Monday, May 17, 2010

Nothing

So I was at work Saturday night, and it was busy, and you just sort of hit 'a zone' where you just automatically work the register. "Is that it for you?" "Are you using this as credit or debit?" "Thank you and I hope you have a nice rest of your day!" And I was going along. A very tanned man set his Sobe on the counter, and I asked "Is that all for you today?" He fixed me with such a look of utter disdain. He did not reply. I looked at him a little surprised.

You know, I find myself wondering about how people see me sometimes. I know that some people like me a great deal, and do not hesitate to tell me this. I know that others, well, not so much. But this man here, I knew what he saw when he looked at me. He saw nothing. I was simply nothing. A minimum wage worker in a gas station who was not even a blip on his radar. A couple minutes later, a customer came in and said, "Man! did you see the limo pulling out of here?" I hadn't.

Still, I thought about that face. If you all ever find yourself looking across a counter and thinking the person is nothing, well, I'm not.

And just knowing that is a real step up for me.

11 comments:

Brianna said...

Good for you, Mom! I used to get that look a lot, working at the various minimum wage jobs I had. He's just lucky you were so nice, I used to just not wait on them till they told me if they wanted anything else. I used to get those sort of people all the time, and they'd yell at me after I finished ringing up the order because they wanted cigarettes or something. After a while, I just wouldn't start ringing them until they answered my question one way or the other! :)

Lydia said...

I have often thought that how a person treats a person in a service position is the mark of the man or woman. You know, greet the room maid, be kind to your waitress, wish the cashier a good day. I have been all these things, and appreciate their value.

Glad you value yourself, that man may have be in a limo, but in my book doesn't amount to much.

WhiteStone said...

Awww, I've often found myself on the other side of the counter, the buying side, and have been so distracted and in my own little world that I have totally neglected making eye contact with the clerk, thereby making her a non-person. And while your particular customer with the limo may have been a total jerk, please accept my apology for my own lack of connecting as a human being.

I've worked that job myself, both in a grocery store and in a convenience store. So I've been on both sides of the counter.

I wish I was a better people person in my face-to-face encounters.

Sigh!

P.S., if you worked close by, I'd stop by and bug you and remind you that you are a human bean in the garden of life, just like the rest of us. lol

Mary Paddock said...

In the years that I was a substitute teacher, they once asked me to fill in as a cook and dishwasher in the cafeteria during the first weeks of the school year. I took them up on it as it meant a notably bigger paycheck.

I received a very, very good lesson in how we sometimes treat people behind the counter. The assumptions we make, etc. Most teachers were very nice, but two or three were simply snotty and talked to the kitchen staff like they were idiots or second class citizens. When the superintendent (who knew and liked me) introduced me to the new principal as one of their best substitute teachers as well as a homeschooler (bless him), the woman looked me up and down in my white apron and sneered at me behind his back. I was so floored I didn't know what to say.

Many years ago, mother taught me that people behind the counter mattered. If we were in a fast food place and the person behind the counter seemed stressed or tired, she'd comment on it sympathetically. If not, she'd find something about their customer service skills or appearance to compliment. If the person was clearly new at their job, she'd slow down and give them some encouragement. To be honest, I am not as good at this as she is, but it taught me to remember that I am dealing with a human being who has an entire life they are living and this is just one aspect of it.

Mrs.Spit said...

People who are not nice to service staff are not nice people. Period. Everyone has a job. Everyone deserves respect for it.

Debby said...

Actually, WhiteStone, this was not a distracted person. This was a person making eye contact. This was a person who, when asked a polite question, chose not to speak politely back. There was a challenging there, and it was a wierd moment.

A Novel Woman said...

That little exchange says more about him than about you.

I used to work for a very senior government official and I spent a lot of time with him, both at his home and at state functions. I was always impressed by how he spoke to regular folk. A maid making up his room, or a cab driver or salesclerk selling him shoes were accorded the same respect as visiting heads of state. He told me once that he believes everyone deserves the same level of courtesy, that these are the people who make life easier for him, and that you would know everything you need to know about a person by watching how they treat those who work in service.

Kelly said...

Novel Woman is right.... it's definitely a reflection on him, not you.

My daughter worked part time in a dry cleaners from the time she was sixteen (full time in the summers) until she went off to college (and then some when she'd come home for holidays to get extra spending money). It was a real education for her on how people treat others. I like to think I'd already taught her how to be on the other side of the counter.

Kerry ABOUT ME said...

What a jerk! Just enough example of money does not buy happiness. I'm actually a little sad for this guy, whoever he is. I bet he is very lonely and unhappy.

Kerry Osborne

deardarl said...

Oh that man sounds like a real loser!
Funnily enough, the attendant at our petrol station is called Bob. Bob is 60 and lost his wife before Christmas last year. I count Bob as one of "my people" and try to make sure I only get petrol when I know he is on shift....
Life is too short not to be friendly to everyone you meet....

JJ said...

Character - How you treat those who can do nothing for you.

Clearly this man was lacking in character.