It was bound to happen.
“Are you all set?” I asked the older lady who approached my counter.
She answered quietly and indecipherably.
Considering her reply a confirmation to my question, I searched for the bar codes on her two items and quickly scanned them in.
Her fist hit the counter.
“DID YOU EVEN LISTEN TO WHAT I SAID?!?!?” she screeched at me.
“N-no…I guess not – what did you say?” I asked her.
“I asked if I could borrow a pen.”
“Oh, that’s no problem,” I said and tossed the pen on the counter near where she had placed her checkbook. “It’s just that you muttered and I did not hear you.”
She gaped at me.
“Oh! I muttered?!?”
(Oh, this’ll be good, I thought.)
She continued, “I find that to be an insulting term. ‘Mutter’ is not a nice word to use when describing somebody! I’d like to speak to a manager about this!”
The manager appeared and sided with me, then commenced escorting her out the door. Instead of leaving, she made a beeline for the wheelchair near the door, plopped down in it, crossed her arms and pouted.
We ended up calling the police and finally – FINALLY – she left before they arrived, but not without taking down the manager’s name, the store’s phone number and a comment card to fill out.
The next day, her car appeared in the parking lot again. The store phone rang and she asked if she was allowed in to speak with the manager. (“I was evicted from your store last night,” she said.)
She started crying. I was dubbed “The Terrible Freckled Girl,” my coworker, “The Horrible Girl At The Counter,” and she now doesn’t like the boy she used to think was nice because he defended The Terrible Freckled Girl.
Needless to say, my eyes were opened wider this summer. I got a taste of the world and found that not everybody is nice and pleasant. Some people are notoriously cranky, some are always nice and others barely even acknowledge anyone’s existence.
I learned two very important things while working in retail:
- From now on I will be – and have been – very cordial with cashiers and those on the floor at all stores. Nobody wants to feel like a leper.
- Sometimes the money you make per hour is not enough to cover the stress people will cause you while you’re working.
Every customer after the aforementioned lady seemed like an angel. Sometimes it takes something bad to help you appreciate the good.