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Adams: What I’m made of

Posted: October 25, 2017 - 1:00am

After almost half a century, the day arrived that finally tested my mettle and revealed what I'm made of. It was as much a surprise to me as it was to the randomly appointed-by-happenstance group of witnesses, who waffled between paralyzing awe and the urge to step in. Despite the presence of these poor souls in the throes of a "purgatious" ordeal, I felt alone and isolated in my corner of retail hell.

Some readers may know, some may not, that I own a vintage and antique home furnishings and decor business. I enjoy my customers - the ones browsing for inspiration, the ones wandering through to unwind, the ones spending time with friends, the ones buying large items, the ones making small purchases, the ones feeding their creativity, and the ones just passing through because they like the music. I've learned that I can't make everyone happy, so I strive to make everyone feel welcomed and valued. That's what I was doing last Saturday, and I thought I was doing it well. The Lord saw fit to humble me, however.

It began benignly. A man arrived at the counter to pay for his treasures. I made chit-chat with him about his selections. He made chit-chat with me about my packaging abilities, saying something like, "You sure are good at what you do," to which I said, "Not always, not everything, but I seem to be doing okay right now." We laughed and he handed me his plastic.

After the swipe, confirm, sign routine, I asked him if I could text a digital receipt to his phone. He agreed and recited his number for me. The transaction complete, I handed him his bundle, smiled and remarked that I looked forward to seeing him on his next visit. Then I turned my attention to the person in line behind him.

A woman approached and waited off to the side. I acknowledged her. She accepted it as her cue to unleash her animosity concerning my credit card processor with which she evidently believed me to be in a diabolical supernatural union intent on casting her into the jaws of Cerberus. She also discharged fury regarding the text receipt for her husband's purchase, irate that I sent it because she would be charged for it. The man with whom I'd pleasantly bantered only minutes before cowered at her elbow.

Taken by surprise, I had difficulty following the convoluted livid discourse and asked a question to gain clarity. This set her off again, demanding to know if I'd ever had my identity stolen, which prompted me to say, "Why are you talking so angry at me?"

"Because of the way you're talking to me!" she shouted. The onslaught continued even after I processed a refund to her card. I kept my voice quiet, but my neck and face blushed to reveal my internal upheaval. I tried to calm her by sticking to the facts as I understood them. The dust didn't settle until she departed.

After retrospectively analyzing the interaction to determine what I could have done better, I realize that I shouldn't have repeatedly asked the woman, "Why are you talking so angry at me?" I keep coming back to the revelation that I'm made of the stuff drizzled over tortilla chips in ballgame concession stands, the stuff that is a startling shade of orange and remains liquid at room temperature: canned nacho cheese product. Picture me in a confrontation with a block of sharp cheddar protesting, "Why do you keep saying I'm not real cheese?"

Maybe I should have joined the madness by standing tall on my liquid legs and asserting with a finger wag, "I'm nacho cheese product!" I might have felt better.

 

Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run and other books for children and adults. She lives in Thomson, Ga. Email Lucy at lucyadams.writer@gmail.com.

 

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