Sunday, March 16, 2008

Craft store? or personal office and daycare?

So, the craft store where I work a few hours each month was hosting a big, free event yesterday for kids. For several hours, tables were set up in the lobby with a handful of different projects for kids to work on and take home. To put it simply, we were mobbed by people. It was insane. There was no lull. For 5 hours, kids and big people milled around the tables, made messes, had fun, and were replaced by more bodies that did the same thing.

Another poor, hapless fool (a.k.a. fellow employee) and I were the “monitors” for the tables. We were to direct visitors, get kids started on projects, assist the littlest kids, push the products we were using, keep the tables somewhat clear and neat, and encourage people to sign up their children for the store’s craft club.

Now, this was the biggest store event I’ve worked thus far. We had scads of people. Scores of hordes. Or at least it seemed that way to me. And it was tough keeping on top of the whole affair since new children were arriving constantly; I was directing their guardians to sign the guest list, trying to encourage sales for the sponsoring company, making sure everyone was sharing supplies, keeping track of said supplies so no one walked off with them, trying to limit kids to one of each project, etc. You get the idea. Busy. All in all, it was a success. And a learning experience.

I’m starting to learn what I can expect at any of these types of activities, large or small. I can expect to see really delightful kids, little faces that light up when doing crafts, sweet voices that sing and burble as they tell you where they’re going to hang their creation or whom will receive it, that sort of kid. I can also expect to see a few brats, kids who are used to getting whatever they want and who throw fits when their every desire isn’t immediately granted. I can expect to see a bevy of attentive moms and dads and grandparents, and even some aunts and uncles thrown in. Some of them may be overly attentive, but either way these adults are obviously concerned about their kids and want to give them fun, creative activities and opportunities to try new things. All this is good to see—because it gives me hope for this future generation of kids, knowing that they have loving adults, role models, paving their way.

And then. There’s the other adult. The one who annoyed me. I can expect to see her at these events, too.

I don’t even know for certain whether she was a mom. I’m pretty sure she was. She waltzed over with her two stylishly casual young boys, was not friendly to me, and pretty much deposited them in my care so she could take phone calls. She barely noticed what they did, even when they showed her. She responded to their questions in perfunctory fashion, all the while directing her animated responses to the people with whom she conversed by telephone. She paid no notice while the boys did multiple copies of projects instead of just one, and didn’t say a word when one boy became bored and found a book for sale to bring back to the table, where he plopped down and thumbed through it. At the craft table. Where space was at a premium. She felt no guilt about taking up a chair while she established her temporary office. And not just any chair: my chair, no less. On my side of the table. The boys deposited coats on more chairs, wandered around, and she made phone calls. They set their happy meal boxes on the floor by my chair, proceeded to spread happy meal prizes on the table with the craft supplies, left their unfinished projects on another table to eat up more space… You get the idea.

I took a short lunch break. I came back. She was still there, on the phone. So were the boys. Working on what might have been their third try at the project. By now, I was beyond being polite. I reached over her head for some supplies, and she started to get a clue. I moved some of her personal items to retrieve supplies hidden under them, uttering an insincere “Excuse me,” and she replied with a breathy apology and moved the pile of crap. Until I was finished getting the stuff I needed. Then she set her crap down again.

By the time she finally left with her kids in tow, I was inundated by more people and didn’t witness the departure. She did have the courtesy to take her garbage with her, thank goodness. I think I might have bolted out of the store with it, seeking her, if she had “forgotten” it. How stupid that this woman is the one I remember best about today’s affair. Why do I care? But I do. I see her in my mind, and I can imagine her SUV. I can picture her housing development, built fewer than 5 years ago, with some silly name that sports at least one silent, unnecessary letter “e” (Summit Inne, Mountain Pointe, etc.)

And I shouldn’t be that way. I shouldn’t assume. I don’t know her. Maybe she’s ill, and really needed to sit down. Maybe those phone calls were very important. I’m sure there’s more to the story than what I saw.

But. I still suspect that the illness she suffers from is an acute case of Entitlement. She had to waste some time, and there we were, for her yakking enjoyment. The event was free, so that meant no rules. No one asked her to get up off her duff, so that meant the seat was hers for as long as she liked.

I’m so afraid that soon—if they don’t already do so—this woman and her entitled cronies will outnumber me and all the other semi-normal, semi-humble people in the world who realize that the craft store is not our oyster, nor our babysitter.

Quite often, people are just hard to love. Heavy sigh.

4 comments:

Cari Skuse said...

I am sorry you had to put up with that crap. I remember it well in my days in retail. I just can't understand how some people survive in this world. Who told them it was OK to act this way? It just blows my mind and my patience.

I am reading another book about Entitlement from the guys who wrote the Love & Logic series. Here is a link:
http://www.amazon.com/Innocence-Entitlement-Love
-Logic-Tragedy/dp/1930429746/ref=sr_1_10?
ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1205699383&sr=1-10

Hope you had a better day today!
Cari

Cari Skuse said...

I am sorry you had to put up with that crap. I remember it well in my days in retail. I just can't understand how some people survive in this world. Who told them it was OK to act this way? It just blows my mind and my patience.

I am reading another book about Entitlement from the guys who wrote the Love & Logic series. Here is a link:
http://www.amazon.com/Innocence-Entitlement-Love
-Logic-Tragedy/dp/1930429746/ref=sr_1_10?
ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1205699383&sr=1-10

Hope you had a better day today!
Cari

Mel said...

Hi Cari--yesterday wasn't bad, honestly. Most people were very kind, polite, considerate, and the kids were too. There are always a few exceptions, but they were by far the exception. ; )

I definitely need to check out these books you're recommending.

And yes, it is a miracle anyone survives in retail for more than a year or two. It is not for the weak-hearted.

Athelas63 said...

So.... why didn't you just say "EXCUSE ME, that is MY chair. EXCUSE ME, your boys need some help. EXCUSE ME, you can't leave those coats here." Nice, polite and FIRM. The reason there are so many of these damnably self-absorbed people is because the rest of us, in the name of "politeness" let them get away with it. Stand up for yourself and against rudeness!