Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fantasy world part 1

I had a woman ask me today about the various cleaning tools we sell. I really hate to talk about all the cleaning tools because I sort of think most of them are bullshit. Like, how many microfiber wands do you need? Many of the people that buy the cleaning tools are extremely anal and want to make sure they get the "right tool for the right job," and they can't handle my relaxed, "they'll ALL do the job, man" attitude.

But this lady was a little wacky. She was jittery as all get out and glupping on a diet Wired beverage while we were talking. She wanted to know which tool to use to clean her floor. I showed her. She told me she already had that one and wanted to know what to use when they were REALLY dirty. I don't like to hear about people's filthy homes. I am a messy person and would rather spend my money on wine rather than expensive cleaning products. A cleaning discussion can lead dangeroulsy close back to my own dirty home. And that home is not part of my customer service fantasy world.

My fantasy home is tidy; a place for everything and everything in its place. I have tasteful wood and tile throughout, light filled rooms with charming window treatments, mismatched and well loved furniture. My kitchen is an epicenter of activity, and all my tools are smartly stored on hooks, bars, and shelves. My bathroom is a spotless getaway reminscent of the interior of a seashell. And my room, so unlike all the rooms of my past, is devoid of any possessions; a soft, warm place to sleep, read and think.

So I let them think, and hide my mess within.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sac up

Today one of my co-workers was fired. Although I was surprised and disappointed, I cannot say that I was completely shocked. She was a good worker, but the higher-ups didn't like her and although there are reasons you cannot fire someone, the small business is not a democracy. Sometimes, if you get yourself disliked, you can never redeem yourself and it is just a matter of time before you get canned.

Jaded clerk that I am, I just kept on working. I am ashamed to admit that there is a part of my brain thinking "better her than me." I must survive. I have no savings, insurance, or support network. If I don't have my job, all I have is debt and destitution. At previous jobs, I have seen awesome co-workers disposed of for the sketchiest reasons, reasons worse than the ones used today. All I can hope is that in the long run, this will be better for her; she will find a better job, more related to her educational field, with better pay, and satisfaction at the end of the day.

What bothers me most about this event is that supposedly it was set off by a customer complaint, by phone, against my co-worker because she had "attitude." I realize many customers think that when they walk into the store, the service and endless attention we provide are because they are SUCH GREAT PEOPLE! We are there to work. We are paid to be nice. We are usually genuine, but we are still hired to act perky, happy, and helpful. I act only to save my life, to keep a job that pays for my shelter, credit card bills, and food.

If you have a bad, yet non-threatening, experience with a clerk, sac up and tell them to their face you have a problem with them. It's not pleasant for either party, but at least you can work it out right there and catch them off guard. Going home, practicing your "I'll have you fired!" speech in the mirror, and calling the manager from the safety of your sofa is the most pathetic way out.

This is why I must never have sad days. To most customers, I am not human. Emotions are dangerous. Do not have them.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's a great time to be in love.

As you may have heard, our economy is going tits up and everyone is freaking out except my stingy brother who told me: "The people that make money through a recession are those that do not PANIC."

Everyday news is bad, but I try to keep up the "Don't Panic!" mantra, if not to keep myself calm, then to avoid giving customers the satisfaction of smelling fear, which they love. I work with a giddy laugh and a coy smile; I haven't a care in the world.

But it is nerve wracking when hours are whittled away, benefits shrink, and people are squeezed out like painful little turds. I lose sleep thinking how it is not the time to be working high-end retail.

Then a wonderful thing happened; my co-worker got engaged. Since her's is a cute dreamy love story that had a sad beginning and what looks to be a happy ending, we are all feeding off her love and excitement. It is the best thing that has happened in weeks. Everyone is all smiles now, even as we accept buyer's remorse returns and sell merchandise 50% below cost. It is so great that I am thinking of faking engagement to my lover once this first excitement wears off.

But I have a secret too. My lover gave me a present, more precious to me than some hand-me-down ring: a sweet-ass résumé!  Just in case.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

a customer so human, they might be awesome

Guy comes in today, ready to buy a sectional sofa, with his fabric and style all picked out. I asked what fabric he chose, ready to hate it because I seem to hate all the customer choices, perhaps out of boredom and perhaps because of my own great taste. I looked at it and said "oh, it's the same fabric that's on this piece in here, but in a different color." He looked at the other sofa and hated the fabric. Time to start over. This is where things got awesome.

He admitted that they had cats and that the cats were going to puke on the couch. No one ever says that to me. Usually when people say they have pets, they try to convince themselves that the animals won't have anything to do with the furniture: like, once you bring the new sofa home, there are no more cats in the living room and the baby gate is going up for the dog to keep that filthy beast away from the beautiful beige loveseat.

The wife came into the store to help pick back-up fabric that didn't look so "muppet." She was great too! What a lucky clerk am I to get to help a delightful couple are not trying to use me against each other! I brought out a fabric swatch and the wife said "yea we saw that yesterday. kind of baby shit."

You know it's going to be a good day when your customers are swearing in front of you, but not at you.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cute customer tricks part 1

We do not offer free gift wrap at our store and this has given me the chance to observe interesting customer behavior.

Customers want free gift wrap, so often they will wait until you have completed the sale to mention that they want gift wrap. The first 50 times this happened, I actually thought people were just absent minded. Then, finally, I realized what was going on. They hope that by waiting, you won't charge them! "Oh, since I already rang it in . . ."

Well, chumps, that is not the case. I can and will run your card again, take a $4 check, and break a 50 dollar bill. As an hourly wage worker, I do not care how many transactions you make. We can ring up each of your items separately so your receipts are less confusing, if that is what you wish. It makes little difference to me.

So if when reading this, you feel that twinge in your body that is your brain acknowledging that you are one of those that try to play dumb and forgetful to get free gift wrap, take note. We are on to you. Knock it off.