Random Moment at Walgreens

I hate this one Walgreens in Charlotte. It’s near the district office where I work, so I used to end up there a lot to pick up, you know, things and stuff. The aisles always had boxes in them, the line was always long, and at the the register there was always, you know, things and stuff all over the counter so that I had to place my items on top or next to other stuff in a too little space that already had too much stuff on it. Oh, and it was open from like 10-7 on weekdays. Totally inconvenient.  And worse, it’s never like this in “other” neighborhoods.

But that wasn’t the thing that drove me crazy. This was: when I’d get to the counter, the transaction would go like this…

Hear that? Nothing.

The person at the counter would ring up my items and bag them, then my total would appear. I’d swipe my card, the receipt would print, the person at the register would hand me my receipt, and I’d go on my way. There was no, “did you find everything you need?” No, “hello, how are you?” Nothing.

I realize I didn’t say anything either. So one day I was there, up at the counter, and I’d plopped my things and stuff on and next to all the other things and stuff and I said, “hello, how are you?”

And the woman said, “fine.” And that was it.

So I just stopped going there. I like decent customer service and clean stores. It’s not asking for a lot. And I don’t encounter these issues when I go to the same store in other neighborhoods. I started going all the way to the Target in South Park  (10 minute drive) from work to get my things and stuff instead of going two minutes down the block.

So now this Walgreens has either got a new manager or someone came in and got them to clean up their act. I discovered this last week when I needed things and stuff and didn’t feel like going thru the hassle of now driving to Target. Turns out, the  layout in the store is better, the lights are brighter and there’s no more stuff in the aisles. Great.

I get my stuff – two boxes of lady items, the big bag of toilet paper that’s on sale, and some baby wipes. Both hands are full.

I get to the front and there’s one person at the register. I’m next. This is going surprisingly well.

The lady at the register and the manager are joking around like there’s not a man at the register and I’m not standing there with two hands full of things and stuff.

I watch them banter long enough to be annoyed, and finally interrupt to ask the manager, “excuse me, is your register open?”

This is when they seem to notice they have customers. The lady rings up the customer’s stuff and realizes he could get a discount… but he doesn’t have a Walgreens card.

“Do you have a Walgreens card?” she asks.

Is she talking to me? I don’t know. There was no “Miss” or “Ma’am” or “Excuse me” or anything to let me know I was being addressed.

I look at her blankly trying to decide who she’s asking.

“Miss, do you have a Walgreens card?” she asks.

Oh, she’s talking to me. “Yes.”

She waits a beat like I’m supposed to be doing something. “Can he use it?” she finally asks.

“I don’t have my card. Just my number.”

“Can you punch it in?”  she asks.

She doesn’t seem to see me standing here with two arms full of stuff. “My hands are kind of full.”

She looks at me blankly.

“You want me to yell it out and you type it?”

She huffs and flips the machine around for her convenience.

I’m already annoyed with her, and I don’t want to yell out my phone number. I do it anyway because enough times I have been at a counter without a card, wanting a discount, and someone has been gracious enough to offer theirs. This isn’t about her, it’s about the man in front of me who was standing there patiently while the woman at the register and the manager ignored him too.

I yell out my number, she punches it in.

Nothing. No thank you from her, or the man I just hooked up.

I stare at the back of the man’s head. Finally, he turns around and mumbles “thank you” like a civilized human who just received a courtesy from a random stranger who was under no obligation to assist.

I say, “you’re welcome”, which I was planning to say whether he said “thank you” or not.

He goes on his way. I walk up to the register and plunk down my things and stuff. No, “thank you for waiting”. No, “good evening, how are you?”  Just a transaction in total silence. Just great.

So she rings up my things and stuff, stuffs them into plastic bags and the total pops up on the screen. “Do you have a Walgreens card?” she asks me.

This can’t be life. Am I on Candid Camera? Did someone resurrect that MTV show “Boiler Point?” Do I get money for not losing it?

I look up at her slowly, and cock my head.

She looks at me blankly.

“Yes,” I say evenly. “I need to type my number in.”

She punches a button. “Do it now.” It’s like she has no memory of what transpired less than a minute prior. Is she like the guy from Memento?

She prints my receipt. I pick up my bags. I walk out the store, thinking, this is my fault. I should have just gone to Target.

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