Mini mornin’ to you all!
I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Things went awry. The six of us here spent about three weeks swapping back and forth between a stomach bug and the plague. As soon as that started to pass, the computer had a freak out and decided to play “What Program Will We Pretend We Don’t Know How To Run Today?”
It’s a step up from last year’s epic meltdown brought about by the electrical apocalypse, so I suppose I can’t be too upset. We are heading in the right direction. Fingers crossed that the next New Year’s PC woe is just a couple dead batteries in the mouse.
The littlest pup went and broke his thumb, my boss needs me 6 days straight for the next two weeks…
It’s been a month of “wut the hell just happened?”
Things are starting to sort themselves out. Through the power of our Winter Overlords (Vicks, Halls, and the saintly Robitussin), I think the plague has passed. No one’s shit their pants for a couple weeks, so that awful stomach nastiness seems to be done. *knock wood to both* I have tricked my computer into letting me access my writing program…we’ll see how long this lasts. And I don’t have to go into work for a couple hours.
I thought about checking out the news and commenting on things that have happened while I’ve been down for the count, but holy. shit. There isn’t enough time. There wouldn’t be enough time if I had the whole day off. And all of it happened in the circus tent we used to call the White House. Barnum and Bailey didn’t call it quits…they just changed venues.
There’s so much that it’s exhausting to read through it all. It’s become a dreaded chore. “What did our idiot in chief do now?” I don’t want to be exhausted. I’m in the middle of a push at work and I just don’t have it in me right now to slog through the slime trail Trump leaves in his wake.
Instead, let’s meet a new customer I have.
I love customer interactions, even the bad ones. I am a very character-driven person, not just in my writing but in real life. I like to hoard knowledge about all the wonderful, weird, and wacky ways beings who are almost chemically and molecularly identical are in actuality so very different. People are fascinating.
This lady is one of the more interesting ones I’ve got. She’s elderly, my guess would be in the late 70s. She’s short, with short white hair that’s poorly styled. About half of it has been curled, probably with those old pin curlers that were popular in the 50s and 60s, and the other half is clearly too far back on her head for her to reach. Her face is that of an Old World grandmother, with a large, bulbous nose, baggy eyes, and the perpetual frown crease in her forehead earned by years of telling kids to “knock it off or else.”
In some ways, she reminds me of my own Polish grandmother. Perhaps that’s what drew my attention to her in the first place.
When she comes in, she’ll look through the baked goods as if she’s searching for a lost piece of jewelry. Each item will be lifted, flipped, scrutinized. She’ll shake her head, place it back down, and move on to the next. She’s been in many times in the last couple months, and it’s always the same. She’ll spend about half an hour looking over everything, and then come to the counter asking for help.
“I can’t see so good. Bad eyes, you know. Can you tell me what this says?”
Up close under the unkind fluorescent lights, a general lack of care becomes obvious. The coat she wears speaks to another time, another life she led where she was an upper middle class housewife who was able to keep up with Jackie O. At one time, the coat was white, quilted, with a furred collar. Now, it’s stained a cigarette-butt yellow, the collar matted with years of sweat and old make-up. There’s a broach pinned to the corner of the collar, dirt crusted between the shiny rhinestones. It’s a coat that says she was somebody, and it’s clear she still believes herself to be that person.
We have several elderly people who ask for what I would consider to be an extended level of service. They want you to take them product by product, answering the same questions about each they asked the week before. I think they’re overall just lonely and looking for some human interaction. You nod, smile, walk them through until you can find a kind way to get back to your job.
The other week, this particular lady was in. I watched her sift through the tables, and was ready when she called me over. We did our regular routine, then she thanked me and moved on without buying anything.
They never buy anything.
I got back to work, feeling good. Who wouldn’t? You make a lonely person’s day a little better with just a couple minutes invested. It feels good. I finished up my shift about a half hour later, punched out, and headed onto the store floor to pick up a few things. I entered the soda aisle to grab some seltzer and I saw the same woman. I’m not going to lie…I briefly considered turning around before she saw me. Feeling good about helping is one thing, but come on. End of my work day, I just wanted to get my seltzer and go home. I didn’t want to be sucked into doing ALL of her shopping for her.
It was out of my hands, though. She glanced up from the bottle she was squinting at down to the opposite end of the aisle, then quickly placed the soda in her cart and spun around. She saw me, grabbed my arm, and said, “Oh no, dear. You don’t want to go down there,” before quickly scooting out of the aisle. I looked toward the other end to see what had ruffled her feathers.
A black man was shopping for potato chips, shaking his head. He heard her. I knew he heard her. He looked up at me, then he knew I knew he heard her. It was one of those frozen moments I will never forget.
My first thought was, “HOLY SHIT DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN??!!” My second thought right on the heels of that was, “Well you certainly saw THAT you crazy old bat! Blind my ASS!”
I got my seltzer, then asked the man if there was anything he needed help finding. I did not, in any way, want him to think I was on board with the Racist Granny. I know, I know, I know. Trite in the extreme. But what else could I do?? Should I have gone up and said, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry that wrinkled old pit stain was such a cunt?” I don’t know. I don’t feel like I handled it well, but honestly…???
He and I exchanged a few pleasantries. I hope he at least knew that I was trying.
I told him to have a nice day and went to check out. Racist Granny was in the next register, putting her groceries up on the belt faster than I’d ever seen the old bat move.
I feel sad for her on one level. She truly is stuck in another time and place. The world moved on, and she just didn’t. It’s clear why she’s lonely. Her nasty streak is no doubt why there is no one to help her curl the back of her hair, or tell her the stained coat needs a good dry cleaning.
I said customer interactions are fascinating, and that certainly fits that description. But, fascinating isn’t always good.
Thus concludes a quick Musing for PAY DAY WHOOP WHOOP, February 23, 2017. I’m hoping I can get back on track with regular Muses. No promises, though. I’m at the mercy of my technological overlords, who seem to be very impish during winter. Fingers crossed that my curses and tears have appeased them for yet another year…