You’re expecting a “but” here aren’t you? There are no buts about it. It wasn’t intentional, and I didn’t mean it, but yes, I was rude: To a customer.
There I was, head down, lost in thought, and elbow deep in cashmere as I processed a delivery. Two women walked into the store. I think I greeted them….. maybe not.
Then, out of the blue, one of them made a seemingly innocuous statement, “I thought you no longer sold bottled water in Concord.” *
“Huh?” I thought to myself, “we sell cashmere, not water.” But then, instead of making me purr, the way cashmere usually does, this popped out: “What’s your point?”
Oops. This is something I might say in jest to my husband when he drops the occasional non sequitur. But somehow, in that moment and context, I didn’t add my usual lilt of amusement. Even if I had, it still would have sounded wrong.
The polite response would have been something like, “Why do you ask?” But before I could apologize she left the store in a huff, muttering loudly about “rude shopkeepers.”
I don’t know why this happened. I do know I had been feeling rather discouraged that day.
Perhaps it was the residual sliminess I felt from watching Scott Brown’s sleazy debate performance the night before.
Speaking of two-faced conservatives, did the woman’s shrill-ish voice conger up memories of a former landlady — the one who made a point of telling me how much she liked Jews?
Or maybe it was the fact that I was doing better with the cashmere, than I was with my blog. I was starting to feel as though I had nothing new to say.
So, in addition to apologizing to the customer, I guess I should thank her for sparking a post. That is, if she ever sets foot in my “shop” again.
While I’m waiting for that day, tell me, have you ever inadvertently let loose a snail on an unsuspecting victim? If so, please confess. It will help me feel like less of a jerk.
*The town of Concord, Mass. has banned the sale of less than 1 liter bottles of water, which goes into effect next year. You can read more about the reasons behind the ban here.
Lori Popkewitz Alper said:
We all have our days Judith. It happens to the best of us. Working retail and being “on” all the time can take its toll.I confess-it’s happened to me.
Thanks Lori. I imagine it was tough staying “on” during your lawyer days, too.
Here is my story, I cringe but laugh about it to this day…………….A mother and very rambunctious five year old were on an airplane. The child was loud, wrong and very annoying with clearly no boundaries set for him. After a few polite attempts to get the mother to distract and engage the kid, I finally blurted out, “Who’s in charge here, you or the five year old”.
Not my best moment.
Maybe not, Tom, but you may have done that mom a favor. Perhaps she went home, thought about it, and as a result worked on her leadership skills.
Karen Brandt said:
Sometimes the truth of how we’re feeling just bursts out. It happens. Let’s call it being authentic.
Ah yes, Karen. Some people just get under one’s skin. My response to that particular customer was “paid forward” by the next one. She was particularly snide, with comments like, “So you decided that Concord needed another high end store.” Trust me, I was very polite as I pointed out all the beautiful gifts and other items we sell for under $10.
Erica Holthausen said:
Okay. Are you ready? Once upon a time, I was a waitress. A really terrible, cranky, snarky waitress. When I first started, I tried to be a good waitress. But I hated it, and the job just never stuck. I took refuge in the kitchen at every opportunity. I actively avoided my tables, making contact only when absolutely necessary. So, I really was pretty terrible at my job. And as the summer came to an end, it became more and more obvious that I didn’t enjoy being a waitress. On a particularly bad day, I lost it entirely. Not with a customer, but with my boss. None of the details are terribly flattering. But suffice it to say that I agreed with her when she told me that I was a terrible waitress. I punctuated my agreement by throwing a drink in her face and loudly announcing that I quit. In fact, I think I actually said, “You can take this job and shove it! I quit!” My inner drama queen then strutted out of the building, head held high.
Oh my, Erica. You are my hero. How I have often longed to utter those very words, as I expect Jane, and Suzanne’s mom, both well know. All I can say is that you must have been channeling your feisty grandmother that day.
Heather in Arles said:
Here is my embarrassing avowal: when I snap, it isn’t at strangers (because frankly, my brain can’t work that fast in French) but at my nearest and dearest. Ouch. Somehow that makes it even worse, no? As Lori said, we all have our days…
You are a brave lady for writing about it!
Heather, we’ll have to get you a book of French zingers. In the meantime, thank you for calling me brave. My next post (in process) looks at some truly brave women. Stay tuned!
Still laughing at Erica’s waitress story, hold on a minute, let me compose myself… There, that’s better. Everything I wanted to say to you has been said, and I agree you are quite brave to fess up in public. I hope the customer went home and did half as much soul searching as you and also pondered how she too might start a better conversation next time. Your openness helps us all think how we might do better next time.
Thank you Jane. Somehow, I know you are much better at releasing your inner devil in the right time and place. As an amazing cook, you have mastered the art of the slow simmer, coming to a boil at just the right moment.
You may have set an impossibly high standard for yourself with your initial posts. If not posting gets you down, just take a photo or write a short comment on the news, weather, family, and let it go at that for one day. You will rev up again.
Thank you for the suggestion and your support, Caroline. It means a lot. For me, it’s more about writing, and less about posting. I haven’t been writing as much as I feel I should lately. And as for high standards, do visit the blogs by your fellow commenters Jane Ward and Heather in Arles, both of whom set and maintain a very high and beautiful standard with their blogs. Both have developed strong and vibrant voices that I greatly admire.
Kathleen Volp said:
hee hee hee… I have had days like that ! Words just pop out unintended. On the other hand, customers do ask the wierdest most irrelevant things. Kathleen