Here’s a confession: I couldn’t flirt my way out of a paper bag. Seriously. If someone tossed me into a paper bag, then said, “Flirt your way out of it,” you’d never hear from me again. I lack that certain subtle quality that’s apparently required. In high school, while other girls batted their eyes and murmured whatever it is they were murmuring with seeming effortlessness to their boy–or boys–of choice, I could only manage a forthright, “So…are you gonna ask me out, or what?”*
Concede my surprise, therefore, when I found the following note waiting for me when I got to work Tuesday night, penned by my boss:
KEL, STOP FLIRTING WITH THE CUSTOMERS.
Actually, surprise is not the word I should have chosen to describe my emotions at that moment. Amazed. Astonished. Flabbergasted. Those just about do it. It took me several minutes to pick my jaw off the floor. I still have the bruise. And I spent the next eight-and-a-half hours a nervous, unflirty wreck. I buttoned my uniform all the way up to the top, geek-style, even though I can’t stand to have anything tight around my neck. I eyed each of my male customers with irritation and suspicion. They eyed me right back with what was probably amazement, astonishment, and flabbergastedness. And when my boss finally walked through the door at seven o’clock, I held up the note–clutched tightly in my fist–and growled:
“Just what the fuck is this all about?”
See what I mean about that certain subtle quality I lack?
“You’ve been flirting with the customers, and you need to stop it.”
“Flirt? What do you mean, ‘flirt’? I don’t even know how to flirt!” Then I unleashed my Paper Bag Gag. It had come to me at about three-thirty, and I’d been practicing it ever since. I’m proud to say it went over rather well, getting a hearty chuckle from my boss, the first shift girl, and the bread delivery guy. When he was done chuckling, my boss explained himself.
Apparently I smile too much, and it’s giving one of my customers–a scuzzy truck driver with no teeth whose wife recently left him–the wrong impression. Apparently he’s not used to friendly cashiers. Apparently I’m supposed to scowl at him and act like he’s got a lot of nerve coming to the store in the middle of the night to buy diesel fuel and coffee when I’ve got an important Star magazine to read, like the other overnight girl does. Apparently that would make him feel more comfortable.
Hey, I’m all for it. I’ve been practicing my scowl all week. I’ll keep practicing it this weekend. And I’ll unleash it on the asshole when he comes in early Monday morning for his diesel fuel and coffee. Because giving the customers what they want is my number one priority.
* Oddly enough, that line worked on the man who is now my husband. Go figure.