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I am a social pariah. Or at least I’m one as far as the south is concerned. You northerners have probably heard tell of this southern hospitality thing and probably not much else in regards to the south. That’s because it’s the one thing that as a collective we try to live by…They. It’s the one thing that they try to live by.

If you live here or have ever spent any length of time here, you’ll know one thing about social interactions in the south: It is never not okay to speak. You could literally hate someone’s guts and have the feeling be mutual, and still, not speaking to them would be an invitation to a fight.

It’s ridiculous.  Some members of the older generation will actually stop your progress through a room to address the fact that you entered and did not speak to them or some other person that is in the same space. And this little dance isn’t just amongst family and acquaintances; it’s everywhere.

Someone, somewhere decided that using your cellphone in a public place was considered rude. Now, granted in certain situations where your sole purpose is to communicate with another individual about something i.e. your waitress, or customer service rep. Using a a cellphone in these specific instances is incredibly rude because you’re hindering them from doing their job which is to assess your need and provide a service.

However, checking out at Walmart I do not deem one of these instances. As you may or may not know, Walmart is the mecca of southern culture. Everyone has to go there at some point in time for something and in some cases, like a very close friend of mine, the trip is an excursion of love. I want it known now that I HATE WALMART. No matter what I go in there for it seems like an hour of my life is sucked away never to return.

I have gone to Walmart solo and had the pleasure (or displeasure, not sure which) of accompanying many a friend or family member into its hallowed halls, and the trips are very different.

I’m not a chit chatter. Firstly, because I am who I am, I lose interest (or fail to accumulate an interest) in things that don’t fascinate me. So that includes about 99% of Walmart employees. Secondly, I don’t think the fact that we are the same species is enough of a qualifier for me to care about you. That seems like an echo of the first point, but it’s there to drive home the third point, which is: I don’t give a damn about you.

That sounds harsh, but let me explain. I don’t know the employees of Walmart in my personal day to day life. I didn’t encourage them to seek employment with this organization. I certainly didn’t hire them, and I didn’t put them on the register during the shift that I would most likely go shopping. Ergo, you are whole lot of not my problem.

As a former customer service representative, I’ll tell you, when people came through my lines and didn’t speak to me, it was the happiest day of my life.

My thought process:

“You’re not speaking to me?”

“I don’t have to make up any witty asinine comments for your amusement?”

“You’re not going engage me in pointless conversations about the weather and where you can buy better socks for cheaper?”

HAZZAA!!! Oh happy day!!

How often did this happen to me? Extremely rarely, because…I live in the south. Haven’t you been paying attention? I have a poor immune system. My one respite from this agonizing exchange was being sick.

A. Because it gave me something to discuss; “Oh you’re sick?” “Poor baby, hope you feel better.”

B. Sometimes I’d be fortunate enough to have a sore throat which negated the conversation instantly.

I don’t know what the source of this animosity is towards casual conversation. I’m actually a nice person, but I prefer the more organic interactions of when you actually have something to say to a person. (I like to observe people and see if they are worthy of my time)

My closest friends may or may not be aware of this, but our relationships are a deliberate result of me deciding that they we were going to be my friends….that sounds kinda creepy now that I read it…oh well.

I’ve been on the phone several times with the friend who loves Walmart, and she has placed me on hold or even told me she will call me back, just because she was checking out. Who does this?! Will your groceries be less checked out if you’re on the phone? Are you that attention deficit that you can’t watch a screen to make sure prices ring up correctly and hold a conversation? Do you really think you will ruin some cashier’s day because she/he didn’t get to talk to you?

No offense intended, but if I worked at Walmart I can think of 20 different things that would make me want to quit besides a customer ignoring me.

Unfortunately I now work at a place where socializing with the odd guest or 6 is mandatory on occasions and failing to make a good impression or at least make an unmemorable impression will garner me some negative attention. So I live in my own little slice of hell.

The moral of the story is, I will never be Miss USA, and I’m okay with this. At least the weather will have one less person talking about it behind its back.

J.R.H.

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