This morning began like many other Saturdays. No coffee, no milk, and nothing to eat in the house. After a the hustling and bustling of a busy, character building week, the last thing you want is to wake up without coffee. For some reason I find delight in not preparing for my favorite time of the week, Saturday mornings. That explains why I found myself zipping over to the nearest grocery store that carries good coffee.
The Food Lion grocery store has forever been higher priced than the other national grocery stores, but modest in price next to the specialty stores. They have never been accused of building their clientele based on their customer service skills. They seem to harvest their customers out of convenience and necessity, not good will to fellow man.
None the less, I hop out of my Cherokee, put my shades up on the top of my head and forged ahead on my seemingly endless journey for caffeine. The “Battle Star Galactiga” doors open and close in my wake. I seem to have developed a sixth sense to locate the coffee isle not only with super-human smell, but also with some sort of “Juan Valdez” radar. The prices are about 30% higher than my favorite market, but a quick calculation of the price of fuel and time and then the sad thought that the manager of Food Lion had already done that calculation made it evident that I was being taken advantage of. The price you pay for convenience in the time of necessity is a powerful thing. I grabbed the coffee, some milk, and the house favorite, “Honey Bunches of Oats”. They really are the best cereal ever made. I headed for the understaffed cash register with determination. The cashier rings me up with a smile and I’m sure she must be a new hire because she’s actually pleasant. Something happens though. My Visa Check card won’t go through.
Now, I digress. Years ago I would have been terrified that the person making $5.15 / hour on the other side of the counter would be judging my spending habits and damning me to NSF hell with her eyes. But after several years in banking I know the benefit of having the VISA logo on your card means that you will never be turned away. You might pay an NSF fee at your bank but you will not be turned down. I didn’t think it was prudent given my current state of mind to explain banking to the clerk. I simply asked her to just punch in the numbers on the card for the approval. That being a seemingly foreign concept to her, probably because she was born years after the magnetic strip concept was introduced. She calls the manager over which by now I know the process. I feel like a D.U.I. repeat offender that knows its better to be polite and let them finish than to fight and explain why I know more than they do.
That’s when it happened. The lady, close to forty, which I could tell because she dipped her nose to look through the tops of her glasses that had no bifocal lens in them and were too young in style for her. I thought she was trying to see me better, but I realized my former nightmares of being judged about my financial situation were coming true. She gave me a once over. Damn it.
She looked at the logos on my clothing and the Gold on my card and decided it was worth typing it in. Obviously she doesn’t know what the VISA on my card means. Forget the race card that I could easily pull and be gratified by. I won’t mention details. She then approached the situation, not with a this just happens sometimes” or a “it must be the strip or maybe our machine”. No. She met me with a “it’s waiting on you.” and all of the attitude that she could muster.
Then I realized. She has already condemned herself to the existence that makes her the unhappy heap that she is. Finally, It brings me to realize two things. First, not being like her is priority and I smile and thank her for her help. Second, I can actually think about things and function without my first cup of Joe. Either that or I’m a little more sensitive without it!