Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gossip Trumps Everything

As I'm sure most of you already know, one of my biggest pet peeves is customers with cell phones glued to their ears. Not only is it rude when an associate or cashier is trying to help, but it often causes a detachment from the rest of the world. This lack of consideration is even worse when their attention is desperately needed elsewhere.

I was working register at Staples when a man came up and placed a mouse pad on the counter. I took it, scanned it, and told him his total.

He just stared at me.

I assumed he hadn't heard me. So I gave him the total again. He points at the mouse pad, then starts rummaging through the little bins of impulse items on the counter.

"Did you have a question?" I asked him. I really wasn't sure what to do. He took a pen out of the display and put it on the mouse pad. I scanned it and gave him his new total. Still no response.

Next, he added a pack of gum. Not knowing what else to do, I scanned that too. He kept staring at me. And by this time, he'd built up a nice line behind him.

Then, out of nowhere, a woman on a cell phone comes up and takes the man's hand. "Come along, Jeffrey."

Now the pieces fall into place. Jeffrey has some kind of psychological handicap.

He picks up the mouse pad and shows it to her. "No," she says. "Put it down. That's not for you." She takes it from him and drops it on the counter, not once even making eye contact with me. To top it off, she's still got the cell phone to her ear. "I'm sorry, Margie. Just give me a second here."

I don't know why I allow people's inconsiderate behavior to surprise me, but I was honestly stunned by what I was seeing. This woman was so wrapped up in herself and her phone call that she wasn't paying any attention to this poor guy she was supposed to be caring for!

I took Jeffrey's items off the counter, returning the pen and gum to their displays before placing the mouse pad on the shelf behind me. When I turned back around to take the next person in line, I was astounded to see that Jeffrey had already vanished again. The woman was standing by the far side of the counter, babbling away on her cell phone about some he said/she said nonsense. That's right; she was neglecting this poor guy for gossip!!

I shook my head and worked through the line of customers. As I did, one of the other associates came up to the front. "Keep an eye out for a middle-aged guy in a striped shirt," he told me. "He's acting weird and rummaging through all the shelves like he's looking for something."

That was Jeffrey. I explained to the associate and asked him to keep an eye on Jeffrey since his caregiver was busy catching up on the latest rumors amongst her circle of friends.

"I hope she's gonna clean up the messes he's making all over the place," the associate muttered, heading back onto the sales floor.

Not 5 minutes later, I spot Jeffrey. He was headed up to the register with a purple ruler in his hand. Just as he was about to put it on my counter, the woman snatched it out of his hand, dropped it on my counter, grabbed him by the wrist, and practically dragged him out the door. She never looked at me, never muttered an apology, and never got off the phone.

You know how truck drivers have those signs on the rear of their trailers that say, "How's my driving?" with a phone number? Well, I wish she'd had a sign that said, "How's my caregiving?"

Sadly, that would not be the last time a mentally challenged adult would be neglected in our store.

Shopping Tip of the Day for 4/12/11: The furniture department is not a customer lounge. Don't recline in one of the chairs with your feet on the desk while you have a leisurely cell phone conversation. Don't unload 4 bags of Burger King to have a ncie little lunch with your gang of friends. And don't come in on your lunch break with a pile of office paperwork and set up shop at one of our display desks to get your extra work done.

Yes, I have witnessed all of these and more.

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