12 February 2009

Cranberry-Apple and Sprite. Mixed.

I never want to be a high maintenance consumer. Because there was a time when I worked in a retail clothing store and I waited on customers:

“That’s going to be $152.25,” I would start folding the customer’s purchased clothing, putting it into bags. The customer was oblivious to me, completely engrossed in a conversation with their mother-in-law about pot roast. I would have to try and politely interrupt, “Sorry, are you paying with cash or card?” And the customer would keep insisting that cream-onion-soup dumped on top of the roast before cooking is much tastier than cooking the roast with carrots and potatoes, all the while digging in their purse. They didn’t even know if they were paying with cash or card. Heck, they didn’t even know they were paying. And when they’ve finally hung up with Mrs. Mother-In-Law, it would suddenly occur to them that they actually didn’t want the shirt that was rung up first and put into the bottom of the bag.

It happened all the time—and that’s why I don’t want to be a demanding consumer. Because let’s face it, there are already too many demanding costumers out there. I dread being one of them.

But as much as I don’t like being needy and as much as I hate asking for special permissions, I can’t help it: when I walk down the tunnel from the gate to the plane, my saliva turns into apple-cranberry juice and Sprite. Mixed. When I walk onto a flight, it is suddenly all I want. Mid-flight, the stewardess starts pushing the cart, a cart that always seems to miraculously fit between the two aisle seats, and I get a little excited. I’m going to get my fix. I get a little nervous; how am I going to ask for it? I mean, when you’re ten, you can pull off asking for a mixed drink from the plane stewardess and they call it cute. But post-age-sixteen, you ask for something out-of-the-ordinary, and you’re demanding. The stewardess parks her cart immediately to my left, “Can I get you something to drink?” I hesitate, but only for a second. I really have to have cranberry apple with Sprite.

“Actually, I’m sorry. I hate to bother you with a strange request. But, I’m really hoping that I can get cranberry-apple juice mixed with a little Sprite.” It doesn’t faze her. She starts to pour the cranberry juice first. I keep explaining, “Really, I’m sorry. You see, it’s just what I always get when I’m on a flight. I’ve just gotten myself into this strange habit and I just always want cran-apple and Sprite, mixed, when I’m on an airplane. And really, I don’t mean to ask for special consideration.” But the truth is, I do mean to ask for special consideration, because I want my mix that badly. “Anyway, thanks. And I’m sorry I’m making you work for me. Really, really, I’m sorry.” She’s pouring the Sprite now.

“No worries. We get requests for cran-apple and Sprite mixed all the time.” And with that, she pushes her cart forward and parks it in front of the next row. I knew it. Shoot. I just want to pull my weak airport blanket over my head and disappear into the flotation device that they call a seat. She might as well have said, “Face it. Embrace the embarrassment. Stop thinking you’re something special. Quit apologizing. You’re just one of the thousands of ridiculously demanding customers.” We get requests like this all the time? She couldn’t have said anything to make me feel worse. I’ve never wanted to be a high maintenance customer. And when it comes down to it, I’m just one of the thousands that might as well be talking with my mother-in-law about pot roast.

And I don’t even have a mother-in-law.

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