Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ineffective Evangelization (Alternate Title: Why I’m Glad I No Longer Work In Retail)

On a recent sunny Wednesday, I stopped in at my local CVS to load up on healthy Easter treats like chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. Because for some reason that I am certain is based on sound theology, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior calls for spiked blood sugar and tooth decay. 

As I made my way to the checkout counter,  I heard a woman demand to know why her coupon was not valid and who, exactly, the cashier thought she was by saying otherwise. The irate customer was not shy about heaping verbal abuse upon the cashier’s head. The cashier, clearly a veteran, countered Irate Customer’s venom with apologies for inconvenience and assurances that her hands were tied. Irate Customer just kept getting louder and using harsher words until Veteran Cashier finally said, “Ma’am, it’s my job to uphold store policy, not to take abuse from people like you. Maybe the manager can help you.”
Don't take nuthin' offa NOBODY!!
Irate Customer, clearly unsatisfied with the Veteran Cashier’s attempt to end the confrontation, shouted profanities at Veteran Cashier and a second cashier who had arrived on the scene. The second cashier was young and clearly bewildered by Irate Customer. Veteran Cashier ignored the tirade and rang up customers with polite smiles and cheerful suggestions that they have a great day. Naturally, Irate Customer got even more pissed off.

I wish I could say that the other customers and I banded together to physically remove Irate Customer from the store. Instead, we all avoided eye contact like the plague and tried to make it look like we didn’t notice that Irate Customer was even there. (“Oh, there’s a confrontation going on two feet in front of me? I had no idea! I was just so engrossed in admiring the ceiling tile!”) After all, her mental stability was questionable, and you never really know who’s packin’ these days.

When the manager finally made it to the counter, he calmly explained why the store was unable to give Irate Customer the discount she so passionately sought. The manager and cashiers were as polite and professional as they could be under the circumstances, but they stood their ground. Finally, Irate Customer bellowed her exit line as she stormed out of the store:

Y’all [rhymes with glass bowls] need to get your [rhymes with glasses] some [rhymes with brutha truckin’] Jesus up in this [rhymes with brutha  truckin’] place!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am all about reaching out to Jesus when in need. Praise the Lord and all that good churchy stuff. Nonetheless, I could not help but feel that Irate Customer was rather disinterested in the retail staff’s eternal salvation. Call me old fashioned, but it seems like if you really do believe that people need Jesus in their lives (or at their drugstore checkout counters), you might not cuss quite so much when making prayer suggestions. If there is one thing that turns people off to the Good News more than a group of evangelists knocking on their door to discuss salvation, it's being shouted down and cussed out by someone who claims to promote the Christian way.

But that’s just my humble opinion.

When it was my turn, Veteran Cashier and I shared a hearty laugh over Irate Customer’s behavior (After she had left, of course.) I had worked in that very same store in my teens and had suffered similar abuse at the hands of many a customer of questionable sanity. Twenty years ago, I would have had to bite back hot tears and try not to cry when confronted by such a customer. These days, my skin is a lot thicker and my tolerance for bovine feces is a lot lower, so I would probably be able to laugh it off. 

That said, witnessing Irate Customer’s tantrum reminded me to be joyfully grateful for the frustrations I face in my present job as a professional grammar cop. Even on my worst days, I don’t have to put up with crap like that. And for that, there's only one thing to say:

On that note, have a blessed Easter weekend!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Go on, spill yer guts!