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Rachel West Professor Rand English 1103 Honors September 11, 2013 Rough Draft #1 Literacy Autobiography Title


People are strange creatures. We have a wide spectrum of emotions, ranging from angry and frustrated to depressed and lonely to ecstatic and excited. Its no wonder that mood rings were all the rage once upon a time. Learning to politely deal with people and their ups-anddowns is a social literacy that I have learned a lot about from working in retail this past year. For the longest time, I restricted the definition of literacy to the ability to read and write. I never would have thought that it was so much more. Literacy encompasses the knowledge, or habits of mind, and abilities to be or behave in certain situations. When I worked in retail this past year, I came across completely new situations. My new duties ranged from managing a cash register to learning where each brands section was in the departments. The most challenging and beneficial duty in the long run, however, was learning the most appropriate habits of mind and ways of being while dealing with rude, hurtful people. Many people believe that dealing with the general population is black and white there are clearly right ways of responding and there are wrong ways of responding. This is true for some situations. You certainly do not want to yell at customers and behave obscenely because, whether you like it or not, you are a representative of your workplace while you are on the clock. However, each situation has an appropriate solution of its own. Sometimes the customer will simply ask for the manager, and sometimes you will have to explain the solution to them yourself because they dont want to take the time to speak with the manager. In this last situation, the lanyard worn around my neck seemed to be the heaviest because of the responsibility that it carried.

When I worked at Kohls, I met very nice people. I also met very rude people. As Charles Dickens wrote, It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I learned that if you havent worked in retail, you have no idea what it takes to work there. Even though it is an entry level job, there are several skills that you must possess. These include math for the register, organization to quickly and efficiently scan items, solicit emails and the Kohls credit card, and bag the persons new items. The machinery is fairly straight-forward once you get used to it. The tricky parts of the job are attached to customer service. I would argue that the most important skill you must possess to succeed at the job is great customer service. People come shopping in the midst of good days or bad days. Most customers who are having bad days lack the self-control to resist reacting to their misfortunes through their treatment of employees. Some customers are just rude by nature they do not have the compassion or empathy to treat employees with respect. As one manager said, This isnt Mr. Rogers neighborhood. It makes you think about bringing kids into the world. At first I thought he was being dramatic. Looking back, I can understand where he was coming from. Even though I do not have a child of my own, I can only imagine the anxiety that comes with exposing your children to the world. It is almost like releasing the three little pigs in the classic childrens tale: either they will avoid the wolfs deception and keep living in their smart and clever ways, or they will be influenced by the big bad wolf and let him in their house, or their mind. Not everyone has been raised with the same values and manners, and children are very impressionable. They might pick up bad habits from new people and surroundings. Or they could be like me and expect more from people than they should. When children have been raised with high standards of behavior, they assume that everyone else lives by these same standards. Unfortunately, this is not true. There are rude people in the world. You have a choice like the three little pigs, you can be

influenced by their rudeness, or you can live and act smartly and go on with your own life, ways of being, and values. The literacy of politeness that I have learned this past year was my decision to be like the three little pigs and choose to be smart against the big bad wolf, not being deceived by some peoples normal attitude. Through first-hand experiences with people, Ive learned the literacy of responding to people who hurt you, are rude to you, or dismiss you altogether. I am a sensitive person by nature, so it took a while for me learn this literacy and apply it to my work and interpersonal relationships. One event in particular tested my literacy in politely responding to unpleasant people. On a dark winter night, an older woman approached the counter with a full cart and wallet in hand. Her short black hair accented her round, wrinkled face. She seemed nice enough, like the average customer nice but not overly friendly, ready to leave after (hopefully) finding what she came in looking for. I scanned her items, ranging from towels to small toys for her grandchildren, while struggled to bend over and retrieve items from the bottom of the cart. At the end of the transaction, she wanted to use a coupon. At Kohls, several coupons are only acceptable when you use a Kohls Credit Card to pay the remaining amount after the discount. I explained that to the woman, and she decided to look up her account. I just need you to enter your social [social security number] into the pin pad, maam, I requested. This was a statement I had made countless times before to other customers. My social? she asked. Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. Yes, I explained. I wont see it on my screen, but we use your social so no one else can look up your card and use it. Its for our customers safety. She frowned but opened her wallet nonetheless and punched in the number. Thank you. Ill need to see your ID, please. The movement from the pin pad back to her wallet was enough to make her frown grow.

All I need you to do now is sign at the pin pad. An exaggerated sigh escaped her formerly rigid lips. I dont know why you ask us to do so many things, just to look up our credit card, she complained. I was not sure what to say, so I came up with what must have sounded like a rehearsed excuse: Im sorry. I know its a lot, but we do all this for our customers safety. She shook her head and mumbled as my face grew redder and my heart raced. I had only been working for a few months, and I had come across only mildly rude people. I had no idea that the best was yet to come with this woman. I was relieved to hit the Total Due button to complete her transaction. The sooner she was out of here, the better. When all of her items were bagged, she decided to pay off her Kohls Credit Card. A credit card payment must be processed separate from a purchase. When a customer does not have their credit card but wants to pay off their purchase anyway, you must look up their account a second time. This is not the best scenario when you are helping an impatient, cranky woman with a lot on her mind. I went back to the menu screen on the register, prepared to do a second look up. Ill need you to enter your social again, maam. Apparently, what she heard was Ill need you to give me all your information so I can stupidly waste your time and make you angry. Not surprisingly, another dramatic sigh came forth. Didnt I just put my social? Yes, I said, but I need to print a temporary credit card to scan in order to make a payment, because your payment is separate from your purchase. I didnt look up your card before the purchase, so I need to do it again.

The sighs progressed to mumbling as she got out her wallet again and entered her social security number into the pin pad. Thank you, I said. Ill need to see your license again, please. The dams burst. I dont understand why youre making me do this a second time, she snapped. I tried not to flinch. I need to enter your license number to verify that its you, I stated. Begrudgingly, she forcefully opened her wallet and shoved her license at me. Do you even know what youre doing?!? Ouch. I punched in her license number, my fingers pressing harder with each digit, until I practically slammed the Enter button. She looked up, startled. I forced a smile, handed her license back to her, and said Thank you so much. I just need you to sign. After all that, it just took the punching of keys to get her to stop her mean comments, grumbling, and sighing. She signed the pin pad without any eye roll or mumbling. She simply filled out a check and waited for the receipt without saying a word. When she (finally) left, I said, Thank you so much for shopping at Kohls. Have a great night. As with all ornery customers, I slipped the survey link into the trash can as she walked out the door with her bad attitude flaming. Thankfully, I have never had another experience quite as negative as this literary experience was. I have not had to deal with such blatant rudeness and meanness since. Sometimes I wonder if the woman actually felt bad about how she acted. Most people express regret when a situation like this occurs, but not everyone is raised to respect others like you would like to be respected. When I got home, part of me wanted to pray that someone would

treat her like she treated me, so she would know what it feels like. Thankfully, the angel on my shoulder won the debate: I prayed that she and her family would be blessed and happy. I have always been taught to love my enemies, no matter how rewarding it would feel to treat them like dirt. Ive also been taught that rude people must leave fairly miserable lives if they feel the need to treat others so poorly and disrespectfully. I can get my own revenge by knowing that I am living a happier, more fulfilling and satisfying life than they are. I get to live with happiness!

Looking back, I am thankful to have had these experiences because they set me up for success in the future.

Thankfully, Ive found that the kind-hearted people far outnumber the rude people you encounter.

Specific instances that led to my literacy development (reacting to rude/hurtful people): --lady with cross necklace who was extremely rude --lady who didnt mean to be rude, but laughed at me when I asked if she wanted to sign up for stores emails

Initial Brainstorming of Literacies: Not gawking at handicapped people Responding to rude people Kohls