Retail is screwing up my brain and I hate it

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I graduated from college just a couple of weeks ago with not a lot of hope in my eyes. I was excited to go to the music festival that I had planned as a vacation with my partner, but the prospect of graduating left me with a deep, existential fear.

I still have that existential fear, it turns out. To help with that, I’ve been writing (not here, obviously) more frequently, trying to read more, and generally trying to find things that make me happy. I’ve been seeing a therapist about my problems with anxiety and depression, which has also been helpful.

I’m not in bad place after graduation by any means, mind you. I have my adult life mostly figured out (I naively believe) and I have a full-time job now, where I once only worked part-time. I work at an organic grocery store here, where I help customer’s find things.

Today something embarrassing happened to me. I was raised in a small town, where the food was mostly ordinary, if that makes sense. A customer came up to me and asked me where the pâté was. I apologized to her and said that I wasn’t familiar with that product, and asked if she describe it. After she explained and I realized, while she was talking, that I knew exactly what pâté  is, she then told me that I should learn more about the “kinds of foods the eat in Boulder”.

It just made me so furious at this customer. It made me feel like I was still a hayseed, even though I went through four years of college to make sure that that wouldn’t happen again. It made me furious about the fucking elitism in the town, but that’s mostly just a fact of life. It made me feel worse than this grown-ass lady going grocery shopping at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday.

Tales from a Boulder 7/11

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I recently quit working for 7-11 to make a little money for my time abroad. It was the first job that I had had with giant corporation (other than a job with a university bookstore, which is a different kind of corporation), but that wasn’t the problem. The managers of the place were a really nice couple who were pretty lenient on the rules of the corporation.

The thing that I quickly realized is that people are straight-up shitty to cashiers. It didn’t help that addictions and sometimes very large amounts of money were at stake. During one of my first days there, a man got irrationally angry at me for asking him to repeat which scratch ticket he wanted. The same thing happened with cigarettes, chew, coffee.

Even people buying Zig-Zag wraps were sometimes shitty. This one guy came in for some watermelon wraps. It was one of my first days, and I hadn’t sold one of those yet. I start looking for it, and he yells at me “LEFT!” and “DOWN!”. It was ironic that someone buying a blunt wrap had so little chill. Anyways, I found it, and scanned the bar code. When you scan a tobacco product into the system, it immediately asks for an ID. I was feeling a little spite-y, and it wasn’t too unreasonable to ask him for some ID, so I did. He got all in a huff and started spouting some nonsense about “I’ve come in here every day!” even though I had never sold anything to him before. He finally gave it to me, and I put in his birthday, and I put the card on the counter. Then he got so mad because “I handed you the card, you hand it back!”. It was satisfying to wish him a nice day, though, as he huffed out the door.

Given the store was in Boulder, it isn’t much of a surprise that there were characters. There was the Boulder-every-mom who always came in with her kid and always looked critically at the price of her smoothie, even though I learned how to put in after the first week.

There was the woman who couldn’t decide how many goddamn hot dogs she wanted. I call this event the Great Hotdog Fiasco of 2015. I hated this stupid woman from the moment she mouthed her stupid infantile voice. She came in and ordered a hot dog. Then for two. No, wait, no, one. Yeah. No. Three. Four? No, definitely three. By the time I had gotten the hot dogs ready, I had thrown the fourth away, because there’s nothing to be done with a pre-made hot dog if you can’t sell it. All this while, the woman had been standing beside me at the grill. When I threw it away, she pathetically patted at the cover of it and was whining, “He threw my hot dog away, he threw it away.” Finally the crisis was sorted out.

There was a guy who always offered to come back and buy me “something pretty if I win” the Lotto.

There was the homeless man who asked for a light from me. He was cool.

There was the man who taught me what the Boulder mating call is. (Hint: its tapping the edge of your credit card on the table. Get it? Coke.)

There was the time I’m pretty sure I smoked the stuff of someone’s cokerette from the ash tray outside because I was craving and I’m living that grunge life.

There was the wheelchair-bound man with the motorcycle helmet who always mumbled his order of cigarettes, even though I know for certain he was able to communicate.

There was the man who called us to ask how much a grape-flavored blunt cost and came in with a bunch of pennies. He was a sketchy dude.

There was the old lesbian couple that was addicted to PowerBall. There was also the cute lesbian couple that was living in a truck and ordered a pizza (the pizza of 7/11 is shit, in case you were wondering) and bought some slices of cheese and asked us to shred them and put them on the pizza. She told me it was their idea of a nice date nowadays.

I was surprised one day to hear the damn binging sound of the door opening and a white woman flamboyantly exclaiming “Hola!” to the general room. She wandered around and bought several items and set them down on the counter. I reached for one and she gesticulated madly. “Sorry, germaphobe.” She asked me to shoot the items with the scanner instead, which I did. She then asked for a bag, and I moved to apply the bag fee before she screamed, “Wait, no!” and then apologized “Sorry, control freak.” The shirtless dreaded construction man who had already paid looked at me and said, “Wow, you must see everything, huh?”