The awkward reunion

I did a series recently on the trials and tribulations of a new job that I had started at a local restaurant.

The long and short of it was that it didn’t work out. Among all of the disappointments, one stood high above all. I was mad at myself for walking out. I have never in my life left a job without leaving notice and completing it. But this one time, I had an argument with a co-worker that drove me to leave at the end of my shift.

I had trained a kid with a smug expression and an entitled attitude. It wasn’t an assumption, I knew from the moment I met him that he was going to do a bare minimum, help no one but himself and think he’s entitled to more than he deserved. Sounds like a leap to you I’m sure, but I was right on and he took little to no time to prove me right. But I tried to make it work, I may be cynical but I’m fair and I trained him the best I could. He proved to be a decent worker but I knew his snarky attitude was going to cause a problem. On his second week, it happened.

On a busy Saturday he became overwhelmed. I stepped in to help him and he snapped and started yelling at me. He didn’t want help. I knew for the sake of the business that he needed it. It got ugly. I was furious. Normally people who talk to me like that end up spitting out some teeth but I walked away. But I was so disgusted at the fact that my owner did nothing and my coworkers showed me no support that I decided that there was no way I could work there anymore. I was pissed off, and I was embarrassed. The only positive was that I didn’t say or do something that I would regret to the kid. I’m not a violent person but I can be spiteful when wronged and he really pushed my buttons.
I finished my shift, three and a half hours of barely suppressed rage, and I headed for the door. I gave my friend and boss a chance to say something, anything, and he didn’t so I punched out and never went back.

I took a few days to process it. I felt real bad about leaving with no notice and I would address that later. My anger at the kid was still boiling up inside me. I began to imagine scenarios in which I would see him again. What would I do? It’s a small area, I knew there was a good chance that we would meet again.

Last week I went to my local Wal-Mart to pick up some prescriptions. When I approached the counter I saw a familiar face. Yup, my little friend from the restaurant was now a Pharmacy Tech. He saw me and his face was priceless. I grinned as he ducked into the back room. I was told that my scripts were going to be a few so I sat and waited. I watched as he moved about and knew he was clearly avoiding eye contact with me. I averted my stare and asked myself how I wanted to handle this. Several minutes later, I watched as the woman at the counter asked to leave for her break. I laughed to myself as my little friend reluctantly approached the register to replace her. I nearly laughed openly when I was called. Yup, he was going to be the one to serve me. It was too perfect. By then I knew what I was going to do.

I approached the register, gave him my name and DOB and waited for him to gather my order. As he began to ring me up, with almost ZERO eye contact, I stepped to my left to get around the plastic sneeze shield that separated us and I said “Kid, for all it’s worth I have no hard feelings. The past is the past.” The relief visibly washed off of him. He smiled and replied,
“I was hoping that was the case.”
We talked a bit about the restaurant, I congratulated him on getting a better job and I left. I thought about it on the way out. Sure, I could have wanted an apology. I also could have been rude in so many different ways. But I was pleased with the way I handled it. Anger, bitterness and resentment are heavy and cumbersome. I don’t like carrying it around. I chose to forgive it for me, not for him.

I think I did the right thing.