June 27, 2008

Attitudes That Don't Get You Far In Life

I went to the grocery store yesterday and like a good little girl, I brought in my reusable grocery bags. I should have realized the checkout process was going to be difficult when I got into an empty line and the clerk took about 5 minutes to stop chatting with her coworkers and actually look at me.

Then I started hearing her mumble under her breath, "I ain't using those." Eventually, she got around to addressing me directly and said, "There's stuff on those bags. I ain't touching them." The stuff was mostly grass from their being set down in the front yard, but also a bit of dog hair. I said as much and she replied, "No, I ain't using them. That might be cat hair." "But I don't have a cat!" "I ain't touchin' them." These are bags that I bought at this store and which they encourage the use of.

"Okay, can you ring up the groceries? I'll bag them." It's my firm opinion that although she might have had a cat allergy the main concern was not with any pet dander, but with the fact that the reusable bags do not fit on the bag holder and are therefore somewhat harder to bag. She started ringing up my groceries and sticking them in plastic bags.

I again said I'd bag them. She dropped my nectarines on the floor and said, "You wanna go get yerself some new ones?" No offer to get them for me or call someone in the produce department to exchange them. Pregnant ladies love to waddle across to the other side of the store to replace their produce. I opted not to. Miss Thang the Checkout Lady continued to scan my groceries so fast that I couldn't keep up with the bagging, which irritated her.

Eventually I made it out of the store, silently fuming over the clerk, who is one of the few I've seen there who are not helpful or friendly. I suppose I could have complained to the manager, although complaining in person (as opposed to in complaining to the whole world via a blog post) is not generally in my nature. Looking back though, one can see the difference between those who go far in life and those who do not.

First, customers are actually the reason one is employed -- not coworkers and friends. I might be at your mercy when I stand in line, but just because I wait patiently does not mean ignoring the customer is a good idea.

Second, politeness wins friends; attitude does not. With a flick of her head and a snippy tone, declaring what she won't do, made me angry. Had a clerk said, "Oh, I'm sorry, but I'm really allergic to pets and those bags look like they have pet hair on them. Would you mind my not touching them?" who would have been upset? No one. I'd be glad to accommodate the problem and commiserate at the same time.

Third, if you make a mistake -- in this instance, dropping my fruit on the floor, take the time to rectify the error. Offering to let the customer fix the problem is not the same thing.

Fourth, when someone has already gone out of their way to accommodate you -- bagging groceries that are your job to bag, not complaining that you dropped her groceries on the floor and waiting patiently for you to finish conversations with your buddies -- try not to get impatient when that person moves a little more slowly than you do.

I suppose looking back, one can also see that I'm a bit of a pushover. I might have been treated better by this individual had I not been polite, however in general the principle holds. Politeness and kindness will help you along in the world. Attitude and a sense that the world owes you something will not. In my neighborhood, I suspect a lot of people would really like to have a grocery store job like that and I won't be surprised if they find someone else soon. As for me, I'll wait in a longer line to get a different clerk, take deep breaths and smile politely. As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.


Yeah, I went to the library the other week and got a 'talking to' by the librarian who was trying to tell me to put my books in the slot outside in the foyer...all of a dozen steps away. I said I wanted them checked back in right then, because if I needed to check out more I'd be over my limit. So, I was truly saving them a step so they didn't have to haul my stack inside.

As I saw it, she wasn't busy, but was a tad horsey.

Good service is so appreciated and it's not a huge thing to be polite, is it? Or is it?

Am I a child or an adult? Huh?

Posted by: melissa at June 27, 2008 01:44 PM

Like you, I tend to silently fume, unless the moon is in alignment with the stars, and I am in my special zen place and can actually say something firmly, politely and in a manner that gets the situation fixed.

Yeah - doesn't happen often.

There really is no excuse for someone in a customer service position act this way, particularly, as you pointed out, when there are many others who would love to have the job.

Posted by: Diane at June 27, 2008 02:10 PM

You are a far nicer person than I. Pregnancy has made me uber-cranky. When she dropped those nectarines on the floor, I would've gone straight to the manager, complaining loudly and holding up the line.

So for the sake of my fellow shoppers, I just hope I don't run into any cashiers like that in the next 6 months.

Posted by: Susanna at June 27, 2008 02:58 PM

I do not know what grocery store "chain" this was, but if I owned the store I would want this 'clerk' reported. No one should be treated with so little respect. If you do not want to report the clerk in person please go on line and make a report. Most stores have a way that you can do that.
I am sorry this happened. Take care of yourself. Roxie

Posted by: Roxie at June 27, 2008 04:10 PM

Okay, we live in the same town. Give me the name of the store and a description of the cashier.
I know some people. We'll take care of it.

Okay, so I don't really know anyone. But, poop on her.

By the way, Hi! I'm Lotus. Nice to meet you. ;-)

Posted by: Sarcastic Mom at June 28, 2008 12:52 AM

You should write a letter to the store manager and CC corporate (if it is a chain). Don't forget to mention you are very pregnant. You did an excellent job expressing your experience on your blog so I think you'd do a great job sending in a letter. I'm sorry you had to deal with such ignorance. Hopefully, your next trip to the store will be a more positive experience.

Posted by: Melissa at June 28, 2008 08:49 AM

I'm the same way. I just get angry and avoid eye contact. My husband complains and sometimes gets freebies. Roxie is right, though- you are doing the store a favor by letting them know how you were treated.

Mean people suck.

Posted by: Lenise at July 2, 2008 12:09 PM

Wow, that's horrendous customer service! I can't believe how bad they treated you. And especially being pregnant. You're a much better person than I, I'm sure if it were my wife & I, we would have made a fuss & complained. She's pregnant with twins. I think that's a good thing. Haha, I know it is! Best of luck!

Posted by: Johan at July 6, 2008 12:49 PM