Adventures in Retail
So tonight I worked at the bookstore...only 4 hours...it wasn't too bad. It was our first Saturday night of the season that we were open (holiday hours kicked in!), so most of the evening was pretty quiet since most people probably thought we were closed! So, after a busy day and a slow evening, closing time (9:00) was fast approaching, and as the supervisor for the night I was anticipating that the registers would be counted and that the 3 of us working would be well on our way home very soon. Typically we are all out of the store by 9:30 at the latest, but on slower nights like tonight we're usually able to start the closing process a bit earlier and get out of there by 9:15 or so. Well, at about 5 minutes to 9 this lady walked in carrying 4 shoeboxes, and plopped them in front of the counter. (Our store is collecting shoeboxes for the "Operation Christmas Child" outreach this weekend.). She explained to the clerk that "they weren't completely assembled yet"...which we soon realized translated "I haven't finished purchasing all of the items for the shoeboxes yet, so I'm going to try to finish putting them together here". (Keep in mind this is a Christian bookstore; not exactly Target!) She asked me if we had any coloring books. "It's already after 9", I thought to myself, "but I'm not about to turn a customer away, especially since she's trying to do something so nice. I'll just help her find what she needs and then I'm sure she'll be off. I don't want to rush closing the store, anyway.". So I helped her find some coloring books, and continued with my closing duties. A few minutes later she approached me again: "I'm SO sorry...but do you have any pencil sharpeners?". Graciously and cheerfully I searched with her for pencil sharpeners, but to no avail. She shrugged her shoulders and went back to her boxes. A few minutes later she approached me again: "I'm SO sorry...but do you have any markers?" We didn't have any markers, but I found her a nice little art set that contained markers. By this time it was 9:15. I was starting to get a little antsy, but "No big deal", I thought, "We're open a little later than normal, but we have a satisfied customer." So I continued with my closing duties in the back of the store. About 20 MINUTES later or so, I went back up front. The lady was STILL there...slowly WRAPPING HER BOX while poor Liz (the clerk) just stood there helplessly, not able to close her one remaining register. Note that I said the lady was wrapping her BOX - there were still 3 more boxes behind her to be wrapped! Liz and Amy had told her she didn't need to wrap them, but she insisted "they just looked so much nicer wrapped". It should also be noted that she wasn't just wrapping the box...she was slowly analyzing the contents of the box, asking Liz if she thought everything was alright. Well, at this point Amy, Liz & I had a choice. I'll admit that a big part of me wanted to say "Ma'am, I'm sorry, but I have some very tired employees here who need to go home, so I'm going to need to ask you to assemble your boxes elsewhere"...it would have probably left her sad, and her boxes wouldn't have been done, but at least it would have sent us on our way. After looking at eachother, though, we silently and simultaneously decided that maybe a different approach would be better. More Christ like. "Can we help you wrap?" I managed to say. Her eyes lit up. "Thank you!", she exclaimed. So we clocked out, got down on our hands and knees, and got those boxes wrapped. It took a few minutes, as she still was unsure about the contents of the box...and she also needed to run out to her car to get the candy she'd forgotten to put in the boxes. But by 9:50 pm, those boxes were wrapped, we said goodnight to her, we locked the front door, and we had a good chuckle. We laughed because we knew that she had no concept of the fact that we'd stayed there solely for her...but our hearts were light because we knew we'd taken the right road. Funny how little choices like that, though temporarily a burden, can leave you feeling more satisfied than you probably would have felt had it not happened at all.