I used to have faith in the human race. Used to.
Then I worked in retail.
There’s just something about a man handing you a bag of his quite-obviously used underwear expecting a full refund on the purchase that makes you lose faith in your fellow man.
And it’s something else entirely when that same man stares at you like you’re the one with the problem because you don’t want to scavenge through the bag of soiled Hanes briefs to find the barcode.
That’s about when you realize the world is full of idiots.
But the truly demoralizing part of it is, you know you’re expected to serve these less than intelligent individuals with fast, efficient service and a courteous smile.
At that point, it’s pretty much all about making it through the day without jumping over the customer service desk and punching one of these lovely customers in the face.
But maybe that’s just me and my high standards. I mean, who am I to not want sullied underwear shoved at me?
I’d like to say the Creepy Underwear Returning Man is my only horror story from my three years of serving the masses at Sam Walton’s super discount hell.
But sadly, he is just the tip of a very large, stinky, annoying, soul-crushing, exasperating ice burg.
Oh, and to make matters worse, he was a repeat customer.
Aside from CURM though, one of my favorite customers was always the Cranky Old Woman.
COW’s come in many shapes and forms, though my particular favorite were always the elderly women who were deeply committed to getting the ‘right’ price on their produce.
These were the women who always became visibility and violently upset when the peaches were marked $1.35 a pound over in produce and the register was charging them $1.38. Obviously, this spare change was extremely important to them. I know this, because if it wasn’t so important to them, they wouldn’t devote so much their time to screaming at me as though I personally changed the price of the peaches by 3 cents as some part of cruel, price-changing, mind game.
In these situations where I was confronted by irate senior citizens, I would try to calmly and rationally explain that I didn’t actually control all those nifty prices in produce. As it happens, as a cashier I didn’t have control over every other department in the store. Which I know, was hard to believe considering my high standing in the store enabled me to stand in a five foot area and repeatedly move my arm in the exact same motion thousands of times a day. Obviously, I was in secret control of the entire Wal-Mart franchise and was just screwing with them on the price of peaches.
These situations always turned out the same way. COW would yell at me until she had her fill as I calmly explained the situation over and over until I hated peaches more than I thought possible. Then I would solve the matter by handing the COW a quarter out of my own pocket. She would initially reject the quarter because “it was the principle of the thing” but she would eventually take it anyway, leaving me one quarter short to get a pop on my lone fifteen minute break.
Oh, and she’d glare at be from behind her bifocals on the way out.
Now, I’d like to think I’m a patient person. I would even like to think that I’m a good person. But sometimes I’d “accidentally” put COW’s peaches under a can of very, heavy spaghetti sauce, you know, on accident.
Call me passive aggressive if you must, but smashing the peaches seemed like a better plan than aggravated assault on an AARP member.