After a leisurely stroll through the local Crafts Store, to pick up the white glass rocks I need for the clear containers that I will put my Paper White bulbs in, I enter the queue to check out. A HGTV magazine catches my eye, as I hear someone talking…
“Register Five is available, Ma’am.”
“Ma’am, Register Five is available”, says the stout, bespectacled, young woman directly behind the register five sign.
I push my carriage over to the for-mentioned register five, and smile at the woman behind the counter.
“Good evening, Ma’am. Did you find everything you were looking for, Ma’am?”
And then I felt it. You know that feeling you get when you meet a total stranger and you Know right off that you two are not going to get along? THAT feeling.
“Yes, I did. Thank you, Miss.” is my reply.
“That will be twelve forty five, Ma’am”.
Out of my peripheral vision, I see two customers at other registers, swing their heads my way. They can feel it too. They can feel what I felt, just by looking at this woman. That this woman and I, who have never laid eyes on each other before just now, are for some unknown reason, going to be “borderline”. We are going to walk the board between politeness and rudeness. And the two other customers are very happy to have this entertainment.
“Thank you, Miss, I will just slide my card, Miss”, I say, “You know… every time you call me Ma’am, I am going to call you Miss, because you are making me feel old, calling me Ma’am.”
This is met with a fake smile. You know, the kind of smile that starts at your lips and ends there, never reaching your eye’s, where REALLY a natural smile takes place.
“You slid your card too fast, Ma’am”.
“I can see that, Miss, let me try it again”. Now here comes MY fake smile, but I do her one better, by tilting my head to one side.
I push the red “X” on the credit card machine, so I can use my card a credit card and not a debit card, because, you see, I get points every time I use it as a credit card, and with those points I get gift cards to Target. Target, the store all stores should be like. Fast, Friendly, with cool stuff, and clean.
“You cancelled the transaction, Ma’am.” Fake smile, again.
“I wanted to make it a credit transaction and not a debit one. Why are all the machines different? I push the red “X” at Target, to make it a credit transaction.” I look up at her, and I know NOW we will bond, over the silliness of these machines.
“Target probably uses the red “X” for credit as that is their main color, Ma’am”. I guess we are not going to bond, as there she goes with her fake smile, and Ma’am, again.
“I really don’t think that has anything to do with it, Miss, your stores main color is red and you use the green button for the credit”.
“Our store’s main color is not really red, it is just a little red, Target’s color is ALL red. Ma’am”.
“I really don’t think the programmers and the engineers who made these machines cared about what the main colors of the stores were. And what percentage of red does the store color have to be, to make them use the red, Miss? And you know…. it is more beneficial for the store to have the card used as debit and not credit, so, REALLY, they all should use green as debit, and red as credit, as green is more appealing to people than red”. I flash my fake smile and follow it with a head tilt.
“You can sign now, Ma’am”. She slides the slip towards me with very long, green polished nails with diamond sparkles on them. No fake smile, we are beyond even that pretense now.
I sign my sloppy signature on the credit, or is it debit?, machine, and take my slip from her, shoulder my handbag, and pick up my white glass rocks, which she has put in plastic bags where the store’s name is CLEARLY in red.
“Thank you for shopping with us, Ma’am.”
“Thank you, Miss”. On my way out the door, I walk by the other two customers who have dottled about to see how this enchanting encounter would end, and an additional red vested (RED-their store color!) cashier. The petite, cherub faced woman behind what must be register number four, is pressing her lips together, so as if, not to laugh. I give her a sincere smile and a wink. She smiles at me, and winks back.
It would seem that I am not the only one that hears nails scratching on a chalk board, when dealing with Miss Fake Smile-er.
Sadly, I fear the woman behind register number five, has not learned tonight’s lesson, which is no woman living to the North-East of Virginia, wants to be Ma’am-ed to death, especially those who have ever EVEN whispered the word “Menopause”.
Be Afraid, Very Afraid. Because tomorrow, I have more Christmas errands to run, and one of them is taking me to Walmart. I will take pictures of the encounter, because Walmart is always good fodder, for the Woman with a Black Belt in Autism.