The Condescending Customer

by admin on September 20, 2011

I work at a grocery store and have for five years so I’ve been subjected to all manner of horrifying breeches of etiquette and common courtesy. I could tell some real horror stories as well as some truly bizarre stories (one lady who told me she hated our mangoes and didn’t want us to sell them anymore…to anyone…ever…) but the thing I really want to comment on is the constant assumption that my position behind a cash register means I am of lesser intelligence.

One day around 4 pm I was ringing someone out and the customer commented on my speed and cheerfulness saying, “You must be almost out of here.” I told him unfortunately, no, I had just begun a 10-hr shift and would not leave until 2 am. “I have miles to go before I sleep,” I told him.

The customer next in line leaned over to me and said in the slowest, most condescending manner, “You know, that is from a poem.”  To which I said, cheerfully, “I know, I read it when I was getting a double-bachelor’s in English and Biology.”

Then, only a few weeks ago I was ringing out a fairly regular customer who asked why he hadn’t seen me for some time. I told him my schedule had been restricted since I had begun MEDICAL school. To which he said, “Oh? are you going to be a nurse?”  No sir, it’s usually doctors that go to med school, nurses tend to go to NURSING school.

(I should note that this last incident may not have been classism for the grocery clerk but sexism for the FEMALE grocery clerk.) Also, I love nurses, they do 10x the work of doctors, it is not my intent to offend. I only want to make the world understand that working in a grocery store does not equate stupidity (especially in a struggling economy). Also, you don’t need to slowly explain to PUT THE COLD THINGS TOGETHER…after 5 years I’ve figured that one out for myself, thanks.   0509-11

One of my daughters graduated from a prestigious cosmetology school and accepted employment at an upscale salon as an assistant so she could learn better cutting and styling techniques and eventually become an upscale stylist.   Part of her duties is to shampoo clients’ hair.  She says that many of them treat her like a raving idiot despite the fact that she has a classical education, is very well read, has an amazing aptitude for languages including Greek and can converse intelligently on a number of topics.   They just assume she must be a moron because she lathers up their hair and therefore treat her condescendingly.    I can’t grasp the mindset of such people.  To me, treating everyone with kindness and civility benefits ME…both in my soul first and eventually in the payback of having a nicer world to live in.

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