The technology at the store had let us down.
The internet had glitched out around 10am, and we lost our cash register system. We waited around for it to reboot, and when the situation didn’t take care of itself, The Big Boss had The Man unplug and replug some equipment. When that didn’t work either, we put in a call to the company’s cash register maven. She wasn’t in, so a messagw was left, then we sat around the store hoping for a technological miracle.
Luckily, it was a slow day. It was actually a really slow day. When it was all said and done, after 8 hours, we’d only sold a few stuffed toys, a map, a couple tubes of sunscreen, a few t-shirts, and a handful of parking passes.
We had to do each sale the old-fashion way. We wrote a customer’s items down on a paper receipt. Next we added together the prices of all the customer’s items, then multiplied the total by 1.08 to get the total with tax. If the customer didn’t give us exact change, we used the calculator to figure how much money to hand back. In 2017, it felt like a long and antiquated process.
The Man had been handling most of the sales transactions. I was happy enough to talk to people and avoid the math.
The young woman came into the store late in the day. She had several young children in tow. She asked if we sold sunscreen. I said yes and brought her right over to the (admittedly small) sunscreen selection. I showed her the small tubes and the two varieties of sunscreen sticks. She was immediately unhappy.
Don’t you have anything bigger? she asked.
I told her I did not.
Then she looked at the price, which increased her unhappiness.
I admit, $3.95 for a tiny tube of sunscreen is kind of steep. However, I didn’t set the price. Besides, what did she expect up in the mountains? When you leave civilization, you have to expect to pay more for luxuries.
I guess I shouldn’t have left the sunscreen at home, she said in a nasty tone of voice.
I agreed with her in my head, but kept my mouth shut. I knew anything I said would only make the situation worse.
She took two tubes of sunscreen up to the counter while her kids ran around the store. The Man began to write up the sale while I pretended to by busy nearby. I didn’t really want to deal with her bad attitude anymore.
The Man was punching numbers on the calculator when I heard her ask him in a voice dripping with disdain, Do you need help?
He very calmly said, No, and completed the transaction, but when the store was empty again, he was hopping mad.
I didn’t blame him. The woman had insinuated he was stupid because he was going slowly and making sure he did the transaction correctly. Sometimes even when we know people’s nasty attitudes are about themselves and their own unhappiness, it can be difficult to let the negativity slide off our backs like water off a duck.