Saturday, July 6, 2013

Dear Customer; All The Things That I Wish I Could Have Said

Dear Customer,
   You might not realize this, but when I came in to work today there were not many people shopping and work was slow. But in a grocery store, there are always things to be done, and so when they asked me to help with go-backs, I willingly turned my register light off. In case you don't know, go-backs are all the items that customers decided they didn't want and gave to the cashier or stuck on some random shelf. Someone has to put them away, and they needed some help back there because of the holiday rush. Of course I agreed, better than standing at the register and twiddling my thumbs.
   I realize that when they called me up to check that we had gotten slammed. So I didn't dither; I came as fast as I could, and I took the next person in line from the register next to the one I was assigned to. See, where I work, we don't make the announcement that so-and-so register is open. I've worked in stores that did this, and what usually happens is that the person refusing to stand in line and prowling around for a new register gets in line first, so what we do is we go take a person directly from a line. This person has been waiting in line, and deserves the chance to be next. According to store policy, this is what we are supposed to do. Of course, one cashier cannot take every next person first; we are only human after all and are not capable of cloning ourselves and running multiple registers.
   I had taken the next lady in line, as I said, and had rung her up and sent her on her way and moved on to my next customer when you came up and said, "Excuse me, ma'am, can I ask you something?"
   You were so polite, and I turned to you with a smile and a, "Sure," expecting to need to direct you to whatever item you were looking for. So you can imagine my shock when you went from polite to rude and condescending. I wasn't expecting you to condemn me for not announcing a lane opening over the intercom, and I surely wasn't expecting to be queried about whether or not I knew how to do my job and if I was new to the store. Since I am female, I can go from happy to pissed faster than the speed of light, and this happened. In fact,  I was seeing red, but I was proud of the way I kept my cool and kept the smile on my face. I explained our policy to you, and explained that I had taken the next in line on a different register for the simple fact that this register was the closest to mine, so taking from that line made the most sense as all the lines were long.
   The thing is, I could see the disappointment on your face, and while I do not have psychic abilities, I do believe that you were hoping for a stammered apology from a flustered cashier or outright defiance so that you could get management involved. My calm, collected explanation gave you no opportunity to feel superior to me. My smile and friendly manner gave you no opportunity to become indignant and feel justified in your anger. You came over not to correct what you saw as a wrong, but to bully and make someone just doing their job feel small. And I feel justified in this belief, because I heard you call me a bitch as you walked away.
   But while you did make me angry, because I do get angry whenever I see someone trying to make themselves feel better by making others feel bad, you did not make me feel bad. I know my job; I know my store's policies, and I know that I did nothing to justify such rude, disrespectful behavior. And in the long run, I am glad you came to me with that bullshit, because we do have some shy wallflowers working the registers for us; some young girls who have not yet grown the thick skin that they need to function in the role of a person who works customer service in retail. I am glad you did not go to one of them; all we need is another cashier crying in the bathroom because someone was mean to them. Poor girls, they'll harden up soon, but I've already gotten there, so as  I said, I am glad that you came and blasted me and not one of them.
   And I want you to know that I also feel sorry for you. Yes, you read that right. I feel sorry for you because I just can't imagine what you are going through that makes you able to derive comfort and/or pleasure from trying to pick on an honest person just doing their job; from trying to make them feel small and insignificant. I hope that whatever is wrong, you feel better soon. Me, I already feel better, so don't worry about that at all. I have a loving family waiting at home, I have the best friends in the world, and I work with the greatest people. My life is awesome. I hope yours gets better soon.

The Cashier You Tried To Pick On

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