Of the four check-out lanes, one was open. This small store, recently renovated and expanded, does not have a self check-out option, so to the open lane I went. A woman carrying a case of bottled water approached at the same time I did. I gestured her ahead of me since she had only one item and I had several.
"Are you sure?" she asked.
"Yes," I assured her. "I'm not in a hurry."
With a look of relief, either because she was in a hurry or the weight of the water challenged her carrying limitations, she accepted my offer and stepped ahead of me.
Her hair was darker.
I will not disclose the vocabulary that punctuated the woman's, er...displeasure at the cost of her groceries. She was a one-woman spectacle of indignant rage. Over the price of groceries. That she'd failed to notice while looking at the incorrect circular for this week.
The water lady glanced back at me, eyes wide with disbelief, an unspoken, "can you believe this woman?!" expression. I wondered why a manager person hadn't come to the cashier's rescue or at least stepped in to be the sounding board to the miserable customer's complaints. And I fully expected the woman to demand a refund and exit the store, leaving her full grocery cart behind. But she did neither the former or latter.
"I'm never shopping here again," she spat, bristling with animosity. She stuffed the receipt in her large purse and shoved her cart toward the front door. "And I'm going to tell all my friends not to either!"
Together with the cashier and case-of-water purchaser, I watched the woman leave, automatic doors closing behind her and her wrath. It took a few seconds for the air to settle back to a sedate state. The word "friends" was still running through my mind when the cashier, Emily, a girl in her early 20s, turned to me and the lady ahead of me and said with a smile,
"I'm really sorry about that. Thank you for being so patient."
You know those comment and suggestion boxes you see at the front of stores? I used one for the very first time that day. I suggested that Emily be given a raise. Or even better, a promotion. Before rude customers like Circular Lady drive her away.