Saturday, July 9, 2011

Don't Say Words That Hurt ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I worked Curveside™ at lunch today. I was pretty busy PLUS I get $7.50 an hour for doing it, so not such a bad shift for me. I had a few corporate picnics, including one that was really hard to put together. It was all one check fortunately, but I got totally stiffed on $139. I didn't like that of course but oh well. The couple of coworkers I casually mentioned it to were way more upset about it than I was. There was something else happened that really pissed me off.
    Some lady with a real Minnesota-sounding accent called in an easy to-go order. She just started yapping about what she wanted, but we've got a script and I went with it. I got the idea she wasn't digging it, but you've gotta do what you've gotta do, right? I quoted a very favorable pick-up time, a mere twelve minutes into the future and she informed me she'd arrive in three. I assured her that we'd do everything possible to get her chow out quickly.
     About five minutes after our convo, she pulled up. I stuck my smiling face out the door and told her it'll be ready in just a sec.
     "You guys aren't on your A game today, are ya?" she said.
     "What do you mean, ma'am?" I responded pleasantly.
     She alleged that she'd called earlier and been put on hold interminably, which is possible but unlikely. Then she told how she'd called a second time and been hung up on, she thinks by me. Hung up on is even more improbable than that first scenario and if it happened, I promise I ain't the one. Then she repeated her mantra, "You guys aren't on your A game today."
     I went back in and quickly checked her order and bagged it up. I brought her food and her ticket to her. Even though to-go works out of a till, I had cash in my pocket and made her $11.50 change out of 20 right there. I quickly stepped back; I didn't want a tip from her since she felt so compelled to keep harping about how bad my store and I suck.
     Somehow through it all I managed to channel the spirit of author David Hayden, who's wise advice is to never turn it back on them (no matter how richly they deserve it!) and remained calm, courteous and professional through the entire exchange. Of course, if the sign outside said Joe's Rib Crib™, I'd have told her, "No Charge. Now please get the fuck out of here and don't ever come back."
     I'm not sure why I let this little ordeal bother me more than I'd normally expect it to. She's probably not really evil and doesn't deserve the colon cancer I spent a few minutes psychically wishing on her fat ugly ass. She's from another part of the United States where people tend to be more rude than they are here, which isn't to say we're better people; we're not. We just tend to demonstrate a little more superficial surface politeness than y'all do.
     She was smiling through the entire few minutes she was there. I detected no cruelty or even displeasure in her voice. Other than the content of her comments, she might have been literally exclaiming pleasantries about the weather instead of figuratively plunging a knife into my gut and twisting the fuck out of it. I might have felt differently, maybe worse, if she'd been young and pretty instead of old and ugly. What clients say and do that bothers me might not be a problem for you, and vice versa. I tasted some anger for a minute but I believe I handled the situation pretty well. I'm totally over it now of course and I'm only bringing it up because it kind of ties in with something that went down a little later.
     In spite of a couple of stiffs, I made nice cheese today. I was feeling pretty good as I pulled into my neighborhood Shitty Mart™ after work to get a newspaper. That's where I saw my former coworker Jannica and her three kids. She'd been a pretty good server and I got along with her fine, but most of the employees didn't like her. I'm vaguely aware that she had a lot of drama in her life that she brought to work sometimes. She'd eventually been fired, by GM Brenda B, who's a good manager but a great person, so I'm sure there was justification, but that's not my business or my problem.
     Jannica and I chatted for a couple of minutes. She seemed genuinely glad to see me again. Come to think of it, I was probably the best friend she'd had at that job. At the counter, I paid for my media fix, and looked behind me to say "see ya,"or whatever, to Jannica. I noticed she was purchasing a shitload of high-carb snacks. She had Little Debbies®, candy bars, Doritos® and two liters of Pepsi®. With absolutely no malice in my head or my heart, I said, "Glad to see you're feeding your kids so healthy."
     Jannica's smile turned to a look of sadness. "Well... They don't get this stuff every day or anything..."
     "I know. I'm just kidding," I replied weakly. I've got no reason to think Jannica's a bad mom. I believe she loves her kids and tries to do right by them. For all I know, those nice children were getting a very rare treat. Nobody's overweight or unhealthy-looking. Even though I (regretably) judge people all the time and maybe you do too, I wasn't doing it then. Had she been splurging on Brussels sprouts, I'd probably have said, "The kids are going to love those!" which might have been slightly funnier. Jannica'd never done me any wrong, yet my careless attempt at a lame joke had hurt her feelings.


  1. I sometimes find myself channeling the spirit of author David Hayden when server David Hayden wants to choke someone out.

    Some people derive great pleasure in the mistakes of others. That is because misery loves company. The best way to respond is to leave them alone in their misery. Living well really is the best revenge.

  2. I kid you not, whenever I buy liver at the grocery store the clerks ALWAYS say [in front of my kids} "Oh your kids must LOVE you." [sarcasm drip] It gets annoying as my kids actually like fried liver and onions.

    When I was a grocery clerk during college I never dreamed of commenting on someone's purchases, but for some reason liver sets cashiers off with me.

    I know you meant no ill will - just making idle conversation and I am sure Jannica knew that. The kids were healthy and it probably was a treat. I always sneak in a little something when I go shopping for our kids. Not good for them but I figure the veggies and fruits outweigh a Little Debbie and an occasional pop. :)