(*Disclaimer: Any likeness or similarity to you, your local Target or anything that would incriminate me is purely a coincidence. Yup. Sure is.)
Oh well, whatever, nevermind"
~ from Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Okay, so recently I was up in Target (which is not an unusual thing at all.) This was not a "regular" Target run--you know the kind where you go for ziplock baggies but come out with some "jeggings" and an "infinity scarf." Nope. I was on a clear mission: to purchase a gift card.
Simple enough, right?
A friend and fellow Grady doctor had a baby recently and we had taken up a collection for a gift from a few colleagues. Due to the craziness of my schedule, I hadn't gotten around to picking up the gift card until this particular day.
Alright, so check it. I pull up at Target. I sit in my car in the parking lot and (kind of stupidly, now that I think of it) count out all of the cash two times which is, literally, in fives, tens and the occasional twenty since most people gave what was conveniently in their white coat pockets that day. So I confirm the amount in small bills: $300. (read: three hundred bucks.)
I go into Target with said $300 in a ratty envelope in my purse looking like someone going to get her lights turned back on. I get in the line and wait my turn.
There she stood. Smacking her bubble gum with eyes half mast. Her. The Teenage Mutant Target Checkout Chick. She looked absolutely bored with her job and life in general. No older than nineteen and with a mantra that was surely the opposite of "the customer is always first."
Since there were two people ahead of me, I studied her. Two-toned hair--dark at the roots for nearly three inches--followed by an unnatural auburn color that appeared to have come from a box in that very store. Overplucked eyebrows that made her look older than her age but a forehead smattered with acne giving away her proximity to adolescence. Facial piercings -- one just above her chin and below her bottom lip, one on the right side above her top lip and one on her eyebrow--with some kind of crustiness around them that made me want to accost her with a cotton ball and some hydrogen peroxide. (Seriously.) Nails bitten to nubs and forearms with elaborate cursive tattoos with names that I can't make out. Yes. The teenage mutant Target checkout chick.
Now. Let's be clear. It wasn't her piercings or her tattoos that irked me. It was her blah attitude and lack of . . .urgency. . .that annoyed me. Absolutely annoyed me. People kept talking to her, greeting her, and offering her all kind of pleasantries but she had nothin'. Nothin' whatsoever.
The man ahead of me was chipper enough and determined to get her to awaken from her blah-ness. A pleasant elder with graying hair and lovely twinkle in his eye comparable to that of Santa Claus himself. And just maybe he was whistling the Andy Griffith theme song. Just maybe.
"Hello there! How are you today, young lady?" His voice was kind of sing-songy. So sweet and innocent.
The teenage-mutant Target checkout chick mumbled something like "mmm alright" but not even in a way that should qualify as real words. And this man was an elder, too, and y'all know how I feel about the elders. I could feel my fist balling up. He went on-- totally oblivious to her, "Oh, wait, wait. . . I have my own bags right here! No need for the plastic!" He handed her the bags he'd brought cheerfully. Then he just stood there and beamed in her direction, like someone trying to melt icicles with a heat source. It wasn't working.
And do you know what TMTCC did next? Do you?? This child lifted the plastic bag right into his reusable Trader Joe's bag. Yes, she did!! And then--like she hadn't just done something completely uncool--commenced to bag the rest of his razors and soap in his other Whole Foods bag.
Awww hell naw!!
But the nice elder-dude was too nice to even flinch. You could tell the love of Jesus or Buddha or somebody was all up in him. He was still human, though. He clenched his jaw a bit--I think because he was a really green dude and was appalled by the plastic--but he kept on smiling.
Me on the other hand? I was thinking, "Aww hell naww!" But y'all would be proud of me. I stayed in my lane. Sure did.
"Did you nab that in store coupon on the razors for me?" Mr. Chipper asked. He was determined to wake her up. And get his fifty cents off the Gillettes. She responded with a slight raise of her eyebrows and that's it. No words, no nada. I guess it was her way of saying. . . actually I have no idea what it was her way of saying. In my neighborhood growing up, it looked like the look that gets somebody sucker punched. But that's Inglewood, California and not suburban Atlanta, so I don't know what the hell that was about. All I know is that she probably shouldn't look at anyone like that if she goes to Inglewood. . .or if she finds herself some choice parts of Atlanta. Mr. Chipper peered at her register to see if he had gotten the coupon. Still all pleasant-like.
She muttered again. And whatever she muttered meant that he wasn't nabbing any "in store savings" and neither was she. He let that ride, too. No protest, no nothing. Talk about turning the other cheek, man! He took the high road but I saw that masseter in his jaw popping out again as he tried to keep down his Inglewood reflex from smacking her across her teenage mutant Target face.
So me? I'm watching all of this and thinking, "Aww hell naw." And as I inch up to the counter, I decide to be cool (not nice cool, but cool cool) with her in pseudo-solidarity with Mr. Chipper. I don't even say hello. I just step up and look back at her with an ice grill stare--half mast, no less. Why? I do not know. It just seems like a way to right the universe again.
I lay the gift card down in front of her like a bank robber note and tell her, "I need to get a gift card."
"How much?" she sputters nearly inaudibly.
"Three hundred," I reply. I didn't even say dollars. That would have been more than she deserved after her treatment of Mr. Chipper. Mmmm hmmm.
She turned and punched that in without another word. Three hundred dollars. And so. I reach in my purse for the ratty envelope and take out the cash. Right there in front of her on the conveyor belt, I count the money. Out loud. I scoop it up and count it once more. Then I hand the stack to her, smoothing out the edges best I can (though she doesn't deserve it.)
"Here you go," I say.
She takes the cash and begins quasi-counting it into the drawer. I realize that she hasn't really pre-counted it or anything, and that her system seems mad faulty. This is not my problem or my care at this point so I just shrug and watch. Until she finally looks up at me and says this:
"This two eighty. You short twenty."
I furrow my brow and pulled back my neck full sista-girl style. Hand on hip, backbone surely about to slip. "Uuuuh, I don't think so. I gave you three hundred dollars cash. I'm sure of it."
She curled her lips and gave a tiny shake of her head. Kind of like the way she looked at Mr. Chipper with that in store coupon. Like, no and that's the end of that.
But, see, I wasn't Mr. Chipper.
So there we were. Me with my hand on my hip, neck fully prepared to roll, and index finger ready to wave from side to side like a windshield wiper. . .and her with her face full of piercings, bitter-beer facial expression and exaggerated eye-rolling. It was on.
"Well," she finally said still with that surly smirk that would make me say to my own kids--"YOU BETTA FIX THAT FACE!"--she said, "You might have miscounted or something."
I fired back with the one two punch--quick like Money Mayweather. "Or maybe you were so busy having that ol' funky attitude of yours that you miscounted."
Gasp. Yes. I really said that. Zero exaggeration.
"Mmmm." That's all she said. Mmmm. And that's it. That's when I looked from side to side to make sure that this eighteen-nineteen year-old TOPS girl realized that she was standing directly in front of a grown a-- woman and not one of her homegirls. I had her "Mmmm" alright.
I think a tumbleweed rolled by as we stood there facing off. I looked her up and down--you know--in that way folks do right before a fight after school on the playground and then I told her,"Oh, well sweetheart you gonna have to recount it then." And yes. I meant to say YOU GONNA and not YOU'RE GOING TO because that was exactly how I was feeling. And yes, that "sweetheart" was meant to be passive-aggressive because nothing about her behavior warranted such a term of endearment. And because--EPIC FAIL on her part-- I knew she had already placed all of the cash into the drawer and could not do a recount no matter how hard she tried.
"Recount? I can't recount it," she replied with a hint of pleading in her voice which I totally caught.
The empathic geek in me felt a teeny bit sorry for her then. Just a teeny bit. Not so sorry that I was about to give her twenty dollars, though. Oh hells no.
Then she realized how she sounded and decided to shake off the wimpy pleading voice. . . . and get gangster with me. Just then another tumbleweed rolled by. "Well, I don't know what to tell you. You only gave me two eighty, so oh well."
"Oh, but I know exactly what to tell you. I'm telling you that you're about to give me this three hundred dollar gift card unless you want me to get a manager over here. And if that's what you want, then fine. I'll have them check the film--'cause I know y'all are filming--and that's when your store manager will see how you stuck that plastic bag in that man's Trader Joe's bag!"
(Sorry. I stayed in my lane as long as I could.)
"Whaaat?" she exclaimed in a puzzled way that said, like, What are you even talking about?! Because she didn't even realize how FOUL it was to put plastic in a Trader Joe's bag nor had she even noticed the kind man who'd just been in front of her. She stared at me like I was crazy but I didn't care. I didn't like how she treated Mr. Chipper so she had it coming.
That's when she folded her arms and asked me what I wanted to do. Still trying to face off--this time with a sort of gangster unilateral eyebrow raise-- and now with even more tumbleweeds rolling by.
See? Why'd she have to get gangster with me? Like NeNe on the Atlanta Housewives says, "You come for me, boo, I'm gon' come for you!" And so. That's exactly what I did.
"It's like a Dig 'em smack. . . you smack me and I smack you back."
~ EPMD "You A Customer"
"Oh baby, you in a bad way. Unless you recount that money, you definitely in a bad way." Yep. That's exactly what I told her. And YES. I meant to say YOU in a bad way not YOU'RE in a bad way because that phrase is not meant to be grammatically correct.
Which reminds me: Telling someone that they're "in a bad way" is quite similar to telling them they're S.O.L. If you don't know what "S.O.L." means, I suggest you Google it--the answer is the first hit. Anyways, the teenage mutant Target Checkout Chick was 100% hip to that lingo and didn't appreciate my suggestion. So I made sure I made myself clear. "Oh, you in a bad way if you think I'm giving you another twenty bucks, babygirl. Forget it."
And yes. "Babygirl" was warranted, too.
She stared at me, kind of dazed-like and like I wasn't serious. But then regrouped and fixed her face when it became very clear that I was totally serious. That's when she slid the card over to me and let out this super-duper-sixth-grade-sounding, ultra-extra-exasperated teeth sucking noise coupled with what I am 76% certain was the less kind descriptor of a female dog.
No she di'in't!
I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I was a grown a--woman and that fights in this age-group are referred to as "assaults." Man oh man! I could smell her funky attitude at this point and her even funkier teen spirit which-- when it's translating to disrespecting elders-- is not so fragrant at all.
Yeah. So that kind of annoyed me all over again.
"Look here! Do you know how many people would kill for this job? Do you? I work at Grady Hospital and I have patients that would step right into your spot in a heartbeat and do this job with a smile! But all you can do is stand up in here with that funky look on your face and that funky attitude like YOU the customer!" And yes. I meant to say YOU the customer, not YOU'RE the customer because that was where I was at the moment.
She stared at me like I was a crazy old lady, which made me even madder.
Finally her eyes narrowed and mine narrowed right back, and since I'm a mama, mine won.
A lady behind me was snickering and she looked at me and said, "Girrrl, you betta tell it!" This seemed to make steam come from TMTCC's ears and make her bitter-beer face twist up even more.
I couldn't take it any more so I scooped up my gift card, spun on my heel and shot her an exaggerated "peace out" sign over my shoulder as I walked away--grown woman purse on my shoulder, switching my post-partum hips and with my grown woman high heels clicking on the slick floor.
(Okay, okay. Maybe I didn't chuck her a deuce sign, but admit it--that did add to the imagery didn't it?)
But seriously. . . . you wanna know what I DID do? You better believe I stopped at the gift kiosk on the way out to confirm the amount on my gift card. . . . .
Three hundred dollars, baby!
The point of this story? None whatsoever. But I'm wondering. What would y'all have done? Would you have taken the high road and have just given her the $20 and kept it moving? Harry was mad I didn't actually get a manager but I had to go to back to work. He didn't care about that and said he would have just had to be late. Another friend said, "I would have just given her the twenty bucks." Maaaan, please.
Weigh in, y'all.
Happy Tuesday. (This was on my-hand-me-down super-old MacBook from my Mom--the old white one with the two inch screen! That's okay though! It woke up for the job! Woo hoo!)
Now playing on my mental iPod. . . Smells like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
and also this. . . . EPMD "You a Customer." (Especially for Neil W.)