I blame the Big Ten.

Since we don’t get CBS Sports, my husband and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings with his brother and sister-in-law this weekend to watch the Ohio State game (yeah, my degree says I’m a Buckeye. What of it?). We had a good time. Excluding my husband, who didn’t drink that day and rarely drinks in general, we each had 1 drink in the 3+ hours we were there. It was enough to enjoy the beer and the environment without going too far. By the time we left, we weren’t feeling the alcohol anymore. We were, however, feeling relieved that our team won despite having a last-minute freshman quarterback. None of us left with championship hopes, but we left feeling good.

We also left wearing a bunch of paper crowns that were on a wall near our table.

Never sit at by the wall covered in paper hats while at a sports bar. Mine said “Buffalo Princess,” in case you were wondering.

So there we were, happy and becrowned, heading out of the restaurant, when my sister-in-law had the greatest idea ever: Let’s go to the nerd ship and look at Legos.

Because we’re adults, and Legos are awesome.

I told you about the day and the paper hats so you could have an idea of what we looked like – ridiculous. We may not have been drunk, but I have to admit the hats may have given that impression. They at least made us look annoying. That’s the only concession I’m making in this story.

We got into the hobby shop and took a quick look at the Legos. The husband and I were a little disappointed in the selection. Maybe we’re too picky. We’re the sort of people who are more likely to treat ourselves to this rather than an adventure:

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Since we weren’t all captivated by the Legos, we quickly dispersed through the store, each quietly examining something that had caught our attention.  One person looked at a telescope. Another a rock tumbler. Another puzzles. The sister-in-law stayed with the Legos.

What’s when we heard the grumpy-looking man behind the counter begin to describe a product:

“That’s an….R2…D2…” he grumbled. “It’s a… metal robot from… Star Wars…. The kids love it.”

Coming off of a good day, be-hatted and all, I giggled. It was so bizarre to hear someone who works in a shop dedicated to geekdom who didn’t have working knowledge of quite possible the biggest movie series of all time.

I giggled.

It turns out, I wasn’t the only one who found it funny. I heard three simultaneous giggles from around the store. The problem with laughter is that it’s contagious. Those giggles turned my giggle into a full-on laugh, and the same happened to my companions. 

Having calmed down, we all seemed to nonverbally agree that we’d head back to the Legos and see if sister-in-law was indeed buying that $75 set she’d been staring at for 10 minutes. A couple of minutes later, the grumpy guy behind the counter finished with that other customer, and came our way,

“It’s sounds a little too happy over here.”

Sister-in-law and I had similar reactions. Yeah, we looked ridiculous with our hats on, but we’d been perfect customers outside of a moment of laughter that came from 4 different parts of the store. The guy lost a $75 sale.

“I think I’ll get it at Target,” she said, heading for the door.

Not feeling as generous, I followed her comment with, “yeah, they don’t drive away their customers.”

I worked in retail in high school and college. I was good at it. Sometimes I was disturbed by how good I was at convincing people to buy things. Yeah, I remember obnoxious customers who I wanted to leave so so badly. Looking at the situation objectively, yeah, I would have been annoyed by the random burst of laughter, but that’s not enough to warrant talking to customers that way. And we were customers. We aren’t now. Sometimes people who work in customer service think they have everyone figured out. It’s so easy to forget that each person is an individual, not necessarily someone who fits into one of two categories: good or bad. Or perhaps “annoying” or “okay.”

“That’s an R2…D2.”

I realize the same goes for this man. I laughed. But I laughed at the delivery. I don’t know anything about him. For all I know, he’s an expert in those model trains in the back of the store. 

The moral of the story, I think, is that sometimes retail sucks from both ends. 

 

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