Friday, March 3, 2017

Early March Work Night

Yesterday, Thursday March 2, 2017, I worked the closing shift at the bookstore.  In a rare instance, I worked Customer Service (Information) for most of my shift (as Head Cashier, I am almost always at the cash registers.  Go figure.)

Early in my shift, a semi- regular customer came in.  She's older, in her 70s I think.  She is a tall and broad woman, and is well known in the store for having a nasty attitude.  She usually snaps at the staff, and has misgendered me several times in the past, but not recently.  She has, in the past called me an "idiot" and a "moron," but again, not recently.

I see her as a customer service "challenge"- that if I can give her a great service without her getting insulting, I consider that quite a feat.  When she comes to the register, I do my best to get her at my station, as I want to be the one taking her abuse, not one of my staff.

Yes, dear reader, if you are nasty to retail staff, they will remember you, and not in a good way.

Before Work that Day

In any case, she was looking for books on a certain topic.  Both myself and one of the managers went to get books on the topic while the customer sat on a bench near the information area, as her legs were hurting.  Both of us arrived with books at pretty much the same time, and put them on the bench beside her.  Then the manager went to the next task.  I was about to do the same when this customer, violently shoved the books aside and reached into a plastic shopping bag she had brought with her.

That's when things became surreal.

She said "I'm glad you're the one who helped me.  I wanted to ask you a couple questions."

I said "okaaayyyyy..." not knowing what to expect.

She produced a report covered bunch of papers, which she said she's done maybe thirty years before.  They looked like it.  She said it was her idea for a children's book, and she wanted to know who would publish something similar to it.  I looked at it and named a known children's book publisher.

She said she also had songs she wanted me to look at.  I looked at one, and it wasn't bad at all.  I told her what I thought about it, and she pulled out a second song.

Then a customer came to my station, so I excused myself to help him.  Then another.  Then another.  She hobbled over as I finished with that customer and said to me:

"I wanted to show you these things because I can sense something in you.  You really try to make a difference.  You really want to do good, and I think you're destined for great things.  I really think that."

I was stunned.  I thanked her, but I could think of nothing else to say.  She then hobbled toward the cash registers as another customer came to me for help.

Later in my shift, I helped another woman, maybe in her 40s, who I'd seen before.  I showed her to the book she wanted, then she turned to me and said:

"I've been coming to this store for a LONG time.  I remember you from long ago, before you... became who you are now.  And I wanted to say how proud I am of you.  I can't imagine how hard it must be to do what you have done.  I've watched you through your transition, and, well you must be so proud of yourself!"  

Again, I was stunned!  I said "Well, I wouldn't say 'proud' but..."

"Are you happy?" she asked.

"No.  I can't say I am.  But I am at peace.  And That's enough."

"Peace.  That's so wonderful.  I can't imagine what it must be like to go through what you have," she said.

"As I can't imagine what it is like for you, not having to even think about it.  That's incomprehensible to me."

We spoke a little more, and she gave me a big hug.

Later that shift, I helped at the registers.  When we cleared the customers, I mentioned to a co-worker what these women said.  She replied that "What you did was very brave.  Everyone with half a brain understands that."

I then said what I usually do, that I don't consider it brave, as I HAD to do it to survive.  And we talked about this briefly before I had to answer the phone.

Dear reader, if you've been following this blog for any amount of time, you know I don't take non- job related praise very well.  I absolutely don't feel that I deserve it.

Yes, I know that it's only my pervasive self-hatred talking, but I really don't think I do.

I DO try to make a difference.  I have my whole life.  I dedicated my life to helping others (something else I've discussed many times in this blog.)  Still, to have someone SAY it to me... especially someone who never had anything nice to say to me before this...

It's almost 1:30 in the morning.  I'm up thinking and writing.  Processing.

When will I learn to listen to people who mean well?

No idea.  But 47 years of hating everything about myself with every fiber of my being is a hard thing to get over or forget.

Be well.


  1. I want to say that this is a wonderful blog post. For these two people to have said what they did to you took a lot of courage(?). It's a start, I hope, for a lot more positive people coming into your life. Hugs

  2. You make a difference. You are a wonderful, smart person. Someday you will realize this, appreciate it and accept it. On that day you will be happy. I hope that day is soon!

  3. Sophie, I know I've said it before but I think it bears of the most insidious things about depression is that magnifies the negative and makes us blind to the positive, twisting and warping our perceptions of reality like a funhouse mirror. In those moments when we can't see the good in ourselves, we have to let others be our eyes, trusting that they can see things we can't see in ourselves.

    Even these two women who are relative strangers saw how exceptional you are, and for each of them there are many more who notice it but don't have the courage to say something. Depression makes it easy for us to be dismissive of our own efforts, but even it can't mask what an exceptional woman you are.

  4. How validating! How rewarding! You can never know the affect you have on people, unless they personally share it. She was right, are destined for wonderful things that you cannot possibly see or know, and I'll be there, applauding you ALL THE WAY! Much love.

  5. I'm so happy that you had that experience last night you deserve it. Just think if two people that you had no idea were thinking that spoke to you imagine how many people are thinking it and don't verbalize it. You are making a difference each and every day hang in there lady! Dorlen

  6. Its wonderful to see people recognize the good in you as many of us have seen in you. Please remember this when feeling down. Its validation of the impact you have on people. Its great they stepped up and told you so. Wonderful posts...I hope you have more experiences just like it in the future. Love you!

  7. Fantastic post - I'm very happy for you. The unfortunate thing about life is you'll have 10 negative events for every 1 positive one, so when you have another negative event (which you will - we all do, its inevitable), remember this. Make those positive events at least 11x more meaningful to you - that way you'll always be ahead :)