Today when I got to work, my co-worker that is allergic to sugar was eating a doughnut. She offered me one of the others she had bought and in my greed for morning sugar, I didn't think to ask the usual, "and how are you this morning?" I slammed the doughnut and was grateful. I was running a wee bit late and had a major sweet tooth right from the start.
Later she told me that her boyfriend had broke up with her the night before. Breakups are always weird, and it is usually worse to be the one broken up with and not the one doing the deed. Throughout the day, she got teary-eyed and would say goofy things once in awhile. At one point she told me how she was having a hard time being friendly with customers.
Tell me about it. Heartbreak is the reason I got into this business.
I was trying to be supportive and funny and I told her that it would be sort of awesome if she just started crying. Our customers talk to us like we are emotionless robots, so showing them some gross, raw emotion might be hilarious. That made her laugh a little anyway.
But really, what do you do when you see a clerk having a bad day? It always makes me feel a little uncomfortable and I will often think about them later. I always want to be able to say the right thing, but I realize I am just a customer and I am probably making them feel weird and red blotchy faced.
We all take our turns being vulnerable and uncomfortable.