“Normal” Feelings?

I am now questioning the value of having “normal” responses to things. I both admire and have reservations regarding people I see as “normal.” I envy their appropriate responses while wondering if they can ever truly understand people as dysfunctional as myself–and there are a lot of us!

My store manager is a startlingly normal person. A good guy. I wish I knew more people like him. Not a narcissist. Not racist. Not out to get anyone. A happily married church-going man. When I told him I thought he was normal, he said, “I’ve never been called that before!”

This past week at the store was rough, to be kind about it. My favorite manager, the only woman, was on vacation until Friday. The back room was trashed. The compactor was full. We got several pallets of new goods, one of which was from Pier 1. There was no room for anything. The activity level was frenzied. People were getting fired or calling in sick, leaving more work for fewer people.

Thursday was just plain ugly. Most of the closers called in. The wares lady ended up being closing cashier, not her favorite thing to do, especially since she had come in early to help out. I did a lot of cashiering because the closing cashier had called in. Then it was time to count me down. The closing manager told me that I was $14.97 off. What? I assumed I was short. Nope. Over. How? I couldn’t think of any transactions that felt “off” at all. Nothing came to mind. I believe in learning from my mistakes, but nothing leapt to mind. But the day had been so nutty that I couldn’t say with certainty that, “No. I was perfect. Check your numbers again.” He said that I would probably have to be written up but that he did not have time to do so. He would have to leave a note for the store manager to do it in the morning. I stayed to help un-trash the place because it was the first time in months we had actually achieved the textile production quota and basically no one had taken care of it. The place looked like hell, so I stayed an extra half-hour so that the closers (the manager and the donation guy) wouldn’t have so much to do all by themselves. I was trying to behave as a grown-up.

Then I went home, distraught. I was going to get written up! I have never been written up! I called my psychoanalyst. She was reassuring but also confused because she knows I am a perfectionist. It was hard for her to believe that I was that much off. Was it multiple bad transactions? How could I possibly short one customer almost $15 without the customer throwing a hissy-fit? She walked me back from the edge, telling me that, even if I got wrote up, so what? They weren’t going to fire me. Then, while talking to her, my phone rang. It was the store. I told my shrink I would call her right back. It was the closing manager. The managers have a register (which they and sometimes another cashier will use, such as the wares lady on Thursday). That till came back $15 short! Then he remembered: the receipt tape had run out on register 3 (his) and so he redirected the receipt to my drawer (4). It popped my drawer open and, for some reason incomprehensible to me, he must have put the money from that transaction into my drawer, making both off. I was not $14.97 over; I was $.03 short! Definitely not write-uppable! Within normal human error. I was so relieved that I told him he just made my evening. I wasn’t even mad. It was a crazy day and I was just glad not to have had disciplinary action taken against me. I called my shrink back and we reviewed the real lesson to be learned: I need to be kinder to myself and, oh yeah, don’t take a count for granted until all the pennies are counted up at the end of the day.

The next morning, Friday, I told the store manager how relieved I was not to have to be written up. Later that day, my favorite manager closed. I told her all about the incident when she was counting me down at the end of the day (I came out even Friday) and how the only reason I didn’t get written up was that the closer from the previous day simply did not have the time. When I told her how much I was off, she made a weird face. I said, “That was my reaction!” She also puzzled how I could short a customer that much and no one had complained. Hard to fathom. And, of course, she echoed my shrink’s assertion that being written up would not have been the end of the world. Then, being both twistedly funny and authoritarian, she said, “I would have made time to write you up!” Gee, thanks. And she said something I will never forget: “I got you.”

During the day, while the store manager was there, I asked him if there had been any interviews for floor people. He said that that was not a priority. The priorities are donations on the intake end and cashiers on the outgoing end. Everything else can be shuffled around. When I told him that I felt like I am an adequate cashier but I basically own the floor, he said the other floor girl, Abby, could give me a run for my money. Abby’s great. Don’t get me wrong. What became clear to me was that he was not aware that Abby has been looking for another job. It is not my place to tell him, but I did not think it was a secret.

And she will find one. I thought she had found one in May, but obviously that fell through. And he told me he thought I was a good cashier. I somehow felt affirmed and de-valued at the same time. (Is that how normal people feel?) Like the floor really doesn’t matter all that much to him. Oh, but it will, as production ramps up and I am trapped behind a register and the place looks like crap. He said he could take production workers and have them put away textiles and tidy the place up. True, but that only makes my point, that now he is lowering production (which just made quota for the first time in months) to keep the floor looking decent. And no one has told him about Abby. I seriously doubt she will be there come September. I think her degree is in something children-oriented. It is July. The rules do not apply right now. Someone will snatch her up before fall.

I stayed an extra half-hour for my favorite manager. As I left the building, the closing manager from the previous day was walking up to the building. And he did not look happy. It was not his day to work and he clearly would have preferred not to be there. I drove home and thanked goodness the week was over.

Was he there because of me? Perhaps. I have no way of knowing. Did he think I was going to keep almost being written up to myself? He can’t be fired because he gave notice earlier in the week that he found another job that starts in August and pays a whole lot more.

Should I be more upset with the manager that messed up my till? I feel like it was a normal human error. I don’t feel any anger and I wonder about my lack of emotional reaction. Part of having CPTSD is not having normal red flags regarding situations that are unsafe. Sometimes anger is a normal human emotion. And it didn’t even occur to me that I should have felt it for twenty-four hours.

And then there is the store manager that I feel now might actually be too normal. Goodwill scrapes the bottom of the human resource barrel. Everyone comes into it with “issues,” to put it mildly. And then you have people, like me, that have way too much education for the jobs they are doing, which demands an explanation, to put it as politically correctly as I can. “Why exactly are you (ridiculously overqualified applicant like myself) applying for this position?” I know what my issues are now and were the day I got hired. Barry had only passed eight months earlier, making me an emotional mess. I had this huge gap on my resume from getting my MBA to even looking for work (because he extremely out-lived all expectations). I have been using this non-intellectual job to heal myself and use my emotional and intellectual energy to go into psychoanalysis and once-and-for-all deal with my crippling shame. I think the store manager does not hear how his statements may be heard by others. He hasn’t had to deal with CPTSD. He is a normal human, sufficiently loved as an infant. It’s hard to fault him for that.

And yet….when a company such as Goodwill is looking to fill positions, it needs to understand that it is scraping the bottom of the labor pool. These people will have “issues.”

I feel like I have made a lot of progress. But it has been a hard and ongoing process. And this week was rough.

About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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