Monday, January 23, 2012


An Unflattering Portrait of How a Bad Day Can Turn Me Into a Miser

Q: Why was today the worst day Ever?

A:  Actually, it didn’t start off as the worst day ever. I started out the day with a bowl of raisin bran and when I got to work, a coworker remarked that I looked happy, and indeed I felt happy and awake. I rang up the hot eggy breakfasts of many pleasant patrons and then the stream of hungry people ceased and I went to bag groceries for a coworker who appeared to be in need of some help.
I attempted to place the box of fancy fruit tarts into the bottom of the bag, which, contrary to what the customer argued later, can be done- just not by me, apparently. This is probably the 20th pastry/fruit tart/cake/bakery creation I’ve ruined  via trying-to-put-it-in-a-bag since I started the job, so admittedly I shouldn’t have thought that I could be so graceful and skilled as to not fuck it up. The box tipped and three of the fruit tarts appeared to grow uglier, however no less edible or delicious. When I remarked to the obese lady (I don’t care how unnecessary, ignorant or immature it is that I’m noting the weight of the woman; bitterness makes me immature and I’m entitled to be both sometimes, perhaps especially as a person who works in customer service) that the box had accidentally tipped, she said “ARE YOU SERIOUS?”
She sounded genuinely stunned, like there was a real possibility that I was just fucking with her. And I said “uhhhh yeah, I’m serious. It was a mistake, I’m sorry. Do you want me to go get you some new fruit tarts?”
At which point she went on a tirade about how she didn’t have TIME (!!!) to wait for new fruit tarts because she was going to pick her son up from school and the fruit tarts were for him and she was going to be late, and she emphasized once more that she “[couldn’t] believe it.”

It really surprises me sometimes, the things people can’t believe.

I offered to get the lady a full refund ($15) for her fancy fruit tarts, which she gladly accepted, although she didn’t leave the store without remarking to my supervisor (who is smart and nice enough to know that I don’t ruin fruit tarts for fun) that:
-I had left to get the refund prematurely, before finishing bagging the rest of her groceries
-Today was "not my day"

And finally, my favorite:

Immediately after hearing this last bit, I fantasized about being able to go back in time to actually drop the fruit tarts on purpose (I become malicious when accused of a fictitious maliciousness, possibly because then I become paranoid that maybe I’m subconsciously a miser and part of me did do it on purpose, though without realizing it. One of my biggest fears is being a secret miser). Only in the fantasy the dropping of the fruit tarts was much more fantastic and ended in me eating the fruit tarts.

This post might be incredibly boring and obnoxious. I’m self-aware enough to know that right now I might be one of those people who pointlessly gripes on and on about my job despite the fact that my audience might not care or might not be able to relate. In this way, this entry feels better suited for a Livejournal entry from 2003 [when I worked at a Soft Pretzel Franchise after school and would write nightly about the idiocy of a hungry entitled public and my general loathing of humanity. Corporate found my journal entries and I was taken aside one day and told not to write about the company anymore. In 2006, the year I took off from school to “find myself,” I would become a supervisor at a competing Soft Pretzel Franchise where I would spend the entire year being hit on by my engaged boss, reading utopian anarchist propaganda which made the job slightly more tolerable insofar as it equipped me with enough idealism to imagine a future without soft pretzel wage slavery and the sad malls that house it, and getting high in the McDonald’s parking lot after work ] or a conversation with a coworker. But please trust me: if you’ve never worked in customer service and you roll your eyes when someone goes off about the things that they endure, trust that if you were in their position you would most likely experience a similar irritation. The bullshit of an entitled public is endlessly entertaining, aggravating, and even disheartening if you’re one of those people who cares or is sensitive.

If you’re one of those people and you’ve worked in customer service, you’ve probably fantasized about ways to sabotage a work interaction, ways to subvert the role of customer and server- because it’s the firm belief in these roles that allows customer service employees to be denied their humanity when deemed inherently malicious for dropping some fruit tarts.

[My favorite recurring way-to-get-fired fantasy involves an unruly customer handing me a plate of food, and I just lay my head sideways on it, on the counter, silently, like a malfunctioning robot.]

After the fruit tart debacle I discussed benefits with a nice HR lady. I decided to have a buck something deducted from every paycheck so that, should I pass on prematurely, my mom will receive $35,000.

Then I called my doctor on my break to schedule a neurology appointment because my left temple has been hurting and twitching for two weeks.

Then I got a text from my sister stating that my mom received an eviction notice, despite my successful blog campaign to keep her from being evicted just last month. We accepted $2,500 from benevolent strangers, gave it all to the park that owns my mom’s house, and she’s still behind on rent. So now I feel personally like an asshole for feeling so proud of myself for executing this campaign.

The irony of the latter three occurrences is not lost on me, by the way.

Luckily all of my supervisors are wonderful enough to understand that I needed a “personal day.” It turns out that a personal day is a day that involves drawing the red curtains and sleeping through the things that are bothering you, waking up and crying into a cup of tea while your housemate tells you that your mom’s cats can stay here if she gets evicted, and then you say with a sob “but there’s four of them, and I love them so much”

As I was backing out of the parking lot at work, my car made that truly awful noise it makes when I turn the wheel for the first time after turning the car on.

An old lady in big dumb aviator glasses turned around to openly scowl at me and my lousy car, and I said out loud, regrettably: “what the fuck are you looking at? Buy me a new car if you don’t like it, bitch.” This is probably the first time I’ve used the word “bitch” in six months and probably the closest I’ve come in a much longer time to being like a person on a reality tv show, a person I don’t like.

I really don’t like how an onslaught of unfortunate events can turn me into a miser. But I’m not a miser otherwise; I’m just sitting at the café eating a banana nut muffin.

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