A Day In The Life Of John
June 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
As your treat for this Friday night (no, I’m not doing anything else, why do you ask?), I’ve compiled a few stories from work that I think you might enjoy.
For those just joining us, I work retail, selling books. Yes, this is going great places.
In order to understand how these experiences (I am a customer experience representative. I represent experiences. They are not always pleasant) are recorded, you need to understand that I write these experiences down on little scraps of paper. You also need to know something about my handwriting.
It is terrible.
This note actually isn’t too bad, but recently I pulled one out of my pocket and stared at it for a good five minutes. I knew I had written it but that didn’t mean I could understand a goddamned thing on the page. I briefly thought that someone had written me a note and slipped it in my pocket because yes, that was a better explanation than me being unable to read my own writing.
The joke? I also do calligraphy.
So…I learned that we carry a new book in stock that follows the current trend of updating fairy tales and making them “hip”. How hip?
Let’s take a look at this for a second, shall we? First of all, and while I hate to typecast based on race, ninjas are traditionally Japanese. That girl is about as Japanese as I am, which means as Japanese as mayonnaise and butter sandwiches. Second, she is not at all dressed as a traditional ninja, and in that vein, is carrying what is very clearly a Western sword. So not only can we not visually identify her as a ninja, we instead visually identify her as a fraud. Finally, and I can vouch for this, the back of the book doesn’t mention anything about going to Japan and becoming a goddamn ninja.
Stuff like this bothers me constantly. My co-workers love it whenever an author doesn’t believe in historical authenticity (oh, and she’s also a wizard, y’know, just in case being a white ninja isn’t enough).
I work in the kid’s section. Although, yes, this means I have to deal with the occasional screaming child, it also means that I have great fun with product that’s clearly not intended for my age range. I am also the only man in my section, I am over six feet, and I have a beard. Nothing surprises the customers more than having me appear from my rocky den, belch, scratch my beard and shake my long hair, and then have me calmly and professionally discuss children’s literature with them.
However, and as will come as no surprise to anyone who thinks about it, despite working in a section that caters to children, the vast majority of my customers are women. Almost to the point of exclusivity, in fact.
But I must tell you two important things about these women: the first is that I work in an affluent neighbourhood and the majority of mothers around my store are young Gen-Xers. Yes, that means they feel the need to still be sexy, attractive women despite having kids. As someone who hopes to be married to a sexy, attractive woman one day and also have kids, I can hardly say this is a problem for me. Yoga pants year-round? Sign me up!
But occasionally you get…weirdness. Two days ago, there was a woman in the store who was wearing a pair of white pants. White see-through pants, so not only could I tell what colour of underwear she was wearing, I could tell what style it was. This was…kind of weird. I don’t see too many people my age with see-through pants, even at the clubs, so this was strange for me. But with that said, I can once again hardly complain. I mean, it wasn’t like she wasn’t attractive, so yeah.
Remember how I said “first” awhile back? Yes, there’s a “second”.
Second: she was with her three kids, all who were less than five years old. Honey, when I have three kids, you can bet your…ahem, ass, that I will not be showing that off. I don’t care how good it looks, I never want to associate see-through pants and kids. Yes, you can be an adult and still be sexy, but why are you doing it in a kid’s store?
Long story short: Ewwwwwww.
I have a love and hate relationship with my customers. Some of them are great! I have a few regulars who come in and shoot the breeze with me. I know how their kids are doing in school, what the family’s up to, and we get to talk, adult to adult. I’m still getting used to being an adult, so being able to talk adult things with another mature person is still cool to me. I talked about windows last week, and I distinctly recall clucking when they told me how much it cost to replace some storm windows. I also distinctly heard the sound of my youth shriveling up and dying. The last scream sounded like a balloon popping on the last night of the carnival.
Storm windows, though: it’s highway robbery, let me tell you that.
But some of my customers I hate. Hate is a strong word, so I’ll replace it with: I hope that they suffer non-life-threatening injuries that give them time to recover and think about how terrible they are. You may add this to a litany of grievances suffered by those in the service industry, day-in, day-out, from the small indignities to the gross injustices, and rank this as slight among them. Yet let it be ranked!
I greeted a customer today, and asked if she needed any help. She replied, brusquely, that no, she did not.
And she did it all without looking up from what she was looking at.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not a perfect human. It’s entirely possible I have behaved like that (worse, even!) to other people. But this small indignity, her refusal to look at me, stung all the more because it was so small. The energy expenditure required to raise me head and look me in the eye is so low, and frankly, it would have helped that turkey chin, and yet she did not do it.
I assumed (don’t worry, it’s been mostly beaten out of me) that there is a basic level of decency that judges human interaction, and looking at someone when you’re talking to them is up there with “don’t fling poop at them”. That’s why I take off my headphones and put away my book when someone talks to me on the subway (even though I am clearly busy), because that’s what decent people do.
So please, even if (especially if) you’re having a bad day, please acknowledge someone who’s just doing their job. The only difference between looking at me and not when telling me you don’t need help is that my day isn’t brought down by that little peg, and that would be nice.
There’s a Starbucks in the mall where I work, and the people there have begun to recognize me (tall iced coffee, sweetened, and a ginger molasses cookie because I am a huge wimp). One of them, a lovely Hungarian woman who looks Swedish, gave me a receipt with a survey to fill out in exchange for free coffee. Being poor, I deem this to be a fair trade. In doing so, I noticed two wonderful things:
- Under the question “what food product did you have”, you have the option to say “I don’t know”. Not “I don’t remember”, but “I don’t know”. How do you not know what you ate? I don’t eat dinner and then wonder later “Dear God in heaven, what did I just have? Rice…product? Meat of some sort? Was there fruit?” These questions do not keep me up at night.
- I was two-thirds of the way through the survey when they asked me my income level. It being an anonymous survey, and me having no shame, I proudly clicked “Less than $25,000”. The survey abruptly ended as soon as I hit “next”. So let’s be clear: there were more questions that I could have potentially answered, but I’m too poor. Thanks, Starbucks. Clearly, my answers aren’t valuable enough.
So there you have it: fun, annoyance, and being judged (and found wanting) by your coffee. That’s what it’s like to be me.
I suppose it could be worse?
– John still had a good day because, for the first time in a while, there was a new Goosebumps published in hardcover.