Thursday, December 30, 2010

after christmas shit storm

I am the sort of person that does what they say they are going to do. I really pride myself on that. The problem with this in the retail world is that sometimes you have to wait on other people. So, sometimes I tell a customer I will check on something and call them back, but it takes awhile because i have to ask the person that will ask a person who will perhaps have to call China and get an answer.

Customers! Do not assume I forgot about you. I probably did not. I have just been running around all day, trying to find a moment when I could call and pacify you and your inquires. And if it is bad news, I am probably trying to aim for a time when you will be a work and I can leave the bad news on your voicemail so you can take your initial anger out on the phone and not in my ear. I will take your second wave anger thank you.

Friday, December 24, 2010

christmas eve

Tonight I am sad. Here I have been exasperated by Christmas and now that it is over, I dread this day off. If it were an ordinary day, there would be no problem, but it is Christmas. I should be spending it with loved ones and participating in rituals.

I got off work at 4 today. We close early for Christmas Eve. I do not go home for Christmas. My family lives just far enough away that I think it irrational and foolish to spend hundreds of dollars driving and or flying for hours in potentially dangerous weather only to turn around immediately and come back so that I can work the next day. The first 6 or 9 years that I did not go home didn't really bother me too much; I had boyfriends or borrowed families to entertain me. But the older I get, the more it saddens me and being saddened makes me depressed.

I have had a series of reliable but inflexible retail jobs. As one of the "flexible" workers, I mean it when I say I will always work; I fear asking for holidays off because it is usually frowned upon.

So I don't go home for Christmas. It's not really an option. And when I finally get the break I wanted from the Christmas bustle, I am filled with anxiety and dread. Why don't I change my life so that I can visit my family more? Why don't I make a family here? Why doesn't anyone love me? Will my meal I am preparing for tomorrow to take to my friend's house be tasty? Who will take care of my cat if I die? Why can't I remember to take those sweaters to the dry cleaners? The next 42 hours seem long. I cannot wait to get back to work. Work. Safe, predictably crazy work. A place where I know my place and little accomplishments feed me.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Are we there yet?

- Someone called from Canada looking for a certain type of popcorn toppings. It was during an insane part of the day. We didn't get to his call in time and he hung up. SORRY.

- People love to call and ask for very specific cookware and when you don't have it, they talk about the piece that they have had since they were married in 1947. And they love to go on and on about how they can't believe they can't find it anywhere and how great it is and I just want to get off the phone because I have so much to do besides listen to them get nostalgic on their double boiler.

- I get REALLY annoyed when people come in for an application and are sassy and demanding. Yesterday a young man asked if we were hiring (we are not) and I gave my "I don't know whether we are hiring right now or not, but we always accept applications and we do keep them on file" answer. Then he got all bitchy and wanted me to "find out" if we were hiring and get back to him. Fuck off dude. Look around. I am BUSY because it's CHRISTMAS. I don't have time to help your princess self. Applicants: when you go in to a place looking for a job, pretend you already work there. Act like a co-worker and not a crappy customer.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas countdown

- I have mentioned my dislike for candy canes before. Here is another story (from my co-worker) to confirm their evilness. Customer was buying a candy cane. Somehow, during the transaction, the candy cane broke. The customer started to throw a fit. My co-worker tried to calm her by saying she would simply go get another candy cane. The customer heightened her pouting, exclaiming "that was the last one in that flavor! It's ruined!!" and stormed out. Yet another Christmas fouled by broken candy canes.

- Customers get nicknames sometimes. Especially ones that might stick candles down their pants in an attempt to shoplift.

- There was a customer looking at our gingerbread men cookie cutters. She was not happy with our selection. The ones we carry make "fat" cookies, like, the gingerbread men are pudgy when they are baked. "I guess I will just have to cut them twice!!" she said. But then I was contemplating that logic. If you are going to use the cookie cutter after they cookies are baked, why wouldn't you just make a big sheet of cookie and cut them instead of rolling out dough, cutting the gingerbread men, baking the individual cookies, and then recutting them, making sure they are aligned with the original shape? Is she that dumb or was she just trying to make me feel bad for not having the svelte cookie man that she wanted?

Monday, December 13, 2010

christmas cuts

When there is a dispute over who is "next" in the masses that mob the counter, I leave it to the customers because anyone I would choose would be wrong. "Who was next?" This usually works well. Sometimes I KNOW someone is next and I have to step in and say "this person has been waiting." The amazing thing is that grown ups will just take cuts anyway. Like this:

There is a line. I establish that a certain person is next to have my attention/be rung up/whatever they are waiting for in LINE.

Someone comes up with a "question," usually prefaced with "quick."

As they take up my time with an increasingly complicated situation, I maintain eye contact with the person that I have said I would help next. Hopefully they understand my glances (this person is CRAZY! Can you believe what is happening??)

Then I either help the crazy as quickly as possible to get them out of everyone's way or pass them off to a co-worker when they become available.

I love it when the person that was waiting says something catty. ME-YOW!

christmas music 3

this one makes me sad . . .
I know how it is to not go home for the holidays.

christmas music 2

and this sweet one too!

christmas music 1

Songs that get stuck in my head

Sunday, December 12, 2010

sickness part 2

One benefit to this sickness/work combo is that my appetite is greatly decreased. We have been busy enough that I have had to miss or shave several breaks during this holiday season. I will note that no laws are being broken; if someone is supposed to get a 10, they DO get one, but at my work we are allowed to pee and get a little snack and some water every couple hours. It is like a cigarette break for non-smokers, which, now that I think about it, is the staff right now.

I am one of those people that likes to graze during the day. I eat every 2 hours or so. It is the only way I have found to keep up my energy and never dip into those pesky low blood sugar freakouts. But being sick, I have very little appetite! How convenient since I am running around, no time to chew and then check my teeth for bits of food!

My sickness has reached the sneezy runny nose stage, which, combined with the occasional hacking cough, makes me feel really fucking gross when I have to talk to people. Regardless, it was great to be the sample lady today. I put out the candy without breathing on it and got more time away from people to blow my nose and cough into my elbow until my eyes bled.

I am quite ready to be done with sickness. There are holiday parties to attend!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

in sickness and in health in retail

I am sick. Oh yea. I still go to work. This is America. I do not have sick pay and it is the busiest time of the year. This is THE TIME to work.

I am in denial about sickness when I am at work. If someone says "gawd you sound awful," I qualify it with "I don't feel sick. My throat is just a little scratchy." If I feel a hacking, lung crunching cough coming on, I think of an errand that will quickly take me off the floor so I can go die in a corner, compose myself, and return.

The day is passed by trying to move and speak in ways that will not disturb my throat. If I can keep it subdued with constant sips of water and a perpetual lozenge, then maybe no one will think I am a diseased grossy.

I answered the phone the other day and the person on the line said my voice was sexy. I guess if I turn at least one person on with my fucked up voice, I have conquered sickness.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy holiday highlights

-Best phone call of the week: the young woman that called our 800 number and asked what sort of "risqué" gifts we might have for a bridal shower. Unfortunately, we do not carry anything intentionally penis-shaped and the cute aprons I suggested were not what she had in mind.

-Just when I think I'm ok, that I've got it all figured out, something like FLAMELESS CANDLES will throw me into a spiral of doubt and wonder. Where am I what are shoes, planets, light, sand, why am I here, do birds hate me, is clear a color?

-There are still some people that get a sick pleasure from slow business. They want to draw out this recession as long as possible so they can mope about how tough it is. I had a customer yesterday that came in during a lull and, looking around, said (tsking and shaking head) "It's not very busy...." BITCH! I barely got a chance to pee this morning because it was so busy. I told her that she was there during a slow moment. Most people are excited that we are busy. And when I tell them that we actually had to HIRE PEOPLE, they almost die of happiness. We are putting people to work! Shopping at our store helped some unemployed people get jobs! YEH! Getting off on a bad economy is not cool anymore. If this is your thing, may I suggest getting a disease and boring me with details about that instead.

-A young woman lost a glove in the store today. She asked me if I'd seen it. I said no, because I hadn't. Then she said "well someone in the store must have picked it up because I have only been here here and here!" Like... are you accusing the staff of stealing one of your lost gloves? Why the hell would we want ONE of your gloves? AND lost means you don't know the location of an item; this is different than knowing that it was stolen.

-The other day a young mother answered her child's inquiry of my actions (fluffing pillows) with the response "Oh, she's trying to look busy." The top of my head almost blew off. Due to my years in retail, I cannot stand a saggy pillow. I am constantly fluffing pillows because they MUST ALWAYS BE PERKY. I fluff pillows all day at work, I fluff pillows when I am shopping in other stores, I fluff pillows when I go to friends' houses, I fluff pillows at home, alone, because the pillows MUST BE FLUFFED. Customers, you will not know when I am "trying to look busy" because I will actually look busy. I will be doing Important Paperwork or some such thing. The whole point of busy work is that it look real. But fluffing pillows! That is never busy work. It is what keeps the earth spinning.

Monday, November 22, 2010

we were supposed to be a team

I am always caught off guard and horrified when fellow small business owners (just want to say right now, I am not a business owner, but I work for one and we know a lot of them, we are like a town family) act TOTALLY SHITTY in my store. I do not understand how they can feel comfortable coming in and being the worst customer in the world. Do they not recognize me? I was the sweet, patient girl that was in their store last week. But they can come into my store and be a shit?? Asking for ridiculous undoable favors? The crappy thing is that I told them I would ask for permission for these crappy things they wanted and that wasn't good enough for them. It seems they just wanted to be pissed and took it out on me. AWESOME. I know they are human, blahblahblah. Shut the fuck up. I know who you are ASSHOLE. And I will never go into your shop again because your shit isn't that great and you are a jerk to me when you ought to be kissing my young hot ass so that i talk your stupid shop up to all my hot young friends.

Again, I say here what I can't say at work. I can't truly hatevent about this jerkwad at my life because there could be retaliation or harmful gossip. I DON'T KNOW. Except you suck. And maybe retail Jebus wouldn't approve, but I won't forgive you.

look what i got in the mail today!

I got this in the mail today. Finally. I've been wanting to read it forever. I haven't even cracked it, but I am excited. How can it be exciting to read about a life similar to your own, if it even is that way? To know that you are not alone. And your store is not alone. And your country is not alone. And everyone on planet earth might just be turds to their clerks. So it's not me, it is the HUMAN WAY. But I have to read the book first . . .

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I can't do it; LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO

I was going to try and have a week when I wrote positive stories of the same caliber as my bad customer stories. The good thing for me, yet unfortunate for this blog, is that they are frequent. And VERY BORING. I don't even know how to write about such great transactions. There are no burrs. They don't stick to me.

There were ALOT of annoying situations today. I feel, somehow, like watching for good ones made the bad ones occur. Really classic stupid shit.

OH WAIT! I have it! My positive thought. SO, there was this couple that was driving from far away and they had an exchange and wanted to make a purchase. They called and told me they'd been in traffic. They told me what they wanted to buy so that we could gather it up. When they sailed in at 1 minute to closing, we were ready for them. The transaction, though it went past closing, was positive and smooth. I did not resent them because they called ahead and they were were very polite and quick while they were in the store after closing. We all got what we wanted.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Opposite week (Positive week) Part 1

Here's the first of many feel good stories to prove that I am not always a hateful, toiling clerk with a chip on her shoulder or a goblin in her apron pocket.

There is this woman that has come into the store as long as I have work there (years) and probably long before that. She stuck in my mind because she 1) is always nicely dressed. Like, age appropriate AND stylish. The sort of older woman you see and think "that's what I want to be when I grow up." 2) she has these amazing eyes and always wears this bold, colorful lipstick. This sort of ties into the clothing part, but it is different because she is Working What She's Got and that's always hot. AND 3) she is always unfailingly polite, courteous, and respectful. It freaked me out at first. "Why is this woman so . . . neighborly?? And in a good way?"

She comes in often and makes small purchases. Do I treat her any differently because she buys little things instead of big ticket items? Hell no. She comes in 100 times as much as someone that buys a piece of furniture. And there is her good attitude. A smart clerk will always appreciate a good attitude.

I quickly learned her name and after awhile called her by it. "Good morning, (let's call her) Maxine!" And I was genuinely glad to see her. She was a little freaked out that I knew her name, but instead of treating me like a psychopath, she learned MY NAME (because I do have one) and now we talk to each other like real grown ups. Even when I see her out of my work, I say hi to her and she to me because we have made that human connection. We are part of each other's lives and we do not pretend that the other does not matter or exist.

Clerks, I recommend this, even for regular problem customers. Those regulars that are little pills will appreciate you getting to know them and will become more malleable. (I had to throw in a little evil!! BWAH HA HA HA!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

it's my blog and i'll bitch if i want to

The increased attention to this blog from the Reader's Digest bit has sort of freaked me out. I've been rereading some of my older posts, sort of checking in the mirror for spinach in my teeth. What I've discovered is that my view of my job has changed, though it's probably imperceptible to anyone else.

There was a time when I planned to flee my job and my life. When my plans fell through, I took comfort in work. I have become more invested in every aspect of the store. I truly care!

Most of my posts are bitchfests because those are the frustrating and more amazing interactions. But know that for every crappy experience I describe, there is a great one that gives me pride in my work. I don't usually write about those because they are what SHOULD happen.

Maybe I will have an Opposite Week. I will only write about the good.

I, um, love glitter

In the retail world, the holidays are in full swing! There are trees, ornaments, candles, sweets, and Christmas music. There is so much glitter everywhere that you slip in little pools of it. I go home at night covered it the stuff, and you know what? I love it. It's only bad when it gets in your eyes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

today i am in hate with life time warranties

When an expensive pan boasts a Lifetime Warranty, it is considered a selling point. But the LTW can also be a major pain in the ass, like when an angry father comes in with his 15 year old LTW pan that he didn't even buy at your store and demands a new one just because your store is a vendor of the pans and it HAS A LifeTime Warranty!!!

Yea. I had this happen today. But I stood my ground and read the Return Policy and manufacturer's LTW rules. Like, the customer has to call the company. This did not make Daddy happy. He whipped out his fancy ass phone and called them, then got pissed that it was 8pm in the Eastern U.S. When I repeated the rules, he told me how "it didn't used to be that way!! You used to just be about to walk into a dealer and return your pan!!" Which made me think 1. hmm, this is not the first time he's done this, and 2. duh. that is why they have changed their return policy. And, Daddio, policies fucking change. Maybe your 15 year old pan does have a lifetime warranty, but they can change the way you go about "refreshing" your pan.

I've seen your type before. Take some buyer's responsibility. Oh, and did I mention that he actually called his mother in front of me? Because the pan was a gift from her? And, mocking me, asked if she had the receipts from 1995 just because I asked if he had his receipt?

Go to hell, pops. And take your Lifetime Warranty with you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

ALL DEPENDS ON THE RETAIL SALE


My friend found this book from the 1940's. It was sort of "Everything you need to know about retail." I took a picture of the illustration in the front.

ALL DEPENDS ON THE RETAIL SALE

That pretty much says it all.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The carbon footprint of candycanes

It's Christmas time again and we are getting in the candy canes! my least favorite of all the holiday candy because they use so much packaging and they are mind-blowingly wasteful. Each 14"x9"x12" cardboard box that the canes come in holds 36 candy canes. They arrive nestled in that plastic wrapped foam that is blown into a box around the contents. Any canes that arrive broken are immediately put into stockloss. Usually we break these up for sampling. The candy canes will be hung up in displays throughout the store. If they break, customers will not want them and they will be stocklossed. When customers purchase them, we wrap them in paper in hopes that they reach their destination whole; broken candy canes will ruin Christmas.

Enjoy.

Love in the aisles

Everyday I am surrounded by people in love. It is different than seeing strangers on the street. I see people shopping together, planning for a home together or sometimes just a meal. I hear snippets of their conversations, giggles and compromises. Sometimes they are people I know from my community (oh, THEY are together now, hmm???) and sometimes they are couples that feel a little more romantic when they are visiting from out of town.

I caught this attractive couple making out in the Halloween section last week. They were liplocked and assgrabbing and didn't notice me right away. Not that I stood there watching; I saw what they were up to, did a 90 degree pivot, and started straightening the merchandise in front of me, eyes focused on the napkins and glitter pumpkins.

PDAs can be almost cute, but they can also be fucking gross. The incident that sticks in my mind is the couple that was whispering and rubbing each other on a sofa. Apparently they were making their final decision to buy it because a few minutes later, they had me order them that sofa (but in a different fabric). All I could think about was how they probably couldn't wait to hump on their new sofa.

Love. Eeww.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Points

A lot of our customers use credit cards, specifically reward-earning cards. They talk about their points. One customer encouraged her husband to pay for their sofa with his card because he was "low on points."

Occasionally someone will pay cash for a large purchase, but this seems like an outdated payment method. If you are really someone, you will be working on racking up your points.

It's like a game!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Weekly highlights!

- I do not like it when Canadian customers expect me to know what sort of taxes, duties, and fees they may have to pay at the border. I kind of feel like this is not my problem. I will say that I USED to try to keep up on what could and couldn't go, what got taxed for what reasons and so on. But that shit changes and I have a lot of other information with which to fill my mind. Also, people ask me to do sneaky things, like ringing up items on separate invoices so that it looks like they bought less. My thought on it now is this: if you are entering a foreign country, the crap you are bringing in is your responsibility, not the poor clerk that sold it to you.

- I had a customer call the other day and ask if we had the "traditional gift for an 8th wedding anniversary." I asked what that was, because, whatever the traditional gift might be, I was sure this woman was going to ask for something crazy. And she did. "You know, a sculpture of a man and woman, embraced in a figure 8." She was SHOCKED that she could not find this item anywhere.

- I was helping a customer the other day while she looked for a curio cabinet. She was appalled that none of them came with lights.

- The other day I was working with this customer for awhile picking out knives. He ended up buying 4 and he seemed quite happy with his purchases. How do I know this? Because he shook my hand at the end of the transaction. And in a good way. That was a good day.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Grifters

It is inevitable that when you work a customer service job, where you touch the moneys and talk to people, you will have a deal with a grifter once in a while. I have no patience for these people.

The novice clerk is quickly confused and a grifter's dream. Their grifter tricks (switching bills, making claims, tandems, demands) throw a new clerk into The Customer Is Always Right mode and they give them the $20 bill because, surely, they, the clerk, made the error and they don't want to anger the precious customer.

The seasoned clerk knows these tricks and is not intimidated. How dare they endanger my job by trying to trick me out of 20 bucks! Or whatever amount. Fcuk off grifter. You say you gave me a fifty?? I say you gave me a 10. (This grifter trick is especially juicy if there are none of the bills they claim in the till). You don't believe me? Well, I will call the accountant down to count the till and she will compare it with the days sales. And I doubt you have the guts to stay for that truth session.

I don't believe that anyone should be taken advantage of or robbed or milked, but the people that rip off stores via the clerks til are especially low. You don't want to piss them off. I remember faces and I will tell everyone what you do.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cute customers MMX

-There was kid, maybe 11 or 12, shopping with her mom. At one point, she was alone in a corner, looking at some candles, when this old rich woman came up to her and started asking her questions about products. The look on the young girl's face was HIlarious. And the woman was nearly old enough to have been a child laborer in her youth, so maybe that is why she had no problem demanding service from a preteen.

-I am all for people wearing whatever they want. I love a wacky outfit. If everyone was stylish and tasteful, it would be a very boring world. A young woman came in the other day wearing patent red leather clogs, jeans, white and navy striped sailor shirt, red puffy vest, red straw cowboy hat, and a red leather doctor's bag. It was a little crazy, like, she couldn't decide what to be that day and I enjoyed it much.

-Sometimes kids are not cute. Just because they are little people doesn't mean they are always precious. Aesthetically they may be pleasing to the eye: chubby cheeks, little pigtails, large eyes full of wonder, dimples and fat rolls and tiny shoes. One of the hardest things for me to fake is the "oh, he's so cute!!" when the little darling is destroying merchandise and displays with no parental intervention and fouling up the breathable air with atomic shit diapers when parents tell them to wait just a few minutes instead of taking them immediately to the bathroom. Perhaps I sound cruel, but I do not have to love your child, just as I do not have to love you, customer.

-I've had several customers lately that call asking for a VERY SPECIFIC item, which of course we never have. Then they tell me about how they saw one of these things on their vacation to Awesome Locale. They saw their host or a skilled street vendor or a little peasant woman using this Perfect Tool and they need one for themselves. The unaskable question in my mind is: why didn't you buy the damn thing when you were there? Doesn't that seem like the perfect souvenir? Way better than a t-shirt or a mug or blood diamonds?

-Yesterday I was helping some customers with their food slicing problems. For once, I actually had some experience and knowledge on the subject. I recommended 3 tools, giving the pros and cons of each, along with some other alternatives that were free or found outside of our store. Then they turned around (literally. it was on the shelf behind them.) and bought some completely different useless novelty gadget that totally sucks. I think they thought I was trying to upsell them and I was totally not. I find upselling repulsive and counterproductive in the end. Customers, I TRULY want you to the have the right item, whether it is $2 or $2000. Please consider that I might actually be a good honest person.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Weekly highlights!

- Ok, this might sound ageist, but I find that a lot of annoying cellphone offenders are slightly older. You hear a phone blasting the Sex and the City theme song and there's a grandma digging in her purse, and not to silence it, but to answer and then have a VERY LOUD conversation no matter what she was doing when the phone rang. When people talk about bad cell etiquette, they often imply that it's Those Damn Kids, can't be without their phones, no manners, blahblah. But the kids know better. They know you are listening. The "kids" are texting. Why would you actually CALL someone?

-I have a game. Whenever someone uses a plastic shopping bag (or bags), I try to calculate what percentage the cost of the bag is in the pre-tax price of their purchase. It kind of makes me hate people, so I am quitting that game.

-There were some people lingering in the store tonight, after we were obviously closed and every other shopper had left. I was being friendly and attentive, letting them know we were closed without being too pushy. "Oh, we're just killing time while we wait for a friend. This store is such a great place to window shop!!" I thought my co-workers might blow up. The guy bought some weird thing at the last minute; I think he thought he was "winning." Like, I can keep these people here if I want. Consumers!, don't do this. A closed store is not a place to "kill time." That is what bars and coffee shops are for. And "window shopping" is done outside, through the windows, often when the store is closed. If you are just killing time and the store is closed, leave. Don't be a dick.

-The handicap spot is for handicap people. Do not park there if you do not qualify. Do not ask the clerk for permission to park in the handicap, even "real quick." And for god'ssake, if you are a perfectly able-bodied, pert young blond bride picking up packages that you have received for what we all assume will be your first of many marriages, do not park in the handicap spot.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I can't make this shit up

The other day I was having the strangest interaction with some customers, the sort of conversation that makes you want to give up on humanity.

So this couple was looking at a piece, let's call it a credenza, and wanted to know if it came in a lighter stain. I know for a fact it does not, but, playing the retail game where if you answer too quickly you lose credibility, I said "I don't think so, but let me double check." While I was thumbing through the catalog, the woman started telling me how her table is lighter, so that piece MUST be available in a lighter stain. "Did you get your table here?" I asked. "Is it from this same company?"

"No." she said. She had gotten it from our competitor's store. "Is it the same kind of wood?" I asked. "No." she said. She was not getting what I was getting at.

I found the page in the catalog with that particular furniture collection. "See, these look lighter" she said. "Well, each piece is different, this is a picture, that is the real product," I tried remind her. This is the sort of person that you dread doing special orders for because they can barely understand what is in front of them, much less an idea from a catalog or a drawing.

I started looking at my computer, thumbing through the inventory of similar items while she and her male companion flipped through the catalog. There's where it got good. They found a picture in the table of contents of the table from the collection. "This one!" they said "This one is lighter! " I looked at the picture. They flipped back and forth from the table of contents picture to the picture in the catalog. They were the same picture, but the one in the table of contents was enlarged. THE EXACT SAME PICTURE.

I gave up. Luckily, I had been helping some customers that were serious and capable of thought before Dumb and Dumber started pestering me, so I was perfectly justified in walking away from them.

See?? You cannot make that up.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

on repetition

After I posted yesterday about the state quarters, I had a thought that I might have mentioned my annoyance with the collecting of them before in this blog. At first I was embarrassed, repeating myself. Then I thought, "NO! I am going to leave the posts as they lay!"

Because part of the weirdness and hilarity of retail is the repetition. Never have I felt more déjà vu than at work: different people, different products, same game. I repeat certain phrases so often that I have to work hard to not sound like a robot. Foresight and mind reading are not psychic abilities you are hired for, but rather, skills gained in the field after observing people being people everyday all day long. You hear so many customers say the same things over and over that you wonder how many times you will have to hear it in your life time and how many times they have been uttered before.

There are not many surprises in retail, and sadly, they are usually some act of kindness or decency. "Wow! She was really nice!"

Stuffs like that...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

More Things to Not Do

-Do not ask clerks to sift through their quarters for the state quarters that you need. In fact, do not collect the state quarters for your grandkids. The fun of collecting is the hunt and the acquisition. If you collect all the state quarters in full and give them to your grandkids, they will probably just spend them on drugs.

-Do not buy an inexpensive pot, use it for 15 years, abuse it with abrasive cleaners because you are a cleaning fanatic, and then take it back to the store where you think you bought it, claiming the pot spontaneously corroded and that it has a life time guarantee.

-Do not expect the clerk to know the exact chemical make-up of the stain of some cheap clearance table imported from China. And when the clerk goes to the trouble of calling the company and questioning them, do not be surprised when they don't know either. Because nobody knows and it doesn't matter anyway; you are just being a crazy old person. Don't do it.

-Oh, yea, do not put your wet or hot dishes or glasses on a wood table. Just be an adult and use a coaster. Or a trivet. Or both at the same time.

-As I've stated before, DO NOT ever EXPECT free gift wrap. Be gracious and thankful when it's offered and available. Don't ball out clerks for charging what they are supposed to charge.



Monday, September 6, 2010

Weekly highlights!

-We have several garbage cans in various locations around the store. And every time we sample something (food, beverage, lotion), we have to place another trash can there. If we didn't do this, people would just leave their garbage everywhere, worse than they already do. As I was walking around, emptying the cans, I thought, "Wow. People are pigs." They will leave their empty Starbucks mocha cup, smeared with residual chocolate and whipped cream dregs, wherever they are when they finish it because they are too fucking lazy to carry it to a garbage. We also have to put a wasteful plastic liner in every can because people will toss in half a milkshake or some other disgusting dairy mess and it will splatter. Who's picking up your garbage?

-People with hippie girl voices that say "No worries" make me choke on suppressed laughter and blind with eye rolls.

-Today a lot of people tried to make their own prices. Like, "I thought this thing was this price...". Then they get pissed when you have to keep explaining, in the nicest way, that it is not, was not, and never will be that price. I must do all of this without explaining that they are confused and or crazy.

-I am always amazed by the customers that will just buy a display. "I want this! Just like it is!" they will say, and when you start to dismantle it, they stop you. "NO! I will just put it in the car how it is! Just ring it up!" The thing about displays is that there is a lot of shit in them, so they are expensive. Naturally, I am apprehensive when someone declares, with wild abandon, that they will take it all. I don't want to insult them, but I do want them to understand what they are about to pay for. And some people just do it. Wow.

-Sometimes you will have a co-worker that may show discrimination towards certain people. Often it is slight and they don't even seem to realize they are doing it. I do not discriminate; anyone can annoy me, regardless of race, religion, economic status, or age. It is somehow reassuring to know that we all have the ability to be an asshole.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hey, employees! Don't steal.

Employee theft is weird. I do not condone it. Some employees are really clever and find ways to get a little something for free and never get caught. Most thieving employees are definitely not clever and are dicks because the repercussions of their actions are residual and last past the time that they are fired and move on to rip off other employers.

Thieving employees often try to justify their actions with the case that they are not properly compensated for their skills. This is bullshit. Lots of awesome employees are underpaid and do not receive enough praise. I say "tough shit." If you were truly a great employee, you wouldn't steal.

After an offender is gone, there is still a mess of distrust and loss prevention. Everything is looked at with suspicion and once harmless actions (the 11 minute break, the digging through the stock loss garbage) bring about a dangerous kind of attention.

So don't steal. I will let you know right now that you are now that you are not smart enough to get away with it and when you DO get caught, we will all hate you for making our lives more difficult than they already are.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In praise of customers: It's not all bad news!

Lately I've witnessed a lot more customers bringing in and using bags to haul off their merch. Those packable nylon bags, the Chico bag and similar styles, seem to have changed the way customers think about bags. Canvas bags are bulky; if you are not in the habit of being a bag lady and carrying them with you everywhere, it can be difficult to get into. But a little light-weight bag that collapses in on itself can fit in side most purses. Simply changing the material makes all the difference.

There have also been a lot of customers that are making a decided effort to "shop local." I acknowledge that box stores employ people too, but I think it is great when people are more thoughtful about their purchases instead of mindlessly driving to the mall just because and usually with the assumption that the prices will be cheaper there.

Customers are people too and sometimes they are alright.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sale!!

Sale shoppers are the dung beetles of the retail world. They are the maggots feeding on the carrion merchandise. They are necessary. Without them, the dead items of seasons past would linger for years, fingered and handled until they are stock-lossed and tossed.

They are necessary, yes, and they also bring a certain repulsion with them. I and others are disgusted by their heckling over prices, nick-picking at the condition of merch, paranoid receipt checking.

These are all normal shopping habits, but during a sale, they are boiled down into a frenzy of impulse, desire, thrift, and remorse. Most of us have been this shopper at one time or another; do not let it become your main shopping mode. Keep your dignity and avoid the reputation (which you will get behind your back) of Clearance Whore.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

This week in retail Bullshit: just buy USA already; and weekly highlights

- The candle lady that asks me to go to the candle section with her in order to identify the scent. She did it today, but I recognize her from a couple weeks before. You cannot fool me lady. I will give you the same answer that I gave you before. IT'S THE GENERIC CANDLE SMELL OF ALL THE CANDLES TOGETHER.

-Stoned umbrella guy with the black umbrella. Creating situations where I HAVE to break the rules for you is not cool. Please don't do it.

-Whoever let the rank fart in bar ware: gross. Please do not leave farts that will make other customers think that I shit my pants on the sales floor.

-If you have a very specific idea in mind, you might have to pay for it. You might not be able to find it very cheap at every fucking store you visit. You are asking for customization. It WILL NOT be cheap.

-Okay, to all the people that complain about items Made in China, but then don't buck up and pay for U.S. made product, SHUT UP. I suggest you seek out something that IS made in the U.S. and just buy it. Maybe take a couple weeks to convince yourself that you can do it. It will be expensive. But let me tell you, it is a thrill. There is a certain rush that comes from paying $300 for a pair of shoes made in the United States of America. Try it, whether you are a rich bitch or not. I am not rich. But I do enjoy scoping out an item, saving my moneys for weeks and then buying quality merchandise made in the USA. If I can do it, you can too.

Apron Shame

The other day I had a trio of young women come in to buy a gift from their girlfriend's wedding registry. They were not very impressed with the selection of items on the registry. As a group, they went in on a casserole dish and some other random item. While that was being gift wrapped, they critiqued the items left on the registry.

There was an apron on the list that was not yet purchased. They were all making fun of the apron. "Oh my god. Can you IMAGINE wearing an APRON??" The three of them cackled and guffawed over the absurdity of an apron. And then they looked at me. Who wears an apron. All day. As my uniform. They hushed themselves and spoke in low voices and moved to a different corner to talk.

For 5 minutes, I was embarrassed to be wearing an apron. And my choice of outfits for that day was very polka-dotty, girly, and disgustingly cutsey, which didn't help me to feel "cool." I felt like an quirky, apron-wearing weirdo.

I took another look at them huddled in a corner, waiting for their gift wrap and judged them real hard. And you know what? I was glad not to be them. I LIKED my outfit; it was original, adorable, and received many unanticipated compliments. I do not care to wear disposable mall clothes with AERO embroidered on the bosom. With disposable clothes, you wouldn't have to wear an apron because you might throw out your crappy clothes after they are stained anyway.

Ok, so I don't want to TOTALLY judge people that wear boring mall bought outfits. I think people should just wear what they want without being judged. Aprons are useful; I wear an apron at work as a uniform and at home to keep my adorable clothes clean. I do not feel silly or oppressed when wearing an apron. I feel smart, like, HA! I wear this sheath to keep to keep my clothes clean. What a neat trick!

If I were shopping off a friend's registry, I would buy the apron. And they can wear it like a hug.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Highlights of the June

- The lady that was worried that the sun would fade her white cotton sofa: what are you afraid of?? That it will be a whiter white?? Your worries do not make sense. Shut up.

- The lady that used the public restroom and then told me that My Bathroom was out of "supplies." It will get taken care of on schedule, just as it always does. And, I am not the building custodian.

- There is a customer man, a "regular" you might say, that comes in and buys stuff and is nice enough, but he has crossed a line. That line where you go from making pleasant small talk to taking the clerks hostage. They have to be nice to you. Don't talk at them. When every conversation leads to you telling a crazy story about yourself, you are abusing the clerk/customer relationship.

- I love to hear customers use nicknames. The latest I've heard: Blossom and Buddha.

- It is WAY tacky to buy placemats, use them for your party, and then return them to the store. I have said this before. It is still unacceptable. DO NOT do it. You are gross if you do.

God I miss you so fucking much Internet

I moved into an apartment by myself.

I do not have a computer. So of course no internet.

I miss it so much. I read books. I go for walks. I watch movies and play with my cat and sleep in everyday.

Lame.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Birdhouse Trailer

We sell these bird houses that are shaped like little trailers. I hate them. I judge people by whether or not they like the bird house trailers. I may have mentioned this before . . . The bird house trailers are still horrible.

Friday, June 4, 2010

"Not my fault"


Here's another What Not To Do. Because it's tacky. A customer returned this lime squeezer because it broke the "first time" she used it. Of course she didn't have her receipt but we found that she had bought it over a year ago. Nearly everyone that returns anything always claims it broke the first time they used it, no matter when they purchased it. Um, yea right.

So I was giving her a store credit because she was being all Squeaky Wheel and I just didn't want to hear it. Whenever I do this, I have the little speech where I rattle off the return policy just so I can say that I did, but let them know this is a special exception. I say it in the nicest way, without throwing too much guilt or blame. The idea is to let them feel guilty on their own. Anyway, as I was doing my little speech and handing her the gift card, she says "it's not my fault it broke." But it kind of is her fault, actually, after a year of misuse. She just had to have the last word. Repellent. Gross.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This week in retail

-The college students that made us part of there sociolinguistics experiment. It was my least favorite kind of conversation. The guy asked us for a product and then let us ramble on. We did ramble because he wasn't speaking, just looking at us like he wanted answers. Very awkward. In a conversation, both people talk. We didn't know we were part of an experiment until after.

-I was coming back from lunch one day and saw a customer leaving the store. As she walked, she was frantically scraping away the price tag from a card she had just bought. I still do not understand why people freak out so much about price tags on cards. Everyone knows how much cards cost. People do not keep cards forever; after the card has served its purpose, it is thrown out.

-The theme of the week was lovely, stunning women with ugly, fat hairy men.

-Parents running through the store after their toddlers, yelling at them: "Malcom, don't touch that. Malcom, mommy said come here. Malcom, no touching." "Avery Jane, do you have to poop? Avery Jane, mommy and daddy are leaving now. Avery Jane, come here."

-Yet again, I had to explain to a person that you can indeed break glass and you don't get a refund when it happens. I really despise people that think they can make up a warranty. Just because a drinking glass was expensive doesn't mean you get free replacements for life every time you drop one on your tile floor. I mean, tough shit. If you can't afford to lose it, maybe you shouldn't buy it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Weekly Highlights

-There was this adorable mother and daughter shopping together. They would look at items and then mention someone they know that would enjoy that item. What made this different and hilarious is that all of their people had nicknamey names. Like, "Wouldn't Buffy love one of these floral print insulated lunch bags?" And "Peanut would really get a kick out of the bacon floss." It made me want to use more nicknames.

- After I rang a woman up on Saturday, she held up the line while she looked over her receipt. "I just want to make sure you did everything right," she said. I always tell people it's great to look at their receipts immediately because if there are mistakes, it's easier to fix them (it was kind of dick of her to hold up the line, though). "At the last store I was at, the clerk overcharged me." So of course I probably did too. "The clerk caught it though. Apparently something rang up wrong." AH, so the clerk didn't overcharge you; rather, she caught a mistake that was not her fault and saved you from an overcharge. But because retail is entry level work, the people working it must be stupid and none of them should be trusted.

-Yesterday there was this middle aged couple arguing over which ceramic birds to buy as a gift for a friend. They spent 20 minutes picking out the ones with the best expression and head tilt. Then they didn't want to pay for the $2 gift wrap (the friend must not be that special; I wrapped them in tissue and put them in a t-shirt bag) and kept asking me if they could get a gift receipt. Maybe I am a jerky Scrooge, but if it is that hard to pick out a gift for someone and you don't even know if they will like it at all and must give a gift receipt, maybe they don't need a gift. Or maybe you should just give them cash. I want to start a revolution. There is no shame in a gift card. This is the future.

-A different couple yesterday was looking at knives. "I'm confused by your signs. You have them listed in centimeters here, but not in the display case." It was obvious that she wanted to show off her knowledge of the metric system. It was a big fail though. Faking that you don't understand imperial measurements makes you look stupid. Also, look at the fucking knives. Which one looks like it's 9 centimeters? And that particular one was a completely different shape from all the other knives in the case. Match the picture to the item. You know a centimeter; imagine 9 of them.

-And my favorite. A woman called asking if we had a scentless room deodorizer. Her problem was that the bathroom at her work has no ventilation, and when people stink it up (my words, not hers), other co-workers complain about it. But when she puts in odor masking aids, the co-workers complain that the "fake perfumey" smells bother their allergies. I told her about the wildly popular spray and crystals we sell, but mentioned that they DO still have a scent and that even though they are quite pleasant and natural, they are still a scent. I wanted to tell her that maybe she should tell her sensitive yet complaining co-workers that they will just have to wallow in each others' shit clouds. But I didn't. But I think she should.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Showing off the quick release foam

Yesterday it was raining hard when we were bringing in the outdoor furniture. We had to tilt the cushions up so the water could drain out of the quick release foam.

It looks like rain again today.

Ugh.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Table Lady.

A woman was interested in a small side table and asked me to put it on hold while she thought about it. She came back about an hour later and said she would buy it. When I rang up her purchase, she got an angry look and said "That's not right!" and started going off about how when she was in earlier (an hour before), the price was $50 less.

Ah. That game. Lady, I've played it before. See, the customer acts irate and keeps mentioning the price they thought was correct (a.k.a. the price they want to pay) for the item. In the case yesterday, she kept saying "it was like $130!". They are hoping that the clerk will freak out and panic and lower the price because "the customer is always right." Sometimes the customer will escalate the situation to accusations. "YOU changed the price!" The woman yesterday was very close to it. I was silently daring her. Come on. Go ahead. Tell me I raised the price as soon as you left. Say it aloud and listen to your own bullshit.

The weirdest part about situations like this is that they are still a sort of conversation. The customer says all these crazy angry things and then shut up and wait for a response. When this happened with the table lady, I did the following things:
1. read the price tags aloud. "This is the regular price," I said, "and this is the sale price."
2. looked in our sale book to confirm the prices. I also read these prices out loud.
3. suggested that maybe she had seen a different round side table with the same price. Even though I knew we didn't have anything like her table in her suggested price range, we went on a hunt through the store looking at every table. And when this didn't produce any results, I
4. noted that there was a slight smudge on the plastic sleeve holding the price tag for her table and maybe that smudge made the 9 look like a 3?
5. asked her if she wanted me to hold the table a little longer if she needed to think about it.

Basically, "Bitch. Give it up."

"Oh, I'll just get it!" she said. And then what does she do? She pulls out a wad of cash, for the exact amount of the table as it's posted.

Games, I tell you. Fucking playing games.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chili Pepper Light Man


Guess who's back. Chili pepper light guy. I am sure it is the same man. Every year, he either stops by the store or calls inquiring about chili pepper lights. And every year we have the same conversation.

CPLM: Hi! Do you guys have any pepper lights?

Clerk (me): Pepper lights?

CPLM: Yea! You know! Like a string of lights that look like peppers!

Clerk: Oh! We don't! Sorry!

CPLM: Man! I can't believe you don't have them! They're so cool! Do you think you'll be getting any? Maybe for Cinco de Mayo?

Clerk: I don't know! I haven't heard that we were getting any. We've had them in the past, but I don't know if we'll get them in again.

CPLM: Well, you should tell your boss to get them! They are so fun!

Clerk: Yea! They are fun! Ok, bye!

When I first started this job, there was one lonely string of tangled pepper lights in the clearance room. They had already been down there for half a decade. That was the only time I got to make Chili Pepper Light Man's day: selling him those clearance lights. But he comes back every year, hoping to score.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Very Merry Unbirthday

Our store sends out a birthday coupon to customers on our mailing list. When people redeem the coupon, I often wish them a "Happy Birthday" as they walk away from the register. I think it is a nice change from Haveaniceday or Enjoythesunshine and other robot phrases. Sometimes, and I love this, when I say Happy Birthday, the customer will say "You too." I know it is because they aren't really listening, but I think it's funny.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Good Pen

One customer I helped yesterday was buying some gifty shit. I thought she was going to try to pull the ever-so-popular gift wrap trick. But she didn't. She did want to borrow a pen to fill out a card she had purchased and was craning her head over and around the counter looking into my register area for a "good pen." She didn't want the regular old ball point pen she'd just used to sign her credit card slip.

I keep several "good pens" in my apron. Usually they are floating around like logs in a tiny lake of papers, but the past couple days, I've been clipping them to the top of my pockets so they are easy for me to find. As soon as the words "good pen" came out of her mouth, I discreetly turned and flipped all my pens into my pockets and out of sight.

Here's the thing: I cannot share pens. With anyone. Co-workers understand. They would never badger me "come on let me use your good pen!" They would find their own damn pen and then gloat about how it is the best pen ever. But if customers see a pen in hanging on your pocket, they will ask, or rather, they will say "you've got a good pen right there!" and to cover my unwillingness to share I will laugh and pretend I forgot I had them and then watch anxiously as they clip and press my precious and then I will use a Clorox wipe on my good pen later when I FINALLY get it back.

I found a "good pen" for the customer. There was a ratty yet reliable old thing rolling around in one of the pen jars. She did not use it. It was not the right kind of good pen. And I thought I was weird.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pineapple Peeler Update


Back in September, I ranted about an old man that wanted a pineapple peeler. Well old man, your dreams have come true. The pineapple cutter is now available for sale at our store!

I have not used this gadget yet, but I give it points for being made in the U.S.A. and for have multiple uses, which they proudly point out on the website and product label. If I ate a lot of pineapple, I would totally buy this gadget. I would also buy this if I did a lot of entertaining and used pineapple rings in salads and cakes and when people said how delicious the food was, I could tell them that the pineapple was fresh, not canned, and doesn't it make all the difference?

Looking at this picture makes me salivate for pineapple, specifically the long skinny donut hole cut-out. That woody center is my favorite part of pineapple.

Oh my gawd. I am totally selling this product to myself.

Always and Forever

Last night I was at a little party at my friend's house. There was a girl there that had just quit her crappy job at a deli. She was full of food service horror stories, which in my experience are always more demeaning than retail stories because hungry people are scarier. I laughed and shook my head with each recount of mocha making, soup questions, and sprout mix-ups.

I have heard all of it before. I have lived it. I have told those stories. They still amaze and amuse me because customers never change. And delis never get smart and treat employees well, forever turning what seems to be a simple job into an exhausting, humiliating experience that traumatizes the young folk that are milled through.

Is this how it always has been and always will be? I had a vistion of customer service life as a giant snail shell and I bisected it with my mind and can see the spiraling inward to invisibility and the pattern for the same growth outward and forever. And we are somewhere on that coil but we don't know where and it doesn't matter anyway because this is just supposed to be a temporary job and when we are grown ups with careers, we will be nice to the service folk. Right?!?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fabrics

Yesterday I was going through the swatches and pulling discontinued fabrics. Here were some of my favorite ridiculous fabric names:

Understudy Nugget
Exhale Hemp
Lovebug Toffee
Sophisticate Sesame
Endurance Cappuccino
Renegade Coffee
Colossus Doe
Flower-Power Fondue
Raptor Taupe
In-the-Mood Walnut
Peacemaker Chocolate
Vitalize Shiitake
Spaceship Spa

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pillow Fight

The other day this old woman came in looking for outdoor cushions. We have 2 sizes of cushions. She bought 4 of one size to fit some of her chairs, not knowing if they would actually fit her chairs, and then asked if we had more because she had a larger chair that needed a special cushion.

She tried to describe the cushion and failed. "It sort of goes up to a piece and then there is another piece and they are connected." That was what she was giving me to go on. I showed her the catalog with other cushions that we can special order and asked if any of the shapes looked like her cushion. She didn't know. She also didn't know vital information, like the measurements.

I suggested she bring in the larger cushion and a tracing of the others chairs that she wasn't sure about. Then we could help her get accurate measurements and see if there was a comparable size available in the catalog.

Three days later, I was called over the intercom to come to the counter. There was the cushion lady and she was furious. She had come back with her large cushion and tracing and the clerk had done exactly what I suggested we do: get the measurements which the customer didn't have and was confused about. When they could not find an appropriate size in the catalog, she went nuts, yelling about how I promised her that they could custom make any cushion size she needed.

I would never be so stupid as to promise something to a customer, especially something that was untrue. I did make the mistake of telling her I was sorry if she misunderstood me. That sent her into a rage, because, remember, "the customer is always right."

At some point, I took over and stopped apologizing and moved on. I told her that I would be happy to write down the number of a place that does make custom cushions. "Yes! You are going to do that! You are going to find that information for me and write it down on a blank piece of paper and you are going to tell me how to get there!" she said.

She ranted a little more about how we'd let her down and how she couldn't trust me. Then she shuffled out to her car in the handicap spot and drove off.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm not that kind of girl

Yesterday a customer thanked me for wearing unchipped nail polish. "Chipped nail color is disgusting. It's so gross when you're at a restaurant and the waitress has chipped nail polish. Like, is it in my food?" I went along with her fantasy that I was someone that keeps a maintained appearance. I did not tell her that my usual way to wear nail polish is to apply a fresh coat every morning and then pick it off when it is 6 or 7 layers thick. And I definitely didn't tell her that the reason I put nail polish on in the first place was to cover up some muck that was embedded in my cuticles from a project on my day off.

Laying in bed this morning, I was staring at my fingers and thought, "Maybe I will start getting manicures and pedicures. It will be something I do for myself and something that people mention if they are asked to describe my habits and hygiene, like after I pass away. 'She always had her weekly manicure. Her nails always looked good'."

Then I remembered that I am poor and lazy. I can think of so many better ways to spend my money. I am too lazy to drag myself to a salon so that a nail technician can toil over my messed up little claws. And when it comes down to it, I don't give a fig if my chipped nails offend some judgey bitch.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This is not in my job description

I have come to despise the couple with the little snorting dog. They are the ones that will stand at the counter for 20 minutes, waiting for one of us to feed their stupid pet, no matter how busy we are with other customers. If we don't feed him, they will talk to us through the dog. "I guess she's too busy to give you a treat, Little Dog. We'll have to try again later." Then they pull the tiny beast away.

At first I only hated the owners for encouraging the dog's behavior. But now I hate the dog too. He salivates at the sight of anyone in an apron and strains himself against his leash to get to the counter faster. I would never wish harm on him, but if I heard that he died peacefully in his sleep, I would think "Meh."

Though I have to admit, the situation has gotten better for me since I told them I was allergic to dogs . . .

Friday, March 26, 2010

Egg poachers and rotary cheese graters and the people who buy them

There are some gadgets that are especially appealing to a certain customer. This customer is high-maintenance, particular, demanding, and won't let you console or talk sense into them. These people buy egg poaching apparatuses and rotary cheese graters.

The egg poaching crazies are concerned with so many things: construction and materials of egg poachers; quantities of eggs that can be poached in a poacher; ease of clean up of a poacher. They fret and bemoan the egg poachers available on the market. "Why hasn't someone made a better egg poacher?!?!" And I have learned from experience that the worst thing you can do is suggest they just make poached eggs in a pot. These people don't want solutions; they want gadgets!

The rotary cheese grater crazies want 1) a grater "like at Olive Garden," 2) a grater "like their grandmother had," 3) a grater that will allow them to grate cheese without actually having to touch it. Despite the fact that we usually have one or two styles of rotary graters, they are rarely pleased because they have a fantastical vision of a grater in their minds.

I just had a poached egg for breakfast. I made it in a sauce pot. It was fucking fantastic and easy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The "C" word (customers)


Yesterday was one of the most annoying days ever. Nearly everyone I helped treated me with some level of jerkiness. And I didn't get a morning break because we were short staffed and demoing the popcorn machine. I did stuff my face full of popcorn, discreetly, on the sales floor.

Here's the major jerks:

-The old lady freaking out about sink saddles. One of my co-workers called her to let her know that sink saddles were back in stock. So imagine her dismay when she made a trip in and discovered that they are not the sink saddle she wants! The sink saddles we have are clear with drain holes on the sides. The sink saddle she wants is white and without drain holes. No matter how many times I told her that the clear one is the only sink saddle we have, she just wouldn't except it. I looked up inventory in the computer and saw that in past we did sell another sink saddle, and though I am not sure if it was the one she wants, the description said white. But that one was discontinued and we don't have any and we haven't had any since 2004. Though I hated to do it, the only way I got the bitch to shut up was to tell her that my co-worker must have been mistaken about the sink saddles.

-Yesterday there was a St. Patrick's Day parade that went right past the store. I didn't know there was going to be one. For several personal reasons, parades sort of depress me. Plus, I just don't give a shit about parades. Before I knew there was going to be a parade, I had a customer ask me what was going on. I said I didn't know and then immediately turned to my co-worker and asked if there "was a parade or something?" Then the customer told me that I should know about such things for when people ask. Why is it my job to be the community events information booth? He lives here too and he didn't know about the parade either. Dude, you can go shove a shamrock up your ass.

-The lady who asked me what materials made up the outdoor furniture. When I told her it was wrought iron, she freaked out and went on a tirade about rust. She was bitching about something she didn't even buy at our store. I didn't mention the 37 years worth of testimonials from hundreds of other customers about how well the furniture holds up. Sometimes you just have to let them dump and leave.

-I had a customer call and ask me about our stainless steel stovetop espresso makers. She asked me the style name. I read it off of the box. "Class." And then she laughed at me. Not like, "oh, what a funny name for a stovetop espresso maker!" but "you idiot! It cannot POSSIBLY be called Class!" But you can see for yourself, via the link, that the fucking thing is indeed called Class.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Teakettle idiot


Yesterday a woman asked me to show her our teakettle selection. I gave her the tour, told her the prices, and then let her look. A few minutes later, she came up to me and asked, "Do they sell Le Creuset kettles at Macy's?"

I answered her honestly. "I don't know. I haven't been shopping for kettles there." Because why would I shop for kettles at a chain retailer and pay full price when I could shop at my local kitchen shop and employer and get my employee discount? And I don't feel that it is my job to know the prices and availability of a product that is sold in a million places around the globe. I am not the internet.

She decided to purchase a cheaper kettle from OXO. When I was ringing her up, she mentioned that she was on our "VIP list" (our mailing list) and wondered "if that did anything." I pretended that I didn't know she was fishing for a discount and told her if I put her name on the receipt, she would continue to get our mailings. I love playing dumb in situations like that because customers have to keep talking and actually vocalize their asinine requests rather than have me intuit them.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What the F*ck'n'Chunk


This was our Gadget of the Month for February: the Cut'N'Chunk! These special scissors are the most gadgety of gadgets. I did not hate them until we decided to demo them.

The problem with demonstrating gadgets is that is can easily backfire. Instead of enticing people to buy it because the idea is sort of cool, you immediately show them the stupidity of the product.

The first day, we had apples out for people to cut. They worked fine: not too soft, not to hard. People made comments like "these would be great for fruit salad." The apples were sticky, though, so we decided to cut'n'chunk vegetables instead. Celery was tricky (don't be fooled by the celery and rhubarb in the picture) and carrots were near impossible. When customers snipped, the last force of scissor closing would flip the carrots all over. Little pieces of carrot, jumping into the air and onto floors and counters, everywhere but the plate. We left the carrots out because it was hilarious. We actually sold some, with customers saying, "these don't work for carrots, but they would be great for (fill in long soft food)."

For kicks, we wanted to put some cheap hotdogs out for demo, but we feared the scornful looks processed forcemeat would most likely get from our vegan vegetarian organic natural free-range eating customers.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekly highlights


- I love it (this is sarcasm) when parents give their children some merchandise to keep them occupied and the child destroys it while the parents shop and then the parents just stick it on some random shelf and don't say anything because they know they are crappy. How is that different than stealing or vandalism? It's sneaky, willful destruction of the property of the store. And yet, if we want them to shop with us, we have to let it happen.

- There was a lady the other day reading the back of some plates and wanted to know why they could be labeled "Microwave Safe; will get hot in microwave" since, in her opinion, getting hot in the microwave made them unsafe. We talked in circles for awhile, her stubborn and confused, and then I tried to break it up with some humor. "Well, I guess it depends on your definition of safe." She did not laugh.

- OMG! Did you know that COTTON SHRINKS!! I did and so do most of my customers. So I am so surprised when they are surprised that this fiber does in fact have this quality. And what surprises me even more is that they care. So the tablecloth has an 8 inch hang instead of 9; why does it matter?

- Throws: rugs or blankets?
Quadro jug: plastic or glass?
Birthday coupon or buy local coupon?
So many hard questions.

- There was a little boy the other day wearing translucent turquoise glasses and matching turquoise shoes with an understated, simple raincoat. He was about 4, so he was small and cute, as were his accessories. I usually don't geek out too much over the way kids are dressed because most often it is some contrived outfit picked by the parents or typical "I dressed myself!" wackiness. But this kid was special. It was weird enough that you know a parent wouldn't have done it, but more awesome than most kids would dress themselves. And it was . . . inspiring!

- I want to go to Japan so that I can buy pink Le Creuset cast iron!

New Favorite


Here is my new favorite retail book. Well, it's not specifically about retail, but I have found it a useful tool when trying to sell people stuff that they want anyway. It is not manipulation; it is saying things in a pleasing manner and listening.

I borrowed it from my library on CD and it's amazing. I listen to a couple of chapters while I get dressed and I actually get pumped up to work.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that ever has to talk to other humans.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Customer quotes

- "Oh, no thanks. I get enjoyment just looking around and drinking your coffee." Response to whether customer wanted to receive our infrequent mailer.

- "Do you have a garbage can? My daughter just started her period."

- "Are these the only credenzas you have?" I think the word "credenza" is hilarious. Especially when it is made plural.

- "I could never work here. I'd spend my whole paycheck." This is not a new quote. People say this all the time. But it never gets less ridiculous.

- "Must be nice to be in a business with people lined up to get in." A woman said this to me when I opened the door 2 minutes before opening time on Sunday. What amazes me is that people get irritated that we generally stick to our posted hours. The staff's hours are carefully budgeted. If we started keeping the store open for kicks, we wouldn't last long.

- "Do the scales know carbs?" She was talking about kitchen scales for dieting. The notion that scales could sense what food is on them is absurd. There are other scales which might know carbs, though not in the way she meant . . .

Saturday, January 23, 2010

ISlice vs X-Acto

For the past 18 months or so, our store has sold an As Seen On TV product called the ISlice, "The most useful tool you'll ever own." I hate it.

The little ear-shaped slicer has a tiny ceramic blade that too useless to cut anything big, but works well for cutting shapes out of paper, opening mail, and getting into difficult plastic packaging, like the stuff you must break through before you can use the ISlice. (Favorite customer joke: "What came first? The ISlice or the packaging?")

I hate the ISlice because it does not discourage the wasteful, exaggerated plastic packaging. Instead, it has made opening plastics "easy" and "fun." The product does work; I've tried it. I hate the idea, though, of this tiny blade floating around in homes, one use for one product, the tiny plastic thing for opening plastics. Also, because of the diminutive size of the ISlice, I imagine that it is quickly lost in many homes, thus leaving people unable to open all their gadgets and batteries and CDs without difficulty, tearing up junk drawers and pencil cans looking for that tiny tool they bought just for that situation.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy new year...

I've decided this year to focus on stupid products rather than stupid customers, except of course when there is an exceptional one.