Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas music

This gem was my surprise favorite song of the season.

the only direction life moves is forward

Once again I am not going home for Christmas.  But this year, I am perfectly happy even though I am not participating in as many festivities.  There have been small changes in my life that have had a big impact and I am amazed by the overall difference of a positive attitude.

In a cheesy family Christmas movie I was watching this morning, the mother character told the selfish widow daughter character that "the only direction life moves is forward" and I thought "DAMN that is so true!"

I am so thankful for all that I am and have.  I am proud of the crawling out I did of certain pits.  I acknowledge the power and peace of patience, forgiveness, and love.

word play can make my day

Yesterday a customer returned an advent calendar because there was a speck of red ink printed on a white number.  We did not have any more for an exchange, so she spent at least an hour going through all the other choices of advent calendars to find the perfect one.  She looked so miserable and her task seemed so pointless.  "I hope she finds her sad advent calendar," I thought to myself.  Then I spent the rest of the afternoon chuckling about Sadvent calendars.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Eve Eve

- Gift card only customers?  The purchase of a gift card is still a transaction.  It still takes time and sometimes more than a transaction with merchandise.  I know that is "all" you want to buy, but I cannot give you cuts in line in front of everyone else, including the woman with her rambunctious children, the old man with the walker, the guy who got shafted in one line and is starting over in a different line, and one of our regulars who has cancer!  I know you are impatient, but you should have known there would be a bunch of people out shopping the few days before Christmas.  Come on!  You are only buying a gift card.  If that was all you were going to get anyway, why don't you wait until Christmas Eve, the day of the last minute men shoppers?  Have a couple beers and then join your brethren!

- Customer generalization!  For some reason, the customers that buy crackers are really intense.  More than purchasers of other items, these customers are vocal and bitchy about selection and price.

- Yesterday I was helping a male customer find an item.  I gave him my positive and sincere critique of the gadget.  He was sold.  Then, a nearby customer chimed in, saying how much she loved the item.  This is ok with me; customer reviews are very powerful.  THEN another customer gave her opinion, also positive, but also full of misinformation about the product, which the first customer seconded.  AAAGH!  Before I could discreetly correct the situation, the man walked off with the product.  The ladies then started congratulating themselves on how they are such great sales people.  "You should hire us!" they said.  Yea, right, Miss Information.

Only a couple more days!  Then boring January!  Yea!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hppy Chrstms

A month and a half ago I threw myself into the holidays.  I put up my tree, started listening to Christmas music, planned and threw a holiday party, started wearing a Santa hat occasionally.  It was a magical time.  The store was sparkly and full and customers were cheery and kind.

Now it is one week before Christmas.  Though I always hope to avoid clichéd seasonal stress, there comes a point when you cannot.  Each morning, I feel like I am preparing for a marathon (though I have never participated in a marathon, I imagine it takes practice, endurance and planning.  Like my work days).  I gather myself mentally.  "One day at a time," I tell myself.  "Just put your head down and get through today."  Though of course, with smiles and enthusiasm and friendly gestures.

The customers have lost their cheerfulness.  Many customers talk to me like I am the seasonal help.  They are assuming I don't know anything, which is less than they usually expect.  They don't believe anything I tell them and scoff over my attempts to keep the peace between customers.  You know, dwindling merchandise, lines.

So, Happy Christmas.

The candy canes are still wasteful.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What the heck sort of retail blog is this anyway??

All 5 of my readers may be wondering why I haven't posted more, this being the blessed holiday season and all.  The truth is that I am effing tired.  I am swamped with material, but when I get home, I want to eat, hang out with loved ones, and sleep.  It gets pushed aside, as is the way of the blog.

I did have a super great moment the other day though, or maybe it was today.  I don't remember exactly.  They are all blurring together in a mess of glitter and Christmas songs and candy.  I overheard one of my co-workers telling a customer that we didn't take AMEX and the customer launched into a story of it (the credit card American Express) getting really popular.  She was out to dinner with her friends and they all pulled out the same card!  Which was AMEX!  So, see?  It is really popular because all of her friends have it!

Wow.  This is great news!  An individual and their friend group are a reliable meter for what is cool and popular??  Me and my friends all like to drink pee, so see?  It is popular.  You should do it too.  Because it's popular  and we are a group and we are some people.  You are missing out.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Open Thanksgiving

When it comes to stores being open on holidays, I'm always expecting it.  Though it often seems wrong (Labor Day?), it is now part of how that day is observed.  Those that don't have to work are not so pious as to sit at home all day and contemplate what the holiday means*.  Love it or hate it, shopping is a pass time.

As someone who works in a store that is sustained mostly through 4th quarter sales, I don't want to piss off shoppers.  I love them!  But I do shed a tear for the holiday, one day when you CANNOT work.  I do not work today, but I have friends that do.  And it feels like it is only a matter of time before my store follows this pattern.

Fellow retail compatriots, I wish strength and patience for you today.  When your skin crawls as you look out over the lines and teaming masses of electronics and sweater seekers, sooth yourself with the thought that you are an essential service!  You are like the police, hospitals, airports, Denny's by the airports (and movie theaters and grocery stores).  Your public needs you!

*I know there are a lot of feelings on Thanksgiving.  However it came to be and whether we like it or not, it exists.  Personally, I have always oscillated between love and hate.  Some years I am disgusted by the gluttony and waste.  Others years I love it and try to enjoy it in a simplistic, primal way:  being thankful for what I have.  Food, shelter, water, and love should not be taken for granted.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011


This is a disgusting confession, but I really want to tell it.  Today I ran off the sales floor, flat out disappeared, because I thought I was going to shit my pants.  Without going into detail, I will tell you that this is extremely unusual; most foods and situations, regardless of size or spice, pass through me like a big calm.

I was secretly humiliated.  How, HOW are we at such mercy to our bowels?  I could not even call for back up, such was my urgency.  And the whole time I kept thinking "does someone need help finding a rug at this moment?  If they miss me, can I claim 'sickness'?"

Next time you can't find sales staff as quickly as you'd like, remember this story.  They might be off attending to an issue beyond their control.  Don't forget to wash your hands!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sugar buzz

- I have been selling several gifts off one particular registry to family members from out of town.  The only reason this is any different than usual is because usually the selling is spread out over more clerks, but for some reason, pure chance, I have rung up at least 6 family members.  I have gone over the list with them, described items, helped them find things, made suggestions.  The registered couple is getting quite a heap of gifts!  Then I imagined opening them and it seemed so disappointing:  4 dinner plates in one, napkins and placemats in another, the large strange flattish one concealing a cutting board and a can opener.  It's so lame and adult when you can get excited about linens and matching plates.

- I had a customer ask for a business card.  I gave her one.  Then I gave her the receipt for her purchase.  She scolded me for its length, telling me it was a waste of paper.  If she's so concerned about saving paper, why does she take business cards that she is probably going to lose anyway?  Why doesn't she just read our info off the huge flippin' receipt?  But what do I know.

- Today was the organized Trick-or-Treat where children and families go around to all the participating businesses and collect free candy.  Let me tell you, it was a shitstorm.  Due to a mis-announcement, people started ToTing an hour early, so many businesses were running out of candy way too early.  In the middle of it, I had a customer purchase a sofa and take it out the front door amongst the masses of costumed tots.  After the event was over, we still had kids coming in until finally we had no more candy.  Not one Laffy Taffy or Tootsie Roll.  The best though, were the parents who were surprised that we were open.  "Are you guys open during the Trick-or-Treating?"  UM, yea, how do you think we pay for the candy?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Come on people, don't be dicks

Today was a very good day.  I went happily about my tasks, helped a lot of customers, including a lot of regulars who were delightful and pleasant.  Yep, it was a pretty good day.  Until the end.

I honestly believe that working years and years of retail has sharpened my senses, making me like some weather predicting dog.  There are some customers that I will just walk past or see in my peripheral vision in a far corner of the store and know that they will be trouble.  I'm not claiming psychic powers, but I am right more often than I would like to be.

Today there was a couple from Canada* in the store for quite awhile.  I walked past at one point when my co-worker was answering some furniture questions for them.  I got that twitchy feeling immediately, the one that says "this is not over."

Then, after the store was closed but before they left, they suddenly decided to purchase the $300 item for which they made the trip.  Of course it was complicated because it was on sale and they had coupons and we were not supposed to use the coupon on sale prices.  I figured a way they could use the coupons off a discounted price, but it was obviously not as desirable as a coupon off the sale price.

Finally, I asked them if they still wanted to purchase the item and they just stood there.  The store was silent and the entire staff was poised, ready to pack up the customer's order if they gave the ok.  In that moment, I realized that was what they had been planning to do all along:  keep us late, back us into a corner, and prod a discount out of us.  Fuck that shit.

Maybe I should have risked a reprimand and used the coupon anyway.  But sometimes it feels really good to not give into adult brats.

*I do not wish to imply that all customers from Canada are troublemakers.  It may or may not validate any presumptions I have made in my mind about these particular customers.  I only mention this because it was an interesting fact about the customers.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Among décor motifs, the bird, be it wren, ibis, or owl, is definitely still hot, despite the Portlandia "Put A Bird On It."  We see so many birds, we may forget about its long-standing rival:  the dragonfly!

Ladies love dragonflies.  Put that flying insect on anything and it will sell.  They have a steady, more subtle following than bird people.  Customers will walk around the store, looking at bird things and declaring aloud "I love birds!  I love anything with birds on it!" while the dragonfly people will quietly confess at checkout "I love dragonflies!"  

I am still trying to figure out what it is that ladies love about them.  With birds, there are the feathers, the chubby bodies, the nesting, and the ability to fly (freedom!) that customers love.  What is it that they love about the dragonfly?  How do they relate?  Life in the wetlands, growing up from an ugly larva to an awkward walker, eating bugs, mating in midair?  Is it the dragonfly's presence in Japanese and Native American cultures?  Are they enchanted by Art Nouveau interpretations of the dragonfly?  What is it?

Personally, I forget about the interesting appearance of dragonflies until I see one, be it alive or dead.  The bulbous gem-like eyes, hairy stick body, and the delicate mesh wings.

I had a customer that wanted a sofa, an entire sofa!, in a dragonfly print fabric.  Why the dragonfly?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

this clerk's life

While walking to work today, with great reluctance, grouchy, wanting more sleep and coffee and sunshine, a guy at a bus stop asked me for spare change.  Since I was not at work and being paid for pleasantness, I could show my true crappy self.  Luckily, I gave a restrained, cool "No" while my thoughts seethed "getajobfuckinghoboihavetogotoworkwhyshouldn'tyoutooi'dlovetostayoutsideinthesunshinetodaywouldn'tthatbenicebutsomeonehastopaymydebtandyourtaxesthat'sanicebenchyoursittingonyou'rewelcome".

I worked with some really great customers today.  It still always amazes me how people ordering custom furniture make it sound like it should be so easy.  "It's JUST like this, but bigger.  How hard can it be?  They just use templates, I'm sure."  Except that you are asking for something for which they probably DON'T have "templates" AND they are trusting that the measurements you gave are correct.  Terrifying.

Then I had a lady ask me to bubble wrap her dried dip mixture package.  You know, just in case she drops it and the paper shatters on the way home.  Herbs and spices everywhere!

Whenever we are closing, I always wonder what people think the proper closing procedure should be, choices in my scenario being 1. closing time, buy your stuff and get the hell out as soon as possible. Better yet, don't come in at closing.  2. if you come in at 1 minute to closing you should get all the time you need to browse and shop, Costco style (or at least what I was told was Costco style.  I could just be perpetuating rumors).  

I have written about this before and I still maintain that you should not go into a store to browse if they are closing soon and if you are there after closing, you should get the hell out.  People want to go home.  Though I'm sure they exist, I have yet to meet someone that is thrilled by surprise after hours work, whatever their profession.  People need to go home, or at least do something else.  You've had a long hard day, filled with frustration and satisfaction?  You are hungry, need to kick your shoes off, have a drink, or do your hobby?  Well that's too fucking bad.  You should be thankful for this customer and their business because they told you so!  

Now I'm at home having a delicious beer and blogging.  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

believe it or not

1. Customers don't believe that we don't carry everything, for example, whatever they want.  What sort of perfect world do they think this is where they can call up the first place they think of and find the exact weirdly specific item they have decided they need?

2. Sometimes people's mothers aren't very nice.

3. I spent a good portion of the day directing traffic to the bathrooms.  You know, pointing them in the proper direction, reassuring them that it wasn't too far, chasing them out of closets and offices they thought might be a bathroom (despite signs stating they are not).

4. Sometimes the way people enjoy sitting on a sofa is to sit on a throw pillow on the sofa cushion.  People do all kinds of weird shit to the pillows.

5. Sometimes people have poor luck with an item so they will exchange it.  Makes sense.  The first one was probably defective.  But sometimes they keep having "defective" items and keep exchanging it.  Why would you keep getting an item when you have a history of problems with multiple items?  "This thing is shitty, but I like it.  I know I'll have trouble with this thing and all its shitty replacements because it is shitty, but I like it.  I give it as wedding gifts!"

6.  Sometimes people don't want to pay the change on their total.
"Your total is $20.35."
(hands me a $20 bill.)
I pause, thinking they might slowly be going for change.  After a moment I repeat:
"Your total is $20.35."

See, they think I'm going to pull 35 cents out of a magical non-existant change jar or perhaps my own pocket.  I used to feel sorry for these people.  I fell into the trap of thinking that maybe they were just a little short, you know?  They just needed a few cents, right?  What's the harm?  Well, the harm is that they are fucking faking and they ALWAYS have change.  They have a jangling separate purse full of coin.  They are just being cheap.  And think about it this way:  if they truly don't have enough money to buy their items, maybe they don't need all those items.  One sure fire way to get change fakers to cough up coin is to ask them which items they want to put back.  So, back to my story:

(looks of feigned confusion by the customer when I repeat the total)
"Don't you have a quarter and a dime?  For the 35 cents?"
(they fish the change out of their purse and we finish.)

Keep it simple.  Never accuse.  There is a time and place for accusations and that is the Internet.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

stupid human tricks

I can't stop googling people.  The good and the bad.  I want to state again that I would never use any of the information from work for malicious purposes.  I am a good and honest person.

It is fascinating to interact with a person in the store and then find out what they do and who they are and see how they present themselves to the internet world.  As I am typing, I feel a pang of guilt, like, if I think people are so interesting, why don't I talk to them about their lives to their faces?  But it can't work that way all the time.  A lot of the time.  Most of the time.

I don't expect to befriend these people or for them to change their behavior (the bad ones).  After a defeating day where it felt like everyone was an idiot, I question the capability of humanity.  When I look a little deeper into a life, I am reassured because I see the stupidity and meanness are tricks humans use when shopping.  If you catch a jerk in the right setting, they might just be an ok person.

At least, that is my hope.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hellbent princess bitches from Hell

I may have written about this before, but I can't remember.  I feel like it could be a bit creepy, so I may have refrained from confession.  BUT it is something I occasionally do and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Once in awhile, when there is an especially memorable customer (good or bad, though usually bad), I will google them.  I don't have malicious plans.  I am curious.  What makes this person such a raving, manipulative, horrible bitch?

I am usually disappointed by what I find.  They seem so normal and good.  Supposedly helping and improving the world through art, journalism, teaching, and other respectable pursuits.  I barely recognize their facebook and linkedIn profile pictures because they are smiling and being friendly.  I might find a news article about some activity they were a part of and I get sad because it sounds like we might have similar interests and could have good conversation, if they weren't bent on being bitch princesses from hell when they came in to shop. 

As the little details of unpleasant interactions fade away, I am left wondering why people behave the way they do in a retail store.  I wonder if it is done unknowingly out of general frustration or purposeful pay-it-forward hate.  Do people behave that way in stores like mine just because they can and it is almost expected?  Do they think to themselves, "finally a place I can have some power!  I WILL get my way in this store no matter what."  Do they take pleasure in being bitchy in my store, behaving in ways that would get them banished from polite society and estranged from friends?

The biggest let-down for me is not that I am unable to reciprocate the attitudes in elaborate and satisfying revenge plots, but that I cannot ask them "Hey.  You seem really angry and upset.  Are you ok?  Can we take a moment to really talk, put this all in perspective, and help each other out?"

Now I'm the crazy one.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

High Times and Low Lives part 1

A new series at Blame the Clerk in which I will highlight the best and worst part of my day, best being the "high time" and worst labeled under "low lives" (which implies that a person will be the cause of the worst part of my day, presumptuous, but sadly will probably be true). 


High:  catching a dragonfly in a cheese dome!  The dinosaur bug flew through an open door and was batting itself against the lights.  Miraculously, it landed in a spot I could reach it and let my corral it into the dome.  It was a lovely specimen.  I took it around and showed it to everyone before I let it go.  Customers and staff were equally wowed.

Low:  The couple that brought back a glass candle holder because it broke.  After they'd had it over a year.  When they received it as a gift.   SURE, they were "nice" and didn't throw a fit and demand to be compensated for their tragic loss, but they DID bring it in.  Deep down they were hoping and expecting that we would replace it.  Some people will read this and howl on about customer service and standing by our products blahblahblah.  The fact is that it was a cheap piece of glass without a warranty and they'd had and used it quite a while before it broke.  GLASS FUCKING BREAKS.  If you are the sort of person that is surprised by this, you should not own glass (or anything, really).  And just because you get a piece of glass from a Nice Store doesn't mean that it will last forever and they are obligated to forever keep you in glass when you break your glass vessel every few years.  Seriously couple with the broken glass?  You have so much time and energy you can spend the better part of a weekend day fucking around at a store about your broken glass vase?  You are actually going to make me say to you "well, unfortunately, glass can break."?  Yea.  Your vase broke.  That sucks.  Get a new fucking vase.

I could rant on about this for a long time.  Maybe the vase was a gift from a recently departed friend or relative.  That would be sad, but it is just a fucking vase.  Replacing a vase would not replace the person (we did not, by the way, have the vase any more so I couldn't have replaced it even if I wanted).  Maybe they both lost their jobs and are now SUPER poor and can't afford another vase.  Go to a thrift store, hit up a yard sale, tell everyone you know that you need a new vase.  This isn't even a realistic scenario because someone that is too poor to replace their vase sure as hell can't afford to buy candles (the vase was being used as a candle holder/burner).  Maybe you really do understand that glass can break but someone encouraged you to "ask anyway.  never hurts to ask."  Which is sort of true, but come on!  That thought and action is way overused, to the point that I am get embarrassed for people.  Like right now.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

sale weekend part two

Today is probably going to be another under-staffed shitstorm.  I am trying hard not to be too grumpy, tired, and stressed.  I really don't want work to give me gray hair and bad health. 

Deep calming breaths.

Happy thoughts.

Lots of water.

It's just work.

Friday, August 26, 2011

take time to stop and eat the roses

Yesterday began a new phase of our end-of-summer-sale:  the ultra markdowns.  Though it was nice to be busy, I am labeling the day as crappy because it put me and my normally cheerful co-workers in grumpy moods and wore me down completely.  All day I was hurrying and running around.  ALL DAY.  This sale has been a marathon of sorts and I need a little break.

There is a difference between regular store busy and super sale busy.  When customers shop a sale, they often abandon manners and decency, crapping equally on clerks and their fellow shoppers.  They reek of desperation, asking again and again for products that have sold out.  Their greed is insatiable, constantly pestering for lower prices.

All I want today is to help some semi-nice humans who are happy to find a few bargains and I would like to have lunch at a respectable hour.

Monday, August 15, 2011


To the man that came in and tried to rant about how "nothing is made in the USA": did you even look?

If you mistrust the word of your local clerks, perhaps you could trust the facts from strangers on the tool called the Internet.  Sorry dude, but the nothing-is-made-in-the-USA is a tired complaint and no longer shows frustration, but rather, lazy stinginess.

Also, for items of which there is no domestically made alternative, have you considered that maybe it is not as simple as you think?  There are a lot of things that consumers expect to be inexpensive and I cannot imagine a USA version.  Who is going to work in these factories?  Because YOUR kids are going to have Important Jobs, not lowly factory work.

Anyway.  I think of this often.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Four eyes

I wear glasses.  I can sort of see without them and often, when I'm not working, go without them to give my ears a rest.  But when I want or need to see well, I put on my spectacles.  It's amazing, really, these little pieces of plastic that give me sight.

When I am at work, I always wear my glasses.  I need to see and focus quickly.  I am always a little annoyed by people that don't wear their glasses and have me read everything for them.  Some of these glasses are readers, but I say, glasses are glasses.  A lot of us only need them sometimes, but those are the times when we should wear them.

There are customers that will have me walk through the store with them, finding items, reading price tags, describing items that to them look like blobs of color.  They usually say something like, "oh my glasses are in the car."  Sometimes they will even admit that their glasses are in their purse.  They will make a shameful face, like "I know glasses will help me see, but they are so ugly."

Put your fucking glasses on and get over it.  


- Yesterday some customer farted near my station.  That is annoying because I dislike the smell of farts and I also don't want other people to think I am farting and standing in my stink cloud.

- Sometimes ladies will purchase glasses or plates as replacements for losses when their husband was doing dishes.  And they will complain about it.  I wish I could tell them to shut the fuck up.  If someone else is doing dishes and you occasionally lose a glass, it seems worth it to me.

- There is a woman I have dubbed Pillow Problem Lady because she is always searching for the perfect pillows for her sofa without success.  I cringe when I see her because I know she is going to be disappointed.

- We sell these throws that are made of synthetic bouclé yarn.  They aren't that great, but customers go crazy for them.  I think I need to be in the cheap throw business.

- There were a unusual number of crappy kids in the store the other day.  I remember looking at one family and thinking "you make me want to get my tubes tied."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Matters of size

Here are two comments I often hear when customers are furniture shopping.  Examples:

"My wife is petite.  Like 5'2".  This sofa would be too deep for her."

"My husband is a big guy.  These chairs are too small."

I never have anyone tell me about obese spouses.  The statements I'm told are almost like bragging:  tiny, doll-like wives and big, muscly, manly husbands.  I also never hear about really tall wives or shrimpy husbands.  If a customer does comment on a tall woman, it is usually the woman herself and most often is part of a conversation about her tall family.  And short men don't complain about finding furniture that fits.  They just do it.

The other day I was helping a young, fit couple find chairs.  The wife asked if there were other styles because her "husband is big."  He was standing right there, looking pretty flipping average to me.  But to her, he is huge, a hero and a hunk of man who cannot and will not have dinky chairs!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Friday again

- I did an exchange for a woman who had received a book as a gift and months later realized someone had torn pages out (more on that later).  We didn't have the book in stock to replace immediately, but we could get it in the fall.  I explained this to the woman with careful, deliberate, honest statements.  I gave her other choices, like getting a different item or a gift card to use later.  Using her mouth, she told me that she wanted to wait and get a new book.  I wanted to confirm that it would be a long wait, so I said "it will be like getting it for Christmas all over again!" but I said it in a friendly, fun manner.  She laughed and said yes, which I assumed (dummy me) that she understood the time line.  Satisfied, I went to lunch.  When I came back, I was told that the woman came back minutes after I'd left, and asked my co-worker when her special order book would be in and kept insisting she find out the date it would arrive.  AAHHH!!!!!  I should know better than to assume that 1) people won't be dicks and 2) people will understand anything. 

- Who the FUCK tears pages out of books?  This has happened a couple of times at our store.  And I've checked reference books out of the library with the same problem.  These page tearers must live so in the moment that they cannot think of a way to find the information any other way than to tear it out.  I don't understand it and I don't like it.

- The woman complaining and complaining about her small and useless wallet:  I really wanted to tell her to just get a bigger wallet.  Some might say that about me and this blog and my job.  If I complain so much, why not just get a different job?  To which I would say:  a wallet is a much easier thing to fix than a job.  Seriously.  Get a new wallet.  I probably have an extra one at home I could let her borrow.

- There was a woman that spent close to an hour looking at napkins without being able to make up her mind.  When she was ready to check out, I was on the phone, finishing up a call I had picked up way before she came to the counter.  She waited at the counter for 5 seconds (I'm not even exaggerating on the time) before she stormed out the door.  I was off the phone when she was 15 feet from the counter, but she didn't come back when I said in a 15 foot voice "Didn't you want the napkins?"  I felt desperate and weird for sort of begging her to come back.  The annoying thing is that she is probably going to turn this into a story of how lousy our service is and tell all of her friends that she was ignored and that is just not true.

- There were some people sitting and talking at one of our tables yesterday.  I overheard bits of their conversation and it sounded like an interview.  Which I think is really weird. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

timely timing

Ok, here's the deal:

Most stores have posted hours.  So of course, if their posted closing time is 5 o'clock and you wonder in at 4:55, you are technically coming in while they are open.  There are generally 2 kinds of people that come in at this hour.

The first is the dasher.  "Oh my god are you closed?? No??  Can grab this one thing really quick?  I need it for a party RIGHT NOW.  I don't even care how much it costs!  I don't even need it in a bag!  Thank you SO MUCH!  You saved my life."  Dramatic, but sweet!

The other is the entitled browser:  "Oh, I know you are closing soon.  I just wanted to look at EVERYTHING in your store.  I just LOVE coming in here when everyone else is gone!  It's like my own private shopping experience!  Can you show me all of the (things that we have a ton of and also catalogs from which the customer could order this thing, basically unlimited selection that could take days to comb)?"  The entitled browser gets upset if you are even a little bit grouchy.  They want you to be as perky and chipper as you were at 11 a.m., when you had hours and hours before you could go home.  The entitled browser rarely BUYS anything.  Not that it is all about selling shit to people, but, um, it sort of is, right?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

3 little pigs

- I still don't like when grown women use a whiny baby voice, especially when they want something.  And when they are going on and on about how HORRIBLE their umbrella looks without its finial. 

- Stools are the bane of my existence.  The worst stool shopper yet was the woman that was apparently angry at me because our stools weren't "nice like chairs but high."  Whatever that means.

- More thought on the vampire customers, you know, the ones that hold a clerk hostage and talk at them because they are lonely and we are nice because that is our job.  Sometimes when I tell people about these sorts of customers, they make me feel guilty.  "It's hard to be lonely," they say.  "I could probably be that guy."  And I'll feel a bit of pity.  Then yesterday, while overhearing one repeat offender talking to one of my co-workers, I thought "Fuck that pity shit."  If they are so fucking lonely, love to talk so fucking much, and have so much fucking free time that they can wonder from store to store talking at clerks, baristas and other hired help, why don't they volunteer or something and spend time with people who might actually want human interaction?  Like in a nursing home?  The brief time I have spent visiting old people I have known in homes was depressing because so many of them seem lonely and eager for visits by younger people from the outside world.    But what the hell do I know.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's that very special time of year.

It's sidewalk sale time again!  We haul unsold clearance, scratch-n-dent, and old merchandising merch, out onto the pavement and let people paw for deals.  Every year that I've worked, the long term employees say that this is their least favorite sale.  I never really had a problem with it until this year.  Now I say it too:  I hate sidewalk sale.  I was trying to explain to my boyfriend what makes this sale and these customers worse than any other sale shoppers or hagglers.  Here's one example of a typical transaction:

I sold a customer a tray from the sidewalk.  It was properly labeled with price tags, on the correct rack, and in great condition.  Before purchasing it, the customer asked me the cost of the tray.  I want to state that I am perfectly fine with people asking the price of items.  In fact, with this sale, I have gotten in the habit of saying aloud the price of the item as I ring it up, so that they know that I know it is on sale.  So, customer asked the price of the tray and I told her.  She said ok, paid, and requested to have it double bagged.  Done.  Right?  Nope.

As I was coming back from lunch, I saw the tray customer at the counter with 2 of my co-workers.  The tray and the receipt were out.  There looked to be a lot of talking.  I ducked around the corner to eavesdrop.  To my horror, but not surprise, the customer claiming confusion and that I didn't tell her the price when she was buying it.  That sneaky bitch! Fishing for a deeper discount.

These tricks pulled by sale customers are universal.   I forget sometimes.  It is not one or two contentious jerks to deal with, but a whole day of people who think that but having a bad attitude and playing stupid, they will get an even better deal.  How could you even enjoy a purchase if the whining, lies and "confusion" did work?   "Isn't this tray great?  It was 75% percent off, so I snatched it up and paid for it.  THEN I went back later and told them that the girl who rang me up mislead me, so they gave me an extra 10% off the $34.99 sale price!!"  Gross.  You're probably a hoarder too.

As I was closing the store yesterday, I thought about how beautiful and dignified it is to buy something at full price.

Do you like to read about sales?  Hmm, do you?

Friday, July 8, 2011

EXTREME PILLOW!! expounded

One of my loyal followers wrote me requesting further explanation on the EXTREME PILLOW post.  In responding, it is not my intention to shame my reader for missing my brilliant sarcastic humor, but to allow myself the chance to rag on the ridiculous pillow more and to plug a past post.

You may or may not remember this post about fabric names.  I am pretty sure the "extreme" in EXTREME pillow comes from the name of the fabric.  This is funny because it is not extreme anything.  It is not extremely durable, expensive, colorful, textured, interesting, soft, crisp, flammable.  So that it is named EXTREME is ironic and I wonder if the manufacturers were purposely being hilarious.

This pillow is the most boring thing I've ever seen.  Not welted, not boxed, just a beige smear on the sofa, built for the fearful conformists.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


This 14x14, cotton poly blend, down filled, beige pillow is labeled "extreme pillow."  Yea, extremely BORING!  Zing!  Take that pillow!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

These are your favorite things to do, for the 1300th time

- You hem and haw and can't make up your mind.  When you finally do, I process your transaction with my routine efficiency.  One of the steps includes asking if you are part of our frequent shopper program.  For some reason, you think this is what is going to make you late for your appointment.  One yea, because all of a sudden you remember that you are in a hurry.  Not my fault you can't manage your time, grown-up.

- You grab your purse and dig through your wallet, panicking, because you KNOW I did not give you your credit card back.  I stop moving and watch you rustle through your belongings.  I reassure you that I do not still have your card.  I remind you how I gave it to you.  I try to suggest, without being creepy, that you check your pants pocket (because I saw you put it in there).  You are positive that I still have it.  You are about 9 seconds away from accusing me of theft.  You find it.  Oh yes, you remember putting it there now! 

- You tell me you find the free coffee to be delicious.  I don't tell you that I call it diarrhea in a mug.

- You tell me how important it is to you that we all "shop local."  Then you return items you bought at our store because you think you can get them cheaper online.   

- You are crazy.  Today you wouldn't shut up about pizza and tacos.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

toby kant 'holster

Lately I've noticed a lot of people looking at furniture and then remarking that their friend makes furniture.  In most instances, it is a couple and it goes a little something like this:

"Toby knows how to make furniture."

"Really?  Toby?  I did not know that Toby could make furniture."

The furniture maker is usually a mutual friend.  They will talk for a few moments about his strange and wonderful character.

"Yea, he could totally make a chair like this."

"Really?  I love this chair!  Would he make one for us?"

"Oh yea, he loves making stuff.  That guy could build anything."

Freed from the consumer lasso!  They don't need to pay retail for these soulless chairs!  They have a genius friend that loves nothing more than making shit for people he had a class with once.

"I mean, he can't upholster it, but he knows how to work with wood.  He could totally build the frame."

"Oh yea?  Then we could just get someone else to upholster it!!"

AH HA!  Toby can't upholster.  No big deal though.  Just find someone else to add the springs, cushions, padding, and coverings. 

"We should have him do it!"

"We totally should!"

It's never going to happen.

I am all for people making their own things and I know there are people that are capable of building whatever they want and could make furniture or whatever else. But there is a lot that goes into making a frickin sofa.  Maybe Toby the genius knows how to work with wood, but what about all the rest of it?  Again, I don't doubt that there are people who can build a chair from wood frame to tailored covering, but I do doubt that all these people I overhear have friends that are actually willing do it.  Especially for friends who are only wanting Toby to do it so that they can save money.  Which means Toby would probably have to work for free and that could really cut into his free time for doing other projects.  And Toby definitely sounds like the sort of person that has a woodshop full of projects.

weekly highlights

- We carry this one line of citrus squeezers that makes different squeezers for limes, lemons, and oranges.  The lime one is green, the lemon is yellow, and the orange is orange.  People FREAK OUT if we are out of the one they need.  It is useless to tell them that the lemon squeezer will work for most limes as well. 

- Yesterday's theme:  people deciding something was a certain way and then getting pissed at me when I gently corrected them because I can't make an event that never was a past reality. 

- I had a woman ask me if a particular lotion she was buying was "good."  I found myself caught off guard because I HATE the brand; I find their scents extremely strong, fake, and perfumey.  But customers love them and we sell the crap out of them.  Fearful that I made a yuk face, I came back with "well, personally, this is not my preferred scent, but the lotion is nice."  It didn't really matter though because she answered her cell phone and had a loud conversation with her adult child.  When she got off the phone, she told me that it was nice that I was "gainfully employed."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Life Skills

I overheard a conversation today between two woman talking about their friend.  Apparently, their friend has had the same housekeeper since the mid 1970's and she doesn't want to keep the housekeeper on any more but doesn't know how to fire her.

You know, the woman who's been cleaning up your filth for the past 40 plus years?  Don't they teach this in school?  How to handle the help?


Saturday, June 18, 2011

sac up: double baggers

Today I loaded a customer's purchases into one of our large bags.  The items were bulky, but not heavy, and the bag was not overly full or bulging or strained.  I am very cautious about loading bags.

Then she asked for a double bag because "she had a ways to walk."

I am going to comment and judge her based on my own life.  I know where she was going because I confirmed her address when I rang her up.  She was going 3 blocks, a 5 minute walk, 0.4 miles.  That is not far.  I walk everywhere.  My walking commute is 3 times this distance, and I don't consider that "far."  I carry everything, so I know when a bag is too heavy or awkward or weak.  She was just thoughtlessly paranoid.

I didn't give her a bag.  I reassured her that the bags can hold 40-45 pounds (which they can; we've tried).  Had she INSISTED, I would have double bagged, but it was an unnecessary and ridiculous request. 

There are many bad bag packers out there, but not me.  I am sure I have bragged about this before, but I am really good at packing a bag.  CUSTOMERS!  Rest assured that in my hands, your precious purchases are safe and smartly packed.

Friday, June 10, 2011

might i suggest a male stripper?

Hello!  I was really hoping that you would come in today!  Preferably at the very last five minutes and ask me what you should get your friend for their birthday!

Fuck.  Ok, ok, I can do this.  I can help you find the perfect gift, I tell myself, while the devil on my other shoulder says that I can't and reminds me of all my closing chores.

"Do they drink?"  please drink.  please be drinkers.  "Like wine or cocktails?  Bar accessories can be fun!"  Maybe this is always my first suggestion because situations like this make ME want a drink.

"Yes!  They do.  They love wine!"

YES!  "Look at these fine things . . ."

"Hm.  Well, these are cute, but I want something more . . . "


"YES!  Special!"

Of course you do.  You reek of special.

I trot you around the store and show you all the cutest specialest things I can find.  You shoot every single suggestion down.  ARGH!  Are you so delusional as to think that you can wander in here last minute and find a gift that makes you look like you REALLY CARE when you only sort of do?

And why do you have to make it my fault?

Sunday, June 5, 2011


I had a customer come in today and ask the location of a specific bank.  I don't understand why people think I should know all the banks including locations and ATM fees.  I looked the bank up in the phone book (why do these fools even have fancy ass phones if they don't use them?) and consulted with my co-workers about the bank in question.  The bank had a branch that was out of the way and difficult to explain to this out-of-towner.

The whole time, in my mind, I'm wondering why he hasn't gone to one of the banks across the street and used their ATMs?  I mean, there will be a fee, but what is $2 or $3 compared to 60-90 minutes of fucking around, driving all over a strange town, talking to people that don't give a shit about your bank problems because they are trying to help the real customers in their store?  Then he mentioned that he wanted to find the bank because he didn't want to pay the $3 for the ATM across the street.  Fuck off.  As far as I'm concerned, that's the price you pay for not planning in advance.

Hell, I occasionally use an ATM 4 blocks away from my bank because I need the money NOW and I don't have the time to wait 8 blocks (there and back).  Often, I'm with friends and don't want to drag them all around just because I wasn't smart enough to get some cash after work.

Maybe file this under "that's why rich people are rich:"  gripping those dollar bills SO TIGHT.  But it seems rather stupid to me.  Just pay the fee.  Or go to a damn drug store, buy a pack of gum, and get some cash back, just like the rest of us dummies.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Wow.  I can't remember anything special about today.  Maybe it was too horrible.  Or maybe nothing exciting happened.  Thank you, brain, for blocking out any unnecessary bullshit.  And thank you internet for being there for me.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Get a mint

-I had someone ask for a biscuit knife.  What the heck is a biscuit knife.  Biscuits seems like one food where any old knife will work for cutting.  But who knows?  I could be missing some enriched biscuit experience. (doubt it though).

-Real customer quote: "Will we ever find a cheese cutter??  It is this ongoing problem!"

-It is usually amusing to overhear the kind of customer that discovered everything first.  I call it the Naysayer-Trendsetter Routine.  The customer walks around and, often quite vocally, puts everything down.  Then they talk about they had it first like 7 years ago and now it is EVERYWHERE. 

-Sometimes I don't understand how people can't find things.  Do they lack the ability to go to a store and read and use their eyes?  Do they not know how to turn on a computer and type in the thing they want?  Do they find phone books and alphabets truly impossible?  Or are they just LAZY?

-If you have bad breath, go to a dentist.  Work on it because it's a problem.  I know there are a lot of people that probably can't afford fancy shit like dentistry, but they aren't my customers; I'm selling people $300 soup pots and $10,000 sofas.  Chew some gum, suck a mint, eat some parsley, and take a step back.  Please do not get in my personal space and sigh in my fucking face.  Your death breath is gross and distracting and makes me dry heave.  Thank you.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

It takes 43 muscles to frown

Yesterday I was extremely cheerful and peppy and many of my co-workers were also in disgustingly good moods.  The customers, however, were not.  There are always a few curmudgeons, but nearly everyone I had contact with yesterday was grumpy and negative and foul.  I wrote a little note on a piece of paper:

"Everyone today is SO grumpy and negative."

I showed it discreetly to my co-worker in between customers.  She smiled and nodded in agreement.  After we closed the doors at the end of the day, we felt beat down.  Are we the only happy people in the world?  What the hell is up with all the grumpypants?

Some theories included a full moon (though I have since looked and the moon is not full; it is a waning cresent.  you know how crazy people get when there is a waning cresent moon.) and the parade happening a few blocks away.   

Lighten up people.  Your stress is killing you.  And you are stressing out over baskets, coffee makers, and house warming gifts for people you don't even like.  Therefore, it is like you are being killed slowly by baskets, coffee makers, and house warming gifts.  Embarrassing!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

call me, f*ck you

Among all the phone calls I made today, I had two in which the customers, at the time they gave me their numbers, claimed to be extremely eager to hear back from me.  Please imagine my annoyance when these two very important phone calls were not only unanswered, but denied voice mail.  There was this cute little message "this very important person is unavailable.  please try your call again later."  I mean, I live to serve.  I probably have nothing better to do than to call these people until they decide to pick up.

tales from the other side (of the counter)

I was at one of those stores that buys used clothes for cash or trade.  I had one modest bag of shoes that I was pretty confident they would accept.  There was quite the line-up when I arrived.  Sometimes when this happens, I shop and then go back to the line; this time around, I didn't want to take the chance that someone would come in with a bunch of stuff and take what could have been my place.

There was one guy with a garbage bag of clothes at the counter, a girl with a small bag behind him, followed by two college kids with paper shopping bags which did not appear to be holding much because there was no bulge.  Then there was me, playing Tetris on my phone.

The girls working got through the garbage bag of clothes, at which point they start going through another of his garbage bags.  Dude had 5 garbage bags of clothes.  FIVE.   I am repeating "garbage bags" for a reason; his clothes sucked.  I overheard him saying how his wife had cleaned out the closet and these were all the clothes.  They didn't bother to sort them at all, which I think is rude.  Do you actually think anyone is going to want to buy your gross, worn out, outdated clothing?  One of the girls actually made a yuk face when she grabbed a pile of dingy cropped camisoles.  I could see the old skin and sweat from my place in line.

The college boys left when the multiple garbage bags were revealed.  Yes!  I moved up a level.

While I was in line, another guy came in and took his place behind me.  He had EIGHT garbage bags.  I love having my choices validated.

Monday, May 23, 2011

there are a lot of ways to say "you're wrong"

I wouldn't mind if today passed without any customers claiming that they purchased an item at our store when they could not have because we never carried it.  From what I have learned, this is a common occurrence, not just for me, but for stores and clerks everywhere.  I have written about it before.  It is an annoying situation to navigate.  When the customer is insistent and refuses to back down gracefully, the clerk is basically forced to tell them that they are wrong, without doing so of course. 

I don't like to do it.  Please don't make me do it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cutting board innovation

Look at this cute wine bottle shaped cutting board!
which can double as a paddle!
Spank you!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Oh fuck it. I'm happy.

I got paid today so I decided to take myself out for lunch at one of my favorite places.  I recently met the girl that was working and we chatted a little about our respective jobs.  She asked me if I liked my job and I said, honestly, "I do.  I probably shouldn't, but I do" and then gave three reasons why.

So often I feel guilty about liking my job.  I feel I am supposed to be aspiring to be something "better," better being something with more money, prestige, responsibility.  Somehow I am losing by being content. 

There are a lot of things I could use that my job doesn't provide, but I don't know if it would necessarily be an improvement.  Sure, I could use more money, but more money isn't going to solve any unhealthy relationships I have with it.  Health insurance would be nice, but I'm not even going to get into that.  I used to think that my job didn't provide me with enough respect, but I am finding that respect can be gained and propagated by giving it to myself.

There are only so many days I have and I don't want to spend them being unhappy and thinking I will have this magic perfect life someday.  My life is pretty fucking great and I'm thankful.  Fellow clerks:  when you are feeling sad or down, think of the good things in your life.  Don't let stress and sorrow kill you.  Be a little fucking pollyanna ray of sunshine and at least a couple of fools will appreciate and smile with you.  And the grouchy judgey assholes can flip off.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

the crappy American

Some customers are truly childish enough to interrupt and get fussy when they should know to wait their turn.  I was ringing up a woman today in my normal brisk yet unrushed pace when another customer went to another register and started talking to me even though I was already talking to the first customer.  I told the interrupter that I would be with her in a moment.  Then I looked at the customer I was helping, hoping to make an unspoken connection.  "This is crazy right?  I actually have to tell her to wait her turn.  Some people!"  But there was nothing.  I'll be nice and assume she was being polite.

After I rang up Interrupting Cow*, she bumped into one of her friends and they spoke for about 20 about IC's travels, both past and upcoming.  Friend asked IC if she could pick her up a souvenir in Norway.  IC then spent several minutes describing all of her travel trinkets and how she has them displayed in her home.  Now, of course I would like to travel more than I do and so my next few sentences might sound like jealous clerkspeak, but I promise you it's not.  IC was so unpleasant.  The idea that she is traveling the world, telling everyone where she is from, being horrible to foreign clerks pissed me off.  Dear world, this crappy American doesn't represent me or many of my compatriots. 

*Every time a customer interrupts, my mind plays through that knockknock joke:
Knock Knock Who's There?
Interrupting Cow
Interrupting Cow wh... Moo!!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

theme of the week

Primary colors don't make them less suggestive.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Oil, mister!

The new oil misters are here!  With a stainless ribbed casing for improved grip should there be any drizzles!  All we need to learn now is where to insert the batteries.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I don't know if the internet is big enough to hold the weirdness I experienced today

Sometimes I forget that there are a lot of different realities.  For example, I think it would be obvious that if something is being custom made, it will probably take longer to make than something which is not.  There are people, though, that have things custom made and do not see it that way.  That person might tell me how easy it should be to make their custom piece, even though they have no experience or knowledge in the making of these items. 

And sometimes people have ideas about how a thing should be, despite written and photographic proof that they are wrong, like thinking a double boiler gadget should come with a lid, even when the picture on the box shows it without a lid and I call the company that made the product to check that there was no included lid.  When we look at the box together, a delusional person might say, "See!  A lid!"  and all I see is a picture of a double boiler full of melted chocolate because that is the subject of the photograph. 

I bet it is terrifying to work at the Department of Licensing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No housewife should be without this brush!

With its long handle for control, accommodating bristles, and curved bulb tip, this is the perfect tool for any dirty vessel or hard-to-reach area!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

a collective "fuck that shit"

I know your grandparents are mad at me. I don't count back change. I see what the computer tells me to give, mentally assure myself that it's right, and hand it to the customer in an orderly fashion. I do count the bills so we all see that I did give you three $20 bills and not two, but I don't do that whole counting forwards bullshit. That was the past, in a cold dark time before machines did math for me.

I am not alone. I don't remember the last time someone counted back my change and I am thrilled because, if no one else is doing it, I'm not going to feel guilty.

High five, my fellow clerks! Old lady at Target, kids at the drugstore, volunteers at my thrift stores, and self check out at the grocery store! One less oppressive chore!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

mutha's day

I know it's my job to help people find gifts, but I get so sad and distracted when people ask for help finding gifts for the following:

1) mother-in-law who has EVERYTHING, is wealthy, is moving, is picky, and is diabetic. Maybe she just needs some flowers and a card?

2) best friend. You just said she is your BEST FRIEND. Shouldn't you know what to get her?

3) daughter or daughter -in-law. This is hard, especially for mother's day and especially when you start to describe her parenting style and tell me that she is very specific. This makes me think that nothing you will pick will be right anyway, so why put too much thought into it?

4)Grandmother in a nursing home. With dementia. Maybe she needs a hug and not a dustcatcher? Sending her a trinket is not the same as your feeling your touch and hearing your voice.

Or maybe everyone needs some nice soaps and bath oils.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Harmless and satisfying: just my style

Every once in awhile, when a customer has been horrible and then has me hold or store merchandise for them, I might rub it on my butt. Over the pants, on the cheeks, like what a chair sees when you approach. I get giggles thinking about how much this amuses me. Then, when I hand it to the customer later, I think "I rubbed that on my butt."

Immature, perhaps, but I don't care!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

weekly highlights

-Sometimes customers come in looking for a very specific item that they are going to use in a different application other than cooking or baking. I drag this info from them with the question "what are you using it for?" When they tell me and I have a good suggestion of another place they might look for the tool they are describing, they often like to dismiss it as though I am incapable of having good ideas. And I say "thank you!"

-Yesterday I greeted a woman, but she must not have realized I worked at the store. She walked up to the counter and, peering around behind it, said "Ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling!". (impersonating a bell to get a clerk's attention). Then she asked me a weird, crazy question that is not important and has no real answer.

-A customer returned flatware because she had problems with the stickers. I empathized with her sticker problem and then attempted to offer solutions. After working all day with the damn stickers, I know a trick or two. Before I could finish that sentence, she cut me off and told me this laborious process that she tried and that she is right and she hates stickers.

First world problems!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

the secret life of ants

I don't know what it was about yesterday, but many customers seemed to not hear me when I greeted them with my friendly and non-pressuring "Hello!". Perhaps it was my pitch or volume or all the mesmerizing merchandise around them.

When I think that someone hasn't heard me, I usually wait a few more seconds for them to adjust to their surroundings and then try again. Sometimes it seems like they might be purposely ignoring because they don't want to be "sold" anything, and in those cases, I usually leave them alone until they are near desperate for help. I'm busy too you know.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

so we meet again. not that you'd remember because you are too important. oh and you suck.

On Friday, I was walking past one of the counters when I intercepted a problematic transaction between one of my young co-workers and a customer. I came in closer to observe, all the while looking busy. After listening for about 5 seconds, a wave of adrenaline came over me. Like a crime victim, I immediately remembered the customer from one of her other transactions 2 years ago.

Here she was again, this time trying to return an item that we have NEVER CARRIED at our store. She was so horrible and insistent that she bought it from us that the owner/buyer went through her records just to double check, even though there was no such item in inventory, no employee remembered the item, and she had no receipt.

My co-worker was amazing. So cheerful and helpful, offering solutions for repair after we said, in the nicest way, that we would not take back the item. The customer, dead set on being right, asked when the store came under new ownership. With extreme pleasure, I told her that it was the same owner, just as it has been for the past 4 decades. In other words, bitch you're wrong and we all know what you're up to.

This time, we found out her name. I made a note in the system that she was a problem returner and should only be handled by management. I googled her. I allowed myself some revenge fantasies (a subscription to International Male; army recruitment applications, plastic surgery brochures). Of course, I would never DO anything because I am not only a good person, but I am professional.

Basically, I was just glad that someone else experienced her horribleness so that I don't feel like I was exaggerating or fabricating. Next time she comes in, with what I'm sure will be a complicated, questionable return, we will be ready.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

i have but one back, and i don't want to break it for you.

It's probably my own fault. I work/have worked demeaning retail jobs for my whole life. Why would I do that? I'm probably stupid. Since I'm probably stupid, I probably compensate by having super human strength, despite the fact that I appear to be an average size.

So of course customers would not hesitate to ask me to carry insanely heavy things to their cars for them. And if not me, then one of my co-workers: equally (if not more) fragile ladies, hired for their ability to merchandise, count back change, and give advice on napkin choice, NOT lifting hide-a-beds.

Oh, we have a system for helping those people that are too stingy to pay our delivery fee, which is less than $50, by the way. But customers don't listen and just SHOW UP and then we have no choice but to find a way to throw a console table into their truck. I cringe when one of my co-workers that should not be lifting heavy things does just once in order to help a customer.

Sure. It's just a credenza. A solid wood table. Six feet long. With a shelf and two unremovable drawers. When was the last time you picked a fucking tree up off the ground and gently placed it in the back of a Volvo?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

You don't know what I don't know

I had some Canadian customers use a Canadian two dollar coin to pay for some candy. She started to hand me the coin, then paused and said "You probably don't know what this is, do you?"

Are you fucking kidding me. I work in a retail store close to Canada. Of course I know about the damn Canadian Toonie.

There is a presumption with many customers that because they control a situation by making decisions about shopping, they are also omniscient. Few seem to realize that, in fact, I might know about the world. I also know alot about them (name, address, phone number, credit card number, purchase and return history, birthday, names of spouse and offspring, home color schemes, favorite food, food allergies, pet's name and breed, car make and model, location of vacation homes) while they often don't know anything about me other than my physical description, and maybe not even that.

Creepy but true.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

squeeze and thank-yous

Yesterday my co-worker told me how she finished ringing up a customer and then handed them the receipt and said, "there you go! You're all set!" and the woman stood staring at her. My co-worker was a little weirded out and tried some other cheerful phrases to indicate that the transaction was over and the woman could step away from the counter. But she kept standing there, staring.

"Was she drunk?" I asked my co-worker.

Then the customer said "I'm waiting for my thank-you" at which point my co-worker said "oh yes, thank you."

This particular co-worker is one of the sweetest, most pleasant and gracious co-workers ever. She exudes cheerfulness and genuine care. So to have some grump force a thank you that she didn't purposefully with hold is pretty insulting. Sure, a thank you was in order, but by being a jerk about it, the meaning was lost.

Take your fucking thank you, collect them like bazooka joe bubblegum wrappers, send in for the prize, and be disappointed when you realize it was all an illusion of hope and delayed pleasure.

Friday, April 15, 2011

stingy with the hatchback

I have said before how weird it is that so many customers don't think their furniture purchases will fit in their huge cars/vehicles/SUVS. The weirdness turns to annoyance when

1) they won't measure items. Somehow they think eyeballing it will do, even as they express doubt that it will fit.

"I think this will fit in the back of my car. Can you carry it out for me?" [I find people to carry it out. They gird themselves for the lift. The customer returns.] "You know what, I don't know if it's going to fit!" And then we don't even get to try.

2) they don't even begin to trust me when I suggest that it probably will fit in their car, regardless of my relatively good spatial skills (which, to be fair, they probably don't know I have) and the fact that I am at the store all day, measuring shit and helping people with the exact same scenario.

I don't know about other clerks, but I'm not even going to suggest shoving something in your car unless I'm pretty damn sure it will fit.

Monday, April 11, 2011

food vessels I might avoid

I had a customer call for chafing dishes. She was positive that she had seen some at our store, but she was mistaken. We do not have chafing dishes. After I got off the phone, I started thinking about how chafing dish is sort of an unfortunate term. Who wants to eat out of something called a chafing dish. I imagine scabby potato dishes or meat chunks dried up in a corner with evaporated sauce holding them in like river mud. I think "warming plate" sounds better.

Friday, April 8, 2011

shop local vs. the internet

Today I had a customer tell me about how she found a certain big ticket item online for half the price of what we sell it. She was not looking for a price match, but rather, an explanation as to why some website could sell it for that price and we could not.

I told her all the scenarios that I could think of that could possibly cause that: how our price includes shipping and freight, how the online retailer might have more bulk buying power, that it could be a clearance price. I really stressed that before she buy the item, she find out the shipping cost, especially when she said that there definitely was not free shipping. I encouraged her to find out how much assembly the piece would require and the level of difficulty.

As sweet as she was about the whole thing, and as much as I appreciate her honest questions, I was also slightly perturbed. When you shop in a store, you get to talk to a human and probably to their face. I know this can be a bad experience, depending on a lot of factors, but I think a lot of sales staff is actually going to do their job: answer questions, give opinions when needed, assist the customer with making the right choice. If you are shopping in a store where this happens, you should keep shopping there (when necessary of course) and count your blessings for a helpful clerk.

(I know this post sounds boastful, but, damn!)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

someone Gurgled all over the floor

Have you seen these?

Gurgle pots? They are pitchers shaped like fish with carefully designed cavities so that the liquid inside "gurgles."

We keep one with water in it on the sales floor. No matter what sort of sign or picture we have near it, hardly a day goes by that someone does not spill the water onto the floor.

I came across a rather large spill today. As no one was around, I have no way of knowing who did it or how long this big pool of water was there, waiting dangerously for someone to slip in it. And why didn't the spiller tell someone what happened. We don't give shit; we just want to clean it up.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


There are some customers that you learn early because they are notorious. Thieves, chiselers, princesses, name-droppers: whatever their game, they do it with gusto and without remorse. "I am such a great customer! I've spent so much money here!" They might tell you that to get what they want and to intimidate. I hate that it works on people. Co-workers might mention that a certain customer owns half the town and has more money than God and everything we have we owe to them because of their wild spending habits.

Since they are an unavoidable force in the retail world and it is pretty impossible to punish them, I have decided that the only real way to win is to give my very best service to the customers that deserve it. Oh, I will still smile and inquire and wrap with care for the baddies, but I will be doing it as quick as possible to get them out the door and onto pestering others. When possible, I am going to tell my good customers how much I appreciate them. Because I really do.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

you say kyoo-pon, i say koo-pon

Our store has a coupon in a book of coupons to encourage "shopping local." It's a pretty great coupon because you can redeem it on items that are not covered by our regular coupon. A strange thing that's been happening is that customers have returned items that they purchased using the coupons and they want the coupons back! Here is why it is weird: 1. I don't remember this happening before in all the years I have worked. 2. Who asks for a coupon back?

In the grown up world I live in, coupons come with limits: the amount you must spend or get to save, the quantity of product, how often, and how long. Sometimes these rules are flexible but often not. Don't worry; there will be another coupon. And sorry, but, if you choose poorly and return you item, we can't and won't reissue a coupon that was not issued by us in the first place so that you can try your poor taste again. It is the "yeh!" and "bummer!" cycle of every transaction, but reversed. ("Yeh, I'm buying this awesome thing that I totally need and want and I'm saving a little money with this coupon!" "Bummer, I really don't like it because I didn't actually think before making the purchase." "Yeh! I get to return it and get my money back!" "Bummer, I used my coupon in order to save at the time of purchase and now I am going back on it.") OH WELL.

For some reason this year, customers think the coupon is bus pass to savings and as long as you keep getting a transfer, you never have to pay that extra bit.

Tacky as hell and irresponsible to boot.


-I've said this before, but it is another one of those human mysteries that will disgust and baffle me until the end of my life: people will lay their garbage anywhere. Coffee cups, wrappers, old food: regardless of the store they are visiting or how close a trash bin is located, when they are done with whatever is in their hands, they just set it down. Or throw it into a trash receptacle shaped object; basket on the floor that is tall and cylindrical (and full of pristine, nicely folded merchandise)? Toss that shit in!

-My latest piece of merchandise that I judge people by? The faucet soap dish. I'm sorry. I just don't get it. And when I hear someone going on and on about how cute it is, I am bewildered.

-It's sort of spring time, I GUESS, but the winter scarf and flip-flop combo doesn't look very much fun. You know those are the people who drive.

-I was helping this man who was, um, not white select a food processor. Then we went to the cash register so he could make his purchase. There were some details that made the transaction a little longer than most, but the annoying thing was that these middle class white old broads kept interrupting! Like, while I was TALKING to the man, they start asking me questions. I told them I would be happy to help as soon as I was finished helping my first customer. Then when he was paying, they stood there watching with annoyance. Bitches! You're not that great and I bet your meatloaf sucks.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm going to blog the shit out of you

The other day I had this customer come in 50 minutes before the store closed and purchase a LARGE, HEAVY piece of furniture. I started the whole delivery-for-a-nominal-fee versus "free" pick-up conversation. The customer asked (basically quote) "don't you have some beefy guys that can throw it in the back of my truck?" And I'm, like, "No." I thought he was joking. His tone was even sort of jokey, so I was playful. But when I chuckled and said no, shit got desperately serious.

He actually thought that we paid warehouse guys to stand around the store JUST IN CASE someone wanted to cheap out on delivery and have them hall a clearance floor model piece of furniture to a customer vehicle instead. The customer became pissy and wondered off to bitch into his cell phone. Meanwhile, I called the warehouse in a panic, hoping that someone was still there and that they would be able to hotfoot it over and haul the merch.

Luckily, someone was at the warehouse and he cheerfully came to help. BUT bitchy man customer was still put out EVEN THOUGH HE WAS GETTING EXACTLY WHAT HE WANTED (in all caps). He sat and pouted for the 12 minutes it took the warehouse staff to get there. I couldn't even look at him. When I did get a glimpse of him in my peripheral, I wanted to puke because he felt the need to keep being a jerk with this silent pissy attitude. Like, let it go man. And though the same could be said for ME, I will say in my defense that I get over situations pretty quickly. If there is some residual crappiness, I write there. But I honestly try to be humble, see both sides, and fucking forgive.

All I could think to pacify myself when he was sitting there is: "I'm gonna blog the shit out of you, unreasonable, stupid man." And that was reassuring.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Things I'm tired of hearing you bitch about

- the amount of time it takes our professionals to gift wrap something. I'd like to see you wrap anything that fast.

- how hard it is to find a good basket.

- the length of the receipt. And I know you won't read it.

- the duty you must pay when taking goods into your country. I don't make up the rules. Go back to your country and run for Parliament or something.

- and this isn't something customers bitch about, but I am tired of hearing you eat the food that we sample. Gross. You make me lose my appetite.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

bordeaux, bored-o

Customers were very needy today. I did a lot of hand-holding. For some people, I don't mind being a substitute friend, but others make me want to gouge my eyes out with bamboo toaster tongs.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I know we don't always get to choose . . .

I really don't want to die at work.

When I hear stories about some car driving through a front window and smashing a woman at her desk or read stories like this, I think "wow it really could happen." This is not even taking into account the possibility of natural disasters.

So, since any of us could go at any time, I am trying to be even more jolly about having a job and going to work so that if I die there, I DIE FUCKING HAPPY. And know where all the exits and flashlights are located. With my record of awkward and poor timing for important matters, there is a good chance I will be behind the tills.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


-Ever since I watched this episode of Portlandia, I cannot look at bird merch the same way. I have been sick of birds and this was the "nail in the coffin". So when a future bride was buying a bunch of ceramic birds for her bird-themed wedding, I could only sigh. What animal will be the next bird? (By the way, I love real birds. I am just sick of them stuck on everything, as demonstrated in the Portlandia clip).

-Still amazed by the phenomena that when you need to put something back in a store devoid of customers, there will be someone standing right in front of the display which you are needing to return an item. This never stops being weird.

-I am in hate with Debit. Ok, ok. It saves the store a few bucks here and there, which I can appreciate. But debit transactions require a certain amount of precision and interaction for which I do not always have time. Classic example: the distracted mommy. She says debit, I say enter PIN, but she is gone chasing her kid. If I was smart, I am still holding the debit card so that when the opportunity to enter the PIN times out, I can easily reswipe the card without having to ask for it again. BUT, I am often hasty, and that leads to the time consuming job of asking for the card again, explaining that they were not already charged (as they most often think), and going through the PIN entering process again. OH! Error in entering PIN. Please try again. Nope, not the green button, the yellow button. Ok there you go. Cross our fingers and hope it works.

-Evil me: There is this homeless?/ne'er do well man that has been coming in nearly every day, sometimes several times a day. He seems harmless enough, and I get the sense that he is itching to talk to us about making displays, like, he wants to pretend that he works at the store or maybe he just wants to work. ANYWAY, he does not and I get frustrated because I end up babysitting him and his pack and I don't want to be unkind, but I also have a lot more to do than to be 3 hours of entertainment. So I end up going out of my way to NOT engage him because I don't want to have to talk to him for 15 minute intervals.

-Just because you saw something at Starbucks doesn't mean it is a good idea.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

If you care enough to care

The other day I had a customer buy a few items, including a card. The price tag was stuck right on the card since it was not one of those with the wasteful plastic sleeve. We were half way through the transaction when the customer became pissed that the price tag would not cleanly come off the card.

I asked if she wanted to return it, half serious, because usually when I ask that for any customer hesitations, they say, "well, no!" But this lady said yes and then scolded me for putting price tags on the cards. "You should just have a sign that says that price of the cards!" I couldn't even respond. She wouldn't understand. She is obviously not one to observe the quantity and scale and enormity of the card section and the pace at which it rotates. Perhaps she thinks she is in a old-timey general store.

Sugar...8 cents per pound.
Eggs...20 cents a dozen.
Cards...$3.50 each

As I have stated before, who fucking cares how much a card costs? Don't most people know that they can cost anywhere from free to $6? Who was scandalized last time they went to Hallmark? Besides, people throw cards away, and probably before a date that the issuer would find acceptable. Maybe if the tag was left on, the recipient would keep it for a few years out of guilt.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Does anyone else smell the sausage?

-Several posts ago, I wrote about how I had customers that smelled like sausage. This happened again today. How does this happen? Do I smell like strong pungent foods when I leave the house?

-An older couple came in today with their little dogs. The wife was carrying this fluffy little brown one that looked like a teddy bear and the husband had an adorable fat graying chihuahua. Everyone melted and cooed when they saw the little dogs; the couple looked bored and annoyed as I am sure this happens every place they go. If you don't want people to stop and freak out and talk to you, you should not carry a cute little pet in your arms like a baby while you are trying to run errands.

-I am always slightly amused when a group of college kids comes into the store and walks around scoffing at all the merchandise. "Look at all this useless stuff! Consume consume consume!" "Why would anyone need an egg slicer? Isn't that why we have knives??" "I don't understand stores like this; why wouldn't I just buy this off of amazon since it's cheaper?" Oh you kids. You've taken some classes and you're so smart and sure of yourself. You've got the whole world figured out. Just wait until you come in looking for a job because you can't find anything else. Then I hear statements like "Whoa! Look at this pan! This is awesome! I totally need one of these!" HA! Gotcha. We all want things.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

designing woman

Yesterday I was helping a customer pick out an ottoman. We were looking at the different coverings and discussing how they might look on the finished product. The more we talked, the more I realized that she thought I was actually some sort of designer. Bless her heart.

Then again, she may have just been setting up the situation so that she could start talking about her daughter, who is a designer. It's a pretty classic scenario: the wealthy mother bringing her daughter shopping because the daughter is assisting with a remodel or whatever. "She's a DESIGNER in CALIFORNIA!" the mother will say, "Thank goodness I have her! I don't know a thing about any of this design stuff. My daughter hates everything about the house. We are completely redoing it! And she's giving us a discount!"

Anyway, the customer was very sweet and I was very modest and it made me think I should read a book about color theory or interior design or at least look at some damn nesting magazines.

Wow. Inspiration.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

and I thought I was weird

-As she caressed a small kitchen table, a customer told me she was looking for a table. I asked her what sort of table she was looking for. A kitchen table? A dining room table? "Well, something to eat off!" Of course. Stupid me.

-We have a bucket of free lotion samples by the cash register. I told an interested customer she could have one. She spent the next five minutes digging through the bin, finding every scent and holding them to her chest in turn. Finally she found on that "spoke" to her.

-A woman came in looking for a pan with very specific ways that she wanted to use it. I gently explained that the methods she was describing could ruin most pans and possibly void warranties since they would go directly against the manufacturers usage instructions. I tried to be very positive: If you don't do action A, then action B is not even necessary. Anyway, she was insistent and crazy and I'm sure I'll see her again.

-"Benches are so hot right now." -customer quote.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

But my vacation glow has worn off a bit...


-the other day I had several customers that smelled like sausage. It was grossing me out. I mean, I love sausage, but not as a stink cloud on the clothes and hair of strangers.

-I told a customer their total by using the phrase "it is going to be (insert proper dollar amount)". Smartyface man replies with a snotty "it's going to be? does that mean it's not right now?". I couldn't tell if he was trying to be cute or superior. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was a little ashamed. I felt stupid for some reason. Excuse me, sir, for being so numb to certain rote phrases that I sub-consciously change them up just to keep my mouth from getting bored and quitting.

-We are selling these solar powered dancing flowers and they amuse me greatly because the weather is so shitty and gray they won't dance.

-I had a woman argue with me about her total the other day. She thought I was undercharging her. I went over all the prices again and checked the computer total 4 times, but she kept insisting that I was missing something. "My math is pretty good" she informed me. I wasn't quite sure how to proceed. Usually people will give up when you start listing the prices and the subtotal and the amount of tax. When you flip the screen at the them and get out the calculator as back up, they believe you. But this woman kept at it. Finally she realized she was adding something twice or something dumb like that. NOT THAT GOOD AT MATH.

-I love it when customers tell me to wrap breakable things. It is our policy to wrap breakable merchandise. We have stacks of paper, bubble wrap, and foams at the ready for the sole purpose of getting items home safely. But I can only do one thing at a time, so while I am using my hands to finish a transaction, customers might tell me to do something else, often the very thing I was going to do next. I have a fantasy where I just throw all their fragile purchases into a plastic sack, not even gently, and hand it to them with a straight face.

"Rejuvenated" is the cliché I'm looking for

I did something brilliant after the holidays and before inventory: I took a wee tiny vacation. It wasn't fancy or expensive, but I got out of town and out of my life for a few days and it made a huge difference in my mood. Seriously. It was life altering.

I highly recommend that anyone who is bored or stressed or experiencing general ennui to take a break. It is healthy for the spirit.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Weekly highlights!

- I LOVE (sarcasm duh just in case you aren't one for it) when people pick up something that is obviously part of a set (obvious in that it says "part of 3 piece set" or is literally tied to its other components) and bring it up to the counter anyway. Then they say "I just found this. What's the price?" When I inform them it is part of a set and go fetch the other pieces, they often (usually) say something like, "oh I didn't want all of it" thus indicating that they knew it was part of a set. I acknowledge that sometimes the sets don't make the most sense, but if I have been directed to sell them that way, I must sell them as sets. And that is JUST THE WAY IT IS.

- I also love (sarcasm) when people ask me for directions to the bathroom and then 1) quit listening to me, or 2) complain to me about the location of the bathrooms. I will say, the directions are a bit . . . quirky. It is an old building and nothing is direct and easy. But come on!! Have you ever been out in the world beyond Starbucks and had to take an intricate and confusing path to the restrooms? As I sit here, I cannot think of any time when I asked for the toilet and the waitstaff or clerk said "why yes, actually, IT IS RIGHT BEHIND YOU. I can't believe you couldn't smell it!!" It is always through some double doors, down a long hallway, up or down some stairs, behind a storage closet or in the building next door. Just wear a diaper or get over it.

- I love (not sarcasm) using the pricing gun. There is something about the rolling of the little numbers and the rhythmic click of the trigger that give me immense pleasure. I always feel a little ashamed when I use it, like, there you are, some lowly clerk, pricing little things, why don't you go work in a factory, repetitive task lover! But seriously, pricing guns are fun.

- We were kept late after work today by a couple that wanted to exchange a bunch of shit on their registry before they went on vacation. You know you are lame when you are so concerned about a bunch of plates that you must tend to them before traveling, all while keeping the store staff after while you quibble with your new spouse about blue versus green. Puke.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

I had to work on New Year's Day. We opened at noon and get paid time and a half, so it is a short day that basically pays like a normal one. I had been out fairly late the night before; I like New Year's Eve. But I was in good spirits and was all smiles and happy greetings.

Until I remembered that the first customers that come in on New Year's are some of the crappiest and grumpiest. For example, at 12:02 p.m. I ACCIDENTALLY said "good morning!" to a woman, to which she replied, gruffly, "AFTERNOON." I always hate the whole a.m./p.m. time correction anyway, but this woman wasn't even trying to be civil. It was a little bit crushing. Like, great. I have 5 more hours of women like her. Luckily, the later shoppers were more jovial and we exchanged "Happy New Years!" like decent folk.

Anyway. Happy happy!