The Alleyway

Sometimes you just have to admit stuff happens and move on. This is a statement I follow for a lot of things. Work, school and life in general: it all just happens. Customers get angry because of something that’s not my fault; it happens. I don’t understand the point of finding X plus the square root of an imaginary number, especially as a communications major. But I will admit, some of this stuff “just happens” for the best.

My parents worked in the fast food industry throughout college, and I learned some important lessons from their stories. Always tip, don’t be rude, honey lures flies better than vinegar, self-control and a healthy use of sarcasm when you are done working is vital.

And working in retail has made me realize more of these basic lessons of letting go and all the things my parents told me. Such as don’t judge people by the way they look.

Normally the girl dressed in black with piercings all over is actually sweeter than any other person I will deal with for the week. The couple dressed in pastels and buying the Bible can be really mean.

There was the lady who threw the book Heaven is for Real at one of my coworkers. Just flat out chunked it at her because she got tired of waiting. Didn’t even buy it, and the friend she was with just laughed and said “serves you right” to my coworker. She was in the middle of a custody battle, but these women didn’t care for anything other than themselves.

It ticks me off that people act like this. Show some amount of respect and kindness. Would you like to have a book thrown at you? Do I go to your workplace and throw frisbees and footballs around and leave them there? Is it an option to leave Starbucks cups all over your house and make you clean it up? I’m not your housekeeper.

I would have hoped the general population would be a bit nicer, but working retail, you kind of lose faith in humanity. When families bring their kids and let ‘em loose in the store, screaming and running, it gives me a headache. If the kid is young, I get it. But at 10 years of age, I’d hope you were taught better.

This one family had six kids, all had to be 12 and up, and these kids were running around, screaming and crashing into things. You would not believe the mess they made. Movies everywhere, latex masks in the books area. Seriously, could someone just properly deal with these children?

My fellow worker in that department that day went to the parents and told them they had to leave. How dare we suggest their children were unruly in the least?! Geez, get a grip on your family.

Now I’m not saying all consumers are bad. We have regulars at my store, and they are fantastic. There’s a motorcycle group, a wrestler and an oil field worker who always make me smile while I work.

One of my favorite moments at work was when this little boy and his dad stocked some of my inventory while I went to search for a few movies they wanted.

I didn’t ask them to, but when I came back, my inventory looked perfectly done. I was so happy, and they were so nice. And it’s sad that niceness has become a rarity nowadays.

I remember a customer who started cussing me out one day in July. All I was doing was sorting the things I needed to put up before I went home and here comes this big guy who is up in arms over the fact that my store is set up so you have to go around the registers to exit. Did I deserve it? I don’t really think so, but I just have to shake it off and move on. If I let it bug me too much, it will get in the way of my work.

Right after it happened, the customers in line told my manager when he came in that I had been cussed out by this random guy. Whenever something outwardly rude happens, and we have a bit of a line, the next customer I cash out will say something nice to me.

Another time, this little eight-year-old girl heard the Frozen soundtrack come on in the store and sang “Let it Go” through the whole thing. It was so sweet, and I even saw a few older customers singing and smiling. She wasn’t messing things up or getting in the way; she was just enjoying a moment in her life and shared it with us.

On Sunday mornings, there is a man who comes in and buys all the workers a soda from Sonic. He doesn’t have to, but he understands what we go through. After I moved here from home, he kind of became an adopted uncle to me. It was nice to have someone simply be kind.

Sadly, there aren’t as many stories of common decency when people work menial jobs. When did you last tell a janitor thank you for literally cleaning up feces? Did you ever actually give your teacher an apple, or say something nice to a stranger?

You don’t know if your waitress has to work two jobs to pay for her rent and child, you don’t know if the cashier just had a horrible breakup. Sure, in general, most of the population doesn’t care, but put yourself in his or her place for a moment.

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