Monday, December 29, 2008


I went to the store to buy something. Nothing in particular, just something. The clerk, ringing through my odd purchases, was surly, her hairy upper lip curled into a snarl that was half way to permanent.

We exchanged no words, no communications other than overt hostility; mine reactive, I might add. As I took the bag from her (the bag containing yet another pair of gloves, replacing the pair lost outside the swimming pool where it's no wonder mitts get lost; bundling and trundling wet haired children as the wind whips frozen cheeks is no picnic in the park) I considered options. "Have a nice day" might be misconstrued as truthful, "Good luck with your face" just too mean.

Instead I said nothing, intending with my eyes which I imagined red as burning coals, to convey annoyance. She said nothing too and our interaction seemed complete.

Until I realized I had to go back. The matching sweaters for the girls were buy one get one 50 percent off and in this economy hey, one can't be too careful and if it is a mother's dream to have creamy full necked sweaters on sweet girls for stunning family photo then by all means, brave the till and shop some more.

It was time for pure psychological warfare, although only I knew we were playing. When I worked as a waitress in a time long ago we would force smiles on our faces, the bigger and more ridiculous the better. I approached, teeth barred in a semblance of a smile but in what some countries might be an invitation to kill. Here in Canada means hit me with some more of that customer service.

*Incidentally, when travelling, also many years ago, in Europe I was surprised to know that Canadians are considered really picky, aggravating customers. Who knew?

Joke's on me.

Hideous by one turn the clerk beamed on like a flashlight (terrible, terrible metaphor) and was sunshine and pleasantries. Turned on my own self I was shamed by her smile. Could it have been me that brought out the worst in her? Was it my growly mood and snarky demeanor? I think perhaps.

I live, I learn.

*I was just joking about her looks. She was actually super cute in that way all people who work at The Gap are.


lotusgirl said...

Oh, you are so funny. I was picturing some snarky gargoyle at wal-mart and your mr. hyde was actually some poor dr. jeckyl at the gap. LOL! Or was she?

Lady Glamis said...

Same as Lois, I had all sorts of monster-type pictures in my head...

Sometimes our attitude releases more of a mirror-type effect than you think. I've always found that putting on that smile can change your attitude in a flash. I hope the rest of your holiday shopping goes well. Just keep smiling!

*grinning somewhat cheesily*

beth said...

Wow--I am just really impressed that you had the insight to be so reflective. Few people are!

Your story did remind me of the Not Always Right blog--just because it dealt with customer service and retail. It's a hilarious blog, btw, about the crazy real-life stuff that happens in retail.

Anyway, glad that what started off as a negative experience ended up with some insight!

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