A Modern Urban Resource Negotiation [flash fiction]

So I was buying a drink at a gas station today. I walked up, said hello and placed the drink on the counter. The attendant, who was counting receipts on the counter less than 3 feet away from the drink, looks up at me and then proceeds to look back down at his receipts without saying a word.

I thought to myself, kind of rude but he might be having a bad day, try to be nice.

“Do you sell butane cans?” I asked. A pair of thick catterpillar eyebrows furrowed. He continued to count his receipts for a few seconds.

Maybe he just didn’t hear me? I’m gonna ask again-but that very thought got cut off with a gruff reply in the form of, “No.”

It was so short, so non-apologetic. I was nonplussed. Then my instincts kicked in and I smiled despite my irritation and said, “Alright. Just this then.”

Unbelievably, his face scrunched up as if he was irritated at me for daring to want to buy this drink. A solid minute that this man continued to rifle through his receipts. I considered just walking away multiple times.

After this big show of never meeting my eye, he picks up the drink, scans it and holds it in one hand and puts his other hand out.

Is this a hostage negotiotian? More like a modern urban resource negotiation.

The money was in the man’s hand and in the till within a heartbeat but without a word. I gave him my biggest smile yet and then said, “Thank you.” His attention was focused too entirely on the receipt printer to even acknowledge this. His receipt was coming.

The nimble hands tore and stretched the reciept straight immediately as it issued forth from the printer. He added it to his own pile almost lovingly before reaching up to tear my own copy and threw it from his hand as if it was some sort of slimy thing that he couldn’t wait to dispel from his presence.

All of this without taking his eyes from anywhere but me. I was just money to be taken in this attendent’s glazed over eyes.


9 thoughts on “A Modern Urban Resource Negotiation [flash fiction]

    1. Thanks so much for saying so and I quite agree. Smiling is so great, I often put a smile on other people’s face throughout my day because I genuinely try to walk around with a smile on my face and especially when I’m interacting with someone. However, I don’t sit home alone grinning at my computer screen. It’s a conscious effort I have to make when I’m out and I wanted to describe what that felt like and to be in direct contact with someone so opposed to socialising. So it’s very heartening for you to say that you felt my smile and his loss because those are two things I had in mind upon writing. Thanks again for reading.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Man….it’s harder and harder to get decent not even great customer service and the lack of compassion to help, in this case serve which was his job, is harder and harder to find. Great job of treating him with kindness (perhaps he was not deserving of such) and not stooping down to his level. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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