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What Do You Know? I’m Not, Either!

, , , , , , | Working | April 26, 2021

I have an item to return to a large, nationwide chain store. Every store in this chain shares an identical floor plan and in every location that I’ve been in over the years, the register closest to the door has been the only register open.

Today I walk in, store bag visibly in hand, and although the first register is “active,” there’s no cashier. I reach the next register which is, unsurprisingly, closed. I stop walking as I can’t see the status of the rest of the registers, but I can see that the entire counter is unattended. However, a woman — not wearing the store uniform or a badge — has spotted me from where she’s standing in a nearby aisle and, though she doesn’t verbally acknowledge me, she starts walking toward the registers in a manner that I “read” as a store employee recognizing that a customer needs assistance.

I turn back toward the first, open register, but the woman fails to appear as I reach it. Assuming I misread the body language of someone who is actually another customer, I glance around for an employee. I see the same woman waiting wordlessly behind the farthest register. Oh! Ooookay, then.

I head over, take the item and receipt out of the bag, and place them on the counter. I’m two-and-a-half words into “Hi, there’s nothing wrong with this; it’s just too big,” when the silent woman suddenly interrupts me.

Woman:*Sharply* “So, I take it this is a return?” 

Having spent time in retail, my “maintain a smiling attitude” automatically kicks in and I force a light chuckle.

Me: “Sorry, yes.”

Woman: “I’m not a mind reader.”

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