Monday, February 16, 2009

Land of Make Believe

I will start with my thoughts on cell phone etiquette. I don't mind people on cell phones. This is the future and I love that there is a little plastic box I can keep in my pocket to have constant access to people that are important to me. I don't have to wait to tell someone a story; I can text them as it's happening. Even as a retail clerk, there are few times when people on phones bother me; just apologize and take your call. I don't care. I don't even mind when people are on the phone during our entire transaction and we never talk. I don't like to be "shushed" when someone on their phone is holding up a line and I try to move them along. Any other annoyances have yet to reveal themselves to me.

The other day there was a mommie browsing in my department. There is a certain contempt I feel towards mommies, not mothers in general, but the women with entitled, superior attitudes that believe that by giving birth they automatically gain infinite wisdom and deserve endless thanks.

This mommie happened to be on the phone, talking loudly about her children and advising her listener on all child issues. Mommie walked past me several times, and I past her, but she refused to make any eye contact with me. In my experience, this is unusual for someone on their phone. Most people will give you a gesture of some sort as a silent greeting to acknowledge that they see you, unless they are honestly just passing through and not looking at merchandise. This went on for about 20 minutes. I was constantly aware of her location because of her loud conversation. Then shit got awkward.

One of the office workers just happened to be passing by Mommie as she got off her phone and IMMEDIATELY desired service. Office worker called out "who's supposed to be working up here?! This customer has a question!" I came around the corner and tried to cooly defend myself and shame Mommie by saying "she's been on the phone." I think Office Worker got that I was not ignoring the customer and Mommie was already over it and asking me questions so quickly that I couldn't even answer them.

Then I realized Mommie was playing shopper. I don't know if I have always dealt with so many play shoppers or if these tough times have created psychological voids that spending used to fill. There is a need or desire for a product. There is the thrilling and frustrating hunt and the consulting with friends and clerks. Then there is the find, the transaction, and finally, the item is placed in the home. It is satisfying. So when people can't afford anything, their needs and desires become fantastical; if they can never find it, they never have to face the fact that they can't buy it.

Maybe I was cruel to Mommie. I realized early on what she was doing, but I have a hard time turning down my dutiful clerk mode. My job is to try to give people what they want. You can imagine Mommie's frustration when I was delivering on her absurd requests. Her requests changed as we stood there and looked in catalogs. Eventually she was asking for things completely opposite of her first inquiry. Finally, she mercifally cut herself off and decided that she would have to "keep looking."

Play shoppers take note: I don't mind participating in your head games, but don't make trying to get me in trouble or fired part of your routine. Some would say that's bad Karma. I say it's just dick.

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