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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What Marble Cheese and Chocolate Milk Taught Me About Myself

This could be one of the weirdest entries that I may end up writing. 

I mean, yes, the Tuesday theme for this blog is leftovers.  Pot Pourri.  Miscellaneous stuff that doesn't quite fit in anywhere else.  However, I bet you weren't thinking that I would use actual food for a subject.

Fear not, cats and kittens.  There is a method to my madness, and I plan on introducing a couple of pop culture references along the way.  Won't that be fun?

So before I kick off this entry about what cheese and cocoa-flavoured milk beverages have taught me about myself, I think we need a little flashback action going on here.

Does anyone remember the old game show 'Supermarket Sweep'?  No?  To refresh your memory a bit, I've taken the liberty of posting a couple of clips from both the American version (which I've never seen), and the Canadian version (which I remember watching on days when I was home sick).

Okay...first the American version, hosted by David Ruprecht...

...and the Canadian version, hosted by Tino Monte...

(and, just on a related note to the second video, was that not one of the most epic endings you have ever seen on a game show clip?  I just hope the lady in the purple has great dental coverage.)

As you may have guessed, the show is all about shopping in the supermarket.  The way the game worked was that the first two rounds involved answering questions about food products, or having to go into the supermarket set to retrieve a certain product.  Each time a team got a correct answer, they would earn ten seconds on their own clock.  The time would then be tallied up, and that would be their total time for the next round, which was probably the most popular round in the whole game.

As you can guess, both clips above showed the round I'm trying to talk about.  The goal of the third round was to have earned as much time on the clock as possible, because the more time you had, the more time you had to throw things into your shopping cart.  And the more that a team had in their cart, the higher their totals got.  If your total was the highest, you got a chance to play in the bonus round for even more cash and prizes.

So naturally, you'd have contestants doing everything possible to try and win the chance for cash and prizes.  During the shopping cart round, you had contestants throwing everything possible into their carts, narrowly crashing into each other in the process.  It was like all the rules that applied to grocery shopping went out the window, and we saw fairly normal people devolve into savage behaviour in order to get something that they really wanted to get.

Kind of like the dreaded Cabbage Patch Kid epidemic of 1983 where people were trampled and stomped on just to get their hands on one of these (precious?) dolls up above.

You kind of have to wonder what makes people turn from one emotion to another...don't you?

I mean, surely, on the game show 'Supermarket Sweep', the people had an excuse to resort to such incredulous and bewildering behaviour to get what they want...they wanted to be the last team standing at a chance to win even more.

But what happens when you find yourself in the middle of your own episode of 'Supermarket Sweep'? One that happens to be like the show only without the television cameras, manager's specials, or a game show host with a smile so white, you'd swear that Clorox bleach paid his salary.

I work in the supermarket section of a store.  I love my job most days.  There are some days where I wish I had stayed in bed with my head under the covers, but everyone has days like that.

The only thing I don't like having to deal with are people who basically act a lot like some of those past contestants.

I would say that on any given day, whenever I provide customer service to someone, a whopping ninety per cent are kind, friendly, and seem genuinely appreciative of any service you give them. 

There are those ten per cent that are anything but.

You know how it is...say you have an item that you run out of, and you try everything you can to get the item back in stock.  Most of the time, the customer is understanding.  Sometimes though, they end up like this.

They can get angry.  They can get boisterous.  And, yes, they can even point their fingers right at you.

Or even worse.  I won't go into too much detail here, only that I have had to dodge flying objects in a couple of instances.

So, what does this have to do with the original posting about chocolate milk and marble cheese?

They just happen to be the two items that appear to be on sale in our store more often than any other dairy product.  More often than not, we'll have blowout deals on the items that are so good that people will flock to the store to stock up on as much of it as they can...kind of like the shoppers on 'Supermarket Sweep'.

That's fine and dandy for the first few days...but woe is us if we ever run out of stock, for then we have to face the wrath I call the angry mob.

The ones who pitch a fit because they can't get the item that is on sale.  The ones who pitch a fit because they can't get a substitute.  The ones who leave behind a heaping cartload of stuff and curse and swear at anyone who will listen because they cannot get a carton of chocolate milk or a portion of marble cheese.

Some of them get really nasty.  They take out their anger on everyone around them, especially those who they happen to be dealing with.  As bad as I feel that they can't get what they like, I don't think that it's entirely fair to be dealing with such irrational anger from someone.

Being disappointed about not getting an item, or even mild frustration over it is something that I can deal with.  In some cases, I'll even sympathize.  But when someone throws a five-year-old style temper tantrum, that's not all right with me.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I've learned something about myself just from the two food items I've mentioned in this blog, as well as the people who can't purchase them for whatever reason.

I've learned that no item is worth making yourself look bad over.  I don't understand how dairy products can provoke such rage in people. 

But, then, I try to see it like this sometimes.  Quite possibly they were having a bad day at work, or home, or what have you, and when they went shopping and couldn't buy everything they needed, they lost control of their emotions.  It happens to the best of us...even myself at times.

Or, perhaps they really needed to get marble cheese for a wedding feast or birthday party or bar mitzvah or some other event and they waited until the last minute. 

Or, it's entirely possible that that the people are complete jerks who have absolutely no grasp of how to act impeccably in a social situation and therefore end up humiliating themselves in the meantime.

Honestly, I've dealt with all three.  And all three can be handled in exactly the same way.

Service with a smile.

It may have taken me some time to try and figure this out, but I think I'm getting better at handling conflict resolutions with customers.  As long as I keep my composure and not lose my cool, and maybe flash my pearly-whites, I can handle any situation with ease.

At best, the customer calms down and is understanding about things.  At worse, the smile makes the customer angrier.  But whatever the case is, I no longer let people who are upset over a lack of dairy in their diet bug me anymore.

Because if I did...well...I really wouldn't be much different from them now, would I?

Now, if you excuse me, I'm gonna kick back and relax with a nice glass of chocolate moo juice and a grilled cheese sandwich, to think about all the types of people I will meet tomorrow.

90% of them can't be bad.  I know from experience.

The other 10%?  I'll be ready for them. 


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