She walked up to the gas station kiosk in which I was working. She held her phone to her ear.
She was older than I, probably in her late 50s or maybe early 60s. Her long grey hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and she wore a tan baseball cap. She walked over from a long white passenger van which held no passengers. She’d parked the van next to the kiosk, not next to a gas pump, and left the driver’s side door open.
When she stepped up to the window, I pressed the button on the intercom so I could communicate with her through the bulletproof glass. I gave her my standard greeting.
Hi. How can I help you this morning?
She didn’t lower her phone from her ear.
I released the button on the intercom so I could hear what she had to say.
Give me a pack of Marlboro Ultra-Light 72s, she said.
I noticed the lack of the word “please” turning what could have been a request into a command. Her cell phone was still next to her ear.
I turned around to look at the vast array of cigarettes offered for sale. I found the Marlboros but got hung up trying to figure out which of the 30 (I’m not exaggerating!) varieties of that brand the woman actually desired. Luckily I was still in training, and my coworker knew exactly where to find what the customer wanted.
I rang up the sale. The woman was clearly over 18 (and 27 and 35 and 42)—definitely old enough to buy cigarettes—so I didn’t ask to see her ID. I bypassed entering her birth date into the register. I told her the total of the sale, which was over $9. (Cigarettes are expensive!) Her phone stayed next to her ear.
She put a ten dollar bill in the drawer through which the customers and I passed items. I slid the drawer into the kiosk and reached for her money. I got her change, which I slid out along with her receipt and the box of cigarettes.
I pressed the intercom button and said, Thank you! Have a nice day!
I let go of the intercom button in time to hear her say, Alright.
She didn’t smile, and her phone never left her ear.
Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/search/cigarettes/.