Thursday, December 16, 2010

What ever happened to the polite and cheerful sales clerk?

     I just had major culture shock within less than an hour between two very different experiences. I had a job interview on the North Shore of Long Island for a new athletic facility. I was applying for the stylist position at the spa in this mega-center. It was all quite impressive (except for the compensation). My interviewer gave me the grand "picture" tour and throughout the entire time kept emphazing the company's mission statement: "To provide an educational, entertaining, friendly and inviting experience amongst their guests (yada yada yada)...".  And he was correct; the greeting at the front desk was exceptionally friendly, he was charming and witty, and he made me laugh many times, especially when he referenced the "cult" I would be joining. He was trying to emphasize the notion of friendliness. (Not an easy thing to find on Long Island these days. New York City used to get the bad rap of inhabiting rude and unkind folk. Not any more. The city is now full of happy smiling faces because the unhappy ones moved out here!) He was trying to drive his point home with references to The Stepford Wives, microchips being implanted in your neck on the mother ship, I mean main offices in Minnesota, and free cult (gym) membership. Other than the money I wouldn't be getting paid, it was quite a lovely experience. I shook David's robotic hand and headed off to the real world where my husband slept.
     Frank felt this incredible urge to drive along on my interview, I think it had something to do with the FM boots I was wearing. You don't where a suit to a hair stylist interview. You NEED to be stylin'! Whatever!  He fell asleep in the car while I was in my dream world. I, WE had to stop at a store to pick something up for Christmas on our way home. The clerks in that store were very nice. As soon as we walked in, "can we help you" echoed all around. We started to say we need a gift card and the man to our right immediately asked how much. We walked straight to him, but then he started a five minute conversation with another man who was leaving. The store wasn't crowded; we would have gone to one of the other three men who offered us help, but he was first and loudest and now we waited...and waited...and waited. I was fine. I was still contemplating no salary or happy, smiley people. But, my dear charmer barked out "Really, you call us over for help, then BS for half an hour!".  Ok, he didn't say it loud enough for everyone to hear, only those within ten feet, which the clerk clearly was. He said goodbye to Mangano's press secretary (who by the way loooooves his job as evident by the universal jerk off hand gesture he made while describing his career choice) and proceeded to help Mr. and Mrs. Happy.
     On the road again.  Now, I make the mistake of saying "I'm Hungry".  Frank's interest piqued. Ben's Kosher Deli was in the same center we were in and it made him think of roast beef. 17 years ago, when Frankie was three months old, we went to J.C. Penney for Christmas Pictures. My poor baby was colic. It was so hard keep him from crying and I enlisted my parents' help as well as my husband. After, we went to Ben's for dinner. My very white and very German husband never ate Kosher before. He ordered a roast beef sandwich with extra mayo and a black and white milk shake.  After the waitress, my parents and myself stopped laughing, we explained they do not serve that at Kosher Restaurants.  Since we never patroned there again, and since he was in the mood for a big juicy, rare, roast beef sandwich dripping with mayo (yes, I know, a heart attack waiting to happen), we would have to go hunting.  My hunger would have been satisfied with a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee. He didn't want Subway, which was down the road, because he thought it would have been too expensive. This has nothing to do with being broke, but more to do with the German trait of hoarding. And you think we would have quit at eating out after our last excursion this past Saturday when I ate a vomit sandwich, Michael ate pancake batter and Frank ate a raw chopped meat sandwich at our favorite little fork in the road in Redhook. "Where is there a good Deli?" he questioned aloud. "I don't know" was my answer, I was too busy answering an email. So he drove back to Valley Hood, stopped at the bank for the cash and parked by the Deli he used to like on the Avenue. I was cold and wanted to stay in the car. "No, I don't know all the little things you like" was his response. REALLY, 21 years of marriage and you DON'T KNOW HOW I LIKE MY SANDWICH. So, I reluctantly went with him and was actually surprised he was going to let me walk around town in  "those" boots. We get up to the clerk, of course the one I was hoping wouldn't serve us. I saw him checking me out with his beady, little, skelly eyes. (maybe it was the boots). I was relieved Frank didn't notice...whew. I ordered my Ohhh so difficult turkey, swiss, lettuce, mayo with salt and pepper on a roll (same shit I've been ordering for 21effin years). He couldn't be bothered taking our order and it is clear the clerk has an attitude and not nearly as friendly as my last two stops. When I asked for a poppy seed roll, he snipped "they"re all poppy seed". Frank is now ordering his roast beast and salads as number one son calls. He wanted to tell me about his scholarship he was offered to Pace University. I moved to the back of the deli because it is just so rude to talk on a cell phone in public. Frank assumed something was wrong because I was speaking quietly. Hellllooooo-public place!. I started telling him about my conversation with our son, but I can tell he is Mount Vesuvius on the verge of eruption. He is glaring at the register as Skelly Man is ringing up two sandwiches, a small bag of baked lays and a half a pound each of macaroni and potato salad. The total was $21 and change. Frank asks for a receipt and I just start walking out, because I know what is coming. I actually felt like crawling out because as I am leaving,  cranky pants is now shouting, "Jesus Christ, 21 effin dollars for two sandwiches. It BETTER be over flowing with roast beef." And Skelly man is waving his hand at my husband mumbling some nonsense. DID I MENTION I WANTED TO GO TO SUBWAY! As I got in the car, I thanked my husband profusely for embarrassing me and we drove home. I threw the bag on the table having lost my appetite. But I quickly gained it back after opening the bag. Adding insult to injury was the size of the sandwiches.  Mine was overflowing with succulent turkey and Frank's sandwich had about three slices of roast beef...roflmfaooooooooo.
     Who knows why people act the way they do. All joking aside, I know how affected my husband is by this economy right now and how it did contribute to a minor short circuiting. The cost of living is insane. Buying ingredients for my Christmas cookies last week, I was shocked to see how much butter cost. Prices are on the rise and salaries are either being cut or people are losing jobs. Perhaps the deli dude is feeling the same thing. Such different experiences in the same day leads to a very exciting life. It's all in how you see the world. I love it all and can truly find humor in everything that happens. God Bless all those suffering from job loss and economic strife. I hope you all find a way. And if the road seems difficult and wayward, try driving with me, I guarantee a few laughs and a few smiles.

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