Thursday, July 11, 2013

a thank you

Last week, I was talking to a woman in the store and introduced her to a product line that matched her described needs.  I priced items out for her and helped her understand the options.  She was very excited and it seemed like it could be a potential sale, except that she was from out of town and it would not make sense for her to buy it from us.

She seemed to feel bad about not being able to buy from us.  Though it was slightly disappointing, she was very pleasant and I was glad to be helpful.

A few days later she called to let me know that she would be buying the product elsewhere, but she really appreciated my help and she wrote a positive Yelp review for us.  I thought this was a very sweet gesture and a nice way to compensate for not being able to buy from us.

It made my week and reminded me that there are so many good people out there.

6-27-14 update:  The customer did write the good review and several people have actually mentioned it!  I really appreciate it.  I want to believe that good begets good and this is a reminder!  Thank you again!  Sharing a GOOD experience is SO important!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

smoking is cool and sexy as hell

I am terrible at guessing people's ages.  I had these customers today who were, on the generous side, middle late thirties, but could have been fifty because, as I said, I think I am bad with ages.  Guessing ages would be so much easier if people didn't have habits that effect the aging process, like smoking.

The couple was pretty cute and put together with stylish clothes and a rockabilly undertone.  But the magic was broken when the woman in this couple spoke.  She had the gravely smoker's voice and a persistant phlegmy cough.

I don't know exactly why, but the smoker symptoms totally depressed me and made me glad that I don't smoke.  DON'T SMOKE!  IT'S NOT WORTH IT!!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Part of working with the public involves telling them where to eat.  Tourists or people who don't get out much ask for recommendations, which is perfectly natural, but causes me stress.  I have been in their position and I know what they expect.  They want to know some little secret.

I remember once being somewhere and hungry and the area seemed so lively and full of potential.  It felt like there had to be some yummy, reasonably priced little restaurant with a friendly staff and fresh, real food where all the cool locals ate.  We went into a cute little boutique shop and asked the young, hip staff where we should eat.  The clerk's bored response, backed by her dead eyes, was "I just always go to Subway."  Back out on the street, we bravely asked a stranger.  "Subway.  Quiznos."

Telling people where to eat stresses me out because if they don't like it, I fear they will judge me and somehow hold me accountable for their experience.  It's a ridiculous fear, but it motivates me.  I usually have a couple answers on hand.  First, there is the restaurant that I always recommend because the food is consistently good and I know the owners.  If they press me for more ideas and are annoying, I recommend the wildly popular restaurant with the mediocre food.  If they ask for me ideas and are not too annoying, I recommend a restaurant that I really like, but only if I know I won't be going there myself anytime within their possible visit.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tree of Life

Have you seen this cutting board from Totally Bamboo?  What stoner came up with that?

"It's like a chunk of tree, but it's made from bamboo.  And the tree rings will be made of really tiny animals.  And we can call it like, the tree of life, cause it'll remind people of like animals and life and the earth and stuff."


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Day Fever

- I don't usually care too much if people have bad hair, but today there was this woman who had butt length hair and it was nasty:  parched, scraggly, and faded to the same color as her elbows.  It was beyond dead.  I actually had this fantasy vision of me running up behind her with scissors and hacking off 8-10 inches of gnarly hair and then she turns into a Pantene commercial.  But in actuality, she looked around with her old boyfriend and then left.

- On Saturdays, the store really gets poked and prodded.  Saturday is family day and people who never go shopping come shopping.  They touch EVERYTHING and they don't put anything back where they picked it up, even if it is a distance of 6 inches.  They eat in the store like they are at their table and gulp down our complimentary coffee, sprinkling all surfaces with sugar and being hush about spills.  They lounge in the sofas while they make out or talk on the phone.  They rub their greasy heads onto pillows, their greasy necks on scarves and their dusty feet on any mat that is near the floor.  This is a day when Floor Models are made because the merchandise gets the most action of its life.

- There is a lady I hate.  Well, not hate, but am deeply annoyed by.  I have had encounters with her at numerous places and she gets under my skin every time.  I was walking the floor and caught sight of some adorable shoes out the window.  I skipped over to get a better look and saw that the shoes I loved were being worn by the woman I sorta hate.  So I think I have to sort of hate those shoes now.  What a bummer.

- Parents, I acknowledge that it is a lot of work keeping an eye on children, but letting them destroy merchandise is not cool.  Your baby chewed  on a book because you were too lazy to get up and grab him.  No one is going to want to buy that book now.  It is not harmless gnawing.

- Sample food is gross.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

not yet

Lately I've been going through my notes that I make to myself and it is all things I've thought and written about before, at least once and maybe more.  It made me wonder, "HAVE I SEEN IT ALL?"  But as I am still able to be horrified or delighted by people's behavior in my store, I remember that the repetition is part of the craziness of it all.  And it is impossible to see it all since I am not God or the Internet.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

How To Poop At Work

1. Scope out all possible bathrooms.  Sometimes the closest one is not the best; you can run into co-workers or echo farting noises out into hallways.  Some of the best bathrooms are tucked away in ugly closets.

2. Carry a scent masker.  Matches are great, but the burning smell can alarm some people.  Room sprays work, but super floral or perfumey ones annoy people with scent allergies.  A natural, essential oil spray is great because it smells like aromatherapy or some gentle cleaning.  Some people may still have problems with these scents, but more people will be okay with citrus essential oil spray than fake lilac spray.  

3. Eat properly.  A diet rich in fiber makes for efficient poops that eliminate the need to camp out with an US Weekly farting for hours.

4. If possible, poop when you feel it.  If you work some place where extra bathroom time can be a problem, use the diarrhea excuse.

5. Though it is wasteful, the "double flush" method is effective for odor control:  Flush IMMEDIATELY after pooping, then again for the paper.


Friday, April 26, 2013


Several weeks ago I became part a conservation my co-worker was having with a difficult couple placing an order for a piece of furniture.  The wife was badgering us about the delivery fee, saying we were "nickel and diming" them.  It was very uncomfortable because she would not let up, and I didn't feel like we actually were taking advantage of her.  We have an extremely reasonable delivery fee and most customers say so.

She then began making claims that she could purchase the same item at a different store, a couple hours away, for less and with free delivery.  I found that wildly implausible since everything I'd ever heard about the store was that it is more expensive.  I also couldn't imagine them offering up free delivery.  It just didn't make sense.  It also didn't make sense that she would be so eager to buy the furniture from us when she had found it cheaper elsewhere.

I was slightly ill on this day and not my best for dealing with this sort of person, though I don't think there is ever a good day for it.  As she attempted to manipulate us with her lies and threats, my co-worker and I became quiet and just hustled to get her out of there.  We were not going to give in because she was too absurd, but it was plain that she wouldn't give up.

Now to today.  Her furniture was delivered.  The men delivering the furniture showed up at the store after with her old furniture, which was half dog hair and totally worn out.  What???  When they showed up to deliver the new furniture, the customer told them someone at the store wanted the old furniture and to take it away.  This was a complete COMPLETE falsehood.  Very crafty and so wrong.

This is a customer who has spent a good deal of money with us, and, as far as I know, has caused relatively little trouble so far.  And though this little episode is annoying, it will pass because there are far worse problems to deal with.  But I cannot stop thinking about how she is a horrible person.  Her skills are too advanced for me to believe that this is the first time and only place that she LIES.  I wonder about her life and the stress of it:  feeling she is owed what she isn't, figuring out loopholes, trying out manipulative phrases, lying to herself until it feels like the truth.  I wonder if she feels smart and proud.

Oh, and the store she was having had cheaper prices and free delivery?  I called it later, in a sort of spy-mode as a potential customer and asked about the furniture pricing and delivery.  The price was significantly more and the delivery was several hundred dollars (MUCH more than ours).  I didn't get crappy and press the woman into giving me free delivery because it didn't matter.  It was more than obvious that our customer was LYING.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Egg containers

My grandma had a bunch of these lidded, chicken shaped containers and I could never figure them out. Were they weird candy dishes?  They didn't make much sense, but for ladies who had strange porcelain plate collections, they fit right in.  Sort of.

A couple years ago, I saw a pink lidded chicken at a thrift store and became inextricably drawn to the vessel.  It was cheap and then it was on sale, so I bought it.  In my google research, I learned that these dishes were for holding eggs on the counter, like when you want them room temperature for a recipe.  This suddenly made perfect sense to me.  And suddenly these dishes, which I see everywhere, made much more sense:
The porcelain egg crate.  It is the new lidded chicken.  Sure, people like to say they use this when they collect their chicken eggs, but I seriously doubt they carry this 6 holed breakable thing out to the coop.  But it is SO cute, and is perfect for holding eggs on the counter while they come to room temp.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

It's time to talk about wedding registries again.

All of a sudden, we are in bridal season again and I feel the need to talk about registries.  Specifically, what I see as a clerk and how you can use my knowledge!

You have to do a registry.  I know, you don't need anything because you are 37, wildly successful, and have been cohabiting since you were 19.  But if you don't do a registry, your family is probably going to bitch, so take an evening an register a couple places.  Real Simple magazine online recommended registering at a brick and mortar store to appease old fogey guests, and as a brick and mortar store worker, I have to agree that you should just do it.

1.  Don't register for cleaning products.  I mean, you can put them on there if you want, but I have NEVER sold a mop off a registry, not even to your cool, understanding friends who make a habit of buying the practical items on registries.

2.  Duh, don't register for things you don't want or need, but do register for things that you want but are maybe a little ridiculous and frivolous.  Things like cake plates, tagines, crazy glass vases, whatever.  So many registry tips say "don't register for gadgets you won't use."  I'm not talking about gadgets.  I'm talking about that weird awesome thing you saw on your favorite lifestyle blog that might just make your life complete.  These are the "cool things you'd never buy for yourself" and that is what your guests want to buy for you.

3.  Aunts love to buy the following items:  dinnerware, china, flatware, glasses and stemware, and table linens.  If you need these items and you have aunts, put these on your registry.

4.  Let's pretend there is something huge and expensive that you really want, but you know none of your guests will be able to afford it.  Never underestimate the rich, procrastinating uncle who will see that on your registry and buy a hefty giftcard.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

How to be sick at work

Sometimes you just have to go to work with a cold.  When you are not sick, everyone likes to talk about how the sick should just stay home and you agree with them.  Then you get sick and realize that it is not always possible.  Here are some tips for being sick at work.

- If you are going to be around people who are repulsed by sickness or if you want to retain some dignity while suffering, do not admit that you are sick.  You have ALLERGIES.  This leaves you free to sneeze, cough, and blow your nose all you want.  Maybe even take a Benadryl.

- If you are going to take cold medicine, don't over-dose.  But DO enjoy the high while doing your job.  Customer service Hunter S. Thompson style.

- Wear neutral hued but noisy shoes.  The point is not to draw attention to the color, but rather to be loud enough that people will get out of your way when you are running for a tissue or to cover up sniffling and coughing with loud stomps.

- Cough drops are great.  Suck on them as much as you want.  Jolly Ranchers and other hard candies also soothe the throat and do not give away that you are sick.  I like to mix cough drops and hard candies in a ziplock bag, granny style, and keep them in my pocket.

- Win favor with co-workers by bringing them hand sanitizer and Emergen-C.  Even though they are probably doomed, they will appreciate the gesture.

- Choose tasks that will let you hide from people as much as possible.  There are usually some jobs that are always put off because they are messy or boring or lonely.  This is the perfect day for that near mindless task.

- If you are not deathly ill, go to work and then see if you can leave early.  It sucks, but coming in and leaving early can be tweaked into a a valiant effort while calling in sick leaves co-workers wondering if you are just hungover or a faker.  But pay attention:  if you multiple employees are trying this strategy, you will need first dibs.

- Nobody questions an employee with diarrhea.  Use this wisely.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Somebody smells like breakfast

Last Sunday there were some customers that smelled like hashbrowns.  Many people come shopping directly after brunch, but rarely do they smell so delicious.  It was almost cruel.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Pink Ladies

In my years in retail, I have noticed a rare and special type of customer:  the pink lady.  You might not know just by looking at her that she is a pink lady, though her shoes, bag, and coat might all be pink.  She might just be color coordinating.  You start to figure it out though when you see her handle merchandise.  She goes for the pink spatula, the pink towels, the pink pillow, or colors that go with pink if there is no pink available.  And sometimes when you talk with her the details come out:  she has a pink kitchen, living room, bathroom, life.

I love pink ladies, and not just because I have a fondness for the color myself.  In my experience, pink ladies are jolly, understanding, and enthusiastic.  They are also obsessive, but in a good and happy way, unlike beige ladies, who are usually stressfully obsessive.

Interactions with true pink ladies are precious and few.  If you have one today, savor it.

Update 2-17-13:  Yesterday I watched the movie Sassy Pants and it is an example of Bad Pink.  The overbearing mother in the movie keeps her 18 year-old home-schooled daughter in pink and reminds her that it's her "favorite color!  Everything she has is pink!".  Pink is not charming when it is forced.

I have a return

This is one of the aspects of returns that I don't understand:  when people feel comfortable returning grotty, well-used merchandise.  Someone returned this back brush because it looked like this after a few months.  Though you cannot see in the picture, the bristles are quite squished.  I don't know if I damn or condone this behavior.  I am trying to imagine how you get to a point where you can bring something small and disgusting back to a store without shame.  I probably would have just thrown the brush away or put it in the compost or wood pile (wood handle!  natural bristles!) and not bought the brush again if I wasn't happy with it.  Maybe that is why I'm poor.  Mmm.  Things to think about. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

You could be a farmer in those clothes.

I wore denim shirts a couple times this week and I think it caused some customers to treat me more like a peasant.  I love my denim, so I won't be deterred in my attire.  I will be mindful, though, and keep denim shirts for days when I am most confident.

Today I was a little distracted and fragile and was anticipating interactions with difficult customers, so I wore black cashmere and tall boots.

Friday, January 11, 2013

? + customer = cheesus

I am no math genius, but I am also not bad.  I have not been in school for a long time, but I will have you know that in college, I was offered a math tutor position but turned it down.

Anyhow, I am not scared to work with numbers.  I used to be when working with the public because I didn't want to look stupid if I made a mistake.  But over the years I've realized that you just have to work out numbers with your customers and do it over and over and in different ways until they feel comfortable.  If you think you figured something wrong, do it again.  And again a different way.  There is no shame in making sure your figures are right.  And if you prove yourself wrong, at least you've done it then and not made some expensive accounting error.

The point of this set up is to show how I strive to be accurate with numbers, but am also willing to admit that I make mistakes.

Imagine my extreme frustration when I am working with a customer and one of my male co-workers and we are trying to work out a problem that involves a lot of numbers and my male co-worker is making up a lot of math rules that don't make sense.  I try to create graceful situations for him to correct himself.  These can backfire, giving him ground to assert his incorrect answers.  At that point, I have to step in,  put on my person-in-charge hat, ask him to go take care of other business and then work out, sometimes on paper, the problem with the customer.  But the customer is often reluctant to give up the original ideas laid out by my male co-worker.

Just because a man does math doesn't mean he does it right.

maybe you are a beautiful and unique snowflake

Today I helped a very pleasant woman with her return.  While I was processing her return, she was looking at me and then let loose a stream of compliments regarding my appearance and manner.  I was a bit taken aback by this and wondered if she was wacky or going to try something shitty in a moment. She smiled a lot, made thoughtful and positive comments regarding our store staff, expressed why she liked shopping here and then moved on after wishing me a nice day.

While thinking about the experience this evening, I was saddened that I questioned her motives because she was complimentary. Without being too boastful, I will admit that her observations were qualities that I strive for and in which I take a bit of pride.  So often people make assumptions and say strange and rude things that are not true; have I reached a point where I don't trust what anyone says, even when they may be accurate?  Am I fearful of a compliment?  Or are genuine compliments so rare that they now make me feel strange?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

I'm high on my caffeine horse

This week was interesting because I caught TWO crazy coffee maker phone calls.  Both of the calls were aggressive, angry males.  Both of them questioned my expertise.  When I gave an answer meant to lighten the situation, they became even more aggressive.  They were taking the whole "I'll be the one asking the questions!" VERY VERY SERIOUSLY to a point of riducousness.  Both calls were asking extremely vague, hypothetical questions which could not really have a firm answer and then getting very mad at me for not telling them exactly the answer that they wanted to hear.  I tried the honesty tactic and they cut me off, telling me I was trying to take advantage of them.

Ugh.  I cannot even write about it anymore.  They were SO VILE and HATEFUL and RIDICULOUS.  Their questions were STUPID and they were ABUSIVE!  My first instinct was to be upset over a potential lost sale, but when I think back on it, I am glad they didn't shop with us because they were awful and hateful before they even had any merchandise.  I don't want them bringing their hate into the store.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Customers and Neighbors

Just before Christmas, I realized that one of the customers that I posted about recently is also a neighbor.  They live on my block.  In fact, when I look out my living room window, I can see their house across the street.

I was going for a brisk walk on Christmas morning and was amazed to see the garbage and recycling being picked up.  I am always interested to know who works on holidays.  I was thankful that I had the day off and thought the rubbish picker-uppers somehow noble to let us not be inconvenienced by the holiday and to keep up our routines.

Heading back to my house, I walked past the customer's house.  The husband appeared at that moment and walked, with purpose, to his next door neighbors and knocked.  Someone appeared almost instantly and the customer asked something like, "did you get a note about this (gestured to the garbage and recycling on the curb)?  aren't they going to pick it up?" and then made some joke about union negotiations.

Now, I don't expect everyone to treat Christmas as a blessed sacred day.  And I am fine with the garbage being picked up.  But geez.  Customer needs something better to do than bitch to his neighbor about garbage service at 9 in the morning on a holiday day.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

another jerk

Also, I made a self-deprecating joke to a customer today when I misread her weird name on her credit card, something about how I can't read or type, which was supposed to be completely ridiculous and nonsensical.  It was absurd.  She took it as some sort of apology I think and in a snotty tone implied that I must be a college student.

Part of me was flattered because she thought I was one of those young college kids, but I also thought she was a shit brick for not getting my humor.  Or maybe she thought she was really clever and was making a superior joke.  If so, I would consider her joke a failure as it produced no smiles, laughs, or chuckles, and her punch line, if that was her punch line, was poorly timed.


I rarely talk too much to customers and I try especially to avoid my personal life unless it results in a teachable moment.

But today one of my favorite customers came in and inquired about my life.  It was thoughtful and appropriate and I was very touched that she cared enough to remember that I am a person.  I almost didn't say anything because I didn't want to bore her with anecdotes, but then I remembered that sometimes people actually like to hear about other people and maybe she is one of those, so I told her something.  We began a brief discussion while I was ringing her up.  That is the important part:  While I was talking, I was completing her transaction.  During no part of my story telling was I just standing there talking.  

Well, suddenly another lady appeared and lined up.  She heard me talking and let out an audible sigh and mini eye roll.  She was in line for a minute, MAYBE two at the most.  I am not even exaggerating.  Later, I timed out 2 minutes and ran through the motions of what I was ringing up for my favorite customer.  I even went a little slower than I would have and it was NOT LONG AT ALL.  AND, if you remember from my 2nd paragraph, I was working and talking.  Lady in line was just being a crazy passive aggressive bitch.  

At first I felt guilty that she had to wait.  I felt like I had done something wrong by talking about myself.  But now I'm just really pissed at sighing eye roller lady.  She was NOT in line long, I was speedy with my transaction while I was talking, and I quickly processed her when it was her turn.  I am sure she is just pissed because she thinks I am an idiot who stands there and talks about my boyfriend all day and keeps people waiting while there parking meters expire, which is not true at all.