It had been a bad night already. I’d mixed up two words in French and managed to insult one of our (francophone) regulars. I was running out of fives and no one had anything but twenties. I had had more than my usual Sunday-night share of drunk teenagers and obnoxious tourists. So I was already on edge.
You came in to buy your usual newspapers – New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post. I should have known you were really there because you were looking for someone to bully.
You knew my views. Awhile back, you heard me discussing politics with a friend, and knew my politics leaned left. You called me stupid and naive then, said that you “believed in a better world” when you were my age, but you grew out of it. Told me I should expand my reading, to match the authors you read. I could tell, even then, that you got a kick out of mocking and verbally abusing someone whose job required him to be polite to you.
For ten minutes tonight, you kept baiting me, and I knew you were. Kept talking about how anyone who was against the Iraq war was childishly naive, how stupid anyone would have to be for arguing for peace. I knew you were baiting, but after the night I’d had, I couldn’t help taking the bait. As patiently as I could, I told you you were right – I was against the war in Iraq.
It was what you were waiting for. For twenty minutes you yelled at me. You called me naive at least five times. Fed up, I pointed out that both your arguments you kept giving me contradicted each other. It was only time you listened to what I had to say in that half hour, and of course it just fuelled the flames.
When your shrill screaming began to drive away the customers, I tried to get out of this politely by returning to my work and tellig you I was too busy to work. You tried poking at me with more ad hominem attacks before you gave up…
…but that didn’t stop you from coming back five minutes later to tell me how disgusted you were with me for siding with Saddam (I’d done no such thing). In fact, you seemed to be suggesting I was gleefully enjoying every death under his murderous regime. You told me I had told you 100,000 people had died during the war (I’d said no such thing). You then “reminded me” that during the invasion of Kuwait, Saddam’s people had pulled babies off of incubators :rolleyes:
The rest of the night had put me on edge – your shouting and your cruel personal attacks put me to the edge of a panic attack. I asked you to leave. I am certain you will probably go to my manager to try and get me fired for asking you to leave. Fortunately for me, my manager is sane.
On any given night, I have to deal with shoplifting teenagers, crackheads, wealthy Westmounters looking for a member of the untouchable caste to abuse, people who pay for fifty-dollar lottery tickets in dimes, credit-card scammers and other fraud artists. You are the second-worst customer I’ve ever had. We ought to have had a prize ready. The only one who beat you out is the one who pointed a knife at me and took my wallet and the cash.
My nerves are on end. Hours and hours later, I am still too on-edge to sleep. I realize you’re not worth worrying about, but that fact does nothing to help. I feel like you’ve injected a poison. My faith in human nature is under steady assault every day at that store. Today, you almost broke it.
In two weeks, I can start looking for another job. Please do not come back to the store until I find one.