I must look more helpful than I am. How else to explain why I am always mistaken for a retail clerk.
Normally, it’s at a Target, where although I’m not wearing khakis and a red shirt, someone inevitably asks me for the location of towels. Other times it’s at a music store, where a mom always manages to ask me if I know which profane lyric has caused a certain rating to be placed on a CD. Last week, it was a crying child who seemed to have gotten separated from her mother. She walked by a couple of people before she stopped at my cart and said “No encuentro a mi mamá.”
Since I have worked at a Target-equivalent and in a music store and as a teacher, I’ve always figured some of the force that makes people ask me questions must be in the way I stand. Maybe it is open, interested, and expecting of a question.
After my workout today, I was less than interested. I was looking at tomatoes and balancing tea, salmon, and strawberries. I was 20 minutes removed from a workout, hurried, sweaty, and in running shorts and a t-shirt. Apparently, this wasn’t enough to flag that I don’t work at the grocery store.
“Excuse me, ma’am, do you know if a filbert is a hazelnut?” a 20-something man asked while thrusting a bag of what he seemed to hope were nuts in my face.
I looked at him, I looked at my precariously balanced dinner items, and I looked at the rack of nuts.
“No,” was my cool response.
There was nothing else. No explanation of why I didn’t know, or a guess at what it might be, or an attempt to lead him astray with a lie. “No,” was all I had.
“Maybe I should go ask someone else,” he said.