…disguised as another rant about customer service.
I was in Accessorize (a British shop selling accessories) recently, buying a necklace for a friend’s birthday. I walked up to the counter to pay. There was no queue and the manager was at the till. I knew she was the manager by the way she was speaking so briskly to the other staff who were unpacking boxes of accessories near the till.
She acknowledged my presence by smiling at me and moving closer to the till, but then she continued to discuss the task with the employees in an annoyed voice like she was about to reprimand them. I felt awkward. Partly because I had bosses like this in the past and I know how much it sucked. No one likes being spoken to like this, and an audience made it worse.
I had already set the necklace on the counter indicating I wished to pay so I couldn’t just wander off until their conversation finished. I pretended an intense interest in a display of party rings on the counter.
Finally she seemed to finish and picked up my necklace to check the price and start ringing it through the till. I stopped staring at the party rings and smiled at her politely, waiting for her to ask for me to pay.
However, she remained so distracted by her conversation with the employees that she felt she needed to add another point and turned to them to say it. I still waited awkwardly, mid-transaction, because she hadn’t triggered the credit card reader yet so I couldn’t put my card in.
At last she returned to me, smiled again and tapped a few more buttons until the card reader was ready. I put in my card and she said, “I’m sorry for talking to my team while serving you, it was something I needed to tell them.” I didn’t feel she handled the situation well, especially with a customer present but I just politely smiled and tapped in my PIN.
She then said “Multitasking! That’s what us women are good at!” I raised my eyebrows at her. Did she really think she had successfully just multitasked in front of me?
“It doesn’t look like it,” I wanted to reply. Oh, if only people could hear our imaginary versions of the conversations we have every day, we’d all have to grow a thick skin, I guess.
But instead I said, “I’m not. So I don’t even try it.” She actually looked surprised. Seriously, she looked quickly up at me like I had just said, “I was born a man and therefore do not have the same amazing female talents you have.”
“That’s right,” I said, trying very hard to not let the hint be too obvious. “I recognise my limitations and not being able to multitask is one of them. So I don’t try it.” Of course that last bit was a lie, I do try it frequently even though I know I shouldn’t, but dangit, I wanted her to think about it.
As I left with my necklace in it’s bag I noticed she had a smug look on her face. So yeah, I wanted her to think about it and she thought about it and came to the conclusion that she was a seriously cool woman who could multitask, whereas some members of the female group could not. Special powers. (Not.)
My little defiance wasn’t lost on everyone though, as I left I also noticed one of the employees look at her then me and smirk: a knowing look exchanged between two people who share the fact that we’ve both had crap bosses.
Moral of the story? We aren’t as good at multi-tasking as we think we are. There is a myth that women can multitask; maybe we can (maybe everyone can), but can we do it well enough to justify doing it?
Anyone else still thinking about Mindfulness and trying not to multitask? If you’re new here, I wrote a couple of posts about it recently: Multitasking is bad and So how did you do? I keep reminding myself every day that doing one thing at a time well, is much better than trying to do several things at once with distraction. But it’s really difficult! I have to keep remembering how much better everything is and how much better I feel and how much more I get done when I do it right…
What about you?