I guess I just needed to throw a fake tantrum.
It was the day before Thanksgiving – the busiest grocery store day of the year. The previous day (the second busiest day of the year?), the pace had also been very intense, but the whole atmosphere had felt really festive. I had fun. Was today more intense because the holiday is right on us? Or was I just more worn down? Maybe both. I had been going full-throttle, no slack moments, for two hours and was due for a break. I guess I was also due to snap.
My customer – a very pleasant, somewhat stocky 60ish woman – pulled a paper shopping bag off the stack to bag her groceries. (We don’t have baggers and are glad to bag for people, though most of our customers seem very happy to bag for themselves.) She said, a little frustrated but not apparently irritated, “This bag has a hole in it.” She set it aside and picked up another. “And this one is missing a handle.”
I took a step over to the faulty bags. “No handle?!” And I threw it violently on the floor. “A hole?!!” Throwing it on the floor. “This is terrible. I need a supervisor!” (Loud enough to sound like I was yelling, but not loud enough to actually get the attention of a supervisor.)
By this point, I was really having fun – and I could tell, out of the corner of my eye, that the customer was enjoying my theatrics, so I leaned into the tantrum act even a little more. I kicked the bags back to where I had just been standing, then stomped on them. Sherry Lynn, who was working back-to-back with me, stopped what she was doing to watch all of this, but we goof around all the time and she obviously knew I was playing.
“This is disgusting. Something’s got to be done about this.” Then I went back to ringing up my customer’s groceries as if nothing had ever happened – and she picked up a functional bag and commenced bagging. I winked at her and she winked back.
My break was a half-hour late in coming, but my stress had been released and I was in a great mood. When I did get my ten-minute break, I spent it furiously writing this post. I have a pretty strong hunch that my customer left the store in a good mood too.