It wasn't until I was dropping the final tiny screw into a snack-sized Ziploc bag that I realized I might be insane.
I was returning a Target floor lamp, see, and despite the fact it was incredibly cute and despite having fully assembled it, the lamp did not give off much light. Like at all. And so, with regret, I realized it had to go back.
I dutifully dissembled it, re-wrapping each part of each leg in its brown tissue paper, re-taping each box, making sure all the packaging fit together just as it had when I bought it.
But as I looked down at my little baggies of organized screws, it occurred to me -- did I need to have spent 30 minutes taking this apart? Would they not have taken it back fully assembled?
Then I stopped -- did I do this because I am nice? Or some star customer? No. I did it because I felt badly for returning the lamp.
I felt badly. For returning a lamp.
Because, what if it inconveniences the workers? Because I probably did something to make the lamp not work well anyway! Because I am hardwired to apologize when anything goes wrong.
I placed the perfect package on the returns counter, wondering if the cashier would check to make sure it was still in good shape and everything was accounted for. She barely gave it a second glance.
As she mechanically scanned this and typed that, I thought - but my perfectly organized baggies! The light bulb box, the allen wrench - it's all there!
"The money will go back on your credit card," she said, holding out my receipt, not making eye contact.
It slipped through my hand and I dropped it. "Oh sorry!" I said.
Woe is she.