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Because Healthcare Staff Don’t Already Do Enough

, , , , , | Right | September 24, 2021

I work in healthcare on the night shift. There’s a department store near the hospital I work in that has some really good sales going and they open right around when I get off shift. I don’t have to come back in tonight so I figure I’ll shop before heading home.

I’m wearing navy blue scrub pants that can look like slacks if you’re not looking closely, a white scrub top, and a blue vest with multiple pockets. Trust me; in my line of work, you can never have too many pockets. The store uniform is dark slacks, a white or blue shirt, and a blue work vest. I’m pretty sure you can see where this is going, but believe it or not, I had no clue.

In my defense, the unit I work in is an extremely high-stress environment in which not paying full attention truly can cost someone their life, so I end up spending twelve to fourteen straight hours on full alert while at work. Once I clock out, as anyone who knows me can tell you, my brain kind of goes into low power mode.

The store is mostly empty with just me, a few obviously retired people up shopping at this ungodly hour, and a handful of employees. I circle the store several times trying to find gifts and am stopped by several customers. I actually circle so many times that I know where most things are. 

Customer #1: “Excuse me, miss? Where are the little girls’ pajamas?”

Me: “I just saw those. Head down this row to the left until you get to the [diapers], and they’re right behind them.”

Customer #1: “Thank you.”

Customer #2: “Excuse me, where are the gloves?”

Me: “Do you want snow gloves, leather gloves, or those little stretchy ones?”

Customer #2: “The stretchy type.”

Me: “Follow me. They’re this way but a little hard to find because they’re just hanging at the end of the jewelry section.”

Customer #2: “Why are these ones more expensive? They look the same?”

Me: “These ones are tech gloves. You can put them on and still use a touch screen like this.”

I put on a glove and demonstrate with my phone.

Customer #2: “Oh, I see! Thanks!”

I go around a corner and see an octogenarian looking at two similar comforters with a confused expression. She spots me and smiles and waves me over. 

Customer #3: “Excuse me, miss. Can you tell me if these are on sale?”

She’s standing right next to the sale sign, but the print on it is so small even I can barely read it. 

Me: “The item number on the blue one is listed on the sale sign but not this green one.”

Customer #3: “Oh, I just know my grandson would like the green better, but I guess the blue is nice, too.”

Me: “Well, I just saw a manager hanging around the toy department; if you ask nicely they might give you the sale price on the green one.”

Customer #3: “You think so?”

Me: “Can’t hurt to ask.”

Customer #3: “Thank you, I will!”

I realize I’ve been in the store for over an hour and have been stopped by just about every other customer in the store. I finally meander over to check out and see [Customer #1] in front of me checking out, [Customer #2] talking to someone on the phone while heading out the door, and [Customer #3] talking to a manager at the customer service counter.

As I get in line behind [Customer #1], he looks over at me.

Customer #1: “Oh, doing a little shopping on your own? Are you on break?”

Me: *Still oblivious* “Oh no, I’m off the clock for the day.”

Customer #1: “Well, enjoy the rest of your day.”

Me: “Thanks! You, too!”

He leaves and I step up to put my items on the counter and see the actual employee looking at me funny. Finally, he looks closely at me and asks for my badge. Without thinking, I reach into my pocket and pull out my hospital ID. He blinks.

Employee: “You don’t work here.”

I just shake my head no, put my ID away, and keep unloading my cart. I’m just aware enough to realize that the employee looks very confused. Then, [Customer #2] stops to call out, “Thanks again,” while waving at me as they head out the door and the actual employee looks even more confused.

As I’m loading the last of my items, I hear [Customer #3] call out:

Customer #3: “Oh, miss! Look, there she is. Miss!”

I look over and wave at her as she points me out to a very confused-looking manager behind the customer service desk.

Customer #3: “Look, they gave me the green one at clearance price!”

I smiled at her and gave her a thumbs-up. I paid for my purchases and left with the actual employee who checked me out and the manager from behind the service counter watching me all the way out the door with the most befuddled looks on their faces.

I went home, slept for nine hours, and was in the middle of having breakfast/dinner when I finally realized I had been mistaken for a store employee and helped several people before thoroughly confusing two real employees while checking out.

If everyone hadn’t been so polite when asking for help, I might have figured it out earlier… or not. It’s really hard to think when you’re on low power mode.