Sunday, April 28, 2013

Politics and Religion, And Why Your Cashier Doesn't Want To Hear About It

   Anytime you have more than one person in the room, and the conversation turns to either politics or religion, or if you are insanely unlucky, both, there is going to be a difference of opinion. I have never come across two people that hold the same view for every aspect of political or religious debates. Not gonna happen. And since most people get all fired up and butt hurt when other people don't agree with them about every little detail, there is almost always an argument. Not saying that all of these arguments end badly, because some people do know how to be mature, sane adults, but nevertheless, arguments ensue, with good and bad endings.
  Now when you aren't at the workplace, it's okay if the person you are arguing with thinks you are the devil because you don't agree with them about foodstamps or abortion or gay marriage or public schooling or whatever the issue of the day is. But when you are at work, this is a whole different issue. Now this may surprise some of you, but between coworkers, we are not supposed to talk about about these controversial topics while on the clock. We sometimes do, but we aren't supposed to, because we aren't supposed to breed hostility in the workplace. And people get pretty fricking angry about others not agreeing with their religious and political views. And since I don't ever agree with anyone, I tend to keep my mouth shut. All I need is for some coworker to Code Red me -- a bad bad bad thing that you can get fired for -- because I vented some of my views and got pissy with someone because they got pissy with me. Plus, I do believe in respecting other's views and beliefs, and it isn't very respectful of me to be cramming what I believe down someone else's throat in a work environment. Not really fair.
   But there isn't a lot that us cashiers can do when customers come at us with political and religious views and aggressively try to force us to agree. And I could fake agreeing, but I don't really like to do that, so what I tend to do is get quiet and just look at you. Maybe you'll get a vague 'uh-huh' out of me, and many just take this as a form of agreement, but this is my way of saying 'you are batshit crazy but I can't come out and say it because I am on the clock.' That's what uh-huh means when you come through my line talking about Obama is a Muslim terrorist or that Romney wants to take away all women's rights or that I need to come to whatever your church is in order to be divinely saved because all other churches are false churches, blah-blah-blah-blah. I don't agree with any of that bullshit, and you don't want to hear my views, because in the past election, I didn't vote for either of those dudes; they were both bad choices, as far as I am concerned.  This most recent election, I wrote in my best friend's name in that place marked Other_____________. And while I believe in God, I don't really care for organized religion because every time I go listen to a mass or sermon, or whatever you want to call it, I hear a lot of hate-mongering. None of you wants to hear that shit from me though, and I oblige you by not flapping my jaw.
   Also, a cashier can't really debate with you, because if you get mad enough and go complain to the manager, which quite a few people would totally do, we can get fired over that. We aren't supposed to talk about these things on the clock, and we are not supposed to argue with customers. So any agreement you get is often coerced. Which means that really, we don't agree at all; we just want to keep on paying our bills. So in the spirit of fairness, pick a different topic to chat up your cashier with. The weather, a new recipe, your vacation plan, your kids, your college classwork, or talk about nothing at all if you'd rather. But please! Not politics and religion! I'm glad that you are into politics and religion, but if you really want to debate with me, don't do it when I am in the position where I can't debate without risking my job. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Advice -- And The People Who Give It

   In my own experience, there are two types of people who hand out advice. There are the people who give advice in response to a problem that you are facing, and don't mind if you happen not to take that advice. They are just telling you what worked for them, and it's no skin off their back if you don't take it. This is the good kind of advice givers, and the kind that I don't mind. The kind that I do mind are the ones who act like you have insulted their whole family line if you don't take the advice they give. You don't want to starve your picky eater as per their advice and would rather she eat a sandwich if she doesn't like dinner that day, and it's like you have dug up their great-great-great grandfather's grave and fornicated with the corpse. Think that's over the top??? I don't. Some of the moms that I have come across have had that attitude. Don't follow their advice, they will act like you've started WWIII, and will do their best to ruin your world. And even worse than this response to asked for advice is unsolicited advice.
   Talk about being a single mom, and you get some chick in your face talking about how your kid is going to be scarred for life because of the lack of testosterone in the home. Talk about working and needing more hours and someone tells you that they think moms working takes away from the family. Well, excuse me for not fitting the mold of the nuclear family, but never in my life have I asked for advice about whether I should get married, or whether I need to work or not. These are things that I don't need advice about. I'm not gonna hook up with the first guy I meet because you think that I need a dick in my house. And if I don't work? Well, excuse me for wanting to put a roof over my child's head, for wanting to put food in her stomach, clothes on her back, supplies for her school, shoes for her feet, insurance for her medical needs, and all the various things needed to raise a child, which makes up a rather extensive and expensive list.
   But there are some people who don't see the world that way. They have 'advice' for what your family should be, for what you should and should not do with your time, for what you should expose your kids to, for what church you should go to, for how you should dress and allow your kids to dress, and for every little item that makes you the unique person that you are, and God-forbid that you don't take that 'advice'. However, I have some news for you people, this isn't advice, this is your opinion. And regardless of your opinion, I am going to continue to live my life in the manner that I think best. This means that I am going to continue to work my little cashier job, because it pays the best and has the best insurance, and my managers work with me on the hours that I am available to work. This means that I am probably never going to get married. This means that I am going to continue to wear jeans to the ballet, and that I am going to continue to convince my daughter that Justin Bieber is the devil and that her eardrums will melt if she listens to him for longer then it takes to turn the station channel. This means that when the next Elder Scrolls game comes out, I will be buying my girl a copy. And although I will probably never succeed, I will continue trying to convince my daughter that butterflies are not better than zombies. I will decide what my daughter reads, and besides Fifty Shades of Grey, there isn't much on my banned book list. I will decided what is best for us, because I am the head of my family, not you.
   I know that there are many people out there who shake their heads at me, but while they are shaking their heads and proclaiming to the world how wrong I am, I am busy living my life, in my way, on my terms. And although I started writing this blog post feeling mighty bad and feeling pretty hurt, I don't anymore. I have a great life, a life that I've worked hard for, and continue to work hard for. I have every right to be proud of what I have accomplished. And if you don't like seeing me, in jeans, without makeup, and with messy hair, and you don't like my Skyrim-playing, Bieber-hating daughter, pass us on by. We don't like your lifestyle any more that you like ours, but we respect your right to live the way you want; return the favor. In other words: shove your advice where the sun doesn't shine, sweethearts. We're all good here. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kitchen Knives Vs. Marie

   When I lived in Florida, I worked in a store that had a fresh fruit bar, and I was the cutter. Everyday, I had to go into work, and cut up trays and trays of things like watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple, kiwi, and other fruits into bite sized pieces. In all that time, I never suffered an injury; never had the knife slip, never had an issue with witch's knives or steak knives and Easter bunnies, but since I moved to Washington, the problems have been abundant.
   Then there was yesterday - my day off - and I was calmly cutting up potatoes to make myself some baked potatoes wedges for my lunch. A day off is a day where you get to rest and rejuvenate, or if you are a working mom, frantically manage to clean the house in the morning so that you can rest in the afternoon, but I did not find myself resting. What I found myself doing was slicing deep into my thumb as I was cutting up potatoes. Then I found myself holding wads of paper towels to my thumb, and then changing that wad out after I bled through, and continuing that until I managed to get the bleeding to stop enough so I could get a band-aid on. Now, I did consider going to the ER, but for crying-out-loud, I had just cut my thumb. Deep, sure, and it had bled a lot, but extremities and head-wounds tend to bleed the most, and I could not conceive of going to the ER over a cut on my thumb. It's not like I cut the fricking thing off. So when the blood  started seeping through the band-aids, I just changed them out, proceeding to use up my daughter's supply of sparkly, blinged-out band-aids. So when I went to pick her up from school, I just stopped at the store real quick and picked up more. No big deal.
   What is a big deal: not being able to use your thumb. You never realize how much you rely on that sucker until you have to avoid using it. By the evening, the cut had stopped seeping, but anytime I touched something with my thumb the thing would throb, and even more alarming, bleed a little. Try fixing dinner without using one of your thumbs. Try putting the laundry in the dryer, with is stacked above the washer, and so tall that you have to stand on your tip-toes to reach into it. Try folding and hanging up clothes, and try doing the dishes. FYI: my clothes didn't get put away, and my dishes are sitting the sink still, and this morning I didn't make my bed. Typing is good, because instead if two thumbs resting on the space bar, I only rest one, and hold the other one up. I have to work tonight, but I think scanning will be fine as well. In any case, much like the ER, no way I'm causing a ruckus over a cut thumb. And there is no more bleeding at all, this morning I tested it by grabbing something and checking to see if there was blood. None; the band-aid was all white and alright.
   But this does lead me to the conclusion that all the knives in Washington must have some sort of conspiracy against me. I went for years without ever cutting myself; I move and BAM!!!!! The attack of the kitchen knives. Are you kidding me here? Like I don't have enough problems without the revolution of the kitchen knives on my hands. I see you, knives, I see you.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I Used To Be Sane, I Swear

   There are things that have changed drastically since I became a parent, and I know that I am not alone in this. As a parent, you often find that you are doing and saying things that you swore you would never do. Open your mouth, and the words that come out of your mouth were plagiarized from your mother. A true, "Oh my God, I'm turning into my mother" moment. And that is not the only thing. All that cool stuff you did as a teenager? All your friends who knew you back then are under a gag order when your child is anywhere within hearing distance because you do not want them copying you. Put firecrackers in the neighbor's mailbox? Don't say it around the kids, they'll want to one-up you. You morph into this spastic person who doesn't blink an eye at the insanity that is parenting; the old you is still there, but is at war with the parent you, causing some pretty insane behavior.
   An example of this is when you are with your sister's kids, and the nephew starts licking your daughter and niece's faces, so you decide the punishment must fit the crime, and lick your nephew's grubby-ass face, and then decided that licking your germaphobe sister's face would be pretty freaking awesome, which does nothing to stop the nephew from licking people, and in fact, spurs him to greater measures. You remember things like when you were a kid and used to climb onto the top of the roof and the car port, and then jump off, because why the hell not, but now you spaz-out when your daughter leans over a railing. These are all signs of your old personality and your parent personality fighting for dominance inside your brain. 
   Remember all that crap food you used to consume by the cart load? Eating spaghetti used to count as vegetables with me. There's tomatoes and stuff in that, right? Now I wage war with the kiddo, trying to convince her to eat more green stuff, because I'm convinced she doesn't eat enough veggies and her little ass is gonna get scurvy. Want a change in dinner? Try and convince the kiddo of that. By now I've eaten enough chicken that I wouldn't be surprised if I sprouted feathers and started flying, because chicken is her favorite. 
   Being a parent is watching more kiddo shows than you watched even when you were a kiddo yourself and swearing that if you ever meet a Wiggle, Barney, Teletubby, or any other similar TV character, you are going to take them DOWN, for the good of all mankind. Being a parent is when you've changed your kiddo's diaper and had the kiddo SHIT all over your hand, and the primary feeling you felt was relief because they weren't bound up anymore. When you go stand in the public bathroom line five times in thirty minutes because you are potty training your kiddo and they are in big kid undies. When you learn to like whole wheat bread because their doctor has said that your kid needs more fiber, and finding yourself actually reading the effing nutrition label to make sure the stupid whole wheat bread you are buying actually is high in fiber after you learn that some of the whole-wheat options are just white bread in disguise. Being a parent is suffering through your kids  being grounded and having privileges taken away, even though that shit is harder on you then it is on the kid, and after hearing them whine "I'm bored" and "This sucks" one more time, you want to remove your eardrums with the screwdriver, and knowing that a in your pre-parenting days, you would have thought that the shit they pulled was no big deal and might have even been impressed. Being a parent is being pulled in two by the wish that they would stay young forever and the desire for them to grow up and show the world what they are made of. 
   The truth is, that no sane, normal person can function as a parent. You have to be truly insane to be able to manage the multiple personalities waging war inside your body. You have to learn how to be firm with your kid, and discipline them and make them follow the frickin rules, but you also have to not be someone that they are afraid to talk to when they need help, and that is a hard person to be, and a person like that needs to have multiple personalities just to function. This is the truth of every parent. We may have started out as sane people, but we sure as hell aren't sane now. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Perfect You

   Raising a child is a job. Some people get upset when you refer to raising a child as a job; this is not a job, they say. This is a choice, an honor, something wonderful that is a gift. And yes, these things are true, but that does not negate the fact that raising a child is also hard work, an undertaking that you will have to commit to for the rest of your life, because even when they are grown, you will always be their mother. Age, time, independence, and them ultimately finding their own path in life does not change the fact that you are 'Mom'. This is not a job that you can retire from. You're in for life, so you had better start getting your shit together and figure out what you need to do, because from the moment you become a mom, you take responsibility for raising a part of the future.
   This brings me to my next point. Not all women should be moms. Originally, I was not going to have children, so when I say that not all women should be moms, I do not imply weaknesses or character flaws. I do not think that I was flawed when I thought I did not want children, and I still don't think that wish implied flaws or weak unwomanly traits. I just think that God knew me better than I knew myself. But I think that there is more than one purpose in life. Moms have the important role of raising the next generation, and this is a vital role, but like any other role, every person should not fill it. I do not mean that every woman should not become moms because some of them are crackheads who will leave their kids in a dumpster during a drug binge or sell them for a hit. What I mean is this; if all women decided to become doctors, there would be an imbalance, society would be thrown off kilter. Because while we need doctors, we also need scientists, teachers, businessmen, bakers, and all the other occupations. This is how we have a balanced society. Demanding that all women have children is much like demanding that everyone learn to be a doctor, or a soldier, or a politician. I make a good mom, but I would make a piss-poor doctor. We need both; both are vital to our community.
   Saying that, I also do not mean that a woman who is a mom should not have a career. Some women can fill both roles. Myself, I am a working mom, and while my job is not glamorous or prestigious, I do get satisfaction in the fact that I provide for my daughter. Nor do I mean that women should do both, some women stay home and are homemakers, and this is a hard, hard job with even less glamour and prestige than my little checking job. What I mean to say is that we need to stop trying to force ourselves into these cookie-cutter molds. Women should be homemakers; women should be mothers; women should be career oriented.; women should have kids and be homemakers and have careers and look perfect; all these roles that we have made for the 'perfect' woman are exhausting, and we get so busy judging each other and ourselves that we forget about the important things. Being happy in life, and making those who we love happy. Stop trying to fit the mold and stop judging others for not fitting the mold.. Somewhere along the road, women have become our own worst enemy. No one will judge you as harshly as another women, with the exception of yourself. We judge ourselves the most harshly of all, with no forgiveness for the things that make us unique. But the simple fact is, not one of us are cookie-cutter women. Whether you want children, or you don't, whether you want a career, or you don't, whether you want both, or just one, you are the perfect you.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Expanding Domains

   Not very long ago, my mom, sister, and I lived in the same apartment. Our move into separate apartments surprised many, but this move was needed because we lived in a three bedroom apartment. A three bedroom apartment, and my sister has two young children and I have a daughter getting all preteen and hormonal. A three bedroom apartment with three grown women who's monthly cycles never came at the same time, so that someone was always PMSing. We are extremely tight knit, but we needed space to spread out. 
My floor lamp, with black design
   So we did. And spreading out gave us some room to breathe as well as giving us free reign on the decorating. You can imagine that with three grown women, we almost never agreed on a piece of furniture. My mom likes showy pieces that are handmade or antique. She gives a lot of business to that Etsy website, a site that I never look at. Her most recent addition is a fireplace tool set that was handmade by a blacksmith, and that might be the one piece of decor that we all agree on, because now that I think of it, that is actually cool little piece. But many of her pieces are big and, though beautiful, they take up a lot of space. 
   Which leads to my own personal preferences. I like slim, space-saving pieces. My decor includes a lot of things that serve double functions. Of our apartments, mine is the smallest, and my mother has the biggest. I don't like a lot of floral, and I use a LOT of black; I don't have any pink at all. 
   And my sister? She is total goth. Walk into her apartment, you see dragons and skulls on the walls. She has a dragon side table, which looks awesome, but takes up a lot of space. She also has candles everywhere (my Mom hates candles and prefers the flameless candle warmers -- soy based.) The smellier a candle is, the more my sister likes them, and she will burn multiple scents at once, which makes my eyes water, but this is her space, and we try to respect that and not get too bossy about the other's space. That might sound like common sense to everyone else, but we are three opinionated, dominant  women, so this is actually pretty hard. 
My silk screen room divider, also black.
   But we have not separated. We still spend vast amounts of time together. Just last Saturday, I spent the day with my mother, daughter, and niece. We walked around downtown Seattle (I love downtown Seattle), went to the matinee performance of the ballet Swan Lake, and then had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. After we got back from Seattle, I went and spent the night at my sisters so that we could stay up really late and watch horror movies. Sunday, my mom met us at my sister's apartment and we then left to spend the day at the movies (we watched The Croods, which was great) and walked around the mall. We ended the day with dinner at my sister's. Monday after work, my mom and sister joined me at my apartment for a spaghetti dinner and the series premiere of Defiance. Tuesday my sister cooked dinner and we piled into her minivan to take the girls to their karate class. Today, we all met up to go to my daughter's school choir concert. Thursday it is back to my sisters because she is experimenting with chili recipes and we are all invited to taste the results. We may not see each other this weekend, but that is rare. Even living apart, we still live together. This is what most people do not understand about us. We didn't really move out; we expanded our domain. Be afraid. Be very afraid. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

20 Reasons Why My Family Is Awesome

   My family is like any other family. We have our quirks, and we certainly have our differences, but at the end of the day, my family is my rock, the people who are there for me whenever the shit gets bad. They may look crazy to people who don't know them, but that is just the overflowing awesomeness that they can't contain. All families are unique, and here are some of the little things that make mine the batshit crazy, awesome-possum people that they are:
  1. My daughter and I can speak gibberish to each other, yet we will completely understand each other even though we aren't using words. 
  2. My seven year old niece's favorite movie character is Gollum from the Lord of the Rings, yet she is terrified of Honey Boo-Boo. 
  3. My mom is one of the most dedicated gamers I know. Game-on, Mom.
  4. My sister thinks that all alcohol tastes like tanning lotion, but loves to drink, which causes some really, really, really amusing events, especially since she thinks she has never been affected by alcohol, but in reality has a really low tolerance for hard liquor. 
  5. My bestie is also family to me, and I can count on her to always make me feel better, no matter what is going on. 
  6. My sister and I can find a way to laugh at anything, and often the people who listen to us will laugh too. Some of them might slowly back away from us while they are laughing, but they are laughing nonetheless. 
  7. My nephew, niece and daughter are three of the most creative people that I know. 
  8. My daughter doesn't mind when I go on an anime binge, and will sit and watch with me. She also watches Duck Dynasty with me with no complaints. 
  9. My mom and my daughter will both cover their eyes during previews for scary movies, causing me crazy amusement.
  10. My sister is always willing to have a scary movie night with me.
  11. Moving away from my mom and sister didn't pull us apart; we are always still doing things together. 
  12. My daughter likes sci-fi just as much as I do, so she is happy to have Farscape and Firefly marathons with me. 
  13. My family totally understands the fact that I can go into a bookstore and spend $100 in less than five minutes.
  14. My sister is perfectly willing to spend the evening planning ways to fortify our apartments for the zombie apocalypse. 
  15. My whole family understands the gaming drive, so when I go out and spend my extra money at Gamestop or Amazon, I never hear anything negative, I only get asked if the game I bought is any good.
  16. My 5 year old nephew has the memory of a goldfish, which can be really amusing or really annoying, depending on the situation.
  17. My whole family loves Greek food, so I always have a partner when I get the craving for it (which is often) including my daughter, who loves spanakopita (spinach pie).
  18. My daughter loves for me to suggest books for her to read because she says I pick out the best ones.
  19. We are all obsessed with Pokemon and Harvest Moon.
  20. Whenever something weird happens, my sis and I blame it on Katie (Paranormal Activity) or more recently, Mr. Boogie (Sinister). When we were kids, it was Bloody Mary. We will always do this, even when we are old, funky, and in nursing homes. 
   These are just some of the amusing, funny quirks that make my family unique and awesome, the perfect fit for me. We don't always get along, and we can annoy the hell out of each other, but if there is ever a problem, we ban together and fix it. Family is the people who always have your back, no matter how pissed off they are at you. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Terrible, Horrible, Awful, Very Bad Bad Bad Day

   We all have those days, ya'know, the ones where you just want to go to sleep at the end of the day and forget everything that happened. Well, today was my turn to have one of those days, and it started from the moment I woke up. I woke up feeling exhausted, which is never a good way to start your day, but I got my daughter ready and off to school without any mishaps and was feeling pretty good because I had time for an hour nap before I had to get my butt in gear and go to work.
   Except that I overslept and didn't wake up and was really, really, late for work, so I jumped out of bed to rush to work and make apologies only to realize that I had only been asleep for a mere twenty minutes and the lateness had been a messed up dream. Needless to say, that was not relaxing at all, and I went to work feeling tired and flustered.
   At work I found that I was stationed on register one, which is the crap register. Everything is broke and it's in the corner at the back by the wall. This is what we refer to as the 'time-out' register, because when you work it, you feel like a kid that has been put in the corner. But I bolstered my spirits by reminding myself that I was only working a short shift and that all of this would be over soon. With that thought in mind, I started my work day, attempting to be optimistic.
  A while later, I gave that optimistic bullshit up. I was getting every problem customer in the store, a small sampling of them being the man who told one of my supervisors that I had (in his words) 'the most violent customer service he had even seen' because I would not let him buy his cigarettes with food stamps, a woman who insisted that I was from Russia, and when I denied this, kept asking "Are you sure?" like I would be wrong about where I was from, a man who insisted that the computer had added up his order wrong, requiring me to go through his items and manually add them up, and the subsequent woman who griped me out for wasting her lunch hour. After these and more, I was sure that my break was coming up soon; I had been working forever. A quick glance at the clock almost had me in tears, however, because I hadn't even been there an hour.
   That is when I can to the only conclusion possible in this situation. Customers often complained when a cashier closed down their line to go home, but now someone had gone beyond complaining and had done something. They had actually hired a wizard who controlled time, in order to stop the time in my store and keep us working our registers for eternity. This was the only feasible explanation.
  After a long, emotionally draining mental battle with the time wizard, I finally won my freedom from the register. My four hour shift had lasted for a century, but now I was done. I dragged my gnarled, ancient ass to the door, anticipating the moment when I could step into the sunlight. Except this is Washington. Those sparkle fairies from Twilight live here because there is never any sun and they don't want the whole world to realize that they are the primary source of all of the glitter that we use for our art projects. But, on the brighter side, there was no rain, so regardless of the lack of sun, I took this as a good sign.
I need to read this book!!!!
   I had to pick up my daughter from school in less than an hour, and I anticipated coming home, feeding her a quickie meal, and then curling up in bed with my newest book, Frost Burned, the latest installment of the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. I was ready to immerse myself in this world; a world where stupid, asshole-y people did exist, but where usually eaten by werewolves. The perfect read for a day like this one, with a lot of satisfying imagery.
   But when I picked my daughter up, a realization hit me like a sack of bricks; tonight was my daughter's karate class. I would not be done with my day and home to stay until after 9:30 tonight. Now, I don't usually mind karate night, my daughter really enjoys the class and the instructor is pretty cute, and even better, seems to be a nice guy, but I don't want to go today. I have been immersed in stupidity all day, and that stuff rubs off. If I go out in public, I might do something stupid as well, because stupidity is contagious. Not going to karate is not going to go over very well with my daughter though, because they have already had a two week break and she is looking forward to going back. Nor is it far to punish my daughter for a crappy day that wasn't her fault. So Frost Burned is on hold while  I mentally prepare myself in the hopes that I will have the strength to resist any dumbass urges that I may feel while I am out and about tonight. Plus side, my sister took pity on me and is making my daughter and I dinner, so I at least don't have to attempt that chore. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Conversations With Customers

  We get all types working in customer service, and when you work in a grocery environment, that is no joke or exaggeration. Everybody needs to eat, and at some point or another, everybody comes shopping for food. This means that we cashiers/checkers get into some of the most crazy, zany conversations. I know that I have, and there are certainly some that have stuck in my mind. As I like to share, I am going to record some of them in this blog post. If you are cashier/checker you'll have some of your own, but these are some of the memorable ones that I have had.

Conversation 1: Not Human
   This one was a double act. I had two separate customers talking to each other at first.
   "Everything is going up. I guess that's how it is," she said, "Nothing's free."
   "Oh, I don't know about that," the man behind her chimed in, "A man bought me a free tank of gas once because he had just won the lottery. I was at the gas station and he just offered."
   "Things like that really show you that some people are just still human and not, well, whatever they are." the woman exclaims. 
   The man gets all sly-faced and looks at me and says,"Maybe this nice lady will show us that she's really human and give us our groceries free."
   "That'd be great!" the woman exclaims.
   "Nope," I say. "I'm not human; I'm whatever they are."
  You should have seen the looks that I got. Well, whatever, I thought I was funny.  

Conversation 2: Grandpa-faced
   For some reason, when I first started working at the place that I work now, I got a lot of people who thought that I was Russian. We have a high Russian customer base, and I do have a lot of Russian coworkers, but I am not Russian. Since I was a military brat, I started out my life being raised all over the place, but when my dad retired, we permanently moved to Mississippi. I was nine at the time, and Mississippi is the place that I identify as my childhood home. But I had a lot of customers who would come up to me and just start speaking Russian at me. This was the case with two young woman, probably early 20's. They came up and just started talking away to me in their language. I looked at them, baffled, and told them that I did not speak any Russian.
   "You don't speak Russian? You aren't from Russia?" one of the girls asked.
   "That's so strange," she replied."You have the face of our grandfathers."
   Well, I have a sense of humor, so I about died laughing at that one. Good to know that I'm grandpa-faced. I'm sure this was an example of a misunderstanding due to language barriers, but it was pretty funny and never let it be said that I can't laugh at myself. 

Conversation 3: The Sheep Spy
   I have this man come through my line on a fairly regular basis and though  I can't be sure, I am pretty certain that he is homeless. He is also crazy, but when he is in a good mood, he can be a pretty fun guy. The first conversation that I had with him cemented the image of the nice guy in my mind. He was carrying the huge backpack that he always have, and he looked pretty gruff and wasn't clean, so I do admit that he did make me nervous. Especially when he leaned over my counter, with a dead-serious expression.
   "Can I tell you a secret?" he asked.  
   Being the verbal genius that I am, I responded with "Uhhhhhhhh......"
   Despite my lack of enthusiasm, he gleefully responded, "I'm a sheep spy!"
   "A what?" I asked, befuddled.
   "I'm a sheep shy. Because I'm not a vegetarian!"
   "Okay," I laughed, "Me too." 
   I finished ringing him up and he paid with coins and crumpled dollars and then he exclaimed "Hey, watch this!" And he began to juggle the oranges that he had just bought. 
    He does come in really grumpy and mean, but I try to remember that he can be really fun too. It can't be a sheep-spying, orange juggling day everyday. 

    There you go: a small but colorful peek into the working life of the cashier. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I Don't Do Bubbly

   I recently had a customer who came through my line and insisted that I was in a bad mood. I smiled at the man, and asked him how his day was, but my smile must not have been big enough, because the first thing out of his mouth was "Oh, it's been one of those days hasn't it? It's okay, you don't have to act happy for me."
  Now, I do admit, that due to the fact that we are required to smile at people when we greet them, that I do smile a lot more than normal while I am at work. And probably, that smile can seem a bit forced, especially at the end of a shift when I have been grinning like a lunatic for eight fricken hours at people who can't even
read my name tag, and insist on calling me Mary or Maria instead of Marie, but that actually doesn't mean that I am having a bad day. It just means my face hurts. Smiling may not take as much muscle movement as frowning, but try smiling for a long period of time and tell me what makes your face feel more sore. It's not going to be frowning.
   Anyway, I explained to this customer that I was fine and nothing was wrong, but he continued to insist that I was unhappy,  and I began to feel that pissy feeling: anger on a slow burn. I don't like people telling me how I feel. I am not one of those chicks who say they are fine but really, they are hoping you will press the issue. If I say I'm fine, I mean I'm fine. Don't continue to ask me twenty more times, "What's really wrong? You can tell me." No. If sometime was really wrong, and I didn't tell you the first time you asked, then I don't want you to know. It's not your business; it's my business.
   But there truly was nothing wrong this day, and I do believe that I had given this man a decent smile. But he argued that I just didn't seem 'happy enough'. Well, what is happy enough? That's what I want to know.
    This, of course, flashed me back to another time, with another company, when I was getting my yearly review. This company reviewed you on a point system. Getting a one would probably mean that you needed to start looking for another job, and fast, and getting a five meant that you were a company superstar. As I sat there getting my review, I was pretty damn pleased to get a four, until I heard the manager's reason for not giving me a five. "You need to be more bubbly, Marie," he said, "You need to smile and laugh a lot more. Customers like you, but you would be more approachable if you have a little more bounce to your step."
   Are you kidding me? I don't bubble. And it isn't like I am running around holding a bloody axe, waiting for my next victim. I am, by nature, a quiet person. I wouldn't know how to bubble if my life depended on it. My favorite color is black, the music I listen to is mostly comprised of metal and angry women, I hate pink and little yippie purse dogs, and I don't like people touching me. This doesn't mean that I give bad customer service. This means that the person representing your company doesn't look and act like Bimbo Barbie. This is a good thing. I may not bubble, but no short-change conman is gonna pull shit with me. Who would you prefer handling the company's money?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Big Three-Oh. What Was I Afraid Of?

   My little sister is turning 30 tomorrow, and she is not too happy about this fact. Something that I can completely relate to, because I am working on my 30's now. When I was first hit that dreaded number, I was in a panic. Oh, I tried to hide my panic and act nonchalant, but I had a rock in the pit of my stomach and I kept thinking "I'm not in my 20's. I'm getting old. I'm middle aged." And I know that we are not alone. I have a coworker who judges youth by calendar days. If your age is still a day on the calendar, you are young -- meaning 1 through 31. And growing up, I never even imagined myself at 30; I thought the 20's were old. So hitting 30 was not a pleasant experience for me.
   When I hit 30 my sister decorated the entire downstairs in black and there were giant 30's plastered all over the walls. Thanks for reminding me, and they say that revenge is sweet, but you are safe little sister. For one reason, I don't spend money on party supplies. Coughing up money for all that black shit would be like eating nails, in my personal opinion. For second, I really think that she is upset, and as amusing as teasing her is, there are sometimes limits. She took a whole week of paid vacation just so that she could cope with the big three-oh alone and without witness. But here is the thing about being in your 30's: once I got past the number, 30 isn't that bad. My 30's are turning out to be way better than my 20's, for sure.
   Some people may want to go back to their 20's, but that is a time in my life that I would rather not revisit. On my 20th birthday, the 9/11 attacks happened; that's right, I am a 9/11 birthday. I was pregnant, which was an unplanned event that was causing me a ton of stress. I didn't even have a high school education or GED,  I worked at a nothing job, and had no paid maternity leave, so I was trying to figure out how I was gonna have a baby and still pay rent. I also didn't know what I was going to do with a baby while I worked. My then boyfriend/baby-daddy convinced me to move to Florida, which he lied about, telling me that he had a job lined up and a place for us to go. We ended up jobless and living in a camper in his parent's backyard, which was not what I had envisioned when he said we had a place to go. And for the record, being pregnant and living in a camper: it sucks. Then I found out he had lied about my age because he didn't want his parents to know that I was 19 when he knocked me up, so I was supposed to lie about my age. This was my 20's. A veritable bed of stress, instability, and fear of the future.
   My 30's: much, much better. In a time where people are struggling with finding jobs because they have been laid off and the economy is still bad and unemployment is at record lows, I have been employed by a good company and have had a steady job for  6 years. I am just a few steps away from receiving my Bachelor's degree, and I have my own apartment. I can afford all of my bills and that child that I once feared having has become the best part of my life. I am only into the beginning of my 30's, but if the first years are any indication, the 30's are going to be my decade. So get over the number; a number is just that. I didn't morph into an old crone just because my numbers started with 3. Where you are and what you are doing in life is what matters.