Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stupidity spiral

Yesterday a great number of customers spoke to me as though they assumed I was a very stupid person. It could be that they speak to everyone this way or that I am just extra sensitive after my time in retail. Whatever the cause, it is unpleasant and leads to me playing games like purposely acting stupid and over explaining everything after people talk to me like I'm stupid and then do something stupid themselves.

Here are the most memorable moments along with the sarcasm I couldn't show at work.

-Woman with baby who came in to buy off of her friend's registry? I took her over to the registry counter and announced to the clerk that she "needed a registry". But my phrasing was too vague and she felt the need to tell us that she didn't need a registry for herself because she is happily married. Because we all thought that she was an unwed mother with a bastard son, it's 1950, what a slut.

-There was a woman buying black cushions and quizzing us on what would go with them. I asked her what sort of items she wanted and her only response was "something that looks good." Seriously. Nothing looks good with black.

-A woman bought some soap and made a fuss about the price going up. She yelled at me about how it was $3 less the last time she bought it. I looked in her sales history and saw that she hasn't bought it at the lower price since 2006. And she has bought it at higher prices 7 times since then. But maybe bitching about the price will magically lower it?

-A girl bought a single taper candle and I asked if she wanted me to wrap it in a bit of paper. Then she told me that she didn't need a bag, but couldn't I wrap it in some paper? Right. Like. I. Just. Asked. Yes. Or. No.

Bitter spew!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ladies Night

Tonight, at Ladies' Night, a customer was buying some sparkly pink bouncy balls for herself and a friend. No one jumped in to help me wrap up the sale, so I knew I had just one chance. I went for it.

"Do you need a sac for your balls?" I asked.

The ladies, primed with liquor and shopping, giggled and told their friends what I had said. And I am happy to have taken advantage of a perfect funny moment when it was laid before me in all of its pink glory.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cut the cord

Yesterday I was helping this elderly woman find a rice cooker. Everyone always thinks they need a huge rice cooker and it drives me crazy. The rice cooker we carry is for 4 cups of pre-cooked rice. When I was working at a lunch restaurant in Hawaii, I would not have called that a lot of rice, but now, here, looking at appliances for single, elderly women, I can say that is a lot of rice.

Eventually I shut up about the size because her statements about the best capacity for a rice cooker were moot. We moved onto features! "So how does this work?" she asked. "Well," I said, beautifully camouflaging my disdain for having to explain the simple steps of adding rice, water, and pushing a button, "You add the rice, the water, place the lid on top, and push the button. If the appliance is plugged in, a light will come on and another light will indicate when the rice is finished." "What about chicken?" she asked. "Does it tell how to steam chicken in the recipe book?"

Ah, yes. The recipe book! Most of the appliances come with a "recipe book" which is merely an addendum to the instructions, but the perceived value to the customer is huge! I don't know how many times the "recipe book" has been the factor in closing a sale. No matter that it is 1 millimeter thick and is probably going to be lost as soon as the customer opens the box; the recipe book has all the recipes and secrets for simplifying your life! With the appliance, some basic ingredients, and the recipe book, you will finally be able to serve simple home-cooked meals that will wow your family and friends! Thanks to the recipe book you can finally make Curry Rice & Chicken, Asparagus & Sesame Rice, and Balsamic Vinaigrette! Kitchen mysteries will be revealed in the recipe book!

All in all, it is a happy tale. We made a sale and the customer will go home and hopefully have success with her steamed chicken and huge quantities of rice.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Yet another way I don't want to die at work

I don't want to be slashed with an 8 inch Japanese cook's knife by a deranged man that comes in for free coffee.

New levels of sneakiness: Follow-up to "Not All Small Business Owners . . . "

I came back from work on Thursday and saw a broken pot rack behind the counter with a stock loss slip stuck to it. I asked my co-worker if Demon, the neighboring small business owner, had returned it. She had.

How crafty is that? She bought the pot rack on the a couple weeks ago just to get a recent receipt. Then she returned the old pot rack with the new receipt, and used the same story of it "crashing down in the night" that she had a couple of weeks ago. We closely inspected the returned pot rack. The supportive hardware, which should have shown wear from being screwed into the ceiling and from bearing the weight of a rack of pans, was pristine. The hooks, which, according to her story she used for just 12 days, were coated with greasy yellow-y kitchen residue.

This is a level of sneakiness and plotting that I haven't seen for a long time. And what shocks me is that it is this woman who should know better. It is beyond stinginess; it is getting what you want by whatever means and it is creepy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pre Freak-Out Wednesday

As I sit here and internet it up before work, I think about some of the things I hope not to hear today.

I do not want to get requests for daybeds, 11 foot cantilevered umbrellas, lidded candy dishes, or ceramic knives.

I do not want to be pestered by brides-to-be. Asking for updates everyday is tacky. Asking who bought what, before you receive the gifts, is tacky. Getting snippy with the staff because you planned poorly is tacky.

I do not want to hear "hip," young, heavily-tattooed people rant, in the store in front of everyone, about the price of nice cookware. How much did your "sleeves" cost? Probably more than the cookware. And though both the tattoos and the cookware might last for a lifetime, the cookware is so much more practical.

So shut up.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mid May

-After attending the bachelorette party of my co-worker friend, held at a pole-dancing fitness studio, I fear that I do not even have stripping as a back-up career option. My pole work was pathetic and my lap dance was lacking.

-I hate teacher gifts. It's always busy parents trying to find just the right gift, something that says "thank you for making my child a functioning human" but they need it right now! and they don't want to spend any money. I have an idea for a teacher gift: instead of burdening them with worthless knick-knacks, get over the ridiculous supposed secrecy of the value of a gift and just give your precious teacher money. They can use it on their student loans or their retirement.

-You would be surprised at the number of customers that bring back broken ceramic bakeware. One customer in particular has had her pan replaced 3 times, even after blatant misuse. Sometimes I remind customers that ceramic products can break. "The downside is that ceramic pans can break." I actually have to tell people that.

-There is a vagrant man that sometimes parks his carts outside the benchs near our store. I was watching him one day and thinking about what a pain it must be to wheel all that shit around. Then I looked at our customers buying shit they don't need. If they can be consumers, why can't the crazy homeless man be a hoarder as well?

Monday, May 11, 2009

All small business owners are not created equal

The other day my co-worker and I were standing behind the counter when a customer (let's call her Demon) walked up with her item. I recognized Demon from my current and past work places. She is a small business owner with a store right across the street. I cannot stand her.

At my last job, she came into the store after a meeting with the owner, who was in awe of her. "She is such a great business woman! A real inspiration!" the owner gushed. Demon claimed she wanted a line of moisturizer developed, especially for her store. We would make and bottle the lotion and sell it wholesale to her. The plan sounded great, until I actually got to talking with Demon about what sort of product she wanted and estimated costs; it became apparent that this idea of Demon's was more whim than plan. She was making ridiculous requests and, based on the amount of explaining I had to do, didn't appear to be the amazing business woman that the owner made her out to be. And of course she didn't want to actually PAY for anything, which makes it hard to get anything done.

In dealing with her more at my current work place, I now know that playing dumb and being bitchy are tactics Demon uses to get what she wants. Sometimes she will mention her store and try to make herself important and other times she will keep quiet and try to just be a customer. When she came in the other day, she was buying a pot rack to replace a pot rack that had broke. She made sure to mention that the original pot rack had come from our store and that "wood shouldn't break" and couldn't she get this new pot rack for free? I had to walk away and leave my co-worker to deal with her. Every part of her argument was stupid and horribly sneaky and I couldn't even look at her damn face.

By playing stupid and bitchy all the time, Demon just looks stupid and bitchy. And when I see how she is willing to take advantage of her fellow small business owners, I do not see her as a brilliant businesswoman. I see her as a bad neighbor and a store to avoid.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My Give-A-Shitter's Broke

-Lately, whenever I hear someone say "mortar and pestle" my brain twists it into "mortal and pester" and I laugh to myself because that's what customers are/do.

-It's wedding season, so we are busy with registering couples. All the usual caricatures are there: the fighting couple, the bossy mother, the "bridezilla." It turns me off of the idea of marriage; living in sin seems so much more rational. But then you don't get presents . . .

-My favorite way to deliver bad news is to leave it in a phone message. I give all the bad news and my name and I ask them to call me. This has worked for me quite well so far. It works because there is a brief span of time between when they hear the news and when they talk to me, and during that time they lose a little of the irrational nonsense anger and have time to get their thoughts in order. And when I get their call, I know that they know and I can almost pretend that someone else was the bearer of bad news. Try it sometime!

-I overheard a customer talking about how she didn't like her Le Creuset dutch oven, so she is using it for a dog water bowl. She can ditch her $300 pan without trying to resell it? She is willing and able to eat $300 for a pan? What recession?

-Requests for tortilla presses? Must be Cinco de Mayo time! The abundence of gadgets makes me appreciate my hands even more.

-I overheard some woman complaining about the thickness of some bakeware. "You'd think that with all the Technology, they could make something thinner." Statements like this kill me because people don't seem to realize that the product they want and are describing is probably already out there, but it costs more. Bitching is not the same as inventing.

-I thought I was sick. I've had a cough and sniffles, and although I do not lack energy, I do not seem to get well. Then my friend said that I probably have allergies. Of course! Why didn't I think of that! I have taken a Benadryl at work the last couple days and it is awesome. I get a little dreamy and rummy and totally chill. I am relaxed and in control. I am the cool calm center of the storm. Welcome.