Saturday, September 5, 2009

Setting the record straight

There is a rumor about me. I suppose it’s been circulating ever since I’ve existed. From the moment I opened my little mouth to say my first word there has been this rumor that I am dramatic. I’d like to lay this rumor to rest once and for all. I am absolutely, without a doubt, one billion percent sure that I am most certainly not, under any circumstance, even amidst the trials of this torturesome and at times pleasant earthly life, dramatic. I am detail oriented. That’s all.

Let me expound on this. If I were to tell you about a certain customer I assisted in my checkout line today it might go something like this:

It was 1:48 in the afternoon. I remember the time because I looked at the clock on my register and acknowledged that slight annoyance I feel that it is two minutes behind my watch. A day goes by so much slower when I look at my watch and two minutes later glance at my computer screen only to see the same time blaring back at me. I also recall the time because four added to eight equals twelve for which one is the first number. Hence 1:48. And it was at this 1:48 that SHE came through my line. I know this customer by name for she is a regular and I would add the name to the story because it suits her quite well except it makes me shutter to even type it, and I can’t have my poor husband thinking I have turrets syndrome due to the multiple times I would have to type it. So, for the sake of the story I’ll call her Miss T.

Miss T strolled up to my register and gave her usually half smile half grimace. I inhaled deeply anticipating a transaction requiring much patience. She slipped in behind her shopping cart and began loading the belt.

“Hi! How are you today?” I said in my best ‘fake-happy’ tone. She looked at me and with her nasally voice told me she was good, holding the ‘oo’ out far longer than any person usually would. “Do you have a Preferred Customer Card with you today?” I added as I began to swipe the first items.

“I doooo. “ She replied and handed me the object in question. I scanned it and smoothly handed it back to her. I looked down at the belt and all appeared normal, and I felt confident that the transaction would be over without any mishaps. It was when I was ringing in her lemon that I realized she was reaching into her cart for something else. Here we go. Bring it on. Miss T laid a fist full of wrappers on the belt. “I need to pay for theeese tooooo.” I picked up the first—an empty yogurt cup and spoon—and scanned it. The second wrapper, which had once been home to a protein bar, was quite wadded up, and as I tried to restore it to its original state so I could find the bar code crumbs began falling out of it. The third wrapper was wet from what I can only assume to be yogurt, and the forth was a can of empty soda, dark red lipstick framing the hole from which Miss T drank. Ew. One by one, I placed them over my scanner and then threw them away below me.

I gave her another fake smile. “Is this everything for you today?” She hesitated and stared longingly at her cart that still carried items not yet purchased. Then came the onslaught I had been waiting for.

“Weeell, I don’t think I can get this caaan, but I want this cat fooood. Wait, just one cat fooood, I don’t want the otheeeer. Aaaand I don’t want thiiiis one but can you just tell me the price on thiiiis one? Okay, yeah. . . I don’t want that one either. And maybe I want one of theeeeese but not the other threeee. What’s my totaaal?”

Panting I tell her the number.

“Okaaaay. Then I don’t think I want this baaaar, but I do want this rice. Actually, could we pour this rice in another baaaag? I don’t thing I want aaaaall of it. Then I have this yogurt but I don’t think I’m going to geeeet it. And actually, I think I wiiiill take that bar after aaaaall. And then I don’t think I’ll get the rest of theeese.” She proceeds to empty her shopping cart with the reminder of the items she couldn’t afford. I started getting creative finding places to stuff the rejected things because my cubby designated for “go-backs” was full. A line was forming behind her and she pulled out her checkbook. Oi. “What’s the daaate?”

When Miss. T was finally completely checked out and the line had been taken care of, I unloaded four days worth of groceries off my register into a handheld basket (brimming full) to be redistributed around the store.

A less detail-oriented person might tell this same story like this: “I had this lady come in today who bothered me and couldn’t buy everything in her cart. I hated it.” Which is fine. And even if they pronounced each word imitating Jim Carrey, that simple tale wouldn’t be deemed dramatic. And my story laced with rich descriptions included purely for the recipients benefit, allowing them to relate almost as if they were there, would be called dramatic (even if it was read by a monotone man named Barry). I don’t think including details is dramatic. (i.e. side-effects of medicines. Not dramatic. Meticulous facts that are important to know.) That's all I'm doing. Therefore, I am not dramatic. I am perceptive, and the fact that I can recall so much should speak volumes for my memory.

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