Working at Customer Service is a little like trying to direct the windborn debris in a hurricane - without ever raising your voice and yelling at people or losing your patience and keeping track of thousands of dollars in cash.
At any given time, we might be trying to keep track of which customer brought what item in for an exchange, who needs help with the MoneyGram papers, the customer(s) in front of our register right now, the Brinks guy with the day's cash delivery, the screaming kid jumping in the buggy, the people at the stamp machine, the angry man/woman stomping up looking like they about to explode, the Accounting associate coming out with a loan or a question about a transaction, a manager with a question, trying to request change or a lunch/break through the register, thinking about how bad my feet hurt, or about how cute that boy standing in line at Register 14 is.
Anyway. It's always like the eye of a hurricane up there. People float up, interrupt whatever I'm doing, even if I'm in the middle of talking to a customer right at that second and bounce back out. Most of the time I apologize and go back to business.
This Sunday was was a crazy-busy day. Fruitcake nutty kind of day. I'm hip deep in doing returns and at this precise moment, I'm returning three light bulbs for some old woman whose had them knocking around her condo for two months.
"They said good for one year and they burnt out as soon as I put them in," she kept on nattering. "You better not put them back on the shelf and you should probably take all the other ones off the shelf too."
I'm trying to get her to shut up so I can do her return when one of the managers comes up and ask me "Did anyone turn in a gift card earlier? A customer lost one out on the sales floor."
Now, as it happens, someone did turn one in. I say so and run it through my register to check it. No such luck. This card had never been activated, so it obviously wasn't the one the customer was looking for. The manager asks how long I've been there and I answer and the manager tells me to keep an eye out for a lost gift card.
I turn my attention back to the old woman in front of me, but before I could even begin to apologize, she goes "Maybe you could help me first before you start talking about anyone else."
OK. I was just flabbergasted. One, it wasn't like I initiated the conversation. Two, someone with the power to fire me asked me a question. Three, I hope you lose your car keys, wallet, glasses and pacemaker the next time you're in Wal-Mart. I know EXACTLY who you are. And I'm going to help every single customer in line and then go start ringing people out on Register 14 before I turn to ask you if you need help. And we all know how I feel about working on a register.
Evil cow. You are exactly the sort to walk to the head of the line, say "I just have a quick question," then occupy my time for the next half-hour on a discusson of the merits of distilled vs. spring water.