"Just who in the fuck do you think you are?"
I wasn't supposed to answer that, I knew that much. But as I stood there, watching her face contort, her fat finger wagging in my face, I couldn't help but consider the question. I mean, just who in the fuck was I? Her question dug deep into me, a twenty year old college dropout. By day, I was the Customer Service Manager at a hobby supply store. By night, a blossoming alcoholic.
I wondered if she'd lower her voice if she knew how bad this hangover was? Probably not. She didn't strike me as the sensitive type.
The saddest part of this situation was that this woman had no idea who I was. She was in my face, in front of a line full of people, screaming at me like I'd sucker-punched her whining child. I would've liked to - believe me. But I didn't. All I did was re-read a very plainly written sale sign to her. Why no, ma'am, the Christmas ornaments aren't on sale, the sign was for the Christmas ribbon. No, see, the sign was on the aisle with the ribbon. There are no signs on the ornament aisle. More screaming, finger waving, spit flying. Yes, sure, I'll call my manager.
This is my life.
My manager came. The woman screamed. We both knew she'd be getting her way. He rolled over, and I couldn't blame him. It was his job. This was our job. We sell over-priced, tacky, useless decor to middle aged housewives. Retail zombies.
The woman looked at me smugly as I re-rang her items at the non existent sale price, and a smirk spread slowly across her face as I wrapped each individual ornament with robot-like precision. She basked in the glory of her victory and I avoided eye contact.
What she didn't realize, what no one with that sort of over-developed sense of entitlement realizes, is that the customer isn't always right. They don't always win. Every time my hand went into that bag with one of her gaudy, glittery ornaments, I squeezed. The ornament shattered in my hands without a sound. Ten, eleven, twelve times. Transaction finished, I handed her the receipt and her purchase. She sauntered out, head held high, with her bag full of paper and broken glass. I smiled.
Tonight I'll leave this place, covered in glitter and pieces of styrofoam, and I'll still have no idea who the fuck I am. I'll take this smock off and I'll be a real person again, rather than a faceless punching bag to the general public. I'll surround myself with people I love and who love me the same, and that's good enough for me.
Enjoy that one of a kind flamingo ornament, though, ma'am. Hope it touches you in all the places your husband won't.
And don't forget to have a nice day.