About Me

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J is an unpublished author, represented by Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency. J's first novel is a YA fantasy horror, regarding a siren who must choose between the haunting life and humanity. J draws on occasion, reads quite often, and is a founding member of the critique group 'Thoughtical Verbosity.'

Saturday, June 2, 2012

But Why?

And thus concludes the longest break between blog posts that I have ever indulged in!

I promise, this Monday I have a brand new Requestion post already written up and ready to go, and from hereon out I will do my best to actually stick to the schedule. I even have a new theme for the vlog that will be a lot of fun! The Internets will be absolutely smothered in J.

Today, though, I have a muse-y blog for you.

It is graduation time, which means a lot of planning and prep and stress for some people, which translates readily into the bakery world. Dozens of cake orders that must be JUST PERFECT because dozens of people are experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime moment that they have worked very, very hard for. Families come in from out of state, sometimes even from out of the country, and the last thing any of them need is a crappy cake to ruin the glorious moment.

Stress levels--and business flow--is high. That's just what happens around big events; holidays, celebrations, you name it. If you have lived long enough, you know this. If you have worked in customer service long enough, you know this.

Well, I'm 24 and I've worked in customer service since I was sixteen. So it takes a lot to surprise me.

Today was a fairly awful day at work. We were busy, which is fine because it makes the day go by much more quickly, and besides that three of my best friends were working with me, so the day could have just been fantastic. But throughout my shift there was a constant stream of uncalled for rudeness. This is also something you just sort of come to expect in customer service--when you have one person who is paying for another person to do something for them, there can easily be a sense of entitlement. Some people aren't built to handle that with grace. That's just the way it is, and it really does not have to be the end of your good mood, but it does tend to grind on you if you get enough of it all at once, and all throughout the day. Smiling and asking someone how they are doing should not result in them sneering at you to 'piss off' as they flick their wrist and march away with cookies in hand. That's just excessive. Somehow, it happened twice today.

One incident in particular jarred me. A woman came to the bakery and insisted that she needed a cake specially made for her by 5:30 tonight--which was kind of impossible, as the decorators were not only long gone, but left a giant stack of orders they had to do for the next day. Various suggestions were made--she could buy a kit and decorate her own cake (her idea, and $10), a cake could be written on for her (standard procedure, free) or a kit could be put on a ready-made cake and the price adjusted to fit (a hassle on any day, much less massively busy ones; $6).

I wasn't actually the clerk helping her. One of our new ladies was helping her, and unknowingly quoted the wrong prices. My friend was standing nearby and corrected her, unknowingly giving her a second incorrect set of prices. When I heard the incorrect quote, I hurried over, waited for a lull in the conversation, and explained what the actual charge would be. I smiled. I asked if there were any other questions. I went back to work.

A moment passed, during which the woman decided on having the new lady redecorate a cake for her. Then she came over to my side of the counter, where I was packaging bread with my friend.

"Excuse me?"

I looked up.

"I just wanted to let you know that that woman was very kind and sweet and helpful-"

She's smiling, I'm smiling. Good! Our newer worker is a good saleswoman.

"-and you were a complete SNOT."

The childish word and the absolute vitriol in the woman's voice takes me by surprise. She proceeds to snarl at me about how I barged in and I was so completely RUDE! She actually spits with some of her words, and points at me like I'm a dog that peed on the carpet. She rants at me for a bit more while my friend and I just sort of stare at her, slightly slack-jawed. I try to explain that I was just trying to help get the correct information out, and she slaps the explanation down with a couple more insults. So I apologize, and get back to work while she huffs back to talk to the lady working on her cake.

Later I explained to my manager what happened, in case the customer decided to lodge a complaint with an store manager.

That is all I am allowed to do. I can't defend myself. I can't fight back against name calling and insults that I got as a reward for doing my job. I just have to take it, and apologize for imagined slights, and get back to work. I try not to think about it for the rest of my shift, but my stomach is sour and my hands are shaking for a while after the outburst, and I spend more time telling myself that it doesn't bother me than I probably would if that were true.

Am I a snot? A rude person? Sometimes, yeah! I'm young. I listen to my music to loud. I'm intelligent enough to recognize when other people are idiots,  and snarkery is one of my favorite pastimes, hanging right below writing, and I am blessed because the two can mate and produce a beautiful baby in the form of snarky lit. But I need my job too badly to bring any of that out in front of customers. Because I know that one grouch could get me fired if they complained to the right/wrong manager.

But that's besides the point. I've met morons, and jerks, and irritants in humanoid form before. But I would never pin someone down and snarl at them about how much they suck just because I COULD. The only time I have ever given someone a tongue lashing was when they did serious emotional harm to someone I care about. Even then, I do it in private, and I let them have their say, and I try to remain respectful and calm.

And throughout the day, I wondered about this snarly woman.

What did she hope to accomplish by coming over, singling me out, and insulting me like that?

What's the next move for her? Does she go around and brag to her friends about how she told off some snotty rude ruderson at the grocery store, because they had the audacity to correct someone on a price?

What sort of life must she lead, that she derived so much pleasure in putting some nobody bakery clerk in Podunk, Montana, in their place?

Whatever has happened in my life--whatever magical series of events--that led me to becoming the sort of person who is not THAT sort of person, I'm grateful for it. If I ever become the sort of person who will verbally slap someone around just because they have to take it, and just because I can, may all my fingers go numb so I can never write again until I change back.

To my great relief and mild amusement, that woman sent someone else in to pick up her specially designed, late notice cake. With any luck I won't have to deal with her again. In the meantime, I'm taking this awful day and turning it into fuel for words. I wrote this muse-y, rant-y blog post, and because a coin flip turned out heads I'm posting it. The rest of the night belongs to my novel, which should benefit greatly from the 8-hour reminder of why I am not down with the day-job world.

Larkin Out!


  1. Started several comments..

    "That lady must have been hawt.."

    "I would like to order a penis cake.."


    But ultimately couldn't decide on which direction to take so I am just going to go on record as someone who has know you your whole life.

    If I read this post on a blog of someone I didn't know.. I would probably secretly wonder if they really were snarky or rude to the customer.

    But I can SEE this event going down, and could in NO way see how you could have in ANY way been rude. Your sweetness ebbs from the stem of your being when you are helping people on the clock.

    There is no way you were the one at fault here. I just can not see it. You were trying to correct and even further cranky customer by being quoted the wrong price multiple times.

    I'm all fired up now. I SO wish I had been there. My run-on sentence come backs are so ON lately. I am in Olympic snarky condition and would have delighted in this chance to flex my muscles. Crap-o-matic. Must rip into cheese ball movie now.


    OH.. and ALSO for the record. The one event in which you did rip into someone not only warranted it, but the majority of people knowing the circumstances would have joined together to form a lynch mob against this person.

    OK.. better stop now.

    Definitely don't need a work out today. The blood is flowing.


    1. Thought I'd responded to this, but Blogger failed me again.

      This really brightened my day, and I needed that spot of light :) So thank you, Anonymous SH. It really does mean a lot.

      And it also needs to be pointed out that I don't bother ripping unless I think there's something worth opening up. You know. Like a present or something.

  2. grrrr! Sometimes stupidity has a harder time rolling off my back. This would be one of those times. I mean, I expect certain amounts of stupidity in dealing with the general unwashed masses. But THAT? No. That is above and beyond rude. Because, yes, you in no way, in no universe, even slightly deserved that. Maybe she has some sort of conscience which made her feel sufficiently bad enough so that she couldn't face you again. But the sad part is, I don't think people who are vile enough to lash out like that at others actually realize the extent of their poison. Sorry, J.

    1. Liesel, you are awesome, and your righteous fury is a force of freakin' nature. Thank you :)