Patience, Grasshopper

I’m not a very patient person, but I am the kind of person who is able to hide my impatience very well. I’m not one of those people who huffs and puffs when forced to wait in an unnecessarily long line. You know those people, whose impatience is written all over their faces. I (mostly) deal with situations like that pretty well and try to keep a smile on my face. But tonight at work, I almost lost my cool. Almost.

I work at Food Lion as a cashier and tonight I was closing. Our store closes at 11pm and at 11:05pm there was still one customer shopping. Kaitlin, the assistant manager who was closing with me, informed me that there was a woman on the cat food aisle reading the labels on different cat foods. At 11:05. We’d made the closing announcement three times by this point. I was getting frustrated. Finally, I heard her cart coming toward my register.

“What aisle are the marshmallows on?” she asked upon reaching the register. I took a deep breath and calmly told her that they are on the other side of aisle one. “What? Aisle one? Really?” A pause. No, I’m lying to you so that you’ll spend more time in the store. I don’t really want to go home any time soon. Another deep breath. I confirmed that the marshmallows are, in fact, on aisle one, despite her shock to this information. To my glee, she doesn’t head to aisle one. Instead, she beings to (very, very slowly) load her groceries onto the belt. I scan and bag as quickly as possible, eager to get her out so I can leave.

She gets 1/3 of her groceries on the belt (she had a packed full cart by the way) and then stops. I finish scanning and bagging the stuff she’s put up there. She walks to the end of the register across from mine and looks at a bag of chips. Examines it carefully. A 33 cent bag of chips is a very big commitment to make, after all. She then puts the chips back and walks to the front of that register and grabs a grocery bag and goes back to her cart, picks up a sales paper and puts it into the bag. All while I stand there, frustrated but still somehow maintaining a mostly friendly demeanor. I look at my watch. It’s 11:15. She goes back to unloading (slowly) and eventually, I’ve scanned and bagged all her groceries. It’s time for her to pay.

“I think I have $5 on my EBT (food stamps) card,” she tells me. “Okay, do you want me to put $5 on your card?” If you’re unaware of how this works, I’ll explain. When you use a gift card or credit card but don’t have enough money for the entire purchase, it will automatically take off whatever amount you do have and you just have to pay the balance. But with an EBT card, if you don’t have enough money for the entire purchase, your card gets declined, and I have to validate by running a piece of paper through the check reader thing and it prints your balance on the paper. Unless you know your balance, then I can type in how much you’re putting on your card and it’ll just take off that amount. “I don’t know my exact balance, it might be more than $5. Can I just run it through and see?” I roll my eyes. She wants to purposely have her card declined so she can find out the balance and then have to start the whole payment process over again. So we do that. She has $6 and some change on that card.

Now it’s time for her to pay the balance which was somewhere around $160. It’s 11:20pm. We were supposed to close 20 minutes ago and I was supposed to be going home. My parents are waiting for me in the parking lot. I am upset and Kaitlin is standing beside me rolling her eyes at the woman. She wasn’t as good at hiding her impatience as I was.

“Oh, I forgot my coupons!” Kaitlin looks like she may scream at this point. “Is it too late to add my coupons?” Unfortunately, no, it is not. So the woman grabs them and takes her precious time to fold and tear out the coupons she could use. “This coupon says it’s for Yoplait yogurt, but I didn’t get that brand. I got a different brand. Can I still use this coupon?” No. No, you cannot. Coupons don’t lie, people. If they say they’re for a certain brand, it means only that brand. In the end, she only had one coupon that she could use.

She still hasn’t paid the $160 balance and I’m halfway between crying and laughing out of frustration. I tell her what her total is for the 3rd time and she says, “Do you know who you look like?” Now I had a few options here. I could either say, “No, and I don’t care, pay for your damn groceries and get out,” or “No, who do I look like?” And while Kaitlin’s patience was wearing thin, too, I didn’t want to test my luck by going with the first option. So I asked her, and she said, “what’s that show with Charlie Sheen and his brother?” “Two and a half men,” I tell her. “You look like that girl. The neighbor girl. The crazy one.” “Rose.” “Yeah, Rose. That’s the one. You look just like her, in a good way, she’s very pretty. You look very pretty. Blah blah blah.” I knew she was being nice, but I still hated her. I smiled. I said thank you. But inside I was screaming all kinds of expletives.

It’s 11:30pm now. She finally swipes her debit card. “I hope this card has enough money on it.” Oh god. When she said that, I felt my blood pressure rise at an incredibly rapid rate. Luckily, it did, and I didn’t have to murder her. By this point my grocery manager has come up and is smiling, bemused at the scene. The woman proceeds to tell him how much I look like “that crazy girl on that show with Charlie Sheen and his brother.”

She leaves the store! And I go to the office and ask Kaitlin if there’s anything else I need to do. “Go outside and get that cart from that woman.” Awesome. So I walk outside and she’s got like 2 bags in her trunk. I ask her if she’d like some help and when she says it’s not necessary and that it’s cold out, I should go inside, I tell her that I can’t, because I have to take her cart in. So she lets me help her and talks the whole time about her sons and nephews and I just don’t care because my parents are a few rows away and I just want to be in their car. When all her stuff is out, she continues to talk to me as I’m walking away from her. At this point, she’s leaving, and I don’t care if it’s rude, because my patience is gone, so I just leave. When I get back inside and clock out, it’s 11:43pm and she’s on my hit list. I didn’t yell at her or anything so I’m proud of myself for that, but she got very close to pushing me to my breaking point. One of these days I’m going to reach the point where I just explode. Today was not that day. But, almost.

All right, story time is over. Now that I’ve calmed down, I can appreciate being told I look like a pretty actress. I think it may have been my lipstick choice today, but still neat because I’ve never been told I look like anyone before (I don’t think).

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What do you guys think?

I got a lot of compliments today, which made being at work less horrible. The grocery manager (who’s in his late 40s/early 50s and precious) asked if I went to an interview earlier today or something and said (at least 4 times) that I look like a “super star” and told one of my coworkers that “we have a super star working here.” It was cute. I also heard that I have a beautiful complexion and got lots of lipstick compliments. So maybe I wasn’t very patient today, but at least I was pretty.

Edit: I forgot to mention that once I’d scanned all of her items, she went back for those damn marshmallows.

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3 thoughts on “Patience, Grasshopper

  1. That sounds horrible! I would have wanted to just yell out, “we’re closed! Get out!” My boss at dining did that sort of once. Some kids showed up right at closing and we had already shut down the computers, even though there might have been a spare minute. She told them to come back tomorrow.

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