Retail: Feeling (Un)Wanted

Go Away!

That’s how it comes off. I’m not wanted. Example: There I am having breakfast with my wife and a friend. Local mom-and-pop place. The waitress, a somewhat elderly lady, comes up and introduces herself and asks how we’re doing. We all say fine, going with the customary pleasantries, then in the spirit of acting interested, I ask how she’s doing.

*sigh* Big mistake.

This was her big opening. For the rest of our visit she made use of the opportunity to tells us that… she was only working because she had bills to pay… listed three things she’d rather be doing at that moment, and how her job was getting in the way of that… complained about how busy it was that morning, she’d prefer less people… and generally made us (me, at least) feel that our presence was unwelcome and an imposition on her life. Now, she did all this in an attempted joking manor, but the humor came off as only a facade, a way to say what she thought and get away with it.

I get it. There are many other things I’d rather do than go to a job for most of every day five days a week. But I make the best of it. So, I’m sorry that our patronage of your employer’s business… that provides you with an income so you can pay bills and have things like food every day and heat in the winter… is such a burden. I’ll keep this in mind next time I decide what to do and where to go.

The whole “I’d rather be anywhere else (than here dealing with you)” image is not an image that businesses or society should put up with. Treat customers with decency. I don’t want to hear that you’re getting off in an hour. I especially don’t want to hear what drudgery your job is.  At least pretend you’re appreciative of my patronage.

The Side Conversation

There is another common practice that I see often that is no less off-putting: Employees having side conversation when they’re supposed to be dealing with you. I see this often, especially with younger people.

I’m standing at a checkout, and the cashier’s friend/co-worker is standing right beside the register and they’re having this deep conversation… and essentially ignoring me completely.

And what were they talking about, you ask? They were talking about getting off soon, what they’d rather be doing at that moment, and… get this… how much they each hated their job and most of their co-workers.


No filter, as if I wasn’t even there. Talk about unprofessional. How can a customer not feel unappreciated in that kind of scenario?

My sister told me that she once told a cashier off and that she didn’t give a crap about her personal grievances and wanted to be treated like a customer instead of an annoyance. (She got a shocked blank stare in return.)

I love my sister! I was so proud of her. lol


Iowa Drivers, Pt 2

This bumper sticker should be issued to all native Iowa drivers upon passing the test.

Iowans are, for the most part, unquestioningly nice. Exceedingly nice. The jerk percentage of the population is far less than in pretty much any other place I’ve been. And this is precisely why I love Iowans. They’re wonderful people, really. But… there’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there?… this might explain their driving habits. They’re trying too hard to be nice. Case in point…

You come to a four way stop, and there are researched and approved rules of driving etiquette and law regarding who goes first, but in Iowa nobody goes. Everybody just sits there looking at each other. When I’m one of the four, I go, whether it’s my turn, or not. Hey, somebody’s gotta break the ice, right?

Oh, and God forbid that one of the four cars is a cop. Phfft, might as well turn off the engine and take a nap.

On occasion I will come across someone who is just as aggressive as I am. This always takes me aback. I’ve become so accustomed to wimpy drivers that it literally shocks me when someone is as aggressive as I am. I immediately think, “Whoa. That’s person’s from out-of-state.”, just like I am. There are too few of us.

Part 2.1

Ok, this isn’t an Iowa driver rant, per se, but it is driving related, and is about an Iowa driver. I worked a 12 hour day today. On the way home I’m the second car behind another car that is driving incredibly slow, almost creeping along. Contrary to my usual self, I wasn’t annoyed, but I did want to move faster. As they make the left turn I see these big bright reflective letters on the back of the vehicle… STUDENT DRIVER.


Since I was going the same way, and I was in a part of town where there are no reasonable alternatives, I resigned myself to settling in for the ride. Make the best of a bad situation, right? Besides, I was blasting some B-52s, so it wasn’t all bad.

Anyway… did I mention they were slow?… we proceed down the road, and going uphill I had to actually downshift to second gear (I drive a stick) because we were barely breaking 20 mph. Then we come to a four way stop… with them virtually coming to a stop 100 yards before the intersection, they were so cautious.


At least the driving gods were smiling upon me and the student driver put on their blinker for a left turn. They then, in true aspiring Iowa driver fashion… as if we don’t have enough of them already… proceeded to just sit there while more cars than had the right-of-way made their turns.


When they finally did navigate their turn, they would have moved backward if they went any slower. Driving instructors must be saintly. Or on Valium.  That’s all I can figure. I had this vision of the instructor losing their patience and screaming, “JUST GO ALREADY!!!” I mean, that’s what I would do.


I would not make a good driving instructor.

Rant: Is there a market for pre-stained shirts?

I give up.

I dress reasonably nice. I prefer clean clothes. I dress somewhat conservatively. I have very vanilla tastes in clothing, so I prefer solid single-color shirts, muted colors, most of the time. I got that part down.

Then… I eat. Invariably, I spill something on my shirt. Seldom fails to happen. Bet your mortgage on it. Doesn’t seem to matter if I’m eating a burger, or if I’m eating a meal that requires a knife and fork. Chicken wings?  Forget it!  A whole wing is being dropped at some point.  If I’m sitting at a table, it doesn’t matter how close I lean over the table, or how small my bites are, or how conscientious I am, it still happens. And the fact that I wear plain solid-color shirts just makes it all the more obvious to the world.

It’s common for me to come home, strip my shirt off, and immediately apply stain-remover for the next load of laundry. Hell, what don’t they make laundry detergent out of stain remover? That would be awesome, but I digress.

Anyway, here’s the kicker, it’s almost always either the first bite or the last bite. Seldom in between. Makes me think I have invoked the wrath of the fashion gods, or something. Seriously, why do I even try?

So, since eating like a normal cultured person seems to be beyond my abilities, I’m thinking these are my most realistic options…

1. Wear loud shirts that will hide the stains.

I already annoy people with my irreverent sense of humor, I don’t need to look like a schlep, too. I mean, if you’re 50 years old, and you routinely wear loud animated NASCAR shirts in public, you’re still trying to be 12. The stains will be hidden, I suppose, but no.

2. Wear a bib 24/7.

Might seem like a realistic option, but how big does the bib need to be? Seems that when I put a napkin on my chest at home, the aforementioned fashions gods direct the offending food matter to an area juuuuuust outside the bib/napkin. Maybe a poncho?  Kudos for trying, but no participation trophy.

3. Wear pre-stained shirts and stop worrying about it.

Just accept reality and move on. I often see people buy a new car then obsess over it and get so upset when it gets its first door ding. OMG, you’d think the rapture had just occurred and they weren’t included. C’mon, people, it was inevitable. And the second door ding is met with a shrug because they’re over it by then. This is why I believe that ALL vehicles should leave the assembly line with a “pre-ding” somewhere on the side. (Hell, I’d like to apply for that job, just give me a hammer!) You buy a car, it already has a ding, your life has just been eased of an unnecessary first-world stress. Problem solved.

In that same spirit, I think it’d be best that I purchase pre-stained shirts. I would no longer have to worry. It is what it is. Any new stain I contribute simply won’t matter in the same way the second door ding on a car doesn’t matter. Problem solved. I wonder if there’d be a market for that? Similar to pre-ripped jeans that sell for more than new unripped jeans. (I will never understand fashion.)

Given those three options, I know what you’re thinking, “But Ken, just be more careful.” <insert blank stare here> Oh, do shut up. As if that never occurred to me. Retraining the world to view stains as a positive thing would be more practical.

Note:  Beginning a third special category, The Rant.


…or the lack thereof.

There’s a Twilight Zone episode, titled “Time Enough At Last”, where Henry Bemis never has time to do the thing he wants to do most… read. Long story short, the gist of the story is that he sneaks away to a basement to read, and when he emerges there has been a nuclear holocaust and he’s left with plenty of books and no one to tell him no. Paradise, at last!

It seems to never end, does it? There never seems to be enough time, does there? Too many things to do, not enough time. It doesn’t help that we consciously add things to do when we know we don’t have enough time already. Yeah, like I need something else to do. I let some things go unattended too much as it is.

Here’s what I want to happen: I want time and the world to STOP! No time progression for a set period of time. A month would be good. Yeah, a month. I could catch up on things, tackle my ‘to do’ list, do all those little nagging things that I have been neglecting… and start fresh.  Since time would be suspended I wouldn’t have all those other outside commitments getting in the way. The calendar is idle. The month wouldn’t disappear, the calendar would pick right up where it left off, and nothing would be lost. That sounds wonderful.

*sigh*… but who am I kidding? The procrastinator in me would take it as an opportunity to do nothing. I’d probably do a lot of napping, playing with the dog, and cruising the internet. I could catch up on all that other stuff later. After all, I wouldn’t be “wasting” any time, right?

Oh, and what happened to Henry Bemis? He immediately broke his glasses, and with no one left to fix them or get new ones, and virtually blind without them, he was left with all the time he wanted and still unable to do what he wanted. The final scene shows him weeping at his situation, and exclaiming, “That’s not fair. That’s not fair at all. There was time now. There was—was all the time I needed…! It’s not fair! It’s not fair!” as he was surrounded by books he now can never read.