Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tears of an Angel

It was one of "those" days. Becky was scheduled to work from 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM. Just a five-hour shift. But a day shift as a supermarket cashier can be quite hectic. Everyone too busy to do their food shopping during the week shows up on the weekend. And when the weekend rolls around, many people seem to shut off their brains. I can understand this to an extent. I mean, they've taxed their gray matter for five days in a row; they need the rest. HOWEVER, if this is the case, I honestly wish they would stay home, where they can't affect anyone else beyond family. Really...If you're going to flex your stupidity, do so with those who don't have a choice of whether or not they should deal with you. Leave the innocent masses alone.

Ah, but I'm asking for the impossible. If people are going to be stupid come the weekend, then they're not going to be smart enough to stay home, are they? No...they're going to go out and stun the world with how low an IQ can become and still not be considered legally mentally retarded.

This was the case with Becky's very last customer. Having dealt with numerous people already straining their brain power to their limits, she came across "Mrs. Absolute Moron" mere minutes before she was due to go home. Mrs. Moron decided to break her overflowing basket into three separate orders, but couldn't decide what went where. So as the conveyor belt moved everything forward, and Becky was trying to scan everything, Mrs. M would shift things around, or wait until AFTER Becky had scanned something to say, "Oh, no...that doesn't go with that order."

It gets better. Mrs. Moron had a thick stack of coupons that were completely unorganized. She kept apologizing for not having a coupon organizer. I think she should have been apologizing for not going through them before going to the market and removing those she had no intention of using in the first place. I also believe an apology was in order for not even reading the coupons. "One per customer" means that you can only use the coupon once during a visit. It does not mean the coupon is used once for each item of the same type. But it was upon the latter that Mrs. Moron insisted, complicating Becky's job.

Allow me to add to this: when Becky says, "I'm not authorized to (whatever it is she not permitted to do)," it means exactly that. She can't force a coupon to be used more than once. She can't override the cash register in any way. She is not a supervisor and she doesn't have magical powers. Still, Mrs. Moron kept insisting that Becky perform the miraculous.

This special brand of idiot stretched 4:00 to 4:15...and then to 4:30...and on into 4:45.

That's when I finally called. In the past, Becky has been forced to work up to 20 minutes past her clock-out time. I tend to make allowances for this, while also praying she's not off with her boyfriend. (This is an ongoing joke with us, pretending the other has someone else on the side. It coincides with the idea that I was "married" to Nike before even meeting Becky.) But my beloved not being home 45 minutes after punch-out time was a bit much for me. She might have called me briefly to tell me she was going to be late, but she'd left her cell phone at home. And my true concern was that something was horribly wrong in the universe. (They're called "accidents" for a reason.) Thus, I called her workplace to find out if Becky was even there.

The woman at customer service, after being convinced that I was not a debt collector, brought Becky to the phone. My lady-love, trying to hold her tongue because Mrs. Moron was within earshot, told me that she was just getting off from work, and that she'd explain when she got home. Only then did I learn about her "Adventures in Dumb."

Prior to going to work, Becky had made plans for the evening. She wanted to use some cheesecake mix she'd bought to make us a rare treat. She wanted to cook dinner. She'd also wanted to sit outside and do some school work, as it was in the mid-70s and slightly breezy, making it a positively gorgeous day. Well, the idiot customer had screwed her homework plans, as it was getting a little too late to sit outside. The cheesecake idea had to be set aside, as we didn't have all the utensils needed to make it. (We'd made sure to have all the ingredients, but a whisk? Oops!) And when it came to dinner...In her frustration and desire to relax, Becky forgot that she was supposed to stir the cooking meal. It didn't really burn, but it did become slightly overcooked.

That was it. Her psyche had had enough. In a span of two and a half hours, Becky had been inundated with one frustrating disappointment after another. While I had gone into another room to take some insulin before eating, Becky broke down.

It was the absolute silence that caught my attention. Instead of hearing the clatter of the pan as she further inspected the meal for possible evidence of charcoal, I heard nothing at all.

This was because she'd moved into the sound-dampening space of the bathroom, which I discovered upon coming out to investigate. I coaxed her out of her emotional collapse long enough to fold her into my arms, and I held her, gently saying that that things were not as bad as they seemed. Mrs. Moron, the inability to sit outside to do homework, the cheesecake goof, and the minor overcooking of dinner...none of these things, on their own was worth the tears. But together, they conspired to turn her evening into crap. With me on hand, I wouldn't allow these things to become a reason for utter despair.

I was quick to offer to pay for some Chinese food, but that wasn't needed. Dinner, it turns out, wasn't bad at all. It was a little tough to chew, as a few noodles had been turned into a leathery substance, but it honestly tasted no different than if it had me "properly" prepared. I suspect that Becky thinks I forced the meal down, just to make her feel better. That's not the case at all, and she should know better. Bad night or not, I would have said, "Baby...we need to order in, as this meal is now capable of removing toxins from the bloodstream." (Charcoal is used in hospitals for that purpose.)

When I was holding her, in her greatest moment of upset, I wasn't wearing a shirt. After she'd cried a bit, she paused a moment to wipe the tears from my shoulder.

She shouldn't have worried. As long as we're together, I will hold her for as long as it takes for the anxiety and frustration to dissipate. I will whisper in her ear for hours, if need be, until she finally believes me when I say that everything will be okay. And I will always, now and forever, be willing to catch her tears...the tears of an angel. The tears of MY angel. =)

No comments: