This just happened.
I was out doing some Hanukkah shopping, seeing as though it’s in three weeks and all. I made a stop at my local chain craft store to pick up a gift I needed, but first I had to return a few things.
I entered the store and wasn’t sure if I was supposed to weave my way through the line (they have the area surrounded by impulse-buy items and candy, making a zig-zag worthy of a theme park queue) or walk right up to the register closest to the door. There were no other customers in line (just one each at registers two and three), so I decided to stop at register one and ask the woman stationed there. She was busy with official-looking paperwork when I approached her.
“Hi, I have a return. Do I come to you, or am I supposed to go through the line?”
She smiled kindly and said, “Any cashier can help you: you’ll need to go through the line.”
“Thanks,” I said, as I left her register to make my way through the non-existent line and wait for one of the cashiers at registers two and three. When I got to the front of the area, those two cashiers were still busy so I looked down at my phone and almost checked my mail when I heard, “Ma’am, I can help you right here.”
It was the cashier at register one, the woman to whom I had just spoken.
For a split second I mentally screamed, “WHAAAT???”, but only for that split second because it really wasn’t that big of a deal. She said, “I’m so sorry! I didn’t know there was nobody in line or I wouldn’t have sent you all the way through.”
I smiled nice and big, telling her it was fine, because it truly was. In that instance I also remembered what it was like to work retail (oy vey!), and smiled at her even more, because I know what kinds of people she’ll be dealing with very soon, as the December holidays approach and folks start to lose their minds.
She finished with my return, I wished her “Happy Holidays!” and left her station to find the gift I needed to purchase. Both of us still had smiles on our faces.
In the end, I was thankful for the funny moment, because it gave me a good story to lead into my traditional reminder that especially during the stressful holiday season (but every other day too) it’s important to have more patience for other people, and not to make a big deal out of little things. A smile can go a long way, as can thinking before you speak. I promise to remember that if you do!