Today I was in a store and I was annoyed by the lack of service I was receiving. The only words spoken to me by the checkout person as I stood in line, purchasing products that ensure he will be employed I might add, "Thirty-two forty-seven." That's it. That's the sum total of conversation and acknowledgement of my existence. I slid my ATM card through and because it prompted me to press the keys indicated, I didn't have to say a word to the young man. He handed me my receipt and as he was walking away, I think, think he said "Thanks." I couldn't swear to it though. My groceries had been tossed into the plastic bags open and ready to receive them with no more care than the care I employ when I mindlessly toss something into a waste basket.
My first thought? "I hate checkers and cashiers." I don't, but I am sorely vexed by employees that don't realize that I, the customer, am the reason they get paid by the company they complain about as they are talking to their fellow co-workers and ignoring my existence. I know how to act in public. I am not demanding or crabby. I hate that our young people have become so impersonal- thanks no doubt to technology- that they cannot manage the slightest bit of polite small talk. Etiquette and social graces are almost non-existent. I hate that nobody has smacked these young people around and taught them some manners.
Next time, I told myself, I will go through the self-check lanes. I like my own company and if all I am going to get is robotic and machine-like contact from the humans employed by the store, I might as well do the work myself and bag my groceries as if I want to get them home in the same shape I purchased them. Then I am conflicted because I am paying the same amount for my groceries that Jane Doe is paying for hers and at least someone else is doing the bagging. I am pretty much saying that human contact is optional and that stores should become more automated and give less personal service.....which is my complaint in the first place.
OK, so now I am thinking I will be the crazy old lady that demands a conversation from the store employee. I will say outrageous things to get their attention. Perhaps I will find a fascinator just like princess what's-her-name's and wear it like a battle helmet each time I go into public places. That ought to spike a reaction. OK, probably not the reaction I am hoping for. I could probably just say, "Hi! How are you doing today?" and completely discombobulate most of the young people working in stores. I know most of them will roll their eyes at me, ignore me or roll their eyes then ignore me to my face but chat up their friends and coworkers about the wacky woman who comes through their line once I am gone. I would have the benefit of knowing I tried to find life, if not intelligent life behind the counter. Occasionally I will find a gem, though. I am certain of it. Every so often I will find someone who knows that people are not impersonal objects or to be viewed as obsolete keyboards with buttons to push only when you are desperate and need something from them. Those are the treasures I want to find and the gems I want to collect.
Newsflash! The Fed-Ex lady just came to my house. I know she worked for Fed-Ex because of the truck she drove and the uniform she wore. As I finished writing the last paragraph, my dogs alerted me to a stranger at the door. Next, the doorbell rang. I came out of my office to find a woman standing at my door. I shooed the dogs away, opened the storm door and without so much as grunt the woman shoved her inventory machine in my house and expected me to sign on the little line. "Mind telling me what I am receiving and to whom it is addressed?" "Huh?" Good thing I can read and have lots of tenacity. Sigh.