As you know, October was Breast Cancer Awareness month. If you didn’t actually know, you know now. My company was doing a promotion called Shake Cancer. Spending $5.39, that’s tax included, wins you a Pepto Bismol pink shirt with ribbons intertwined around our logo and a free milkshake. We informed you that you could get free shakes for the rest of the month, but we left it to you to read the fine print that you have to be wearing the shirt, in the store, and buying a combo meal. It’s not really a great deal unless you’re a chronic donator to questionably charitable causes or a fried chicken and ice cream junkie.
All four cashier positions, three in the front and one in the drive thru, had stacks of pink flyers to hand out to every single guest no matter what. Staff was supposed to promote the promotion and make lots of money for our company while making the public feel good about supporting titty tumors. I seemed to be the only person, management or not, capable, willing, and good at forcing extra paper into the hands of tired moms and college kids. I was also exceptional at explaining exactly what the advertisement says in a clear and concise way without holding up the line. However, my Achilles heel, I learned, was once I started talking I had a hard time not blurting out possibly offensive things.
Let me set the scene. It’s night, I’m tired, and I was doing lowly work in the drive thru, taking orders and giving flyers. This attractive lady pulls up in her silver mini van. Judging by her three kids in grass stained socks and sweaty shirts, she’s probably a soccer mom. After her children, I noticed her hair. It’s fabulous. I see a lot of people and almost all of those people have hair. I’ve never seen hair this nice before. She looked like she just came out of a professional photo shoot, but without the caked on make-up and anorexic cheekbones. This woman was beautiful, and it was all in her hair. I made a mental note to tell her, though I had a feeling she was more than aware of her great head of hair.
I took her order and made conversation while preparing her change. I do this all day every day. That is, count pennies while asking about a guest’s day or if they have any jokes to share. This particular time I was going to tell her I loved her hair. I printed her receipt, handed her her change and flyer, and explained what it was I was giving her.
She perked up. She was a survivor herself! Beat breast cancer three times, she said. I smiled and nodded along because I haven’t learned quite what to say when people actually respond to my automatic speech about the company’s promotion. She said it was tough, but she’s happy and healthy now.
“Well,” I said, a huge smile on my face to mirror her giant smile. “Your hair looks great!”
I was mortified immediately. Her smile went away and she didn’t hesitate in screeching around the corner to the next window. I can’t believe I told a three time cancer survivor that her hair looked great.