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Practice makes near perfect at bedtime

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October 25, 2016
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I nearly "lost it" at work yesterday.

As in, I was seconds from becoming a bawling, snipping mess as I tried to explain why, with a line of customers in front of me, I could not wait an extra twenty minutes until two people who came in after me got their breaks before I got mine.

I wish I could blame a low, but that's not nearly the whole story. I mean, I never get that low and what lows I get don't usually make me an emotional mess. A single glucose tab, or maybe two, can set me up for at least a half hour, if not an hour or two.

The bawling mess stuff usually comes after hours of working on the borderline between "where I'd like to be" and "marginally low", a point when I'm generally most productive — and yesterday's volume of customers had me pushing them through at a faster pace than Christmas, with nobody spare on the floor to relieve us for breaks until more than halfway through my shift (or so it seemed).

The problem with working "on hyperdrive", as I think of it, is that once I have a moment to breathe, it all catches up with me. I'm close enough to the edge that even though I may not be technically low, spending hours in hyperdrive — and decelerating out of it — makes me all sorts of snippy and snappy. I had been at the edge of snipping at our customers, and that is not an image any of us wants to project either personally, professionally, or in conjunction with our brand.

I'd been at 86 mg/dl about fifteen minutes earlier, with a line of customers about to start again, and a glucose tab in my mouth. I needed a break then, but there was that line of customers, and we didn't have anybody on the floor who could relieve me for a lunch break, because we needed them to be free to man other registers to handle the volume, and I didn't have a free second to ask for relief over the radio. I was peripherally aware that the girl who started at the same time I did (10 am) had had her fifteen minute break before she clocked out at two, and the fellow who started an hour after me had his fifteen minute break. I hadn't had more than ten minutes away from my register the whole day, during which I tried to get some returns back on the shelf so the returns area wasn't burying the cashier who had to work in that area, but I had to handle a phalanx of customers who had had trouble finding floor staff — that is to say, performing what should have been my primary job responsibility, except that the volume of customers had kept me at the register instead.

(Mind you, having that volume of customers is a good thing — something that indicates we may actually make our sales goal for the day. It just takes away from the purported mission of customer service, as opposed to simply selling large quantities of often-seasonal goods at price points marginally acceptable to our customer base.)

The straw that broke the camel's back was finding that one of our cashiers offered to break, in sequence, two more cashiers who had started well after me, without getting my name on the list at all, at a point when the hours of hyperdrive were about to break me, despite "only" reading 86 (plus the additional 20 points or so achieved by that single glucose tab).

When I tried to tell my manager I really couldn't wait that extra few minutes, the best explanation I could give him was the hours of high-volume traffic I'd had at the register. It was hardly the whole story, but I had trouble articulating even that much. I felt completely and thoroughly unprofessional, and that I'd come completely apart at the seams, though the other floor folk at my level didn't read my lack of composure at all.

I really hate it when things like that happen, and just writing about it has brought back the tears I thought I'd survived yesterday.

And the crux of the matter is that I really wasn't all that low...

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