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The Ones Saying You Should Learn To Take A Joke Are Never The Funny Ones

, , , , | Right | April 18, 2022

To make a long sob story short, I’ve lived most of my life in abusive environments. As a child, I grew up expecting to get hit if anyone moved in my direction, and then I ended up trapped in a relationship that was just more of the same.

Luckily, I managed to get out of my situation. I’m in therapy, I have my own apartment, and I have a job that I like very much. My boss and my coworkers are aware of my background and my PTSD diagnosis and they try to help me out by making sure I don’t have to deal directly with the worst customers.

One day, I’m on the floor folding clothes when a customer walks up to me. I don’t notice him at first, so when I turn around and a large man is standing right behind me, I instinctively jump a little.

Customer: “Haha, made you flinch! There’s no need to be scared of me, kiddo. I’m the nicest guy you’ll ever meet.”

Me: “Sorry, I just didn’t see you there. How can I help you?”

He needs help finding a shirt in the color he wants, and I show him the shirt rack. The entire time I’m helping him, he keeps standing right behind me, making wide gestures close to my face, trying to catch me unaware again. He manages to make me flinch again at least twice and I’m starting to feel the beginning of a panic attack coming on.

He doesn’t seem like the type who’ll get violent for real, but he keeps laughing about how he’s such a nice guy and how funny it is that I’m afraid of him. It doesn’t help that I’m clearly uncomfortable; it just seems to make him enjoy himself more.

My other coworker on the floor this day is my “work-mom”, an older woman who’s taken me under her wing and who I’ve become very close with. When I walk the customer up to the till, I try to get eye contact with her and telepathically yell, “Help me!” Thankfully, she immediately understands the issue and reaches the till ahead of me.

Coworker: “Good day, sir, so glad to see that my associate was able to help you find what you were looking for. I’ll ring you up over here. [My Name], can you go put these away?”

Customer: “Yeah, just run away from me. I’m so scary! Haha!”

He’s still grinning like this is the funniest thing that ever happened to him.

It’s not a big store, so I can still see and hear them, but at least I’m not in his immediate vicinity anymore, so I go to put away some clothes and take a moment to breathe and calm down. When I get back to the till, my coworker is just finishing up the transaction, and the customer turns to me.

Customer: “Hey, just some friendly advice. You really should find another job if you can’t even handle a normal social interaction. Either that or learn to take a joke. Have a good day now!”

He leaves, still with a wide satisfied smile on his face, and I turn to my coworker.

Me: “I know my frame of reference is pretty messed up, but what was normal about that interaction?”

Coworker: “Honey, there was absolutely nothing normal about that interaction.”

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