The Social Drama of a Convenience Store , or Symbolic gestures of romance and the distinction of flattering or creepy

At the convenience store that I work at there is currently social drama between two social actors, boy working behind the register and regular female costumer.

Act one girl meets boy

Boy working behind the register has just began his nightly shift at the convenience store.  He is 19 years of age and has a more athletic physical build.  He would be considered attractive in the current standards of our society.  He counts his drawer in and begins to ring up customers.  Enter into the scene Regular female costumer she is 24 years of age, and has an average or less than average appearance ,depending our who you would ask, in the current standards of our society.  This information is important because they factor in the the perceptions of symbols.  During both first and second hand observations Regular female customer does not make conversation, she does not wear makeup, she does not smile or make eye contact, and she completes her transaction and leaves.  This been repeated and observed again and again.  I as your narrator only stress to the solidify my observations of the symbols that are about to occur.  Regular female customer gets into Boy working behind the register’s line when she reaches the counter she makes the following statement.  

Regular female customer:  Do you know that you look like Zac Efron?

This is the first symbol of attraction by flattering Boy working behind the register by comparing him to a “sexy celebrity”

Act two getting to know you

Regular female customer shows more symbolic gestures of interest in Boy working behind the register by making sure she comes in when he is working, and to always be rang up by him.  More symbolic advances in the hopes of romance are performed when she continues to try and spark conversation with him to gain knowledge of his interests.  Symbolic gestures are literally written on her face as she has begun to wear makeup, which in our cultures is symbolic with looking prettier.  She has gone so far as to ask other employees about Boy working behind the register, and asked when he was working next. All of this is molding the perception of Regular Female customer to Boy working behind the register and, not including your narrator, other employees.  

Act three Perception

This is the final act of our social drama due to current social standards of what is attractive Boy working behind the register has perceived all of Regular female customers’ advances as creepy.  My information for this part was not observed by related to me from fellow employees that he explained his disinterest in her thoroughly, and she has not returned to the store.  The point your narrator would like to make is this.  If Regular female costumer was seen as “more attractive” by Boy working behind the register would he still have interpreted your symbols as creepy or would they have been seen as flattering.   My interpretation is that  symbolic gestures in romance and sexual attraction are either perceived as flattering or creepy based on the how “sexually attractive” the other actor finds the performer of these symbols.           

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6 thoughts on “The Social Drama of a Convenience Store , or Symbolic gestures of romance and the distinction of flattering or creepy

  1. “Hi, you’re pretty cool.”
    “You’re welcome.”
    This has happened so many times….. I can’t even communicate properly, and I’m supposed to identify the symbols? Silly social fads!

  2. The dangers of being in public space and the difficulties of maintaining your own ‘self’ aside from the ‘self’ that is behind the counter. Just the other night I watched as a heavily inked youngish man waited in a long line at the CVS, letting other customers go in front of him while he waited for the clerk HE wanted – so that he could give her a rose. We all got to watch that performance, and she told me later she did not like personal things to occur at work. The distinction between public / private space had been violated. (Umm, good for thinking about Levi-Strauss?) (and, ps, apparently he’s NOT her boyfriend, but not a stranger … the plot thickens).

  3. I like that you’ve used the term “creepy” because, to me, it denotes uncertainty and vagueness, something that may already be happening when dealing with someone who is coming on a little strong. It brings to mind the notion of masks which, Levi-Strauss would argue, temporarily disguises and eliminates from social interaction the part of the body that reveals personal feelings and attitudes, creating an element of ambiguity and hiding the true emotions and intentions of the wearer… we don’t know if they’re a threat or not. Perhaps we could apply this to her sudden wearing of makeup to impress your friend: she becomes “creepier” because her intentions become more vague behind that “mask”.

    1. Mary Douglas is relevant here – matter out of place. Service jobs require that you become at least a temporary friend. The managers at the store or bar often require it. You can be ‘just’ efficient, effective, honest, etc. You have to say “HI!” with a big smile. And, oh my, how that can be misunderstood.

  4. The dynamic between a convenience store clerk and the regular customer in our society is awkward anyways. It is a relationship which is created because of the neighborhood people either live in or work in. The whole of the relationship revolves around buying or selling products. and is manifested by small talk . If a person becomes attracted to their regular clerk it would probably make the relationship more awkward. How dose one convey this attraction when the dialog of their relationship revolves around statements like how about those brewers and boy it sure is hot. Foucault might say that the normalizing behavior is small talk therefore her behavior is perceived as being creepy.

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