Hello, hi, yes, I would like to speak to the manager please?
No, I don’t think that this is something you could help me with … okay. Okay, fine. Yes, so I’ve been shopping here for several years, and it’s always been a really positive experience. But yesterday I was walking down the freezer aisle and someone called my name.
It was a guy I knew. From high school.
Yes, thank you, I’m glad you understand the gravity of this. And in this case, it was particularly terrible because, see, I looked like this:
I know. It’s unfortunate. And no, I’m not trying to make things look worse in these photos. These are undoctored. I really looked that bad. I’d just spent the morning in the pottery studio, and the kiln was on, and it was really hot, and my hair got all greasy, and I was like, okay, I’ll just run to the store really quickly, it’s not like I’ll see anyone I know.
I actually thought that. I thought, I won’t see anyone I know.
I wonder if this is my brain’s way of messing with me. Like, perhaps I’m secretly clairvoyant but rather than use this power for good, my brain is like, “Let’s just fuck with her. Tomorrow she’ll see someone from high school and she will do so while looking like she just wrestled a fried chicken sandwich.”
I bumped into a guy I knew from high school in the freezer aisle of your store and he insisted on making small talk. There wasn’t any sort of warning posted anywhere before I entered. Like, there should have been a sign above the aisle.
And yes, I know, I know – my appearance is entirely irrelevant. It should absolutely not matter how I look when I bump into someone from my past. Logically we all know this. As a feminist, it’s probably sort of even offensive that I would bother to think about this. But. BUT. We also need to acknowledge that women are constantly judged for how they look, and even if we personally have moved beyond that, society hasn’t. We are constantly bombarded with make-over shows and advice on how not to age and how to lose weight and how to look like we’ve got a sun-kissed glow without actually seeing sun. We’re simultaneously told that our skin should have a dewy look while at the same time being sold products that remove oil from our skin. We’re told to remove hair from some parts of our body and encouraged to stimulate hair growth in other, seemingly more attractive parts. It’s exhausting. Sometimes it creeps into our brains by osmosis.
Even if we know that none of that shit matters, ask us if we’d like to bump into someone while looking like we just drank a mug of cooking oil and the answer will unequivocally be no. No, we do not. We would like to at least look showered.
And I did not.
I just think, after so many years of shopping here, that that sort of thing is entirely unacceptable, you know? And this is not what I was promised by movies and television and every pop culture reference ever and also society at large. That is not how it is supposed to go down. I am supposed to look cute, and self-possessed, and triumphant in front of a boy who was mean to me in high school. THAT IS HOW WE SING THE BALLAD OF THE NERDY GIRL WHO NEVER QUITE GREW INTO HER FEATURES.
I’m supposed to nonchalantly walk by while having an animated cell phone conversation, explaining to the person on the other end of the line that despite his many, many advances, “I just want to be friends. I hope you are okay with that, Jeff Goldblum.” And then I accidentally drop my Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. THAT IS HOW IT IS SUPPOSED TO GO DOWN.
And so I would like to speak to the manager.
Look, I’m not asking for my money back. I don’t want a refund. I would just like them to remedy this situation. I would like some sort of do-over.
What do you mean you “aren’t sure what that means”? How could I be any more clear? I NEED A DO OVER. I’ve been shopping here for years. I would like to continue shopping here. But this has been really unacceptable, and we need to find a way of fixing this, otherwise I’m going to have to move to another state.
Yes, of course I understand that you can’t tamper with the spacetime continuum for everyone who requests it. That sort of thing would be a huge strain on your team – I get that. Of course. Look, I don’t want to be unreasonable here. I’m nothing if not reasonable. I’m just asking for a tiny bit of time-travel, or maybe some drug-induced selective amnesia, or at the very least some kind of light witchcraft.
Yes, I understand that you normally work behind the deli counter and that this is not really your area of expertise, *Cameron*.
But did you see my hair? Did you see it? It’s been twenty years since I last saw this person and my hair looked like I combed it with a McRib. Actually, my entire aesthetic that day could be described as having been inspired by a seasonally-available McDonald’s sandwich with a cult-like following. I glistened like a … meat patty? (It’s a meat patty, right? Technically? Dear god, what are McRibs, even?)
TWENTY YEARS. DO YOU HEAR ME? TWENTY YEARS. Yes, I understand that you usually don’t work the floor and have very little experience with the dark arts. I get that. But these should be easy spells. Honestly, this should have been part of the onboarding when you started working here. What to do when a customer needs to return an item, what’s the code for organic brussel sprouts, how do I selectively obliterate a memory from someone’s mind. This should not be complex.
You … you can’t do that? Not even one teensy little spell? Seriously? <sigh.> Okay.
No. No, it’s fine. It’s fine. I understand. I’m … yeah, you know what? 20 years is a long time. And it’s kind of okay. I mean, the only part of me that’s at all uncomfortable right now is 17-year-old me. I feel like I owe her is all. I feel like she needed this. But I’ll just have a talk with her. She’ll be okay. I tell her how things turn out. I’ll tell her about all the things that happen in her life. All the good things. The travel and the career and the friends and the love.
Things turn out okay. And then one day she’ll bump into a boy from her past and her hair will be greasy and her clothes will be a mess. She’ll probably laugh. 17-year-old me had a lot of struggles with greasy hair. She’ll be pleased by the advancements in dry shampoo technology. She’ll be so excited that we own a leather jacket.
Anyway, thanks for listening. Hey, are these cookie pieces samples? Cool. I’m taking a whole bunch, is that okay? Great. Thanks.