So there I was buying some Hershey's Pot of Gold, a church CD, and a Far Side desk calendar at the BYU Bookstore. Thinking that it was free, and would save me oodles of time (I hate wrapping presents. In fact, I believe that if the good Lord had intended us to wrap presents, he wouldn't have invented the gift bag), I decided to have a go at the gift wrapping service on the third floor. The line was long, but there was a feeling of Christmas in the air as peeps stood there holding their packages while wearing Santa hats and sweaters with reindeers on them (no joke).
The mood abruptly changed when I got up to the counter. To be fair, I was unaware of the protocol--if you can call it that--at the gift wrapping counter, but felt cheerful and whimsical, so when the squinty-eyed lady with short curly hair and glasses said "how can I help you?" I responded with a cheery "I would like these presents wrapped, please!" I smiled, but she gave me a look like "duh, can't you read the sign?" (Obviously I could read the sign, but sometimes I think it is funny to state the obvious. For example, at the pack and ship place I like to say "I need this packed, then shipped . . . if you do that sort of thing." Also, one time my mom and I went into "I Do Weddings" and my mom cleverly said "do you do weddings?" Funny, right? Well, not to this lady). This woman at the gift wrap counter literally barked at me:
"Well, I am going to need to see your receipt." I swallowed my Christmas cheer and pulled the receipt out. She examined it for like thirty seconds. I mean, what was there to see? They don't spend half that time looking at receipts at Costco, and there are usually dozens of items in the cart. Anyway, she eyed me suspiciously, then said "how do you want this wrapped?" What in the world kind of question is that? Did she mean in a box? In a bag? Together or separate? While she was standing on her head? To the tune of "Jingle Bells"? What?
So I asked,"You mean, like in a box?" and she got really mad then, and said "NO, I mean like what kind of PAPER?" At that point, people were looking, I mean really staring at us. I'm sure they were thinking one of two things: 1) What kind of idiot is that girl? She obviously doesn't know the gift wrap protocol. 2) That lady is mean, mean, mean.
In addition to this lady's sourness, the lady next to her was complaining of "gift-wrapper's-elbow" and cradling her elbow as if one more time wielding the scissors would do her in for good. Well, all that did was make me feel really guilty and like a big jerk for deciding to take advantage of their service. Suddenly I felt uncomfortably plush, like I was being so hedonistic, thinking that I could just have someone else wrap my presents for me.
So I told the lady that I didn't care what paper, as long as it was Christmasy. She failed to explain the numbered choices on display just out of my range of vision, but assumed that I knew the protocol and had the numbers memorized. Anyway, at this point I was crying. I mean, not weeping, but holding back tears of humilation and rage. When she gave me the finished product, I effusively told her that it looked fantastic and hurried out the door.
What you may be thinking now is that it couldn't get worse than this, but it does:
I was at Albertsons. I decided to go through the Self Checkout. Every now and then I like to challenge myself with a run through the ol' self-service line. It keeps me on my toes. But, my particular reason for going through this time was because the last time I was in Albertsons, this mean cashier was guilting all the customers in her line to go over to the Self Checkout. I mean, seriously, she would see a customer approach the line and say "uh, uh, shouldn't you be in the self checkout?" or "aren't you going to the self checkout with that?" This would result in a confused and defeated look from the customer, who would usually open his or her mouth to speak, think better of it, and sulk over to the self checkout line. I kept trying to give them a look that said "isn't this lady crazy?" But I don't know if they ever got the message.
So this time I wasn't going to be pushed around. Instead, I was just going to go there on my own, without being scolded into it. It turned out to be a disaster--as self checkout usually is for me--with alarms beeping, and fresh value cards not working, and automated voices saying "please place item in the bagging area" over and over again while my face reddened and my palms got all sweaty. During all of this, a cashier (not the one from last time) was hanging over me. When I finished, she said "you did a good job, but next time when you have so many items, it would actually save us time if you just went through a regular line. Bye, bye, now." Can you believe this? So, I cried as I pushed my cart out to my car. "Idiot!" I told myself (in a Chris Farely, bangs-grabbing way). But, really, who is to blame here? The innocent-but-not-so-bright customer, or the mixed-message-sending cashiers at Albertsons? You tell me.
Now I am going to have to seriously think about switching grocery stores. To be honest, I like going to Albertsons because it is right next door to both Cozy Clothing and Down East Outfitters. But now I have no choice but to shoplift everything I get there. I am clearly not welcome in the normal cashiers' line, nor am I adept, or welcome, at the self checkout. Obviously I am not welcome at the BYU gift wrap Nazi's counter, either. In the words of Roger Daltrey, no one knows what it's like to be hated.