Whenever I set foot into a supermarket, Target, CVS, etc. everyone around me suddenly decides I was put there to serve them. This is something I’ve never understood. For as I can remember this has gone on. I could be wearing my Star Market uniform, shopping in Stop & Shop with my Mom and everyone I walk by is all, “Excuse me…Where can I find breadcrumbs?” (Yes in high school she’d pick me up from one and go shopping in the other.)

Over the past 17 years or so, it has made me go from a simple, “oh I don’t work here” response to a more aggressive, “what makes you think I’m here to serve you?!” type of response.  As a smart-ass teenager I would wonder, ‘can’t people read? My giant boob is plastered with the Star Market logo… did they really miss that, or do that not know which store they are in?’ Looking back I figure, they didn’t look at it that closely. I’m dressed like a supermarket employee and we’re in a supermarket. But over the years, regardless of what I’m wearing this has never changed. I could be dressed professionally on my way home from Real Job, or I could be in pajamas and still get the questions and looks of disbelief when I claim to not work there.

I guess this has made this whole scenario a sore subject with me. Once while in a CVS in Jacksonville I really let another customer have it. While couponing my way to a year’s supply of Diet Pepsi this man demands I show him to something. To this day I cannot remember what it was; we’ll say Q-Tips just as an example. I’m minding my own business loading up on $1.16 12-packs of soda, wearing cargo pants and a plain white, long sleeve T shirt. (I know what I was wearing because I was right out of the job for which I wore a uniform. I would simply pull off the logo-polo to go out in public.) Minding my own business I hear, “Where are the QTips?” “Hello??” “Excuse me??” “I’M TALKINGTO YOU!!!” Remembering that everyone always thinks I live to serve them when I’m in public I eventually acknowledge the guy and tell him I do not know. Not in the mood to tell him off quite yet, just wanting him to go away. He doesn’t let up though, rudely demanding that I drop what I am doing and escort him to his desired item. This results in me raising my voice and using vulgarity-every-other-word proceed to explain to him that I was not, his personal shopper. That, in fact, if he continued to talk to me I would punch him in his [BLEEP], while loudly calling him names and telling him to get his head out of his ass and find his own [bleep, bleepity bleep] Q Tips. He immediately rushed to the front of the store to complain about me. When I got there a few minutes behind him to checkout, the employees were all in a huddle trying to determine whether the man really was delusional or another employee did in fact call him names and refuse to help him.

I leave with my trunk full of soda feeling I’ve done the world a service by educating this man of the fact that the rest of the world does not in fact, live to serve him.

To this day, depending upon my mood, I might tell people simply “I do not work here.” I might ignore them. I might pick a number and answer them. “Yes, sir the refried beans are in aisle 13, next to the bread… so weird, right?” I might reply with the “The [bleep] do I look like?! Your personal assistant?!” Many of them will realize, “oh! You don’t work here! I guess you just have one of those faces…” Whatever that means. Exactly what kind of face says “I was put here to serve you” is beyond me, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t mine. 

I am someone who, while at work, can remain calm, composed, act professionally under any circumstances if it is what is in the best interest of my employer, or necessary for the role I am performing. I can muster up  so. much. control. Until I’m on a personal errand and get asked where the cherries are… it’s all I can do to not knock their teeth out. 

So weird. The world has made me this way.

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