Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teenage Mutant Target Checkout Chick.

(*Disclaimer: Any likeness or similarity to you, your local Target or anything that would incriminate me is purely a coincidence. Yup. Sure is.)

"I found it hard, it's hard to find
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.

Seriously? Seriously.

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!

Mmmm hmmm.

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.)


  1. I can argue all day long, if that tells you anything at all. And I'm sort of fearless AND I'm always, always right. :)

    I loved the post, every single word.

  2. Target has obviously gone all Walmart on its training. More and more I get this person now and YES I complain about their behavior to their superiors. Who do you think you are??? No one is MAKING you work here! Go home w/that attitude! Don't be in customer service if you don't like customers. Also I reeeeeally wanted you to chuck her a deuce sign! LOLOLOL

  3. There's absolutely no way I would've given her the extra $20, particularly after double counting the money. Given the attrociously bad job she was doing, she deserved to be called on it by the manager. It might've helped her grow up just a bit.

  4. Nope. Manager. Right there. Stop traffic. Get it on.
    That was definitely what you instructors call, I believe, a TEACHABLE moment.

  5. My mother taught me (since I never worked in retail and she did as a teenager) that you NEVER put the customer's money in the till until you've counted back the customer's change and they are satisfied with the amount. I would have done the same thing as you but I probably would have melted into mad tears in the parking lot. I hate confrontation but refuse to be wrong when I know I'm right. And a bad attitude - hey, she might as well spit on the change she gives her customers back.

    But I probably would have demanded to speak to the manager, too. They don't want her representing the store.

  6. I would not have given her the $20 and I would have definately gotten the manager.

  7. I would have just stood there dumbfounded (but I wouldn't have given her the $20 ESPECIALLY if I counted it out twice), my husband would have INSISTED that the manager come over and that the tapes be reviewed!
    I agree with you and the other commenters - if you can't do a job appropriately and with a smile, then LEAVE and let someone who WANTS that job have it.
    Sorry *** teenaged mutant target check-out chick!

  8. Awwww hell naw, I would not have given her the $20...And doesn't she know your Macbook is broke! Have a great Day!! You are too funny!

  9. Hilarious post! And if I'm being honest with myself, I would have done everything you did, but I would have thrown up the deuces sign followed expeditiously by the word "Bee-otch", LOL!!!

  10. Maaaan!!! I think I would have lit her @$$ up T-Tone style!!! (well, not literally like he would do with a belt, but you know what I mean...) You pulled a T-Tone for sure (that explanation is another blogpost for you) but you didn't follow through 100%. Oh, there would have been a scene, managers, that crazy Target lady in the red track suit, and everybody else! LOL! I can't stand a grumpy worker!!! That girl wouldn't have a job right now... which is probably why you didn't call the manager over... Oh well. She better get her act together with the holidays coming up!

    Hey, take me & Daddy to that Target when we come to town. HAHAHA!

  11. Manager. And then I would have gotten back in my car and found the $20 on the floor where it fell out. My life.

  12. Fellow MHS Monarch to MHS Monarch ain't no way in hell she was gettin another $20, and yes I would have gotten a manager also.

  13. From the deck of the Poop, You know that I loved this blog.. Would not have given up the Twenski. Loved the lingo.. This maybe a correction or just a regional thing but I was corrected by a young man while teaching at a continuation high school the the word is spelled "Gangsta" not "Gangster". He had submitted a short essay on what he wanted to be when he grew up. I read it and corrected the spelling; he let me know with much bravado, that he knew how to spell and he meant "Gangsta"
    LOL .. I said "my bad".

    Love you,


  14. Hilarious! I really was hoping that you'd actually chunked her the deuces - that would've been all types of awesome.

    I'd of told her to call the manager so she could pull her till and get to counting. I worked in a grocery store all through college - don't tell me you can't count the money. o_O

    I think her sister works at our Target...

  15. I am typically a "call the manager" type of customer. However, before doing that I go into gentle "lecture" mode... I dig out my most softly sympathetic tone and tell the person (if they are younger) that I understand they may be having a bad day, etc. etc. but it's no excuse for their poor behavior and if they need a moment to compose themselves and put a smile and a good attitude back in place, they should do that, otherwise they should not be at work. Most of the time this disarms them and they give me an apology and great service, and if it doesn't work, I move on and call the manager. It's more difficult when the person with the bad attitude is older than I am - I just call the manager right away in that case.

    ...but, forget the scenario!!! Your writing is exquisite, with impeccable timing, and brimming with authenticity.

  16. You handled her perfectly ! It would have been hard for me to refrain from giving her a piece of my mind. LOL

    This actually really surprises me. Here in Houston I promise you I get the BEST customer service at TARGET & CHICK-FIL-A without fail. Both of these companies seem to hire the best & brightest with the best attitudes in our area. When I walk through TARGET, no less than 3 employees offer their assistance especially if I am looking confused. It gives me hope because they are almost always younger people.

  17. Oh we would've had a face off for sure. Team Manning alll the way!

    A Fellow Meharrian named Maria

  18. Not only would I have given her the extra "nene leakes" treatment I would have also called her manager. Her job is customer service and dammit you're going to serve me with a smile on your face and a pep in your step. Because as you said, in this economy people would kill for her job. And she had the nerve to have an attitude...puhlease? (and yes it took everything in me not put a female dog term in front of that ridiculous spelling of please). Whew. I'm mad just thinking about her ungratefulness.

  19. Okay, y'all. In my defense--I had to go back to work and this was in the middle of the day. Otherwise, I would have TOTALLY ran that tape back and called the manager. Nerd Girl, I never thought of pulling the whole drawer and demanding a recount. Damn, that's militant and I like it! Ms. Moon, I know you and Mr. Moon would have put her in her place for sure. Path 201X, you know I wanted to say "beey--ch." KirstenJL, I TOTALLY gave her $300 and for once, no the $20 wasn't in the car! LOL! And yes, Elizabeth, even if it was, like you I am always right. Marilyn, you know all about Inglewood, so you get my references. And to my sister and my Dad (Poopdeck)-- OMG. I am so glad it was NOT either of you because that Target would now be called "Mr. Draper's Target." Ha.

    As for chucking the deuce to her? Dang! I should've just done it for the story, right! Here's what I really wish: Even though I don't smoke, I wish I'd had a cigarette to flick over my shoulder first leading to a giant explosion of her check out line THEN followed by me chucking her that deuce--kind of like Angela Bassett in "Waiting to Exhale"--all while wearing a pair of funky Rayban Wayfarer shades. Now THAT would have been awesome!!

    But oh well. These are the important thoughts I have on my off days from Grady. Sigh.

  20. If you were in the Target near Grady, I think I was in her line once. Girl thinks way too highly of herself. But here's the dope, if she's trying to steal from you she will steal from someone's grandmother who isn't as on top of it as you are. Her manager needs to know.

  21. This is one of my all-time favorite posts! What I would give to have seen you in "full sista-girl" mode....
    Miss you already!

  22. Would have gotten the manager. And then fumed for about 48 hours!
    Ai yi yi- why can't people behave themselves??? I know it's much easier to think with positivity-- bad manners are a habit, which you have helped her to lose -- or at least think twice about using the next time! Good job!

  23. Aw, hell no. I do not like the way she was representing at all! No wonder people complain about teenagers all the time, and it gives us a bad name. Trust me. I know so many of my friends would kill for a job like that and would do it with a smile. Not to mention people whose families are relying on them, especially with unemployment as high as it is. I'm taking a second job over the next couple of weeks for the election. And you best believe that I will work hard and do the best I can, because I'm thankful for getting the contract and I don't want to be another reason for people to complain about 'young people these days'. Some of us work hard and are motivated to do well! :)

    Your NZ Lucy

  24. I would have called a manager. I might not have said all that you said but I would have FELT all that you said. OR, I would have said all that you said and been WAY, WAY ruder about it all. Those workers with attitudes make me want to take some kind of nasty action and it is often wanting to come back at them with a very nasty retort. I DEFINITELY would not have given her another $20.

  25. You are my HERO 100%. I would have given her so much lip and STILL called the manager. If I was on my lunch break I still would have gotten her name and reported her.

  26. Emmy, you know I feel bad about not talking to the manager. And which Target? Hmmm. . .

    My NZ Lucy--you know you represent for the teens at all times so I won't hold this one teen against you. I know how you roll!

    Next time I'll have to report that naughty behavior!

  27. Loved. This. Post. Her cousin works here in Philadelphia. I think you handled it just right considering that you didn't have all day to deal with the manager. I abhor confrontation or "scenes" of any variety but in a situation like this I would have probably not been as dignified as you were. I love the idea of giving her a minute to compose herself as one commenter said...But I don't think it would have worked with this chick.

  28. If I hadn't just counted it TWICE I might've taken her word, but no way in the scenario you described.

    My only regret about this post is that I don't get to hear you just tell it to me.

    I LOVE the refrain of (and I misquote) "and no I did not say Ferrrr surrre, when the situation definitely called for FO SHO."

  29. It's times like that when I go into what I call "Stealth B**** Silent". She woulda been telling me it was $280, and I would been looking at her like B pahlease, and not saying a doggone word. I'm pretty good at saying a whole lot with the look on my face and some shoulder shrugs, and I appreciate a good stand off every once in a while. She woulda been saying "So, what you wanna do?" The look on my face woulda been saying "B betta have my money." Then when she gave it to me, I woulda probably said something like "Hoodrat a**, trick a**, no money counting a** trick." And if my gift card would've been $280?? AWWW LAWD!!! When the manager got there? I would have magically transformed into Susie Suburb, clutched pearls and all.

  30. I worked 11 years in retail. Call a manager and maker her recount her till. No WAY does she get an additional @20! I'm so glad you held your ground!

  31. Grady Doc, I want to say it's on Piedmont, but I'm not sure about that at all. It's the one a few blocks down from GSU Commons. And now that my daughter is looking for a job that isn't Hooters, I might suggest that she go introduce herself to that girls manager.

  32. I'd have carried it similar to how you did. I damn sure wouldn't have given her another $20. I like Nerd Girl's approach too. Customer service is in the crapper all around. Geez!!

  33. She woulda ran head first into a good old fashioned T-Tone.

    And I woulda hit her with the deuces!!

  34. I would have not bought the gift card from Target. I would have called over the mgr and stated what happened, asked for my $300 back in cash and declared that my friend's gift card will now be cash or an AMEX card and that a letter to the top of the chain was forthcoming.
    P.S. My boys hate going to stores with my Hubs because many a time the goods are left behind after a worker could not do his or her job.
    --Michele R.

  35. As a former cashier, I would have recounted the money. I always counted twice and didn't just stuff it in the drawer, for both the customer and the integrity of the till. (And I ran a mighty decent drawer, to the penny most days.) As a customer, I would NOT have just given her the extra $20; I would have requested she call a manager and have them handle it. This one makes honest cashiers look bad, and sometimes they just need to be called on the carpet and taught the right way to do things. Simple as that.

  36. Your writing is WONDERFUL and your stories are funny! You are inspiring me to start a blog. I post funny stories about my kids on FB all the time. I should really start a blog! I'm enjoying reading! BTW: You held your own with this mutant teen!:-)

  37. I read this out loud and Richie and I laughed until we cried. Hoot N holler type laughter. Once more, just what I needed <3 and THANK YOU for telling.


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