I'm deeply ashamed that it happened. I'm deeply embarrassed to write about it here for the world to see. A word of warning before I go any further: my sense of humour has completely deserted me today.
Being somebody who has always taken the stance of never letting nasty customers get under my skin, it's very hard for me to admit that I let somebody get the better of me. The situation was intensified, to me, by other pressures I was under at the time - but still. How did I let somebody get me to the stage of rushing into the cash office to cry tears of rage? Wiping my face on a cloth cash bag (no tissues available), afraid to go back onto the sales floor because my eyes were red.
I'm not going to bore you with the details of why the customer chose to behave the way they did. It was a very mundane situation which arose because they looked at the wrong price tag for a particular product. There was nothing amusing about it and nothing amusing about the way they treated me. They weren't abusive - in which case I certainly would have been writing a humorous blog entry, poking fun at them. They were just plain obnoxious and made remarks that hit all the wrong nerves with me.
My attitude towards work, of any description, is this: if I'm doing it, I might as well do it well. Strange as it may sound, I take a lot of pride in what I do and feel very good about the fact I do a good job and work hard. So if somebody comes along and starts blaming me, personally, for something outside of my responsibilities that is wrong I get very defensive. To be told I'm "absolutely useless", "a disgrace" and "completely incompetent" is hurtful. It's more hurtful still that it took place in an aisle crowded with customers.
The long and short of it is that they were so unpleasant, they made me extremely angry. They also happened to catch me when I was in the middle of frantically trying to work out why one of the tills was showing as being £750 short. Throughout the encounter I was desperately fighting the urge to scream "FUCK OFF!" in their face and return to trying to find the money. Visions of being hauled in for a security-breach investigation were flashing through my mind. As far as I was concerned, at that moment in time I was as good as sacked. And there I was being publicly grilled over £1.02.
By the time the customer finally went away, I'd allowed the pressure inside me to build to a level I couldn't handle. I got myself out of the way and cried. But it wasn't the thought of the missing money that was driving my tears of absolute rage - it was the thought of the way that customer had spoken to me. How dare they? Who did they think they were? Why can people get away with that? Do I not have a right to be treated with respect because I'm a shop assistant?
When I managed to compose myself, I immediately realised where the missing money was. If I had any tears left in me by this point, I'd have been crying with joy.
I sometimes wonder why I allow myself to get so wound up. It's not as though I'm paid a salary that's high enough to warrant such pressure. The key thing for me is finding the humour in things. But there's nothing funny about losing £750 - until you find it. And for the worst customer imaginable to turn up and start ranting while you're still searching. I'd challenge anybody not to have got stressed.
I've never felt this bad about a single day at Food Place since Nick was my line manager. Every day was living hell with him, but that's a story that should be saved for a day when I can laugh at it.