It is quite possible that I am an impatient curmudgeon. I do sometimes have to stop myself from snapping at people. So perhaps my problem is that I am hateful or mean-spirited. OR maybe my problem is that I should be living in a hut/cave/cage in the middle of the woods or in a desert. OR maybe the problem is that some people are just really fucking irritating.
Yesterday I was at the grocery store and I got THAT checkout clerk. You know the one: she portrays herself as friendly with a sing-songy voice (“Is PLA-stic ALL right?”) and keeps up a constant monologue as she scans your items. Now the monologue, I could deal with but when she comments on each one of my purchases as she scans it… well, it gets a bit annoying. It gets a bit intrusive. It gets just a wee bit RUDE.
Do I really want her to ponder over my bar-be-cue soy chips? Really? I feel dumb enough buying them because the bag is miniscule and they cost more than they should, but sometimes I need a treat and they taste good. See? There I am justifying my purchase to you. Do you care what I’m buying? Of course, you don’t and neither should she.
And, the thing is about her friendliness, I know it’s all put on. This is New England. People are not friendly in New England. We are wary of the friendly. And rightly so. Because the friendly are typically nosy and will not waste a second in talking behind our backs and tsk tsking over our lifestyles (I can just hear her in the break room, “Did you see how much wine she bought?”). Isn’t going to the grocery store horrible enough without this commentary and judgment?
The thing is I have been a clerk and I’ve been a waitress and a bartender and I NEVER felt compelled to comment on people’s purchases/orders unless they specifically asked me. Okay, maybe I would tell someone that a book he was buying was great—but then that’s the sort of thing you go to a bookstore for, right? I’m flattered (because I am lame and constantly seeking positive reinforcement) when a bookstore clerk tells me the book I’ve chosen is good or that that particular author is a great writer. Whatever, it’s just nice to know that the purchase (at least in that person’s mind) is not in vain.
You might be saying, You can’t have it both ways, Myfanwy. Either you like it or you don’t. BUT I would argue that I can have it both ways. Quite simply, I do NOT want someone musing over my soy chips. I just don’t. It makes me want to throw them in the garbage. I feel tainted and invaded. Am I too precious?
Well, okay, so here’s another story. Years ago, I was at a TJ MAXX or a Marshall’s or one of those stores and I was buying a tragic piece of lingerie for a friend’s bridal shower. I thought it would be funny. We’d laugh about it. Ha, ha!
Anyway, the clerk, as she was scanning it, called another clerk over, held it up, and said, “Would you ever wear something like this?” and the other clerk said, “No. I’d feel like a whore.”
Can you stand it?? I think my mouth hit the counter and I don’t know why I didn’t just walk out but I was in shock.
So am I a curmudgeon OR are people rude OR both?