I'm beginning to wonder if retail does this to people, or if this is a normal workplace issue.
Today was pretty busy at work and I had a list of things that needed to be done before The Big Boss came in at 5. I asked Kathy, a friendly and seemingly harmless customer service associate, to polish the silver teapot set if she had time.
"Sure, no problem, I'll do them one at a time in between customers," she told me.
I smiled, thanked her, assured her it wasn't a problem if she couldn't find the time to complete the favor, and whirled around to finish the list of 99 red balloons, er tasks, that must be done lest The Head Honcho give me that horrific I-can-see-the-dust look.
Two hours prior to the arrival of said Store VIP, Vicki, a yoga-fanatic who smiles better than she listens, is sent to replace Kathy at customer service. Seeing that the teapot still has a devastating sliver of tarnish on its expensive-ass body, I ask her to polish it if she has time.
"No problem; where's the polish though?" Vicki asks, pausing in her breathing to reflect upon her breath.
"Oh, just ask Kathy," I said, apparently naively, and turn back to my oh-so-demanding managerial duties.
Five customers and minutes later, Vicki arrives full-force at the front counter and it's obvious from her wrinkled brow that she hasn't been concentrating enough on her ohmming.
"Well, I asked Kathy about the polish ..." she says, trailing off.
"Um well, based on what she said, I didn't do it," Vicki answered, avoiding my eyes a bit.
"Why? What'd she say?"
"Well she kind of went off on me. I mean, she was ... here, come 'ere," Vicki said, dropping her voice while simultaneously raising her eyes to mine. "I asked her where the polish was, and she just went off. She said ... (pause to smile at customer passing by) ... 'I'm not doing the damn silver! How can she tell me what to do when she's only worked here a month and I've been here for a hundred years!' ... So I kind of just left."
At this point, things like I asked nicely, why do people make such a fuss over such small matters, and oh yeah I'm in a supervisory position anyway popped into my head, but of course, being myself by default, I was hurt. Why would someone think I would disrespect their tenure with the company? What did I do that would make her interpret my actions as coming from a sour place? Certainly Vicki's response helped, in some sense: "It's okay. Just breathe."
It all ended with me dashing around to perform a life-altering ten-minute cleansing of tarnish followed by The King Himself arriving to announce that he noticed I had moved some coffee mugs and this dramatic change had his ever-strived-for stamp of approval (a.k.a. a nod).
Let's gain some perspective here, people: Teapots will not tear the house down.