Maria Mazariegos Literacy Autobiography Final Draft

“What is your manager’s name? I would like to speak to him right now.” My poor little heart starting racing at supersonic speed, but I managed to keep a friendly smile on my cherry red face. As I opened my mouth to give her the information she requested, the unsatisfied middle aged lady put her last grocery bag in the blue shopping cart and angrily stormed out of the store. I instantly held out a sigh of relief, and quickly tried to take in what had just occurred. Still replaying the unpleasant situation in my head and trying to make sense of it all, I was interrupted by the familiar sound of the register belt slowly moving towards me. A new customer had arrived and it was my responsibility to brush it off and not let the past customer affect my work standards and procedures. All this happening in a matter of seven seconds, I turned to the man and began my usual routine. With a bright smile and a welcoming tone I asked, “Good afternoon sir, did you find everything okay today?” In my opinion, the entire situation began with something so insignificant. As I back track to that moment, I realize that I would have never imagined what I had in store for me that day. For me it was just another regular day at work. Since at that time I had no customers in my lane, I was peacefully cleaning the filthy register belt with Windex and the scrawny paper towels they provide us employees with. Suddenly, a blonde haired and blue eyed woman appeared with her buggy full of items. According to the speed she began to place the products on the revolving belt, I concluded that she was in a kind of hurry. I began with my usual “Hello, how are you?” accompanied by a Colgate smile and cheery voice. Sadly, I received the immediate and dry response of “Fine.” By this time I just looked down disappointed by her answer and began to scan the groceries one by one as they came closer. As it always seems to occur on weekends, a rush of customers began to pile up on my co-workers and I. Realizing that I had to increase my speed, and taking into consideration that she was already in a rush, I swiftly scanned the products. Since the bagger that is usually helping was getting carts outside, we had to bag the items ourselves. I thought that it would be best to scan all of her items first and then begin to bag once I had

Maria Mazariegos Literacy Autobiography Final Draft

finished. However, this customer did not agree with my genius idea. “Can you make this belt stop?!?” she demanded with an annoyed tone. Doing as I was told, I stopped the belt and continued with her $100 and counting grocery trip. Then, I realized that my space was starting to decrease and that I had to get some of the scanned items out of the way. I bagged the ripe bananas, strawberries, and two avocados in one bag while putting the cream cheese, coffee creamer, and the quart of 2% milk in another. I politely handed her the bags and in order to clear the limited space, I unconsciously turned the cursed switch that moved the belt. It was during that split second that things would only go downhill. She lost it, and began to spill out nonsense, with occasional threats and insults along the way. I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of that lady’s mouth; matter of fact I don’t think I ever will. “You Hispanics can never follow simple instructions…who hired you anyways?” she said as she shook her head in disbelief. Biting my tongue and being unable to curse her out made me feel so uncomfortable and useless, I did not know the appropriate action or response in this specific scenario. Of course, being the diplomatic person that I am, I did not say a word, even though a million of them were floating in my head. Importantly, I knew the work-related consequences I would face if I added fire to the confrontation, at that moment it just wasn’t worth it. “Your total is $178.50” I informed her. She pulled out her Discover credit card and vigorously swiped it through the sensitive machine. Trying to ease the situation, I began to apologize and explained that my intentions were only to check her out as quickly and effectively as possible. That is when she requested for my manager, mentioning out loud that I had rudely talked back to her and “I don’t want someone like you speaking to me, I deserve respect.” Still appalled, I watched with great enjoyment as her cranberry dress and tan Michael Kors handbag slowly crept out of my sight. As I mentioned earlier, I had no time to pull myself together. Even though the whole thing lasted only about 6 minutes, it felt like an eternity to me. “When will this end?” I

Maria Mazariegos Literacy Autobiography Final Draft

thought, or better yet, “When will she be quiet?” was my real question. As every employee working directly with customers is aware, customer complaints are the worst scenarios to deal with, especially if that is your first and only job, which was my exact case. To put the cherry on top, I had only started working just a couple of days before, therefore I was technically still a trainee even though I was alone at the cash register. After that day, I realized that having a job which involves interaction with customers is more than just memorizing codes on the register, or knowing all of the store deals that week. The person has to develop job literacy, one that revolves around professionalism and customer service. Many factors go into this type of literacy. To begin, the person needs to go in to the job knowing that he/she has responsibilities to uphold and respect. I believe that most people who look for a job, and are truly interested in keeping it, already show these characteristics. General expectations include: dressing appropriately, being punctual, having a clear understanding of the expectations, and working well with others in order to get the job done. Basically, professionalism in the workplace is having an understanding of what behaviors are appropriate in between the time you clock in until that glorious minute you clock out. On the other hand, job literacy also includes a customer service aspect, which is a bit trickier and it involves the full devotion of the employee. During my training process, I was told by my manager that it was my duty to be friendly, helpful, and dedicated in situations dealing with our customers. What I wasn’t told was that there are some crazy people in this world! Being a cashier in a grocery store almost every day of the week in the summer gives you the chance to come across a variety of people. Some of the numerous categories include: happy people, sad people, nonchalant people, young people, old people, babies, travelers, couples, drunk people, business people, firefighters, extreme couponers….I’m sure you get the point. One important category I cannot forget is race. Working in customer service opens your eyes to a plethora of cultures and identities; it is your responsibility to respect these cultures

Maria Mazariegos Literacy Autobiography Final Draft

and to not have biased opinions that are solely based on prejudices. To me that is my favorite part, others letting you into their unique world and culture by teaching you of things you are not regularly exposed to or have a clean understanding of. My job has taught me an important lesson: respect is portrayed in a universal language. As the old saying goes, “treat others as you would like to be treated.” This saying is indeed very elementary; however it does apply to situations no matter the age. It does not matter what your background is or what language you speak, you can tell if someone is being respectful or not. Sometimes customers do not realize that us workers deserve respect as well; they believe that they are superior and it is okay to behave in an inappropriate manner simply because “the customer is always right.” I wish they could be in my shoes and realize that not only is my job already difficult, but to also have to deal with the negativity they bring is just pushing it. Respect has nothing to do with outside appearances, race or age for example; it’s just a matter of having morals and sticking to them wherever you go. Key parts in knowing how to respect others are effective communication, appropriate tone and diction, and kindness. Although I am bilingual, I try my hardest to make every customer’s experience pleasant. If that means I have to repeat words or talk slower, I will do it no matter what. I do this because I know that if I couldn’t speak a certain language, it would be useful to have a worker who understands, is patient, and is very friendly. Furthermore, your choice of words and the tone in which you portray your thoughts in are crucial to customer service. For example, adults do not want to hear our teenage lingo, therefore being clear and grammatically correct is a big deal, believe it or not. There are situations where our language can alter, however it is important to know where and when is the right time to interchange. Finally, the attitude you have can either make or break a situation. Let’s say there is a customer who is upset because the seedless grapes came up to $2.99 per pound instead of $1.99. If the cashier talks back with a nasty attitude, the problem only escalates, now causing conflict to

Maria Mazariegos Literacy Autobiography Final Draft

both parties. It is important to stay calm and look for immediate solutions to the situations. To conclude, having an interaction with people in the workplace can be very challenging. Not everyone has the same morals and values as you, so sometimes you may find yourself in ethical dilemmas. I have also learned that kindness and respect from customers is NOT guaranteed. Even though job policies and rules need to be upheld, there is also a boundary that cannot be crossed in the customer/employee relationship. Once it becomes a discrimination issue, then the circumstances change. I learned that through my personal experience and now I make sure that the level of disrespect never gets abused again. Although not everything is rainbows and butterflies, customer service can be really useful in other areas. If done correctly, you can create healthy friendships and overall relationships with people who are out of your comfort zone. Thankfully, I put my best foot forward and now I am in charge of training the new employees due to my excellent customer service performance! All in all, I am grateful for my job and the endless experiences it has taught me throughout this past year, ones that I will never forget and can always continue to grow from.

Maria Mazariegos Literacy Autobiography Final Draft

Reflection To me, the most successful part of my project is where I summarize and connect all the points that I made throughout the essay. I think it ties any loose ends that weren’t fully explained in the text earlier and the reader can now have a clear understanding of my intentions. I am proud of the way my paper is organized, it “flows” from one paragraph to another, even though I did throw a twist in the introduction! I am also proud of the amount of imagery and dialogue I included in my paper. I think it gives the reader a clear and vivid picture, ultimately aiding in making the text interesting and enjoyable to read. If I had more time, I would’ve worked on including more examples. I focused on one particular situation and I think adding others would have strengthened my argument. Also, I would’ve liked to use the best diction, some of the sentences still do not sound the way I want them to and some of the words could have been replaced with stronger ones. Finally, I want the reader to notice the overall moral of the story. In the end, we can always learn from everyday situations and problems. Instead of looking at it negatively, we can try to change and improve the type of person we are.