TCG’s Greatest Hits: The Good Girl
For those of you who don’t know, I began my illustrious (illustrious means “eating an entire box of Oreo Cakesters while wearing dirty pajamas”, right?) writing career by chronicling my adventures in retail at the blog, The Checkout Girl. The site is offline for now, but the thought of my stories sitting around, collecting dust, makes me sad, so I’ll be sharing my favorites here, on Mondays.
A woman came in today, wearing Coach rain boots, a Coach scarf, and carrying a Coach bag (how do I know this? everything was emblazoned with the very-much-about-being-seen “C” logo). She was pleasant enough, asking about flowers and talking about the weather, until she accidentally misstepped and knocked over a small display. Her whole attitude changed when I made move to help her.
“I wouldn’t have knocked that over if you hadn’t put it in such a TERRIBLE place. How is ANYBODY supposed to get around that? NOT very good planning,” she snarled, loudly.
She then tossed the scarf over her shoulder and took leave of our conversation, as I scrambled on the floor to clean up the mess.
A few minutes later a woman came behind the counter to hand me a dozen roses.
“I won’t be home for a couple of hours. I need these in a water packet.”
“Do you mean a bag?”
“No, a water packet.”
“I don’t know what that is, can you describe it to me?”
“Okay, well, it’s a bag…”
She kept saying “The girl”. As in “The girl always does the water packet for me” and “The girl always gives me extra flower food” and “The girl always ties a bow around them”.
A little too loudly, I finally interrupted, “MA’AM!”
“I AM THE GIRL.”
I put the flowers in a bag and added a some water. She watched me perform the whole operation, including turning the faucet first on then off. And, the bag is clear. It looks like you won the flowers like a goldfish at the County Fair. There should have been no more questions. But there were. She held the bag up to her face and said, “So, did you put water in here?”
I was really bummed out from dealing with the rude and the obtuse. I took a ten minute break, wherein I consumed two cups of coffee and caught up on twitter. It was a mean day there, too. People were taking little jabs at and mocking each other. It felt very high school. I shut it down and texted my friend with just this, “I wonder if being nice will ever be cool.”
She was right on board with this (her name IS Kindness Girl so duh) and we had a good text dialogue going about how revolutionary it would be if being kind were cool. I wondered if it even mattered since so many people were determined to treat others as less than.
A customer came in and interrupted the conversation, slightly annoying me. She said she was going to a funeral and needed some flowers. I am just about the worst at flower arranging, being better with the business end of selling flowers than the artistic one, and hate doing it. I cut some roses to fit the vase she had brought with her and was fussing with them when she asked me if I remembered her. Once she reminded me, I did. Too well.
She had come in the store just about a year ago, looking a total mess. She told me that her mom was dying. That day. She had been battling cancer and they were going to terminate life support and let her go. She had started to cry when telling me, but then began to sob. I made out that she wanted some flowers in the room for those who came to be with her and they had to be yellow in case there was any chance she might open her eyes and see them before she went. Yellow was her favorite color.
I died. I didn’t know this woman, and it certainly would not be looked upon favorably by my supervisors, but I put my arms around her and let her cry. She only needed a minute or two, then she composed herself, bought her flowers, and went on her way.
Here she was again, telling me that my sympathy that day had made a difference. She said that her mom had passed and she had returned to her hometown. She said that she thought about me sometimes and had shared with a few people how nice I was. Now she was back in town. With more sadness.
“I knew I had to come see you.”
Jewel said, “In the end, only kindness matters.” She might be a little bit of a snaggletooth and I don’t know that it’s the only thing that matters, but it does matter. People notice if you are nice, and it’s cool.