This time of year is tough for those of us in food and retail.  As if the rest of the year isn’t difficult enough, this season is a harried frenzy of  maniacal gift purchasing and ‘quality time’.  During this season it can be quite entertaining to simply observe, yet that can quickly turn into something more painful when you end up unwillingly involved.

I spent the majority of today asking the same question worded differently to break up the monotony.  “What can I assist you in finding today?” “Are we your first or last stop today?”  “Who are we shopping for today?”  After customer servicing for over eight hours, I didn’t want to hear my own voice anymore.

Near the end of my shift I saw a lady exhibiting ‘the look’.  Anyone with retail experience knows the look I speak of.  The eyebrows draw in together.  Eyes sort of squint and look left and right, scanning for something that isn’t there.  The lips press together in contemplation or frustration, and if they are really intent, they will raise a hand and beckon you to them.  I approached with a smile and friendly, “What are we looking for today?”  Her husband and young adult son enter the aisle with her as she says, “Pig ears.”  I walk her to the product, saying that if she should need any further assistance she need only let us know.

As I am nearing the exit of this interaction her husband asks if they are ‘good’.  I grin and respond, “I really don’t know.  I’ve never tried one myself, but most dogs seem to like them quite a bit.”  Not appearing to appreciate my attempt at humor, he asks again, specifying their likeness to rawhide.  I explain that though they do have skin, unlike rawhide, they are more cartilaginous.  My use of so many syllables must have blown his mind, as the remainder of our conversation included his sarcastic use of the word cartilaginous numerous more times.  As if to let me know that I’d spoken beyond my caste , he enunciated each syllable while describing several other toys and treats.  “Is this plastic or is it cartilaginous?”  “Do dogs prefer these rubber toys, or something more cartilaginous?” He later used it while being chatty with the cashier.  Between his snide comments, I managed to slide in something resembling a semi-apology for over-speaking, saying that I merely like words that call things what they are….and I left it at that.

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