The other day I found myself drifting into the murky past of my retail history. Upon that trip through Nightmare Boulevard, I happened to remember my encounter with...The Wreath Lady.
When I was in college and working weekends and school breaks at a craft store, I usually worked one of the departments...stocking, ordering, helping customers...but a few days I ran register as well.
On one particularly nice afternoon, the kind where you'd almost be willing to roll around on gravel just to be let out and enjoy the cool, sweet air and the bright, warm sunshine, my fellow cashier "GG" (who had been working there since they opened) and I were wistfully gazing out the window between customers and waiting for our shifts to end.
Suddenly the wind shifted. The sky reminded bright and the air remained cool...but the cheerful sweetness had left, leaving a sour uneasiness. Even the birds flitted away and cowered in hushed silence.
Enter, The Wreath Lady, with a glaring expression and a superior air about her.
"Oh crap!" whispered GG.
"What?!" I hushed back.
"That's the Wreath Lady!"
"Oh, Lord. This isn't gonna be good, is it?"
I had never encountered TWL but I had enough jadedness of retail to know that when I crusty gains nickname status, it's something to be noted.
TWL strolled over to the floral dept with her cart, pointing her nose and eyeing everyone as though se were walking through a peasant village instead of a craft store. She went and loaded her cart to overfilling with grapevine wreaths and headed to my register. GG breathed a sigh of relief, I braced for impact.
"Oh course it had to be my register...I'm so lucky" I thought with a twist in my stomach.
TWL stood at my register, leering at me and doing nothing.
"Well?!" She snorted. "Aren't you going to ring me up?!"
Realizing that she thought herself too good to unload her own cart, I reached over and started taking the wreaths out of the basket. They were very large wreaths, and shoved rather firmly into the cart as well...becoming somewhat tangled.
Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with grapevine wreaths, they are twisty bundles of dried vines with lots of little twigs and tendrils and sprigs sticking out all over. They are very brittle and considerably delicate for their size.
As soon as I gave the slightest tug on the first wreath, TWL screeched at me.
"What are you doing!? Don't you break my wreaths!"
I offered to key them in manually, since we would just type in the price and dept code anyway, I figured I could just look at the tags while they were still in the basket.
She looked at me with disgust.
"Don't be stupid. I WANT them BAGGED! And don't you break a single twig!"
Internally I thought, oh shit, bags? For grapevine wreaths? Without breaking off any of the tiny little bits that stick out? You gotta be kidding me.
So for the next hour or so, I painstakingly removed each wreath from the cart, keyed it in, and placed them in bags with surgical precision. With TWL all the while sighing and tapping her foot and rapping her fingers with professional grade impatience. Some of the largest ones wouldn't fit entirely into a bag and TWL growled at me.
"Put two bags on that one, I don't want them ruined by having any sticking out!"
*Sigh* I delicately pull another bag over the other end of the largest wreath, the middle still stuck out.
"I'm sorry, these are the biggest bags we have" I meeped
TWL just glared as if I'd just said her shoes looked like she stepped in aardvark shit. (Which they did, by the way)
Once the order was completed, I told her the total and she pulled out her checkbook and scrawled out the info. I lifted the bags and handed them to her lightly, which she promptly smushed back into the cart. I cringed with the sound of her precious tendrils crunching and snapping with each shove.
And the fondant on this crapcake of a story is, when I glanced at her check to put it in the till, it was one of those Bible verse checks...and the verse was even something about patience and kindness. Way to be a good example of what you claim to represent, lady.