I’m tired of being a good employee. There are some customers that simultaneously break my heart and stimulate my urge to drop-kick them out the window! One woman came in a few weeks ago, asking if we’d be interested in her son’s prison jumpsuit, seeing as he had just been released. As she wandered the store, asking if we “had shirts with boobs in them,” sitting on the floor to try on shoes in a manner that reminded me of a five-year-old that has been separated from her mother, murmuring to herself, another employee and I watched her, feeling somewhat nervous.
“Are you guys always this busy?” she asked unexpectedly.
“No, not usually!” I laughed as I plowed through another huge trash bag full of clothing another customer was trying to sell to us.
“You know, I miss having a job. I miss working. Does that sound weird? I’m just so LONELY.”
I couldn’t answer her. That comment cut me straight to the heart.
Unfortunately, this customer has been coming in a lot, always trying to sell us some stuff, talking about how she can’t make rent, etc. Whenever she does, we buy something because a few of her items are decent. However, she says things like, “Oh, you couldn’t take nothin’?” and always asks about a certain item that has been returned to her. I then have to explain that staining and DIY-bedazzling is just not “in” these days. I’m getting frustrated and short with this poor woman, who is clearly not altogether in her right mind.
Another customer came in on Wednesday. He’s one of those types who will go to the dressing rooms and stand outside them and yell up to us, “I need a fitting room!” Um, excuse me? Maybe you should come ask us politely. Please, thank you, and just plain not yelling at us like we’re beasts of burden go a long way in retail. But I helped him, and as I worked, he began chatting very awkwardly with me. I was already somewhat displeased with him, considering he was a yeller, so I had trouble making conversation. Then he asked, “Can you get me down that really generic looking Ed Hardy shirt up there?”
Really? I grabbed the hook and reached way up to try to unhook the mannequin that hung close to the ceiling. While I wrestled with it, he continued, “It’s just so generic-looking, don’t you think? I don’t know why anyone likes them.”
I replied, “Well, you’re asking me to get one down, aren’t you??”
“Oh. Yeah, I guess so.”
I pulled the shirt off the mannequin and walked away. He left almost immediately after without buying anything.
That night, Kevin and I went to a small group at our church named “On Location,” which is all about living your faith “where you live, work, and play.” On topic for the evening was Sodom and Gomorrah; as Abraham bargained with God, God said eventually that he would spare the cities for the sake of ten righteous men. The speaker’s point was that those cities were typically about 800 to 1000 people; 10 men is 1% of the population, so God can sometimes be willing to stay his judgment for the sake of a very small number of righteous people. Are we willing to be that righteous remnant?
And this is the sticky wicket for me; being a Christian at work, being righteous at work, means I have to treat all customers with love and grace, even the ones that are crazy, even the ones that are rude to me. That is hard. REALLY hard.
In other news, Kevin and I are en route to reserving our next apartment in VA. I am beyond excited; we’re going from 310 square feet to 780 square feet. I don’t know what we’ll do with all of that space. Seriously.