I haven’t written in two weeks. Not just here, but poetry too. Ryan and I got back from our road trip and I tried to meld back into “real life,” but, uh. It sucks. I’m trying.
The Sunday after our trip, after 9 full days together, Ryan dropped me off at work and headed home. Ryan and I don’t often see each other for more than 2 days at a time, during which I typically work. The trip was great (I’ll actually write about the second half soon), but going back to work knowing it was over was… less great.
A customer came through my line with her two teenaged daughters. One of them had a cast on her arm. The woman stayed at the far end of my lane and her daughters unloaded the groceries onto the belt, and then loaded the cart back up as I bagged.
The daughter in the cast moaned about how heavy one of the bags (the cans) was to the other daughter. Their exchange:
Daughter #1: These bags are too heavy.
Daughter #2 (laughing): Maybe it’s because you only have one arm.
Daughter #1: No, it isn’t, it’s making me angry.
Neither of them looked at me or talked to me or asked for me to separate the bags. Granted, sometimes I offer, but I didn’t, because it was a shit day and I’m predisposed to hate whiny teenagers.
By the last bag of their order, three medium-sized chip bags, the mother had reached the PIN pad. I handed her the last bag and read her total aloud. She looked me firmly in the eye and said, “Do you like chips, or do you like chip crumbs?”
I said what I tend to say when I didn’t hear or understand someone: “I’m sorry?”
She went on to tell me all about how poorly I had bagged, that she was watching me bag, and she used to work at GetGo so she knows that they should have taught me to bag. It wasn’t just the chips, it was the whole order.
I said “I’m sorry, did you want me to split up the bags some?” Her daughters were laughing at me. She continued to explain how poorly I had bagged her whole order, and she reached over the bagging structures to try and re-bag her chips for me. She continued to explain just how horrible I was.
I said, “I’m sorry, you’re being very rude, and you could have asked for a separate bag.”
“How about another cashier?”
I was stunned for a second, but I walked away and got my coordinator, explained to her (somewhat frantically) that I had apparently bagged her order so poorly she wanted another cashier. I told my coordinator my login code and asked her to finish the order. She told me to go in the back, and that it was okay.
I went in the back and started sobbing uncontrollably.
My coworkers were very sweet and understanding, maybe on the virtue that nothing like that has ever happened to me. They all gave me their staircase wit, told me they didn’t know how I was as calm about it as I was. Marion told me not to “let ‘em get to me,” because “they will.”
I wonder about that woman. I wonder if she was having a shitty day. I wonder if her chips had genuinely broken into crumbs. I wonder if she thought back to those days when she used to work at GetGo. I wonder how much food you ever actually have to bag at GetGo. I wonder why her daughters laughed at me, and I wonder why and how they so perfectly reflected my self-consciousness. I wonder if I was being rude on the virtue of her daughters being teenagers, and not just any teenagers, but pretty teenagers, like the ones who made me feel so small 5 years ago. I wonder whether she felt small then or now. I felt small.