I Knew from the Snooty Hairdo She Was Trouble

barry currin, beaverdamusa.comI am a frequent visitor to the hardware store just a few blocks from my house. Sometimes, when I walk in, I expect the employees to say, “Norm!” the way the barflies did on “Cheers.”

The other day I was waiting in the checkout line, and the cashier was ringing up woman’s order two people in front of me. This woman had a snooty hairdo, and she was all dressed up like she was on her way to play bridge or go to what she would probably call a luncheon. I knew she was going to be trouble even before I saw she was buying four of those paintbrushes with the foam rubber tips for bristles. She looked like the type of person who would use them for some trivial pursuit to pass time until Dr. Phil came on.

When the cashier told her the total — which was only a few dollars — the woman said, “I need the employee discount for…” and she gave a name. Being the frequent shopper I am, I immediately recognized it as the name of someone who used to work there but hasn’t for years.

Here we go, I’m thinking. The foam rubber paintbrushes don’t lie.

The cashier looked perplexed, because she had no idea who the woman was talking about. She was probably in the fifth grade when this guy worked there.

“He doesn’t work here anymore,” the woman said. “He works at another of your locations.”

“Then I can’t do it,” the cashier answered.

Boom. The cashier has spoken. Let’s move on.

But no. At that moment, Foam Paintbrush Woman put her elbow on the counter and painstakingly leaned over to get a better look at the register as if she were about to enlighten the cashier by showing her some secret employee discount button. Then she slowly turned her head back to the cashier, looked over her glasses and snapped, “Yes, you can.”

All she was missing was the Cruella de Vil cigarette holder.

If I am at the hardware store, I am either, a) in the middle of doing something, or, b) about to start something, which means I have to hurry and get started so I can get to the middle of it so I can go back to the store for my middle-of-something visit to get what I forgot on the first visit.

I don’t have time for this kind of behavior.

The cashier was dumbfounded when the woman started rambling something like, “You don’t do it as this store… You have to log in as another store, then you can use his discount.”

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Another employee heard the commotion and couldn’t resist joining in the fun. He didn’t know what the woman was talking about, either. And, that propelled her into an endless stream of “never mind… don’t worry about it… forget it…,” while implying the employees were incompetent because they didn’t know how to give an employee discount to someone they had never heard of to someone who wasn’t even the employee to begin with.

Working with the public will eat into your soul. I’ve been that cashier. My first job was at an auto parts store when I was about her age, and I didn’t know an alternator from a hole in the ground when I started. I had to endure lots of grief over it. Twenty-five years later I ran a lending department at a financial institution, and that wasn’t any different. I’ve been cussed out, lied to, hung up on, screamed at, cried on; and, I have been kidnapped and forced to ride shotgun on more guilt trips than I care to remember.

Some people make saying, “Have a nice day” virtually impossible. It only takes one person to ruin your whole day, and it will happen every single day if you let it. The look on the cashier’s face let us all know she hadn’t learned that lesson yet.

When the dust cleared, we who had been held hostage in the checkout line all consoled the cashier. I guess we were at least somewhat successful, because she and I both showed up as scheduled the next day. 

Read the Halloween “Stories of a World Gone Mad”

About Barry Currin

Barry tries to be funny and poignant, and he's usually satisfied when he succeeds with one or the other. (Being both is awesome. And sometimes that happens.) Email him: currin01@gmail.com


  1. tanna davis says:

    Bardol Did It Again !!!!………………Thank God I have stringy hair …I am going to ACE !!!!! love your article…from your number 3 fan….(pretty sure Kim and Grant are ! and 2 !!!

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