Archive | April, 2011

I’m the reason you are grounded this month

15 Apr

Robots get stressed too, ya know

As my last semester of school is finally coming to a close, I have become more stressful than usual. Between dealing with my lazy group project members (one of which was unable to do one powerpoint slide because he was busy with Greek Week…no comment) and sitting through classes where my professors talk about absolutely nothing, I can safely say that I am ready to graduate without any real job prospects. I figure that the suffering that I have endured this semester has to be on a much grander scale of pain than, say, being jobless and homeless.

Last Saturday, however, added immensely to the stress I was already experiencing. I had been scheduled to work with my favorite person, Dudley. The other girl called off for the night, so we were the only two people in the store ringing for eight hours straight. I hadn’t worked with Dudley in quite a while, and he made up for lost time by shoving sunflower seeds into his mouth–with most of them missing his mouth completely–and telling me about how he was thinking about going back to school to become a nuclear mechanic while I stood there trying to keep a straight face. In the midst of me scanning 100 items a minute and calming down a few customers after Dudley had offended them, I experienced something that really made me feel like I was a part of some weird retail after-school special.

While I was scanning, the phone rang and I picked it up. The woman on the other end asked me what Swisher Sweets were, and I explained that they were flavored cigars and cigarillos.

Woman: Ohh….oh no.

Me: What’s wrong?

Woman: Oh no….can I ask you something? How old are you?

Me: 22.

Woman: Okay, I found a Swisher Sweet wrapper in my daughter’s car. She’s 18 and has health problems, and she’s trying to fit in way too much. Should I confront her about this? I’m a therapist and I just…I don’t know what to do.

Never in my job training had I been shown how to deal with dilemmas such as this one, and never in my life had I ever thought that a therapist would come to me of all people for advice. I mean come on–I work at a drug store–obviously I’m not sane.  I told her that I didn’t know what to tell her except that I would give her daughter the benefit of the doubt and assume that the wrapper was her friend’s. The mother just laughed and said, “Oh no, I wouldn’t give her the benefit of the doubt.” She proceeded to ask me what she should say to her.

After telling her that the best thing to do was to talk to her daughter and wishing her luck, I hung up the phone and shook my head in disbelief. Since when had my store become the new teen help hotline? Dealing with a mother who is concerned about her daughter smoking cigars–or cigars with other things in them–was never something that they showed me when I watched the job training VHS’s, with their warped music and actors portraying employees that are way too overzealous to be real, on my first day of work.

Later on in the day, everybody was rushing (you know what I mean, Rebecca Black) and I started to feel really overwhelmed and slightly bitter to everyone. My shift ended well, however, thanks to a really sweet elderly customer that I had toward the end of the night. I left Dudley to ring out our line of ten customers and helped her to grab a package of Depends. When she asked me if I could put them in her car and I said yes, she seemed surprised that I was so willing to do it, and when she asked me to fold up her walker and put it in her car, she seemed even more amazed that I was helping her out and wouldn’t stop thanking me. I walked back into the store, and the long line of impatient customers, with a small smile (or “Buddha smile” as my yoga teacher calls it) on my face because I was once again reminded, like I always am, why I continue to work my once-a-week eight hour shift: I love helping people. And yes, sometimes helping people means that I don’t know what to say or that their daughter may end up getting grounded for life based on my opinions, but at the end of the day it’s about stepping out of the “me me me!” track of mind that I, and most of us, are on and putting my heart out there for someone else.

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