The Man Who Might Miss His Bus

Monday nights are—no real shocker here—rather slow in bookstores. This Monday night was no different; people were coming through cashwrap in spurts, but for the most part, it was slow enough that we had all of our tasking finished by seven, a good three hours before close. It was during one of these spurts, however, that you showed up.

Maybe you had truly gotten caught up in what you were browsing and lost track of time. Maybe you had an appointment to get to, but had to stop in to the local Barnes & Noble to get something truly pivotal to your existence. Maybe you’re just the gruff, impatient, rude person you appear to be on the outside and there’s no deeper, existential explanation to you.

It’s my job to talk to people about our store’s membership program. I get judged on how many I sell per shift. Honestly? I believe in the program (for those unaware, it saves you ten percent for a year if you pay $25). My store back home had a very similar program and my family always kept ours up to date because every spare moment my family had, I was dragging them to that store, so I believe that, in the long run, you save a bundle.

So, I offered it to the lady in front of you and she was very nice in her decline of the program, so I asked her if she would like to leave her email to get some coupons (another requirement of my job). I finished her transaction and we had a cordial parting. I was looking forward to my break because my feet were hurting after standing behind the counter for several hours.

I smiled at you, “Find everything okay?”

You slapped your purchase down on the counter in front of me in way of response. “Everything takes forever around here. I’m going to miss my bus.”

Flustered, and immediately defensive, I apologized for the wait and asked if you had the membership so you could get your savings. You rummaged through your wallet like you were going to find the membership card and grunted, “Yeah. They told me I have to use it to get the points, or whatever. I don’t have time.”

“Yes, sir. So you do have the membership? I can look it up by the phone number or swipe the card so you get your discount.”

You insisted I was wasting your time and emphatically blamed me for potentially making you miss the bus. Sputtering, I skipped through the prompts and readied the pin pad for your card and got you a bag, gingerly placing your items inside and hoping I didn’t do that wrong, too. I could feel my face growing hot, like I had made some grievous error and should be ashamed.

As soon as I placed the receipt in your bag, you grabbed the handles and slid it across the desk in what can only be described as a mad dash for the door. The place-mat that sits on the counter to display deals and information went with you and loudly clattered to the floor, along with the signature pen you had just finished using. You seemed to pause, considering as you glanced behind you at the mess you made.

You kept moving.

“Have a wonderful day,” I called behind you, hands shaking in indignation. I turned to the next person; she kindly picked up the pad and set it back on the counter, but otherwise pretended the exchange hadn’t happened. I fixed a smile on my face.

“Find everything okay?”

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