I was shopping at Hobby Lobby a few years back. There was this weird area that was kind of behind a counter. It kind of looked like the area was just for staff, but all the paint brushes were there. There isn’t anything so special about paint brushes that they need to be controlled. I don’t think there are lots of shoplifters who go for paint brushes. So perhaps the area wasn’t off-limits after all. I asked permission to go behind the counter and the clerk told me that was fine. He kind of looked at me funny, wondering why I asked.
I was in an area that looked like it was for staff – but I didn’t look like I was staff. I had my purse slung across me. I had a shopping basket next to me. And most importantly, I didn’t have on the vest that every Hobby Lobby employee wears.
In a short amount of time lady stood behind the counter that was behind me and said loudly “Ma’am!” I knew what she was trying to do. She thought I worked there. She was trying to get my attention. I ignored her, hoping she’d notice the purse, the basket, and the lack of vest. I had nothing that indicated I worked there. Nope. I was wrong. Louder she called. “Ma’am!”
Not “Excuse me.” not “Do you work here?” nor even “Can you help me?” She barked at me, like I was her servant. Her voice was shrill and sharp.
I got up, slowly turned around, and faced this bleach-blonde twenty something standing with her mother, and said simply “I don’t work here.”
Oh, she said, and walked away.
I wanted to speak on behalf of all retail employees everywhere. We are not your bitches. Don’t yell at us. Don’t treat us like dogs. We are people. We are here to serve you, but we aren’t your servants. You don’t have a right to yell at us.
But I didn’t. I’ve been trained well, to keep my opinion to myself. Lots of retail does that. Having a psychopathic, narcissistic manager will do that.
It is very stressful working retail. Somehow people assume that if you are working behind a counter it means you are beneath them. They treat you like you are stupid. Maybe they get a rise out of putting you down.
The library is a lot like retail, but it is nicer. People assume that you have a degree to work there. To do what I do, no. A high school diploma is the minimum requirement. But I am happy to have people treat me better, usually. There is still some retail “she’s behind the counter so she must be beneath me” attitude going on, sometimes.
I remember a time at the end of a transaction I said “thank you”. The guy got really angry and said “You are supposed to say ‘have a nice day'”
No. I’m not. There isn’t a script. If there was, he’d understand that it was time for him to exit stage right.
I don’t say have a nice day because it is trite. I don’t like it when people tell me that. I said “thank you” and it doesn’t even make sense for me to do that. I helped him. The library doesn’t make any money from people, so it isn’t like we need to say thanks. I said thanks to be polite. But he jumped on me.
Weird. If people want good service, they need to not be mean. I expect that in his mind, he gets shoddy service everywhere he goes. You get what you give.