Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More on Friendly Clerks

I wanted to follow up on Miss Julie's [love the name] commentary on her numerous encounters with a chronically friendly clerk at a local grocery store chain here in Bend. I am here to report that sadly, this clerk is living with me now.....

It started out innocently enough, with standard-fare comments such as, "Will you be needing any help out today?", or,"Great weather we're having, isn't it!". Statements that require an effortless nod of the head while swiping my credit card.

But the moment of truth always arrives as over achieving clerks like this are about to hand me the receipt."Go ahead, just hand over the receipt, come on....", I say to myself, and at the same time trying out hypnotic suggestion. As always, I am a nano-second too late.

The 'trained to be friendly' friendly clerk prides herself in JUST That last bit of effort. A pause, then a narrowing of the eyebrows, followed by direct eye contact. "Thank you Mrs.......Stien-hoff?" At this point I am usually experiencing an elevation of anxiety - I know all too well how this is going to play out.

"Yes", I say a bit too confidently, reaching for the receipt . Again, a nano-second too late. She's quick.

She always knows - knows I am pacifying her somehow, and she just won't have it. She tries again, hanging on to the receipt firmly now, with both hands.

"Is it Sern-kop?" she asks as if prize money were at stake. People are starting to form a line behind me, and pretending to be interested in Brittany Spears latest fiasco, but I see the glares - as if it's MY Fault. This clerk will pronounce my name as if her life depended on it!

I try my hardest at politeness after her third or fourth try. "Close enough", I say cheerily, and reach for the receipt. Once again, her reflexes are too fast for me.

Driving home, I listen to her read it again and again from the passenger seat, "Stienup? Sternkope? Sternberg - it's Sternberg right?!"

Flossing my teeth that night, I watch her reflection in the mirror, seated on my bathroom counter reciting, "Sterhuff? Stienhopp?..."

The next morning after our third refill of French Roast, I firmly take her chin in my hand and patiently mouth "S-t-e-r-n-k-o-p-f. It's Sternkopf. And you can drop the Mrs. part"

The friendly clerk repeats my last name in an almost whisper and a nod of satisfaction, then gently hands me the receipt, and with a friendly smile and a gaze over my shoulder says, "I can help the next person."

4 comments:

hhurst said...

love that friendly chick rag
are you sure you wouldn't prefer a Mrs? when approached by such a friendly face?!! maybe better than those sour mono syllabic don't give a sh.. servers in the restaurant community that roil my feathers!!
roil..
don't you just love that word?
peace,
hurst from sternkopf and hurst corporation for the advancement of truth and beauty

Lori King said...

Ms. Steinhompf, you impress me with your wit and charm. Thanks for posting!

.....paper or plastic?

hhurst said...

ms king and mrs steinkomptf.
so pleased to have finally found my way to the parking lot mamas blog. afterall being an OG parking lot mama, i will have to comment on everyones comments.
i don't really have anything substantial to say yet this sure beats my line of work currently!!
how about a new word for roil?!

Miss Julie said...

You should have married an Anderson, that's what I did. Of course, I was Julie Johnson before, so my life has been pretty easy on the name front.