Standing before the computer screen that serves as a cash register in the self-service lane at my local Kroger.  Modern tills are more data managers than anything else. The idea of a cash box long pushed aside by a card-carrying society that doesn’t really know how to make change and, increasingly, it seems, would rather not interact with the customer. And the feeling is mutual.  Except for me.

You see, that’s my persistent complaint: you don’t want to acknowledge me when I buy from you.  I am looking for interaction, appreciation, and good, old-fashioned (when did these go out of style), “Thanks for your business.”  

Now facing, on my own, what seems to be a test, self-service checkout, I’m all ready to be taken out and run my racket. Surely this machine can make change… I think, as it thanks me for shopping at Kroger.  Alas, only two cents pop from the machine and it should be 13 cents. I’m indignant. I turn to the young attendant and see nothing but calamity all around. Something, a glitch (technical term) seems to have every other person in the self-service lane amiss.  The attendant is overwhelmed and yelling for help. And help is on the way as Holly swiftly barrels around the corner nearest me. Just as swiftly, I step in front of her path. “You owe me 11 cents. I only got this back,” holding out my hand with two bright, shiny pennies.  And here’s my receipt. “Okay, just a moment. I will be back with you,” Holly exclaims, as she moves past me into a larger crowd of unhappy customers.

I am not impressed.  I engaged her first and am not getting the service I desire.  “Correct change!” I pause and wait… And wait… And watch… And conclude she has already forgotten about me. Walking to the exit, I cruise by Holly and exclaim in a sideways loud voice, “Ah, just keep the change!  You need it more than I do!”

 Cleaning it up …

A few days later, as I was distinguishing my racket (persistent complaint) as part of my Mastery Program delivery practice, I see the righteousness, indignation, and snarkiness that I was “being” for Holly and everyone else within earshot.  I went back to the store, approached the front desk and made eye contact with Holly. “Earlier this week, I was here struggling with the self-service line. You tried to help me and I would not let you. I treated you poorly and I left the store not allowing you to help. I am sorry for my behavior.  I appreciate your desire to help me and others. And I did not let you. Again, I am sorry.”

Holly’s countenance, a classical, middle-aged, midwestern woman of fair hair and skin began to glow under the bright, fluorescent lights.  “Thank you,” she said.

And then again, “Thank you.”  

I think she was blushing a little.  

I hope I was too.