“You, sir, are an ass!”

That’s one of my favorite lines from Shakespeare (and one that I got to say on stage!). It also applies to someone I saw yesterday while at the store. Well, it applies if you substitute “sir” with “lady.” And “lady” would be quite a stretch.

I had originally intended to head in to DC yesterday. My work schedule had been crazy the week before, due to running people around to appointments on one of the days and heading in to work a bit late. Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry and I’m the first to admit that mine are not well-laid plans at the best of times. There’s a button on my Facebook flair board that says “Plan ‘this will most likely end badly’ is a go.” That basically sums up my plans. Suffice it to say, I didn’t wake up when I had intended and decided to just stay in Virginia for the day.

The day started pleasantly enough with a trip to Springfield to drop off my brother at work and pick up Dad’s prescriptions at the pharmacy. Mom and I grabbed a nice lunch over at Fridays and then I figured we’d head out to JoAnn’s over in Burke. I’d been earlier that weekend with Heather, purchasing the material I needed to make her Halloween costume. She wanted to wear a poodle skirt to work on Halloween. Since it’s an easy enough pattern to do and I’m not swamped with costume projects this year (for once!) I volunteered my services.

Unfortunately the netting I’d picked up for the petticoat wasn’t nearly stiff enough to hold up the poodle skirt so I needed to head back and pick up some sturdier stuff. Mom didn’t have anything else that she needed to do that day so she came with me.

Now, I know I’ve already written once or twice about how much I love JoAnn’s. You’re probably sick of me saying it but that’s just too bad because I’m going to say it again. I love that store. There are three within 20 minutes of my house but I almost always go to the one out at Burke. It’s probably safe to say that I’m in there at least once a month and some months – usually around Halloween and Christmas – it feels like I’m there once a week.

Of the three stores I find it the most pleasant. I’m familiar with the layout so I don’t have to wander aimlessly trying to figure out where specific types of fabric or notions are hiding away, there’s usually a wonderful selection of red tag fabrics in the back (a wonderful thing to find when you’re a poor grad student addicted to sewing) and, most importantly, the staff there is extremely pleasant. Though we don’t necessarily know each other by name – well, I’ve heard most of theirs but they don’t know mine – I know most of the staff there by face and a good number of them know me.

One of the cool things about the folks who work there is that they are honestly interested and intrigued by the projects that their patrons are working on. Some get more excited when they hear about “real” clothing you’re working on, some when you tell them you’re making a quilt, and others when you describe a costume you’re trying to do but, regardless of what avenue of sewing they typically find themselves in, they seem genuinely excited about each customer’s piece.

I think the pleasantness of the Burke JoAnn’s staff is what made Tuesday’s incident all the more jarring for me. They really shouldn’t have had to deal with the craziness they did. Neither should anyone, really. Unfortunately, it’s one of the things that those of us in customer service tend to run up against regularly.

Mom and I were still browsing the aisles over near the calico wall when the situation first began over at the cutting counter. A woman over there was just pitching a fit. From what I could gather she had purchased a pattern and wanted to get fabric for her project, but she first wanted to cut out all the pieces and lay them out on the fabric to see how much she would need, and then cut it and be on her less-than-merry way.

I’m pretty sure she hadn’t brought the pattern in with her. It seemed more likely that she had picked it up from the drawers and tried to cut it out at the cutting table but had been told she had to pay for it first. That’s where the real problem began. The store wasn’t as busy as I’ve seen it before (that would be on the weekend, during one of the big holiday sales) but there was a little bit of a line at the front cashiers. I learned later that they were having problems with the registers. Not the staff’s fault. That just happens sometimes.

The woman wasn’t happy about having to stand in line and purchase her pattern before she cut it out, though. She complained long and loud about having to spend time waiting in that line and then spending time to cut things out and then wait in another long line for the people to cut her fabric out, etc. When the lady at the cutting counter (one of the nicest people there) tried to explain things to her and diffuse the situation the woman just grabbed all her stuff and stormed off to another part of the store railing that she’d just cut it herself.

Mom and I exchanged looks and made a few comments to ourselves. One of the customers who had been over near the cutting table wandered over our direction and said “I hate it when people act like that. There’s no reason to behave that way to people who are doing their job!” I whole-heartedly agree.

I went over to stand in line at the cutting counter. I wasn’t there but two minutes when it was my turn to be helped. They tend to move pretty quickly there. The woman who had been yelled at had gone on a quick break in the intervening time and I was being helped by another one of the regular staff. We chatted a bit about the fabric (as usual) and she was halfway through my bolts when the crazy lady reappeared.

She bustled over to the secondary cutting counters – which tend to be used more to store bolts awaiting reshelving and other displays – and proceeded to shove everything out of her way, throw her bolts of fabric on the table, yank her pattern out of the envelope and dump the entire contents of her purse on the table.

I’m not exaggerating. I don’t mean she started pulling things out and putting them on the table. She quite literally took ahold of her bag from the bottom and upended the thing, shaking EVERYTHING out of it in an attempt to find her scissors. I was half-expecting a human head to pop out of the bag and roll across the table. Things bounced and rolled off the table.

The woman cutting my fabric took one look behind her and spoke urgently into her earpiece radio thingy, calling the manager to deal with the situation immediately. The crazy lady paid no mind and proceeded to cut out her pattern and lay it out on the fabric.

For the life of me I don’t know why she didn’t just look at the back of the frickin’ pattern envelope. The yardage for each project is clearly printed out on the back of them. It’s not like the pattern creators just want you to guess!

The manager decided to let the woman alone, as long as she didn’t cut the fabric herself. I’m still kind of miffed about that. The women out on the floor shouldn’t have had to deal with her themselves. That’s why management is there.

By that time the woman that Crazy Purse Woman had screamed at earlier had finished her quick break. She stopped by the cutting counter to talk to the woman handling my fabric needs and ask what I was making this time. I was happy to hear she didn’t have to stick around much longer and continue to deal with the bonkers lady. I trundled off a few minutes later and soon Mom and I were ready to check out.

Guess who got in line right behind me?

Not only was she right behind me, she was right up on me too. She kept bumping into me with her stuff. I was so tempted to just turn around and yell “BACK OFF!”

When she finally got up to the checkout she went right back to yelling at the employees. She started yelling at the cashier, wondering why she couldn’t just give someone $1.50 for the pattern without having to wait in three different lines. She started flouncing out the door, still being nasty. Mom happened to be standing over by the door and snapped at her “Hey! Be nice!” The woman turned around, I guess thinking it was one of the cashiers yelling at her. When she saw Mom glaring at her though she shut her mouth and walked off.

I went ahead and thanked the women working at the cash registers. Like I said they’re always awesome there and really didn’t deserve to be put in that stressful situation.

The woman repeatedly complained that she didn’t have enough time to stand in all the lines and everything. If she’d just been patient and pleasant she would’ve had plenty of time. Even with the register problems the line moved quickly and I was through the line at the cutting counter in no time. What ate up a lot of her time was the storming through the store that she was doing, flipping her shit every which way.

Besides, if you’re that short on time maybe you should just go do your other, more pressing tasks and come back to the store later.

Ugh. Don’t ever be one of those people.

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