The other night I decided to do some Christmas shopping on my way to a birthday party. Since the party started so late (8pm), I stopped by Dunkin Donuts to grab a coffee. The voice that came over the speaker asked me to drive up to the window where he would take my order. I sat behind a Honda CRV and watched the employee hand her over a coffee.
“No, no,” he said to the customer when she handed him the money. “It’s free tonight, we’re swamped in here.”
“Oh, well, in that case I’ll take three more coffees.”
The entire transaction lasted about seven minutes, which isn’t really a long time, but in I want my coffee years, it’s an eternity. Having worked quite a few thankless retail and food service jobs where people just treat you like garbage because they can, I was going to try my best to relate to him, but I quickly changed my mind.
That woman and I were different in that we chose different words to focus on. She put all her energy into “free” while I was more concerned with “swamped.” I wasn’t going to waste his time to empathize, he didn’t want it. So when he handed me my coffee and I handed over my debit card and he refused to take it I just said “You’re working really hard. I hope your night gets better. Thank you.” It was also out of respect for the people that had piled up behind me in line while that woman asked for more free coffee. Additionally, she kept him gabbing long after she received her free coffees which infuriated me more. I hate having my time wasted.
We tend to direct our behavior sometimes towards the employees for not speaking up to the customer to move things along, but they’re not allowed to. I was scolded once for yelling at a customer for telling me I was “too fat to pass by him” when I nicely said “Excuse me” to him when he was blocking the entrance of where I needed to go. Had we been two people on the street, I would’ve put totally justified in punching him in his stupid mouth. I mopped up the same toddlers urine twice when I was waitressing. The family then left me $4 on a $60 bill after I ran all over the place to get their food and separate their checks (which they paid as one anyway.) They said something snarky to me on their way out, per usual, I responded with “Please don’t sit in my section next time you come here. Every time I wait on you and your family it is the worst part of my day.” What did my boss do? She cut me first and I lost out on potential tips. (She was probably right in doing that, but those people were Alamo Heights buttholes who sat their daughter in front of a portable DVD player and asked me for loose slices of lunch meat every time I walked by.) Every other table I had was trying to empathize and I just wanted to cry. They never would’ve spoken to me like that if the circumstances were different. I never did see them again.
Which brings me to my next adventure: Kohl’s. Guys, I freaking love Kohl’s. I fought it for so long. I’m telling you right now: Don’t fight Kohl’s. Embrace it.
As I was finishing up my transaction with the nicest cashier ever, these two men literally pushed me out of the way. Unfortunately, this happens to me pretty frequently.
“I need to know if I can use this coupon today!”
The cashier, either shocked or powerless, said nothing, but looked at me with sympathetic eyes.
“I’m finishing up my sale here. Give me some space. She has some coupons to give me.”
“I need to know if I can USE MY COUPON TODAY!” And then he turned green and pounded his fist through the register. It was wild.
There are a few lessons to be learned here.
1. Be nice to people. Sometimes people are forced to be nice to you no matter how big of a dickhead you are being.
2. Don’t take advantage of other people’s kindness or misfortune. You may find yourself in that position some day.
3. Don’t apologize to someone when they push you over at Kohl’s. The words “I’m sorry, but…” almost preceded my opening statement.
4. You know what? Never apologize ever unless you really truly hurt someones feelings or inconvenience them. Those words have almost lost all meaning. They’re not said to appease people or introduce a request. They’re said when you mess up and want to express how badly you feel about it.
5. Choose what words you want to focus on! Focus on the positive, the words that ask for help or tell you how people feel about something. Focus on the words that you want to use to express yourself in a meaningful way.
6. You can stand up for yourself when someone is outright rude or disrespectful, but be careful about what you say because…
7. You never know who you’re talking to. Potential employer? Friend of a friend or family member? Banksy?
8. Seriously, sign up for Kohl’s charge. They send you all kinds of coupons.