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Craving Attention

I picked up a really great book at my local Barnes & Noble this week. In fact, I also picked up an equally great book at the same Barnes & Noble the week before. But this journal entry is not about the books. It’s about something strange I noticed.

In fact, I have been going to this particular Barnes & Noble rather frequently – by frequently, I would say about once every 3 to 5 weeks or so – and I have become aware of something rather peculiar.

With one exception, the same young man has been behind the check-out counter every single time I have purchased a book at this Barnes & Noble. I would guess this young man is in his mid- to late-20s, possibly very early 30s. And without exaggeration, without fudging the story to make it sound bigger than it is, this young man is batting 100!

Batting 100? In what sense?

In the sense of having a mishap occur. Every. Single. Time.

No, I’m not suggesting he screws up the order, or drops the book I am trying to purchase, or spills the coins out of the cash register like a clumsy oaf. I am saying he physically hurts himself – seemingly by accident – every single time I have encountered him. Sometimes he does it while serving the customer who is just ahead of me in line. I’ve seen that several times. But all of the other times have occurred while he was directly servicing me.

He once closed the cash register on his finger. Another time he was pulling a new membership card for me out of a drawer and somehow scraped the top of his hand against the edge of the drawer. Another time he bumped his knee on something. Another time he was trying to refill the stapler and accidentally stapled his own thumb. Another time he was trying to pull something out of a drawer that was jammed in there and it suddenly gave way and he struck himself in the ear by pulling his hand back with great force. Another time he reached up for something too fast and knocked his own glasses of his face. And I cannot even remember the specifics the other times.

Some of you undoubtedly think I am making this up. I am not. It’s gotten to the point that when I go in there, if I see him working, I actually stand some distance away and hold a book in my hand, pretending I’m reading it, but I’m actually studying him. And in short order, it happens again. Perhaps he tries to reach up to a very high shelf or on top of a cabinet to get something he believes is up there, and sure enough, something falls on his head.

And to top it off, every time some mishap occurred, he says something to the customer he is helping (often me) drawing attending to the boondoggle: “Ouch! That hurt!”

Is he really that inept and accident-prone? Or is he staging it, doing it deliberately to court sympathy? I’m honestly not sure, but it is easy to imagine the latter.

If he is courting sympathy, he needs to get some therapy, for his antics are not a good look and they are not providing him with what he believes he needs in terms of public attention.

In the meantime, he would do well to stay away from Super Glue, knives, guns, and mouse traps.

Ara Norwood is a multi-faceted and results-oriented professional. Spanning a multiplicity of disciplines including leadership, management, innovation, strategy, service, sales, business ethics, and entrepreneurship. Ara is also a historian, having special expertise on the era of the founding of our republic.
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