I guess I’ve turned into my own parents when I mutter, “What’s the matter with kids today?” I work in a high school and have high tolerance for fooling around and can be patient with stupid behavior, but today I was on a broom about a young woman working the deli counter at Fred Meyer in Gig Harbor.
My almost 42 year old daughter Amy has Special Needs. She marks the days of the week with rituals. Friday is pizza and Thursday is bagel (she’d eat bagels every day if we’d let her). Tuesday used to be rent a movie and get a hamburger. Then the video stores closed one by one. When Dave retired the first time he started taking her to the $2 movie at our local theater on Mondays and then out to Subway for a sandwich. Sometimes her sister-in-law and nephew went, too. When Dave left to work in Arizona Amy didn’t want to go to the movies without him and so Monday devolved into “sandwich day.”
If I have shopping to do I get her a sandwich from the Fred Meyer deli. After a day of work it makes my life easier than going to Subway. Today when I arrived at the counter I waited patiently to be helped. “May I help you,” asked a young woman from behind the counter. “Yes,” I said, “Are any of your baguette sandwiches turkey?” Sometimes it is difficult to tell the deli turkey from the deli ham. The sign said, turkey, but I would have gone for the ham if the turkey was gone. It’s frequently gone by 4 PM. They need to get a clue and make more turkey than ham. Anyway, the young woman quickly said, “No, we are out of turkey. Who’s next?” The woman standing next to me began to laugh and another worker behind the counter said, “No I think she…” I cut him off. “You know,” I said, “I would have purchased a ham sandwich, but you’re rude so I guess I’ll go to Subway and get a sandwich there.” The young woman just stared at me blankly. She seemed to have no clue why I was angry.
I continued my shopping. I love Fred Meyer and in all the years the store has been in Gig Harbor I’ve never had a bad experience. I kept on shopping as Amy needed more drawing paper and some yogurt and I bought some pudding mix for my mother. Maybe because it was the end of my work day or maybe because I’m getting to be a cranky old lady, but the more I thought about the girl’s behavior (reminding me of the Seinfeld soup Nazi episode only in this case it was “No sandwich for you!”) I reached the conclusion that just telling her that I thought she was rude wasn’t good enough. If she’d apologized or even looked concerned I might have left it at that but she seemed totally clueless. I went to the customer service and asked to speak to the manager. I got the PIC (Person In Charge) and I related the story to him. He asked if I wanted him to get me a sandwich when he talked to her. “No,” I told him. “She needs to know she lost a sale for the store. I’m in here all the time and probably should just have the school district send you my paycheck so I’m going to finish my shopping, but whether it’s because she’s young and needs more training or she’s insensitive she needs to know that she did the store a dis-service.”
“Okay,” he said, “but please accept our apologies. I see you in here all the time and I am so sorry this happened to you.” I went on my way. I was headed to the dairy to get Amy some Swiss cheese when here came the PIC with a baguette sandwich all wrapped up. “Here,” he said handing me the sandwich. “There was a turkey sandwich there after all and I want you to have it with no charge. The girl has been counseled by her supervisor and by me. Really, we’re sorry and want you to have the sandwich.” I had no wish to seem ungrateful and refuse to take the sandwich and thought I’d just go ahead and pay for it when I got to the cashier—I was grateful to not have to make another stop to get Amy her Monday treat— but when I got up front I’d changed my mind and told the cashier, “Roo told me it’s on the house.”