This morning, like most mornings, I stopped by the snack bar near our building to buy an Ice Break (or, as I like to call it, wake-up juice). The owner stood, as she often does, in an area near the back of the shop. I grabbed my coffee from the fridge, walked to the counter, and waited for her to serve me.
She looked up, saw me standing there, and went back to whatever she was doing.
About a minute later she walked to the register. I smiled, did my usual “Hi, how are you?” greeting and showed her what I was buying.
She didn’t speak. She didn’t smile. She didn’t even make eye contact. Instead she looked away and thrust out her hand for the money.
I dropped a couple of coins in her hand (she didn’t even tell me how much it cost, so I had to guess how much it might be). She looked at what I’d given her, grabbed some change from the register, dropped it in my hand (again without looking at me), and returned to the back of the shop.
I was stunned. Here I was being my usual cheery self, and she wouldn’t even look at me.
And I have no idea why.
Now I’ll admit I’ve never worked behind a counter myself (except to help out friends of mine when they were a bit short-staffed). But from I’ve seen, and what people have told me, it’s a pretty thankless job. The hours are long, the customers are rude, and the pay is usually nothing to write home about. So I always say hello, and even have a chat when I can, to try and brighten their day. (I once chatted to a woman from QANTAS on the phone for 45 minutes before we got around to booking my ticket.)
I wasn’t expecting the woman at the snack bar to welcome me with open arms. (She’s never been much of a talker.) But it would have been nice if she at least made eye contact and smiled.
It may not seem like a big deal, but that little episode put me in a really bad mood, which only got worse as the day progressed. (I’m sure anyone who follows me on Twitter will agree.)
I think I’ll be avoiding both her and her snack bar for a while. Sure it will take me a bit longer to get to work, but hopefully I’ll be in a better mood when I get there. (Prediction for tomorrow’s blog: “Why is everything so damned expensive at service stations?”)
So if we happen to meet in a snack bar, a shopping mall, or even just walking down the street, please give me a smile. It will really make my day.