Friday, December 14, 2012

customers in space

Yesterday I helped a customer with a return without a receipt.  I had originally sold him the product months ago and remembered and it was not really a big deal.

The reason for the return was that when his wife was using it, she tipped the product 270 degrees in opposite direction of proper usage and some of the liquid contained in the product came out.  It surprised her and caused her discomfort.

When I processed the return, I labeled it as "defective" because it seemed the most logical at the moment.  I'd never heard of this happening before, but I also thought it was a little weird that his wife was using the product that way.

After the customer left, I did a little testing with the product and similar items from another brand.  I found that all of them will pour out liquid if turned backwards to that extreme degree.  I called the customer and let him know as he was going to purchase the product again and expect different results.  He decided to buy back his return, but suggested that it was a major design flaw and that I should contact the companies and let them know about their dangerous product.

Now, for the most part, I found this customer pleasant and easy to work with, which is why I am sad that I can't say "WHY THE FRICK DOES YOUR WIFE NEED TO TURN THIS PRODUCT UPSIDE DOWN WHEN IT IS FULL OF HOT LIQUID?"  And if you used something once in a weird way and it had unpleasant effects, why wouldn't you learn from that and NOT DO THAT, especially when that is not necessary for the function of the product?  Why do you need to turn it upside down?  Is your wife an astronaut?

And, though I'm sure companies love consumer feedback, I don't want to be the one to email them and tell them about how when you weirdly used their product, stuff spilled out.  I mean, I'll do it if I have to,  but it's embarrassing.

Afterwards, my co-worker who observed the whole transaction, asked, unprompted, "why wouldn't you just use it normally?".  Yes.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas songs

Hmm.  Sounds like Mrs. Claus does all the work.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

let me facilitate your Christmas!

It has, obviously and thankfully, been busy at work since there are 2 weeks until Christmas.  From the moment I get to work until I'm chasing customers out after closing time, I am so busy that I can't get anything done.

As much as I try to be ready by knowing everything in the store and by having helpful gifts suggestions  cued up, I am flabbergasted by some of the gift purchases.

-The elderly aunt, coming in on payday, purchasing a very nice knife for her nephew because he thinks he wants to go to culinary school.  I hope he appreciates how she budgeted and fretted over that knife!  He better go to culinary school and become a serious fucking chef!

-The families that purchase extravagant gifts for their new daughter-in-law.  There is a part of me that always thinks "she did pretty well for herself," but then I also wonder what sort of family drama she has to deal with.  These situations are especially interesting when the huge gifts are "stocking stuffers."

-The classic scenario of the customer that needs to purchase a gift for their [insert person to whom they are very close] and they don't know what to get them because they have everything, are extremely picky, have exquisite taste, have no known hobbies or interests, and are also wealthy.  (I know the wealth part shouldn't really be a factor in this process, but it's funny how often customers mention that).

-The middle-aged couples that are actually buying gifts, REAL GIFTS, for not only their adult children, but also their 10+ nieces and nephews (also adults) and their children.  I like to imagine what it must be like to be a 27 year old married mother who actually gives her aunt a wish list with 2 items. At what point are you like, "You know what?  I don't need a present.  Being with you on Christmas is enough of a gift."?

But then I remember that my job is selling all those gifts.  It's not just my job, it's my livelihood.  I need to make sure those people get what's on their lists so I can eat and pay rent.  That really changes my attitude quickly.  Give the people what they want!  Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 19, 2012

countdown to T-day

We are starting to feel the panic and desperation as customers realize that Thanksgiving is on Thursday.    Customers found all sorts of ways to be impatient and take cuts in line, my favorite being, "I just have a question."  And that question requires a 30 minute response and a personal tour of the store.

Also, many customers seemed to be drunk.  Whether it is a lifestyle choice or Sunday afternoon recreation, it is all annoying.  If normal people are impatient and indignant, drunk people are doubly so, regardless of the absurdity of their questions.

I want everyone to settle down, accept that you can't have everything you want all the time always and go eat some flippin' turkey.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

How To Use A Fry Pan (because you really do have to be told)

I am not a chef, a scientist, an engineer, or a metalworker.  There are many articles and books that I have not read thoroughly and committed to memory; I have glanced through them.  I am in a unique position though.  I wouldn't call myself an expert, but I am a person that has used a lot of pans.  I also have years of observation and feedback from thousands of customers, plus the feedback and knowledge from my co-workers.  They are serious cooks and have been in the cookware business for decades.  So they know pans.

Everyday I sell pans to customers.  Some of them I get to talk to and discuss the pans in detail, but others just come in and buy and I always worry that they don't know what they are getting into.  A very high percentage of the pans that we get back from customers have been misused and abused.  Some pans are just not right for some people.  I think lifestyle and expectations should be considered when selecting cookware, even before food preference and stoves.

So here we go.

Never use Pam or other cooking sprays if you care about your cookware (or bakeware for that matter).  The propellents and oils will, with heat and time, cause a muck on your pans that is a royal pain to remove.  I don't know of anyone that has actually taken the time to do so.  It's probably cheaper to get a new pan at that point.  Use olive oil or butter or get one of those pump spray bottles.  If I don't think I can trust myself with pouring oil right into a pan, I pour a little oil in a little bowl and use a little silicone brush to apply it to the pan or the food.  If convenience is more important to you than pan life, go ahead and use cooking spray.  Just don't be surprised when I point out in the pan usage instructions that they don't recommend it.

Never use high heat.  Everyone thinks they have some special cooking method that requires high heat, but that is delusion.  The whole point of having a nice pan is that it will perform well and you don't HAVE to use high heat because it is so efficient.  But people LOVE to put their pans on and crank it to HIGH 10.  Just don't.  Maybe the pan can handle high heat, but that doesn't mean it should always be used that way.  That being said, if you will need high heats, get a pan that you can bring back from the dead, which you will need to do inevitably if that is your cooking method.  Get cast iron or stainless steel and stay away from non-stick.

"If I don't use high heat, how am I supposed to get my pan hot??"  This is how:  when you step into the kitchen to cook, put your pan on the heat first thing before anything else.  But don't put it at cooking heat.  Put it on low and let it heat up slowly while you prep your ingredients.  That way, by the time you're ready with the food, it will be hot.  Once the food is in, you may turn it to medium if needed.  In all my dealings with pans, it seems that this preheating step is really the secret to everything.

I know that sometimes you learn something one way and that is the way you've always done it, but sometimes it is good to try other things, especially when the person suggesting it has very good reasons to try.  So if you find yourself in these burn-your-sticky-pan-to-shit people, try something else.   Because my pans look great and I use them all the time!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Screw thy neighbor

I dislike when customers use "shopping local" in a threatening manner.  Like, "I want to shop local, but . . ." only if you comply with my absurd demands and take my abuse with a smile.

These are not the people asking for the best price or about upcoming sales or returning merchandise that truly did not perform.  It's more like, "I think this $400 U.S. made chair should cost $75" and "If you don't take back this pan that I burnt to my stove, then I won't register here next spring when I get married and I'll tell all my friends not to register here.  And I don't have a receipt."

Not that such behavior is ever excusable, but it is especially horrifying when you consider that we are a small business and these are people we will see out in the community.  I feel equal parts hate and pity for them.  All I can do is stand my ground and hope for karmic justice.  And hope I get to watch.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Red October

Working in a place that sells seasonal items, I am careful what I wear so as to avoid comments that annoy me.  October is the hardest month for dressing.

Orange is out for October because it smacks of Halloween.  Trying it with other colors is possible, but combos that are edgy and fun the rest of the year look costume-y in October.  

Black is basic, but if you overdo it in October, you could draw out some Morticia comments.

Pink will be associated with Breast Cancer Awareness.  Being aware of breast cancer and supporting victims and survivors is not a bad thing; I just don't like that all of a sudden, a color I wear all the time comes to mean one thing.  And that thing is breast cancer thanks to all the pinkwashing that goes on.  

Rust and chocolate brown and other earth tones will not necessarily say "HALLOWEEN!", but those autumnal colors will blend nicely with the fall décor, and people will comment on that.

You also have to be careful with greens and purples.  Depending on the tone, they could go weird and speak Halloween, so I will be sticking with forest and olive and blackberry and saving lime, jade, fuchsia, and royal purple for November.

October is a good time to wear all the red that you can't wear once Christmas hits the store.  So go do it.


Friday, September 14, 2012

BOREDOM

Enticed by more pay and a key, I took on more responsibility at work.  It has been a couple of years now and I just realized today that I am never bored anymore.  Not that I am the sort of person to ever get bored, but there were definitely mind-numbing moments.  I have described them here.

Now, I have so much going on that I never seem to finish.  There are always projects on projects and policies to consider and people to wrangle.  And at any moment I have to drop it to help someone find that perfect napkin.

I don't feel like my rise in responsibility was necessarily exclusive; I was just eager.  So dullards, pick it up or shut up.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

In praise of stuff

Working in a store that sells Things has made me extremely sensitive to people's reactions to Stuff.  My job is dependent on customers buying product with the changing seasons, buying new instead of used, and buying quality.

Almost everyday I have semi-joking confession-esque conversations with customers who own way too many votive candle holders, table linens, throw pillows, or dishes.  But it's in a fun way, with a gentle head shake and a smile.  Like, 'oh I'm such a napkin rascal!'

Frequently on Facebook or blogs, I see posts about getting rid of stuff.  That Fight Club mantra "the things you own end up owning you."  Kill your television, own less, work less, buy only what you absolutely need.  If you've ever watched Hoarders, Storage Wars, or Hoarding: Buried Alive, you probably get itchy and want to throw everything away.

But, oh man, having stuff can be so great!  Have you ever been in a very full, but very organized house?  It's sort of awesome!  Some stuff-haters would turn "museum" into a bad word and use it against such places, but screw them.

Collecting stuff can be fun and rewarding.  I think many collectors would agree that it is mostly about the hunt.  As long as you are enjoying the experience of finding that Thing and not thinking you are doing your kids a favor by amassing salt and pepper shakers, it is fairly harmless.  

Develop your tastes.  Maybe instead of Beanie Babies, you could collect artisanal stuffies from Etsy or your local craft fairs.  Learn the history and evolution of your favorite items and be picky.  Only keep the coolest and hardest to find.  

Sometimes it's great to buy a New Thing.  Yea, you could live with that couch you got from your parents.  It's not too ugly and it serves it's purpose.   But a new, clean, comfy sofa can be the best thing you ever bought, especially if you are actually going to use it.  Do research, both with your head and your bottom, buy the best you can afford, buy something you love and don't feel guilty.  

If you have hobbies or are undertaking any projects, having the right tool can make all the difference.  And buying and owning the tool can make the whole process easier and more fun.  You may find yourself saying "how did I live without a rubber mallet all these years?" and meaning it.  Sometimes once you have a certain tool, you find it's useful for all sorts of things.  Stuff-haters will tell you to borrow instead of buying, but who are they borrowing from?  Someone has to own the shit first.

Your stuff should give you pleasure.  When you use or gaze upon it, you should feel happiness.  If you feel stress, anxiety, or depression, you need to get rid of it.  If you are shopping to fill voids in your life, you should look deeply into them and change something.  Duh, don't have more stuff than you have space.  And, duh, edit your shit once in a while and have a yardsale.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

observations and opinions

- I am always amused when customers describe something they have or want and it basically co-ordinates with what they are wearing.  Like "Our living room is sort of blue with a beige couch and a sage green rug.  And we have bright teal blue accents" and the lady will be wearing a khaki shirt, green pants, a jean jacket and turquoise jewelry.  That example is pretty basic.  It is even funnier when the colors are bolder and more specific and they incorporate patterns.

- Parents that refuse to mind their children are a nuisance.  There were two moms shopping together the other day and one of them had a toddler.  They let that baby tear up the store.  They also did not want to be bothered and made that clear by being cold and bitchy after I greeted them with a 'hello.'  I was watching them from across the store.  When other people, shoppers or employees, were near them, they would mildly watch the toddler, though they never asked him not to touch things or to "stay with mommy."  When no one was around, they just let him go.  At one point he ran away and was completely out of their sight, though I was watching because we don't need an injured baby and broken merchandise.  These weren't trashy methhead parents.  I know judging parents based on the minutes they are in the store might seem harsh, but why wouldn't they watch their kid?  It is not a playground.  He was grabbing things that were not meant for play.  And you know what?  Most parents manage to watch their kids.

- It's awesome when customers walk through the store, looking at merchandise, and loudly state to anyone within 25 feet that they could find the items cheaper elsewhere, and often they will name that other location.  Initially I was annoyed by these people because I didn't know why they even wasted time coming in if they were just going to bad mouth everything and ruin the experience for other people.  Now I just feel sorry for them because they can't control the volume of their voice and it appears that they just discovered the internet.  How embarrassing.

- Sometimes you take a community education class and you meet people and then later they come into your store as a customer and they are jerks.  You might try some small talk, appreciate the community you are creating, but they are on some power trip and want to keep you in your place.  Sometimes you have to give up and let them be assholes, but you don't have to tell them to "have a nice day."

- Here is an incomplete list of things that customers ask for occasionally.  These things would best be found in thrift or antique stores.  You might think, "if people are asking for them, why wouldn't you sell them?"  There are many boring answers to that.  Here is the list:

garlic roasters
cutting board for loaves of bread with slots in the bottom
bread cages to hold bread while you cut it
microwave bacon cookers
decorative copper pots
fancy glass lidded candy dish

Saturday, July 28, 2012

corn desilker

Just stick your corn cob in this handy gadget to get it desilked!

Is it January yet?

I was working with a customer the other day and I realized I was actually enjoying myself.  I wasn't just doing my job; I was having fun using my knowledge, experience, and available tools to help a customer make an informed decision on furniture for their home.

I realized I have a lot of moments like that, but they often get bogged down by tedium and fear.  I need to remember that good feeling and let it give me strength.  Because I am a long way from retirement.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sidewalk sale!

Today was the annual sidewalk sale.  There were many of the typical hijinks, which bored and tired me.  Unexpectedly,  I received a high-five from a customer for getting some merchandise into their car and a forehead kiss from a slightly crazy lady who was super happy about her kitchen electrics purchase.

Food baby on board

A few weeks ago, one of my co-workers and I were talking with one of our regular customers about our other co-worker, who is pregnant.  I am not really into mommyhood, but I do get excited for my co-workers.  I think the customer misunderstood my excitement.  During our conversation, she reached over and put her hand on my chubby apron belly and asked if I, too, was expecting.  I laughed and told her I was just fat from vacation.  She felt bad and asked if I was going to hate her now.  I don't.

The problem is now I am paranoid that I go around looking pregnant.  I am not fat, but I am not fit.  I am slightly fearful of my favorite oversized shirts and avant garde tunics.  Do I look like I am trying to hide bump?  I cleaned out my apron pockets and have been doing crunches.  And if I do look pregnant, shouldn't people be nicer to me?

Maybe it's time to rediscover my waistline.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gadgets

We got in this new silicone garlic crusher roller.  We used to carry one from Zak, which was cute with its pinked edges.  I don't even like to touch the new one because it looks like some sort of male masturbatory tool.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

3rd time's a charm and other nonsense

Recently, a co-worker was telling me how they were helping a customer try to pick out a bridal shower gift for the customer's friend.  The tricky part?  It is a third wedding.  The customer really didn't know what to get.  "I've already got her 2 bridal shower gifts and 2 wedding gifts.  I don't want to spend more than $50 on this one and she already has everything."

My co-worker said that if we could help think of anything that would be appropriate, it would be appreciated.  I lowered my voice and then said to my co-worker, "how about a nice card?"  A bridal shower for a third wedding?  That just seems greedy.

I couldn't help thinking about it though.  What would you get someone for their 3rd wedding, especially since you've bought them multiple gifts for their previous weddings?  Toaster, china, teakettle, rice cooker, fondue set, flatware, wooden salad bowls?  Too humdrum and redundant.

I think I found something though.  Sure, it's a little pricey, but it's special, unforgettable, and for charity!

Have Glenn Close Play Cruella de Vil, Alex Forrest or Patty Hewes When She Records Your Outgoing Voicemail Message


charitybuzz.com!  Problem solved!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

ethical traditions

I am very hard on myself sometimes.  I think I am prepared for anything, or at least prepared to expect anything, and then a customer request and reaction that I never could have anticipated throws me off.  Before I can finish that one complicated thing, 3 other little situations will arise and I'm sure I look like I'm freaking out while I try to make 20 people happy all at the same time.

Today was strangely trying, the sort of day I wish I could make into a Spanish game show.  People observe the feats of strength, problem solving, and tests of nerve from home (their side of the counter) and think it looks so easy.  I dream of putting some customers in the situations they create and throwing a tricky scenario at them.  And then remind them that they have 10 minutes.  Clock is ticking!!  If the cusotmer is displeased, they might tell all their friends a shittily exaggerated version of their story or threaten to talk to the clerk's manager and do their best to have someone fired!!

Now, when I complain like this, I do consider that other people's jobs may be equally difficult.  Just because they are not making change and stuffing merch into a bag doesn't mean they don't have to deal with clients' unrealistic expectations and condescending attitudes.  But I find a "pay shittiness forward" approach unacceptable.  Lying and veiled, shady intentions generally have an undesirable affect.

If you ever find yourself acting brattish and saying something like "I won't see these people again," or "I don't know this person, this CLERK," stop!  Because you don't know that for sure.  You are blending me into the background; I am memorizing your face and will never forget it, which is awkward when we meet as peers in public later.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

These things happen

- Kids running around with suckers or lollipops make me uncomfortable.  As a child, I was imbued with a fear of eating food on a stick while in motion.  It is a fear that has suck with me into adulthood, especially when I see an unsupervised and unwieldy tot dashing around with a Tootsie Pop in his face.  I have never yet seen a kid fall and get a sucker suck in their throat, but I do find sticky sticks on shelves.  Gross and annoying.

- Yesterday I saw a young woman remove and sniff her knit cap.  Then she doused it with the tester of a room spray we sell.  While I have definitely done similar masking, I would never dream of doing it in a enclosed, public space.  When she came into the store she seemed chic and confident; after I witnessed the spraying, I could only think of how that hat must smell.

- Sometimes customers will pick an area and nestle in for an extended conversation.  They are not there to shop or try out sofas.  The store is a substitute for a coffee shop.  I greet these people with my friendly "hello" the same way I greet all customers as that is my job and how should I know they don't want to be disturbed until I disturb them and get cold looks.  Often they will give me a dirty look when I just walk past them on my way to somewhere else, a preemptive move in case I am going to try to sell them something.  I don't care so much that people camp out to discuss their upcoming divorce, crappy bridesmaid duties, elderly parents, and other problems of the world.  I just wish they wouldn't be so weird and mean about it.

- Fabrics and many other materials fade in the sun.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Up the Bolt

Every time I read "Up the Bolt" in a fabric description, I giggle inside.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weiner Shaker


What not to do

Yesterday a woman and child (mom and daughter?) came into the store and went straight to the soaps and lotions area.  They used the lotion testers to lube up their exposed appendages and then shot each other playfully with the room sprays.  All 8 scents.  For several minutes.  Then they left the store, laughing.

The air was wet with the lingering scent cloud.  I walked close and my eyes began to water and my throat closed, causing a cough like what is brought on by lye vapors.  I do not even count myself in the "scent sensitive" category.

I get that they were playing and having fun, but I still think this was super rude.  They knew spraying each other with room spray as though it was a water pistol was naughty, yet somehow couldn't take the time to think about how their actions may affect others.

Hey!  I have a fun game!  When you go through your day, think about all the ways you are doubtlessly annoying other people!  The one with the shortest list wins!

Blame the Supermoon

The Supermoon made everyone super crazy.  Yesterday could not end soon enough.

How do we handle hours that we dread but must endure?  It takes strength to turn down the portion of your mind that senses impending annoyance and focus on doing one thing at a time and doing it as well as you can.  We learn to enter a working dream state where we do not watch the minutes on the clock, as their passing reminds us of the brevity of life and opens queries like "why am I here?".  No, really, why am I here, at work?  While we learn to cloud the passing minutes,  we also learn to instinctually sense certain times: lunch, that point in the afternoon when we eat a little piece of candy, and closing.

If you do it right, you can, with practice, have sweet, foggy memories of the day.  And you can do it all over again.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Working for the weekend

- It is really annoying when employees and owners of neighboring businesses park right in front of the store.  They are not parking in front of THEIR store and they don't seem to acknowledge the fact that they are taking prime spots from our customers (who could also end up being their customers).  It is just such an easy thing to do:  give the good spots to customers.  Why make it harder for them to spend their money at your establishment?

- If I ever get to retire, I hope that I have better things to do than pester stores about some faux flowers I bought 3 years prior.

- Recently I had some customers that were really trying to abuse a Gift With Purchase situation.  Towards the end of the transaction, they told us that they own a store in Canada.  This is another example of business owners using their power for evil.

- Birdcage themed bridal shower:  am I the only one that thinks this a little weird?

- Once in a while you have the uncomfortable experience of a customer remembering you and you remember NOTHING about them.  They greet you by your name, tell you how helpful you were, tell you where you were standing when you directed them to the toasters.  Ok, um, have a nice day!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sandwich

Shortly after we opened today, a customer was browsing and trying out sofas, all the while eating a sandwich.  Like, walking around, sitting down, standing up, bending over to read price tags, play lounging, and grinding a fucking sandwich in her maw.  It wasn't just one bite; she walked around and finished the whole sandwich and crumpled up the wrapper when she left.

This seemed really weird to me.  First of all, she probably got crumbs everywhere, but she didn't seem to gives two shits about that.  Then, I could see and hear her chewing.  I greeted her and before she could respond she had to swallow.  Eew.  Plus, this does not seem like a satisfying way to eat.  She didn't plant her ass in a sofa and eat, she was speed shopping and wolfing her food.  That can't be healthy.

After she left, I tried to imagine what it would be like to eat a sandwich while running my errands.  The mental picture of eating a sandwich awkwardly amused me greatly.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Suggested sunny day etiquette

Spring is here!  Yea!  We all love the longer days and warmer weather!  Now that it's April, there are farmer's markets opening up everywhere.  If you live in a town with a farmer's market and you don't work weekends, there is a good chance you will be out of your house, picking up some veggies and exploring stores you haven't been to in awhile.  Here are some tips for interacting with clerks on sunny days without being a dick.

1. Do not bring up the beautiful weather unless the clerk does first.  Nothing is more depressing to the clerk than to have a customer come up gushing about the beautiful day and all the yard work they are going to get done and praising the glorious sunshine and then leave saying something like, "hope you get out there!"  Because there is a good chance they won't get out there.  And you have just reminded them of all the things they would like to be doing but can't because they are serving you.  You may think "why should I care if they get depressed about their job?  Why should I curb my enthusiasm?"  Well, because you can.  Because you are powerful and strong and in control.  That's why.

2. Your kids are cute and so smart, but you still should make sure they don't terrorize other humans.  Not everyone is in as good a mood as you.  Instill some manners in your kids and have them practice leaving their razor scooter outside and not shouting or spilling smoothies indoors.  Don't keep them indoors too long; take them to the park already.


3. Instead of gushing about the sunshine directly, take on a sunny attitude.  If it's a beautiful day and you are feeling good, be friendly to the people around you.  (This goes for everyone).

THANK YOU HAVE A NICE DAY.






Friday, March 23, 2012

Whip-it: Good?

Whip-it lady was back today.  Oh, you don't know about Whip-it lady?  That's because I haven't seen her in about 5 years.  For some reason, she took a little break from our store.

Right after I started working at my present job, I become familiar with this customer.  She was older, like somebody's grandma, very sweet, and she bought ALOT of nitrous oxide cartridges.  She came frequently and always bought at least one box of nitrous cartridges, if not 4 or 6 boxes.

Now, I have some minor experience with whip-its.  There was a brief period in my life when a couple friends and I would secure a box of nitrous and inhale the gas.  One of my friends was so dedicated that he even had the cracker to puncture the cartridges.  Though the high was fun, it was expensive, brief, and left me feeling quite dumb.  And not from guilt, but like I'd killed more than my day's quota of brain cells.

Based on my experience and the customer's behavior and noticeable decline in mental capability, I thought she was definitely abusing the nitrous.  Several of my co-workers felt the same way and, as a group, we decided not sell her nitrous anymore.  When she came in, we told her we were sold out.  Eventually she quit coming in.

When I saw her today, it took me a moment to recognize her.  Then I asked my co-worker if she bought anything and she did:  4 boxes of nitrous cartridges.  I told my co-worker the story and suggested that maybe we shouldn't sell them to her.

As I write this, I wonder if what we did was right.  Who am I to control someone's life?  Am I like the pharmacist that won't sell birth control because I don't believe in it?  For whatever reason, this lady needs to get high.  If she doesn't get the nitrous from us, she will get it from another store.  If can't get nitrous, she will probably get prescription pills (though it would appear from her behavior that she already does).  Why shouldn't we be her source?  She pays for it.

I guess I was hoping to keep her from harming herself.  It was sad to see her go from a sweet little lady to a kook, but that is her path.  She was so batshit crazy today; it was obvious that her hiatus from our store didn't stop her destruction.

Lady, go suck some gas!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Are you there God? It's me, Clerk.

It was hard for me to go to work yesterday because there has been such a flood of unrealistic expectations for perfection.  People that want cotton that performs like polyester, linen that performs like cotton, stainless steel pans that perform like non-stick, wood that is dense and solid yet lightweight.  They wanted U.S. made chairs, but at half the price of a Chinese import.  And everything must be absolutely perfect without the slightest little mark, slub, skip, or dimple.  They wanted me to defy nature, aline the stars in a manner that best suits them, and promise nothing will ever change.

All I could think about was lunch.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Is it Monday yet?

Yesterday I was ringing up a young mother.  My co-worker was bagging her purchases.  While we were finishing, an older woman came up to my co-worker and asked the location of the restrooms.  I have mentioned before in this blog how it is a bit of a journey to get to the bathrooms and sometimes people don't have the patience for it.  As was the case with the older woman; she quit listening to my co-worker, made a confused face, and walked away.

She walked away slowly.  The woman was also overweight and did not move quickly.  She was not too far from the counter when the young thin mother commented on how the bathroom location does seem weird and difficult at first.  "Especially for her."  Oh my god.

I handed her the bag, said thank you, turned, and bolted from the counter.  I don't know if the older woman heard her or not, but I DO NOT want to get caught in what could appear to be a conversation about a stranger's weight.  When that stranger is in earshot!

Perhaps I am being overly sensitive, but weight issues are complicated.  If you have ever known someone that has struggled with weight, you know that "eating less and exercising!" is sometimes harder than it sounds.  I feel extremely uncomfortable discussing someone's weight, especially if the person who's weight is being discussed didn't bring it up.

Now, have I ever called someone a fat old bitch when they were crappy to me?  Of course I have, and probably on this blog.   But never to someone's face when they didn't deserve it.

"LIFE MUST BE HARD FOR YOU CAUSE YOU'RE FAT!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Book: Unlikely Friendships

Have you seen this book?

I see it everywhere.  We tell tons of copies.

A big ol' "Why didn't I think of that?"

People were buying 20 at a time.  "The perfect gift for anyone for anything," customers say.

It's only a matter of time before someone gifts me a copy.  And then the cycle will be complete.


Sustainable Nicety

Yesterday, while walking to work, I was grumpy.  I was making myself even grumpier thinking about how I would have to be nice to people all day.  "When do I get to be the bitch?" I wondered. "It works for other people.  Maybe today I will be bitchy."

I remembered that to be bitchy at work would be ruinous.  Customers might not enjoy their time, leave pissed off, tell all their friends about the horrible shopping experience, and then avoid us for years.  This happens!  Staying grumpy and purposely sharing it with others would be about as smart as cashing my paycheck and setting the bills afire.

It is not an option to be bitchy out in the world, when I am the customer.  Since I am pleasant with people during interactions, they are nice to me and I usually receive excellent customer service.  I am usually in a good mood, especially when I am not working.  So in order to be bitchy outside of work, I would have to maintain the mood all day.  That seems ultra stressful.

That leaves me one choice:  the internet.  Oh yea, Clerk, that is why you started this blog in the first place.  Relief washed over me when I remembered that I already had an outlet for those snarky times.

It's going to be a beautiful day!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hump day

- Today I had the teeniest little hangover.  Saturdays are not good for hangovers because there are so many happy, screaming children.  I was lucky in that my symptoms weren't too severe.

- One of my co-workers broke her arm and missed a few days of work.  We were short-staffed and I had a couple waiting to be rung up at my station while I was talking to a different customer about a product.  The waiting couple were being sort of patient.  The whole time they were standing there I was thinking "why don't they go to a different counter??".  I figured they must not care about waiting.  After about 4 minutes, I could help them.  I apologized for the wait and explained that we were a bit short on staff because my co-worker broke her arm.  As soon as it came out of my mouth, I regretted saying anything.  They were shitty about it in the nicest way.  It frustrates me because they could see that I was helping someone before they walked up to the counter, yet somehow thought they should be served first.  Anyway, whatever, assholes.

- I had a customer use their Sierra Club card to pay for their purchase and then want their items in separate plastic bags.

- Children with open containers of liquid in the store make me nervous.  It brings on those "my mother would NEVER have let us do that!" thoughts.

- Today a lady asked if there was a kettle that could get "hotter than boiling," which confused me because she didn't seem to an idiot.  YOU NEVER CAN TELL.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy Friday!

I can still be surprised at how customers choose to interact with clerks.

There is the scenario where a clerk says "hello" in a friendly manner without sales pressure and the customer grunts back "I'M JUST LOOKING I'M NOT GOING TO BUY ANYTHING."  My co-worker responded to such a comment the other day by saying "I was just saying 'hi'."  Her tone was calm and civil.  The customer said something like "oh, hello."

I was having a conversation with a customer about smoothies.  We were talking about how much we love them because we consume more fruits and vegetables and avoid breakfast traps like donuts and sugared pastries.  We feel awesome and healthy.  The customer mentioned how it was weird at first because she missed chewing.  I responded by telling her that I sort of "chew" my smoothies.  Another customer, passing by with a shitty scowl on her face, said something sort of under her breath but still directed at us.  Something like, "Smoothies aren't food!"  And she kept going.  What a shithole.  Here we are, making better lifestyle choices, feeling a little good about it and Poopypants has to butt in just enough to crap on us.  She sucks.

Friday, February 24, 2012

vacación

I recently got back from vacation.  Once again, I suggest you go.  It was a perfect break; relaxation was expected.

As I become more invested in my store, taking on more responsibility, caring more, I feel like my posts should somehow reflect that.  I haven't figured out how to do that yet, but that is what prevents me from writing about every bitch that buys a candle.

Anyway,  today I overheard a customer say how much she likes "a big clock."  Lady! Do you even hear yourself?!

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Blog of Great Importance

- People still believe that they are being reasonable when they think that the dishes they have should and will be available forever.  Recently, a line of dinnerware we carried for DECADES became unavailable.  People are devastated.  I was getting sucked up into the tragedy when I began to peruse this book on our clearance shelf.  It was a great reminder that there is no promise and never was that the things we use and love will be available forever.  And this is part of what makes them special.  You will find other dishes and you will fall in love!

- I had a customer say to me "I'm a Spanish from Spain and this is the sort of furniture we have."  Now, I did not know the woman, so I cannot know anything about her for sure, but, first, she did not have any sort of Spanish accent.  Second, she didn't have that air of tourist or even visitor.  I am going to be harsh and propose that she was a crazy faking that she was a Spanish tourist.  This is not an uncommon occurrence, people shopping in character.  What made her stick out is that, in addition to her weird fake English language sentences, she was extremely, unnecessarily rude.

- The "I don't shop" shoppers drive me a little bit crazy.  I ask if they get our mailings, have their discount card, whatever, and they lay into me.  "I don't shop.  When I need something, I just come and get it.  I don't give my information out to anyone.  The best way to save money is to not shop.  In fact, don't even go into the store.  I don't go into stores.  I was just walking past here on my way to Zumba and I knew I needed a butter dish so I came in and got one."  And on and on.  I go back and forth between annoyance that they pride themselves on depriving me of income and amusement that they seem to be talking themselves out of buying more.

A Boring Excuse Post

I haven't blogged lately because I couldn't work up energy to feel passionate about any work related issues.  I had hope that something would surface to turn into a poignant blog post, a post that could take this blog in a new and interesting direction.

I realize now that this "hope" was actually me being tired and lazy.  Work is work is work.  The only thing that changes is my attitude.

We recently did inventory.  We closed early one afternoon and stayed into the night counting the store.  Though it is never fun or easy to close early, I have observed that most people understand the necessity of inventory and how much it sucks.  I have taken advantage of this to be jokey with customers.  "Yea, we are closing early today.  It's a very SPECIAL day.  We are doing INVENTORY.  Thrilling."  They chuckle.  Together we roll our eyes.  They are nice to me!  They understand my pain!




Monday, January 2, 2012

Thievery

On Christmas Eve Eve, someone (a customer) attempted to steal an expensive kitchen appliance.  They had separated the pieces and hidden the valuable parts.  We found the hidden parts and were relieved that they didn't get away with it.

Then, on New Year's Eve Eve, someone stole a more expensive version of the same appliance, even though we took precautions and tried to make it difficult by stapling them down.  This time, we have not found the missing unit, which makes us suspect that it was the same person, this time determined to get it.

Thievery really pisses me off.  We are not a big corporation.  We are doing well enough to stay in business and try another year.  It feels like a personal attack.  But catching shoplifters is hard!  They are sneaky motherfuckers.

Thieves, I hate you.  You make my work life unnecessarily difficult.  If I had three wishes*, one wish would be to know your identity.  Then I could find out about you and make YOUR life difficult because you fucking deserve it.

*ok, maybe I wouldn't REALLY want to waste one of these precious hypothetical wishes on you because you are a fucking jackass and I have so many better things to think about.  But I am terribly curious.  TERRIBLY.