I pass to the excited pair.
“Thank you for everything, Mr. Human. This was a most enjoyable outing!”
“Your assistance was greatly appreciated.”
Wow, they even bothered to compliment the service.
...I think I might cry. I haven’t gotten customers as kind-hearted as these guys before.
But, when they go to leave the store...
“Oh, wait! I simply must take a closer look at this!”
The mermaid princess pauses, captivated by the coffee maker that we have sitting near the entrance.
“Excuse me! What manner of machine might this be?”
“It’s a coffee maker. It makes drinks like, uh...coffee.”
Oh my god, could I be failing any harder at describing stuff today?! Seriously, though — I don’t know what else to say about the thing! Gah, I wasted too many brain cells on whether or not to tell them what porn was!
“An object such as this makes beverages? Why, I never would have guessed! It doesn’t appear to be attached to any sort of faucet, either... Umibozu, let’s try this as well!”
“I’m also intrigued by it. Should we purchase one?”
I get the feeling that this guy’s packing a fair bit of cash on him. And he’s got a swanky wallet, to boot.
But, I’m a little concerned. They don’t actually want to buy the whole thing, do they? I wouldn’t put it past them. I could tell them it’s ten thousand yen a drink and they’d probably believe me.
“Oh, right. I should explain. I called it a coffee maker, but you’ve got a few options. If you’re not big on bitter things, you might want to try the matcha au lait instead.”
They pay for two drinks, carefully placing the empty cups on the little pedestal before pushing the button. The machine gurgles, then a pale green liquid starts to stream from the nozzle as the soothing scent of matcha au lait fills the air.
The mermaid princess is completely enthralled by the entire process, unable to tear her glittering eyes away from the paper cup.
“...Oh, look! It’s working! What a fantastic piece of equipment! It must have been designed by the gods! It’s simply divine!”
Umibozu nods in agreement, offering further praise for convenience stores.
“With a machine like this, you would be able to have whatever drink you desired, at any hour of the day. Isn’t that something! Convenience stores must be held in high regard, to be entrusted with such futuristic technology.”
Then, when they finally get around to actually drinking their matcha au lait...
“Oh my goodness! I’ve never had a beverage as tasty at this before!”
“It’s marvelous that such a delicious treat appears at the simple push of a button! If we hadn’t ventured out of the ocean, then I never would have known that such a spectacular item exists!”
It’s so nice to listen to them heartily appreciating their drinks.
“Once again, you have our thanks, Mr. Human. To tell the truth... I happen to be a mermaid princess, while my companion is a sea monster. We were both desperate to get a glimpse of this world, so we asked the Sea Witch to grant us these forms. Although, if we do not return before the sun rises, the terms of our agreement state that we will be turned into sea foam.”
Those are...some decently high stakes.
“We’ll only be human from midnight through to when the sun rises. Though sadly, there aren’t many establishments you can visit during those hours. We were introduced to convenience stores in a book about stores that are open all night long, so we rushed straight over! It’s such a wonderfully thrilling place! Thank you so much for having us.”
“Thank you, good sir. We only have a short time to spend here, but every moment has been enjoyable. You’ve made our princess’ evening. I trust that you will continue to watch over this precious establishment with the same care and dedication that you have shown here tonight.”
With big waves and even bigger smiles, the two ocean dwellers take their leave.
Those two were such a joy to have in the store that I’m genuinely sad to see them go. I really do hope they come back again sometime.
I’ll bet they’d love the piping hot oden that we offer in the wintertime. Just thinking about their potential reactions makes me chuckle.