Throwing the Second Punch By Cheryll Boswell

Most of us have watched some type of sport and seen a cheap shot or two thrown by one of the players that was clearly aimed for their opponent. The retaliation of the player who received the cheap shot is usually the one that gets penalized, while the one who committed the first offense is overlooked. That second punch retaliation takes many forms that range from trash-talking, yelling, or literally hitting someone. Whatever form of the second response, there is an opportunity cost for that revenge. Everything we do in this life has an opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is the benefit that is missed when we choose the next alternative. Cheap shots are not limited to sports. The workplace, politics, and grocery stores with annoying customers are a couple of others.

On a recent trip to Walmart, I thought my curse of being in the wrong line at the grocery store was finally broken. I found a check-out lane with an actual cashier – only one lady ahead of me with a couple of items. Four frozen cookie dough packages to be exact were in her cart. This should take about two minutes. Three minutes top and this customer should be bagged up and walking out the door, and then I’m next. The wrong line curse is broken, hallelujah.

The customer with the four items started asking the cashier how much each item cost. The cashier was kind enough to scan a round tub of chocolate chip cookie dough and tell her,” $3.89”. The customer said they must have been in the wrong place, that’s not what the sign said. The cashier scans a package of rectangular cookie dough, $1.90. By now, three minutes have passed. In the middle of price checking these packages of cookies, the customer cell phone rings. Very politely to the cashier, she says, “excuse me for one second.” We are now five minutes into this four-item cookie customer, and I have emptied my entire shopping cart onto the conveyor. While talking on the phone, the customer is wanting the cashier to pause with ringing stuff up until she finishes her conversation.

Really? Are you kidding me, is my out-loud response directed at both the customer and the cashier? You’re going to hold up the line and talk on the phone? Not sure what my second punch response would have been had the customer said no, not kidding. She finally gets off the phone, pays for two, $1.90 cookie dough packages, and leaves ten minutes later.

Shaking my head, and still a bit perturbed when the cashier starts ringing up my groceries, I apologized. It really was not the cashier’s fault for the customer’s behavior. The cashier informed me, the customer didn’t have the money to pay for all four packages of cookie dough, and she was waiting for her boyfriend or husband to bring money to complete the transaction.

First punch, this customer thought it was okay to make me wait. My second punch response was an “Oh Cell No” moment. Maybe I would have responded a little differently had it been baby formula or diapers. Her frozen cookies didn’t take me to a sweet place at Walmart. My second punch response was a missed opportunity to be compassionate to someone in the grocery store. Leaving the checkout line, I looked for the customer in the parking lot. I was going to apologize and pay for the cookies. She was nowhere to be found.

We never know how our actions, big or small, may affect someone or others around us. Saying hello, showing someone a smile, or paying for a customer’s $1.90 package of cookie dough, might make a world of difference with changing someone’s day.