‘Damn this store, damn this sale and damn these people!’ I thought to myself as I carried a large television through a tight knot of people. “Pardon me!” I called trying to make a gap in the crowd. A few people glanced in my direction but no one bothered to try and move out of the way. Finally, I was forced to attempt to squeeze through the tiny openings that appeared in the herd. I apologized to the people that I bumped into while swearing at them in my mind.
At last, I managed to bring my customer and the television up to my register. In a few short moments, I had her checked out and headed away from the register. I took a deep breath and scanned the store. It was our Christmas season sale and the store was packed. People were going bananas over overpriced times. I seriously hate this time of year.
“Miss?” A small voice said at my side, I turned to see an older woman with platinum white hair standing there, “Can you help me? I am looking for a video game for my grandson, but I am not sure what to get.”
“Of course, ma’am.” I gave her a bright smile and walked her over to the video game section, “How old is he? What kind of games does he like? What system does he have?”
She was staring at me, with a deer in the headlights look, “My Mikey is thirteen. I think he has a Playbox?”
It was seriously hard to resist the urge to roll my eyes. “Maybe he has a PlayStation? Or an X-box?”
The old woman started wringing her hands, “Oh, I just don’t know these newfangled electronics. Just pick one.”
Again I was forced to stifle a groan. “Well, let’s move onto the types of games he plays. Call of duty? Final fantasy? 7 days to die maybe?”
She stared at me, the look on her face plainly said she thought I was speaking gibberish. She hesitated, “….Tetris? My daughter says that there is some game he really wants, but I can’t remember what it was”
You can’t yell at the customers. You can’t yell at the customers. I repeated to myself as I took another deep breath. From the counter behind my mixed up madam, I could hear loud voices start to pick up. My co-worker Robin was holding a credit card in her hand, and towering over her was a very large man. I couldn’t tell what he was saying but he was gesturing very angrily.
“Maybe you should call your daughter and ask?” I started to try and edge around her. Robin was looking like she needed backup.
“It must be a new game, don’t you know what it is?”
“There are quite a few new games out for the holidays" I was getting very close to losing my temper with this lady. "There would be no way for me to know which one your daughter told you to get." Get a freaking clue lady.
"But, I don't want to let my little Mickey down!" She looked like she was about to cry. Behind her, Robin handed the man back his card and he stormed off with his bags. Well, there goes the hope of being backup for Robin. I turned back to my nervous nana.
"I completely understand. All I can recommend is to call your daughter. She would know what game she told you to get. I don't want to recommend a game and really disappoint your grandson."
She finally nodded and sighed "I suppose that you are right, young lady."
I was finally able to escape her and make my way over to Robin.
"What was all that about?"
Her eyes were red from fighting back tears, "Have you ever seen a card labeled Visa come up MasterCard?"
"That guy’s card did. There was no name on the card itself but on the receipt, the name came up John Wayne. I was nervous so I was calling Debra to come up and take a look. She was doing her usual, 'Figure it out yourself.'and was brushing me off. The customer just kept getting louder and louder. I didn't know what else to do so I let him go. If Debra doesn’t care enough to come up to the register. Why should I care that this guy was probably scamming us?”
"That does sound iffy. What did he buy?" She looked miserable as I asked.
"A Playstation 4, a bunch of accessories and games. Altogether it came to around $600." She put her head in her hands. “I am so going to get fired when Debra finds out.”
“It is her own fault for not coming when you called.” I put my arm around her. “Don’t be such a pessimist.” That was really the pot calling the kettle black here. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of quitting this place. Today was expressly bad. Every other customer wanted to complain about our sales or scream at me for stuff I couldn’t change if I wanted to.
Before she could respond, there was a huge crash from behind us. I stifled a groan as I turned, there in the middle of the aisle, was a small boy. He was surrounded by the remnants of what was once a tower of DVDs. His blue eyes were wide and fixed on the disaster area around him.
“Louie!” A middle-aged woman scolded as she approached. “What have I told you about touching things? Tell these ladies that you are sorry right now!”
“I’m sorry.” Louie sniffed, “I just wanted to look at the movies.”
Robin and I exchanged a long-suffering glance. “Its ok, hun.” Robin smiled at him. “We will get that cleaned up in a jiffy, don’t you fret.”
Louie gave us a small smile as his mom swept him up and disappeared into the crowd. Of course, she didn’t offer to help clean up the mess at all. Not that we could have accepted her help, but the offer would have been nice.
“I’ll rock, paper, scissors you for it.” I told Robin, staring at the mound of DVDs. “Loser remakes Mount Movie.”
A short battle later, I was on my hands and knees gathering movies. People kept walking into the cases and kicking them halfway around the store. You would think people would notice the pile of movies or me trying to gather them. But alas, you would be wrong. I was trying not to scream at the latest person who kicked one of the DVD cases when I felt a hand on my head.
“Aren’t you a cute little kitty.” An older man with slicked-backed hair was giving me a smarmy smile.
Oh, man. Creep alert. I backed up, out of grabbing range and stood up. “Can I help you.”
He got closer again, invading my personal space. “What gift would you recommend for, oh, let’s say, a young lady like yourself?”
So it is going to be one of those types of creeps. Wonderful. “Without knowing more about the person you are buying for, I couldn’t hazard a guess at what she would like.” I was backing up, trying to regain my personal bubble.
He was following me like he was attached with an invisible string. “Well, what if I wanted to buy you a present?”
`Please, creep. Get a clue. “We aren’t allowed to accept presents from customers, Sir.”
“Oh, come on, no one would need to know.” His smile was sending chills down my spine. His hand was on my shoulder and his eyes were on my chest.
“Ma’am. Can I get some assistance?” There to my side was a large man with a big bushy beard. He was wearing overalls and looked like my own, personal, redneck Santa.
“Of course, Sir!” I pulled away from Creepo. “I must go and help other customers.” I turned to Santa, “What do you need help with?”
“I need help with uh…. cell phone covers. I don’t know which one to get.” Santa was staring down Creepo.
“I would be more than happy to help you with that! Follow me. “ As I led Santa off, Creepo started to pout. Once we were out of sight of the jerk, Santa stopped walking and looked at me.
“I don’t really need help, but you looked like you did.” He said giving me a concerned look. “That guy was getting handsy. “
I could just cry, he really is my personal redneck Santa. “Thank you, Sir.”
“No problem.” With that Santa headed off, maybe back to the North Pole.
I really didn’t want to go back to Mount Movie yet. Creepo might be lurking. Up ahead I could see another of my coworkers, Murphy, getting overwhelmed at the register. The line was already five customers deep and more people were headed to get in line.
“Murph, I’m opening register 2.” I called over to him. He gave me a grateful look, before returning to his customer.
“Next customer can come on over!” I called out once I was logged in.
“About freaking time!” There was a well-dressed woman who was the first to get to my register. She was scowling and glaring at me over her reading glasses. “I have been waiting for ten minutes!”
I forced a smile, “I apologize for that. We are very busy with our sales.” I started to grab her items to check her out and get her out of my hair.
“What are you going to do for my inconvenience?” She was tapping her foot and crossed her arms.
“Ma’am, all of your items are on sale. I am unable to give you a further discount.”
“Umph. That will not do. I want to speak to your manager.”
“Ma’am, My manager will tell you the same thing.”
“Manager. Now.” She hissed.
I swallowed a swear and grabbed the radio, “Debra, a customer is requesting to speak with you.”
“Can’t you just deal with it?” My manager, like always, was trying to avoid dealing with customers. “You know we are all busy.”
“She just wants you.” I wanted to tell her that Miss Priss was throwing a tantrum like a child who only wanted their mother, but Debra would not like that phrasing.
“Fine. Give me a few minutes.”
“She will be up here in just a few minutes.” I informed Miss Priss.
“Umph.” She put her nose in the air. The next few minutes passed in a crawl. Miss Priss was glaring at me while tapping her foot. It was going on ten minutes when Debra finally appeared from where ever she had been hiding. By this time, I too had an angry line of customers lined up behind the very angry woman.
“Can I help you, ma’am?” Debra asked the angry woman.
“I certainly hope so! I had to wait 20 minutes for someone to bother to check me out. And then, this young brat refused to do anything for my inconvenience.” Miss Priss exploded. “I expect you to make this right. And I expect this worker to be reprimanded.”
“Oh, I totally understand!” Debra’s tone was sickeningly sweet. “Please accept this $50 gift card and do not worry I will absolutely address her behavior with her.”
“Excuse me?” My sudden question was surprising even to me. “Aren’t you going to even ask ME what happened?”
Debra glared at me, “ Meet me in my office when you are done ringing up this line. And hold your tongue before you get more than just a write-up.”
“No.” I was fed up with this. “Forget this. I quit. “ I took off my work vest and threw it at her. I stormed towards the front doors, ignoring Debra’s calls for me to come back. Damn this store, damn Debra, and damn these customers. I was free at last.