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[personal profile] chierii
I got scheduled for the earliest shift of the day today. Joy. Well, there was a line of people outside when I showed up, and they seemed pretty aware of the time and etiquette because they didn't try to follow me into the store when my boss unlocked the door. A pretty good start to Black Friday.

So among those waiting in line were these three women who came in and immediately went for some of our iPad keyboards that we'd advertised for our Black Friday sale. They went further into the store to continue shopping. Then a couple took the remaining four keyboards and, after opening one of the boxes to look at the keboard, they continued shopping.

At some point when my attention wasn't on that section of the counter, one of these groups of shoppers changed their minds and returned their keyboards to the counter. Since one of the boxes had been opened, I assumed it was the couple, since I hadn't seen the trio of women open any.

Later, the women came to check out, no keyboards in sight. They were only buying some socks. However, I'm terrible with faces and didn't realize these were the women at the time.

My boss, however, has better facial recognition, and approached me after they left. Because one of the keyboard boxes had been opened, she came to the same conclusion I did about the couple having left them. So she asked me if I had sold them any of the keyboards. I said no, but I assumed they had set the keyboards down elsewhere in the store, since that's pretty much a rampant problem with our customers, particularly the ones that come in groups. They didn't have a cart, none of them had purses large enough to fit the keyboards, and none of them were wearing particularly baggy clothing.

However, she hadn't seen any out-of-place merchandise yet. So she assumed they had somehow managed to steal them and began discussing putting security tags on the remaining ones. Now I've been working there for five years. Everyone has had shoplifting attempts go under their noses and only the newcomers take this sort of discussion personally. Overall, it's a reminder to keep a sharp eye out especially in crowds and a kick in the pants for all of us for not putting security on $40 front-counter merchandise.

This conversation was taking place as I was ringing up a customer.

My workplace normally gets a lot of its non-holiday profit from a base of loyal regulars. It's these people that generally expect our moderately unprofessional atmosphere, so it's these people that don't have a problem with a manager discussing security measures with the cashier while the latter is working. Those who aren't regulars tend to roll with it, too, come to think of it. Anyway, this woman is a regular. So I definitely don't think anything of it.

Until she says, "I don't think I'm going to shop here again."

I'm very shy even if I can put up a decent facade at the register by falling back on routine. Since this isn't the norm, it takes me a few seconds to ask quietly, "Is...is there a problem, ma'am?"

"This conversation. I can't believe she'd think you'd not be cognizant of-..." She turns to my boss. Who, I should point out now that it's important to the narrative, looks sorta Hispanic and has an accent that sounds like it to the untrained ear but is actually not from Mexico or any Spanish-speaking country. I don't remember where she's actually from. But anyway, the customer says, "You know, it really says a lot about your culture that you'd accuse them of stealing immediately. I've been coming here at least two days a month for years. This girl has been here since this store has." Not true of course, but I've pretty much locked myself into the routine of scanning and bagging and concentrating only on that, embarrassed both for myself and my boss at the racist statement and the sudden white-knighting. I'm too shy and non-confrontational to counter it. I keep my head down and don't make eye contact with either woman.

"She's very good," my boss says, in an attempt to placate the customer.

"She is. I doubt she wouldn't notice that someone was concealing a box like that. And even if she didn't, this conversation shouldn't take place in front of customers."

"I'm very sorry I've offended you, ma'am, it won't happen again."

"I'm more offended that you've offended her."

"I'm not," I try to say, but it comes out a mumble and I don't think either of them hears me.

"I'm very sorry, ma'am, I don't want you to (not) come back..." At this point the boss is kind of panicked; she skipped a pretty vital word there. But her tone was nothing but apologetic, so I'm sure the mistake was clear.

I finish ringing the customer up and apologize to the customer as I hand her her bags. She doesn't repeat that she's not coming back, though, so I'm hoping we didn't actually lose a customer.

The boss took it in stride. We're fairly laid back interaction-wise and she's the type to know better than to blame an employee for a customer's actions. We both wondered when I had come across as offended.

And yes, both of us felt like idiots, albeit very relieved idiots, when the couple who still had their keyboards came to check out.
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Cherry

November 2013

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