One of the things I've lost at work is something I'll get back: Pacience. Dealing with customers everyday can be and IS a very difficult part of my job. There is no question on what irritates me the most. "Do you work here??" No, I just think this uniform, this name badge and this walkie talkie on my ear are SO stylish that I decided to go out of home like this. F*ck! Really?? Another thing I hate is when people don't even make eye contact with me, and just ask where the regular Tylenol is. Or any question, really. I find really rude when customers can't excuse themselves before asking anything. I've never in my life had talked to a person that I don't know before saying first "Excuse me...". I might work at retail, and might be offering Customer Service (or so my name tag says), but I think I deserve some respect. I am the person that is going to HELP you. Ok, I am getting paid for it, but respect is priceless. I wouldn't hesitate on refusing to give service to a person that is being an asshole to me!
So, whenever a customer starts asking something, I immediately assume is something stupid. I put an I-am-so-interested-in your-question,I'm-here-to-satisfy-your-shopping-needs face and listen to whatever may come out of their mouth.
This particular customer, however, impressed me and reminded me not all people is alike. She started by asking dumb questions about our in-store insoles machine. She didn't know how to use it. Even though it says clearly what to press (and there were only 2 buttons that you could use), when to press it and what to do. By the end of my assistance, she asked me where I was from. I guess she could tell my accent (Note aside, I hate having an accent. It makes people realize I'm not from here, I'm just a foreigner. Which is true, but I don't like when they start talking to you a bit slower, like you don't know how to speak English -even tho you've been having a normal conversation 10 minutes go). I told her I was from Peru. And she told me she wants to go there. That she was a person that has travelled a lot and that she had been to Equator before. That she wants to do the Inka Trail and asked me if I've ever done it. I told her I hadn't because I never had the time since it takes you days to complete it. But that I had been to Machu Picchu and that it was gorgeous. She asked me how I was liking Canada, and I said I like it, it is much colder for sure but that I got used to it already. And then she said something that made her stand out. She said "The people is not the same, are they? I think Canadians don't realize how lucky they are for being born in a country like this". And it was true. People in here are different. They always want "their space". They always plead that their rights are not being met, that they are being exploited, that their poverty margins are too high, etc.
This kinda reminded me of one of my first jobs in Lima. I only lasted 2 days. I was a waitress at a very busy dancing club. My shift started at 7pm and ended at 9am of the next day. I had no breaks, wasn't allowed to eat or sit down, and if I didn't sell enough beers, I had to stay extra hours at the club. If my tips exceeded S/.10 (Ten soles, which in Canadians dollars is about $4), I had to leave the 10% to my employer. And I couldn't complain. Nobody could. The rule in there was "If you don't like it, you can leave", and you could be more than certain that they would get at least three other girls asking for a job in less than a day. My first day wasn't bad. I got off at 6am, and have S/.9 from tips for me. The second day, however, was awful. I didn't make as much money as the other experienced waitresses and had to stay til 10am trying to sell more booze or food to the drunk or tired customers. My parents got worried since I couldn't use my phone at work and I wasn't home by 7:30am, so they went there to pick me up or see what was going on. I remember seeing them and trying so hard not to cry. I was so relieved they were there to save me, to take me out of that terrible place where they would only give me water to drink (without ice, since it had an extra charge). I couldn't hold my tears. Everybody saw me crying...
And that was my last day at that job. They told me I could go back next week to pick up my cheque. I never did. I only made S/.30 the shift (about CA$14), and for that amount of money I was not going to face those exploiters again -that saw me crying when my parents came to claim their daughter, nonetheless!. I have my pride, ya know?
So when this lady told me that Canadians don't appreciate what they have, I couldn't agree more. I also thought about the difference on the definition of "being poor". In here it usually means that you leave in a dirty co-op building, are a crackhead, have a dog so the Government gives you more money to support your pet, and receive a cheque that will ensure you wont die from hunger. In Peru, being poor means having to eat pasta everyday because is the cheaper you can get to feed your family of 5 (with the money you get from either begging in the streets, selling hand-made stuff or candy, washing cars, or playing musical isntruments on a bus); it means you have to wait 10 minutes before the community market closes down so you can get at least the guts of the chicken to buy and make a decent soup and get some protein in your daily diet; it means having a house in the mountain made of cardboard because a simple apartment is just impossible to afford.
I guess I can't complain about not learning anything at work =)