From the Blog

It Felt Like A Wasted Afternoon

Today, Wednesday afternoon, is the day my mom-in-law comes and watches the boys. It’s the only 4 hours I get away from the boys each week. It is precious time for me.

I had a not-so-fun errand to run, that took longer than expected. I figured it would take an hour. It took about two and a half. (I was ordering blinds for the new house at Giant Hardware Big Box Store Inc).

Right. So. The woman who was helping me needed to plug in all the measurements for our ten windows, and was getting me a number of different quotes. I wasn’t in a hurry, and I didn’t mind waiting.

Except. Except, another lady huffed and puffed over and asked if there was anyone else who could help her. Since the one available person was already helping me, she sat at a table and muttered grumpily.

I had nothing to do but wander around and wait. And I began to realize the grumpy woman wasn’t just muttering, she was trying to have a conversation with me.

She was mad that some other employee couldn’t come over and help because corporate America, and the government, really, have all compartmentalized our skill sets instead of cross training and therefore, we all have less power.

Okay, a somewhat coherent argument, if not slightly inappropriate, to launch into with someone who is clearly trying to tiptoe away.

But I was stuck. And it took very little time to realize she was NUTTY. She wanted to TALK. She didn’t want to have a conversation. She just wanted to have someone LISTEN to her TALK TALK TALK. About blinds. Not horizontal ones, the vertical ones, and paint chips, and how her son is redoing his house, and all the colors he picks are muddy, but somehow they all come together and they are brilliant. And how it’s so hard to choose things out of catalogs or online these days because there are so many choices. And she is a librarian and they keep specializing their areas of expertise so no one knows how to do someone else’s job and everyone becomes expendable.


Now. I have years of experience doing various customer service roles. I’ve had bosses that were nutballs. I am, by nature, a diplomat. So I am highly skilled in the “smile and nod.” But I was trapped. And the talking just never stopped.

The employee who was helping me started calling for backup, perhaps realizing I was pinned down. She called six or eight times. But no one came. Nobody came to help.

I smiled. I nodded. I agreed with everything nutty grumpy woman said. The employee helping me kept calling for backup. She even announced a “Code 5 at the Home Decor desk.” I didn’t know what Code 5 was. I was hoping it meant, “A crazy lady is wrestling an innocent store customer and beating her with vertical blinds catalogs.”

No one came, even with the Code 5 call. Did I mention this whole process took about two and a half hours? After about an hour, someone did finally come and help the crazy grumpy lady. Before she left, she had to finish what she was telling me, WHATEVER IT WAS. I told her it was nice to talk to her, and I wished her good luck with her vertical blinds. Then she started badgering her very own store employee.

The woman who was helping me was very apologetic at how long it was taking. I was exhausted at this point. It really did feel like I had wrestled the crazy woman. I got the quotes for our blinds and ordered them. Two and a half hours.

I was irritated that this was the way I spent my one free afternoon, my only “time off.” Usually, I run whatever small errands I need to get done, but I reserve some time to curl up in a coffee shop and just sit. By myself. I drink a coffee and work on some crochet. Alone. You don’t know how much I NEED that time.

We wrapped up the blinds order and I shook the woman’s hand. I thanked her for her help. She apologized for the delay, and of course, I told her not to worry about it. Then she said something I didn’t expect.

“You’re a very positive person.”

Not knowing what else to say, I thanked her. I can tell you, the last thing I was feeling was that I am a positive person. But I was pleased to hear that’s what is showing on the outside.

I don’t feel like it was deserved, but I’ll take it.


  1. Hey! I used to work at one of those big box home improvement stores and you sound like you were a GEM. It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day in those places. Just don’t be nutty and stop complaining about how self checkout is taking away everyone’s job… and the whole store thanks you for those two things. I’m sorry you missed your solo time to be alone alone. That sucks.

  2. Dori Strom says

    I have been selling things from home recently and have found THREE ladies that are very similar to your crazy lady. They all seem like older ladies that just don’t have anyone to listen to them, so I do the same thing and try to half-listen half-plot.

  3. I’m sure you did not feel positive at the time. I think what you showed was acceptance. Acceptance of a situation you could not change and acceptance of a “nutty lady”. So sorry you missed your personal afternoon.

Speak Your Mind