Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A post telling you what you probably already figured out because you aren't a complete idiot most of the time.

  So basically I went on hiatus without telling you all. I feel really bad and I've been avoiding confessing it out of shame. If it helps I totally have a for real legitimate excuse this time-

                  I'm going to Africa.

   As in, I am getting on a plane in 16 hours and heading to Rwanda for a month. To live at an orphanage.

And help real orphans.

To be fair, they don't really need my help, they already live at a super awesome place with some really great people and get to play soccer all the time, but you get the idea.

    I tried Googling "route to Kigali, Rwanda from Colorado" in hopes of finding an Indiana Jones-type map with a little red line bouncing across the Atlantic Ocean to include in this post, but for some reason someone has yet to make that and I for real don't have time to photo-shop it. Someone should get on that.

    So I have been crazy busy getting (I kid you not) eight shots, three oral vaccines, and two blood tests along with trying not to hyperventilate on a regular basis and pass my classes* to focus on hilarious anecdotes from my retail work-place.

     I can however promise you this: when I get back I will have nothing better to do for at least the rest of the summer other than to find horrifying situations to pick through for comedic gems. For real, I will not let you down again.

                      *I did pass my classes, with some serious help from my Sister and her husband. For real, between the three of us we could get any degree in record time. Also my English Instructor had this comment on my final-
                         "You make great observations and have a wonderful feel for writing. You seem to struggle with remaining impartial and your editing skills need more work- you don't have to make everything humorous." 
   I choose to take that as a compliment.

Friday, April 13, 2012

We Apologize for the Convenience: The customer is always right, unless they're a dumb racist.

     Today someone broke the cardinal rule of Customer Service. That one golden nugget of retail sales that has existed since the world's first salesman invented the wheel and attached it to his box of wares, thus becoming the world's first travelling salesman.
The Customer is Always Right*

    You'll be astounded to know that is wasn't even me who broke it, but my boss. That's right- one of the Lifers- who's only job is to make customers happy and employees miserable and who- through an overabundance of unnecessary training workshops- have been conditioned to never, EVER, say no. 
      But today they did say no, and for that I will always have at least a tiny bit of respect for them.

Manager: Mam I can ring you up over here if you're all set.

Customer: Oh thank you! This trash-can you have, I found it for forty dollars cheaper at another store- can you price match?

Manager: Of course! Let me just verify the price at the store you found it and we can do that for you!

Customer: Fantastic. Also I would like to use my coupon on that as well.

Manager: Unfortunately I can't do a price match and the coupon, but don't worry you're still saving way more by just doing the price match than if you had used your coupon!

Customer: I was told I could use both, and if I can't I'm going to leave!

Manager: I'm sorry it's company policy, so if a friend told you that they misunderstood...

Customer: It wasn't a friend, it was one of your employees!It was that colored lady over there! (points to an employee)

Manager: ........ Excuse me? Mam I am definitely NOT going to take your coupon. Have a good day. 

So from now on the Golden Rule of retail gets an asterisk-  

                                              *unless you're a dumb racist

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We Apologize for the Convenience: My Name is Not "Where-Are-the-Can-Openers"

    Hello Everyone! Welcome to another edition of customer service stories that you can all enjoy, identify with, and utilize as guidelines on how to make (or ruin) your cashier's day. 

       Today's lesson: Respect.

    I know it may be difficult to understand, but retail employees are actually people. Sure, some of them are poor excuses for people, barely passing for normal even with the grading curve brought so low by the Creatures of Wal-Mart, but most of them are regular human beings. They have lives outside of work, families, friends, favorite foods. The really lucky ones (who haven't been completely hollowed out by years in customer service) even have emotions!
    This is quite the revelation, I know. Feel free to take a few minutes to adjust to this new reality. You may be experiencing one or more of the same reactions people had to the proposal that the world was round-     Disbelief, Anger, Confusion, Denial- Take a moment to process these things. Have a cookie and get back to me.


      Feel better? 


   Now that you've come around to the idea that retail workers have souls, let's take a little pop-quiz on the basic etiquette to follow while you're shopping for those extra super important items (You know, like refrigerator magnets)

   1.When you first enter a store, sometimes you will be greeted by an employee. An example of an acceptable reaction would be:
          a) Glare at if they have said something incredibly offensive.
          b) Ignore them. They are obviously not worthy of your attention.
          c) Respond pleasantly, either with a smile or a verbal acknowledgment of their existence. 

    2. An employee approaches you and asks if you need assistance, which you don't. An acceptable response would be:
          a) "Get me a cart."
          b) ".......... *eye roll*....."
          c) "I'm fine, thank you though."

      3. You need help getting an item off a high shelf, but can't seem to find anyone in the immediate area. You should:
          a) Start yelling for help while simultaneously trying to climb up the side of the fixture because let's be honest, if you fall and break something you would get a sick kick out of a lawsuit.
         b) Wander into the stockroom looking for help, ignoring the Employees Only sign because signs and rules don't apply to you.
        c) Head up to customer service, the place where customers go if they need service. Explain your situation and respond positively to subsequent apologies and offerings of assistance.

      4. You are told someone will meet you by the item in question with a ladder to assist you. You head back, only to find that they aren't there yet. You- 
             a) Turn around and stomp your way back to customer service to berate the employee there- this is obviously their fault.
            b) Storm out of the store yelling that you're headed somewhere where the employees aren't a bunch of lazy fat-asses.
            c) Assume they went to retrieve a ladder and wait patiently for an acceptable amount of time.

 5. At the checkout, your cashier asks "How are you today?" Your response should be:
           a) " Where are your toaster ovens?"
           b) " Terrible. This store doesn't have a single thing I need, my husband cheated on me and I need new sheets for our bed because ours are obviously ruined and my kid puked on my coupon but you have to take it anyway I know because that's what I was promised over the phone by your manager Meererppernurf and they said you always, always have to take all my coupons no matter what and I forgot a few things- Imma go get 'em- but hold my spot because I was here before that little old lady with the vegetable peeler and I matter more because I can be louder and it's all about me and I....."
           c) "Fine thanks, how are you?"

                  *In case you haven't caught on, the answer is C.   Always.   If you answered anything but C to any of these questions, you fail the entire quiz.

    For the record, I am totally aware that not all retail associates seem like people. I understand that sometimes the example above instead begins with you being ignored and any requests for help met with an eye-roll. 
     A lot of the time the cashier isn't some sweet girl just trying to pay her way through college*, but a greasy-haired neanderthal** with too much eye-liner and a blank expression caused by long-term overexposure to The Real Housewives of Miami and microwave radiation.
       So be sucky to that person. Be mean and do whatever it takes to ruin her day just a little more. I know that girl, and she totally deserves it. 

              * Just so you don't think I'm tooting my own horn or whatever, this girl is not me. 

                               ** But neither is this girl.

    But please remember that not every retail employee is of the greasy variety. Most of them are actual people who are just trying to do their job so they can pay their cable bill on time and not miss any episodes of Cougar Town.



Thursday, March 1, 2012

Flowers in February or, how I'm a failure at yet another thing.

   So Orchids are in bloom right now. This is awesome for flower lovers and plant whisperers everywhere, and not awesome for me. It wouldn't have mattered except the Flower Lady at King Soopers convinced me I could keep one alive and she is about to be proved wrong.

   Anyone who knows me could probably guess (if not by experience then by my personality in general) that I shouldn't have house plants. The only reason I remember to feed my cat regularly is because he reminds me, loudly and often.
    But plants are like fish in that neither of them can speak and that I have accidentally killed several of them.
   Usually I can accept this but every so often I get in my head that I can handle caring for a delicate living thing and the end result is always the same: Little fish bodies in the toilet, tiny plant corpses in the trash, and a renewed sense of failure.
     The last plant I had was a gift from my mother, who is one of those annoyingly nurturing people whose motherly essence alone can bring dying things, be they tulips or kittens, back from the brink. She claims it had no deeper meaning, but I still think it was a test to see if I really was a grown-up and whether or not there was any hope at all that I would one day be responsible enough to raise children.
   I accepted the challenge with relish and purchased a cute pot and soil.

      Pretty pink daisy: $0

      Purple flower pot: $5.00

      Potting soil: $8.00

      Daisy food: $6.00

     The overwhelming sense of failure both real and symbolic when aforementioned daisy dies within the week, either from too much water, not enough water, too much sunlight, or not enough sunlight: Priceless

   So I should have known better, but last week when I walked into King Soopers I was greeted by a gorgeous display of pink and purple orchids which, in this colorless and dead winter with no snow, I felt emotionally and physically drawn too. The woman working the flower stand noticed me admiring them and mentioned how much she loved them too. In an effort to make conversation I told her that I had heard they were difficult to care for.
   People with a natural ability to care for plants cannot and will not ever understand people like me. This woman was obviously one of these people.
   "Oh no," She said....
   "They are very easy" She said....
   " I have six or seven of them and they are perfectly healthy" She said....

   So I bought one because it was purple and matched my bedspread and would look just adorable on my nightstand.

   At first glance this is an adorable picture. Please take another look. Notice the flowers are already wilting. Also notice the paper towels underneath the pot. 
    The paper towels are because I'm cheap and quickly discovered that plants are like children in that they are practically free but the things you need to keep them alive are ridiculously overpriced. Allow me to break this one down for you.

    Orchid: $7.00

    Flower Pot :$4.00

    Orchid Bark: $9.00

    Orchid Food: $8.00

    Impending sense of doom as I watch said orchid slowly die despite hours of research and heroic attempts to keep it alive: Priceless

    So price-wise it came down to the "food" or the drip pan for the pot and clearly I made the wrong choice.
   Okay and seriously, why do flowers need food? No one's out feeding wild flowers and they do just fine, but Flower Lady insisted it was necessary. 

    I did have fun painting that adorable owl, which I did while Googling things like "How not to kill an orchid". I discovered they need humidity, which apparently isn't an issue for Flower Lady who must have like twelve humidifiers because Northern Colorado is straight up nosebleed country. I mean seriously even selling orchids here is just irresponsible. It's like sending a husky to the equator or a hairless cat to Canada- it's just cruel.

   The internet was full of helpful advice which I have been following religiously. I move it to certain places depending on the sun, I even used plant-safe paint on the pot and followed a step-by-step transplanting tutorial. This plant hangs out in the bathroom while I shower for crying out loud.
   But the thing just keeps on dying. It's on a kamikaze mission and no amount of love and attention can save it. Not even the kind of tender love and care that includes special plant steroids and Jack Johnson music softly playing in the background.
   So if anyone has any advice, or just wants to offer condolences in advance, please do so. 
   And I'm sorry Mom but clearly the Universe is telling me I will never be responsible enough to keep a baby alive.




Friday, February 24, 2012

Scenes from Retail.

 Me: Hi! Are you finding everything okay today?

 Customer: Yes, thank you. *Dramatic Sigh*

Me: Um. Okay, well let me know if you have any questions.

Customer: Well obviously I have a question!

Me: Right, of course, I'm so sorry. How can I help you?

Customer: I'm shopping for a mirror for my granddaughter's room.

Me: Well we have these ones for 19.99...

Customer: Yes but the reflection isn't as good, see? (proceeds to hold mirror in front of her, facing me) Don't you look kind of fat in it?

Me: Ummm...

Customer: I mean in general. Don't you look fatter in cheaper mirrors? You see, my granddaughter has some self-esteem issues.

Me: Well how much did you want to spend?

Customer: Well I don't want to spend more than twenty dollars, but I want a high quality mirror. My granddaughter is 8 but she is kind of husky and I don't want to hurt her self-image.

Me: Uh-huh. But you're buying her a full-length mirror because...

Customer: Oh I'm going to glue little pink hearts and princess crowns and jewels all over it so she is inspired to look like a princess!

Me: Well, we have these ones for 49.99 but I don't think you would want to glue things to this frame.. it's really nice.

Customer: Exactly! I want a cheap, high quality mirror that will make her look thinner, with princess things on it to build her self-esteem. Why doesn't anyone carry that?

Me: Unfortunately, we can't really sell products for less than it costs to make them... so the high quality stuff is more expensive. That's generally how retail works.

Customer: That's a load of crap! I saw this same mirror at Wal-Mart for fifteen dollars! (pointing to 50 dollar mirror)

Me: Wow! That is a good deal! Really, it's pretty miraculous! You know what? Why don't I just call them to confirm that, and if so, I will sell you this mirror for fifteen bucks!

Customer: Oh well, maybe it wasn't the same one... now that I think about it, that one kind of made everyone look fat too.....

Me: Oh. Bummer.

Customer: (holding both mirrors side by side, facing me) I guess you only look a little fatter in the cheap one... (puts it in her cart)

Me: You have a lovely day Mam... (analyzes own reflection a bit longer, slinks away to break room to eat cheese and cry a little)

   *No wonder this Woman's granddaughter has self-esteem issues. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Let's Just Continue as if Nothing Ever Happened...

  Hey Everyone! So the other day I was at Vitamin Cottage and this lady in sweatpants totally...

  Okay not good enough?
   What? You want some sort of explanation as to my absence and perhaps an excuse concerning the desolate wasteland that this blog became last month, littered with nothing but the skeletal remains of retail related rants and a half-assed cartoon?
    Well the truth is I don't have one. Also a self help blog once told me that the number one thing you should never do on a blog is apologize for not blogging, and I'm using that as my excuse for not having an excuse (I'm so freaking Meta).

   I wish I could tell you something HUGE happened in my life. Like I had a baby, or was on a Cruise ship when it sank and I single-handedly saved like twelve people and have been too busy shaking hands with the President and pretending to be annoyed by all the publicity to blog about it.
   But the truth is I have just been horrendously busy with normal life things.
    "What? How dare you sacrifice your very successful and financially practical career plan to become a famous blogger for College and a Job!"

                       I know, I'm so irresponsible, I simply cannot prioritize.

   While I refuse so apologize for my absence, my pathological need to be liked and my shame-gland have kicked into high gear and so, to the four followers who actually noticed I was gone and give a crap, I present to you:

Apology Pony

You can tell he's really sorry but his pride won't let him say it.

   So even though this isn't a real blog post, and as my friends will be quick to point out, that's a "recycled" horse from my sketchbook, I'm just letting you all know that I'm totally back, I haven't abandoned the blog, and you can all expect a real post* within the next few days.
                                   *I would promise that it will be totally hilarious but I don't like to set the bar too high for myself.
  If it will help, I can totally finish the story about Vitamin Cottage Lady.... that place is a Goldmine for strange.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How I'm Winning at College: Part 2

    Classes started up again this Tuesday and I, in my regular fashion, am already rocking them.

     "By 'rocking' do you mean you made it to class on time, with the proper supplies, with your hair fixed and dressed in some adorable outfit that you picked out the night before?"

   Unfortunately, huge mass of internet fans hanging on my every word, by "rocking" I mean I showed up five minutes late carrying only a dried up sharpie and the temperamental asshole otherwise known as my self esteem, who was busy informing me that only really REALLY cool people can pull off sweaty workout clothes outside the gym (and am I really delusional enough to believe I'm that cool? Really Honey?).
     While more motivated people are taking classes like Biochemistry and Business Management, because I'm a Communications major (I know, shocker right? You all can't even believe I'm not in the Physics department) I get to take things like Art History and Psychology of Death and Dying (so, so fun you guys).
    While these classes have their perks, namely that I find them incredibly interesting and also that showing up and occasionally mentioning the Holocaust is all it takes to pass, they also come with a particular set of challenges involving the type of people that tend to teach them.
    I'm a pretty open minded person. Sure I was raised with certain viewpoints and am genetically predisposed to eventually fall into an "extreme" category of some kind as I age, but I enjoy hearing all sides of an argument and consider myself a pretty sensitive and culturally aware individual. So now you have some context for this joyous little anecdote.

    As I mentioned earlier, I showed up five minutes late to my first class, which happened to be Intercultural Communications. As I quietly slipped into a seat as close to the door as I could find, I heard my name.

   "Baylee Steele?"
   I   looked up to find the middle-aged female* instructor staring at me with a giant "I accept everyone for who they are and don't judge them for anything" smile. These smiles are dangerous because they almost always mean the opposite. Let's be honest, if you have to work that hard to convince everyone you're a nice person, you probably aren't.

         *"Why does it matter that she's female Baylee? Aren't you being reverse sexist?"
                Maybe I am, let's keep reading and find out....

     Thankfully she moved on quickly and after watching a clip from the original Bad News Bears I soon found myself involved in a class discussion concerning the possibility of actual worldwide peace.
   "How does The Bad News Bears relate to World Peace" you say? I have no idea. I wasn't really listening because I was busy reading this little excerpt from the Behavior Policy section of our syllabus:

       "Please avoid using any derogatory or offensive language or terms that could hinder healthy discussion and expression of feelings. Please do not use any terminology that would indicate that another person's opinion is Wrong in any way, as the idea of Right and Wrong is an expression of ignorance. Don't deny anyone else their reality."

    While I was trying not to physically roll my eyes at this statement I looked up just in time to make eye contact with Professor No-Judgment who took the opportunity to ask me my opinion. The discussion went something like this:

   Prof No-Judgment: Baylee right?

   Me: Uh, yeah.

   Prof NJ: What do you think about the relationship between religious freedom and world peace?

   Me: This is the first day of this class, right?

   Prof NJ: Ha ha! Yes, but we don't waste any time when it comes to opening our minds!

    Me: Uh-huh. Well um, I think that unfortunately it's not a realistic expectation. I mean even if all of Mankind-

   Prof NJ: Let me stop you there- we don't use the term "mankind" okay? It's exclusionary and very offensive to women.

   Me: Uh, I'm a woman, so can't I say it?

   Prof NJ: No I'm sorry we prefer you use the term "humanity" or "people"

         At this point there is an awkward pause while I try to decide which is less argumentative- "Who is this 'we' you speak of" or...

   Me: Well "humanity" has "man" in it too.. so I guess I don't really see the difference.

   Prof NJ: That's true! Isn't it interesting how we just can't get away from it? Even our language excludes people! So how can we expect equality when the very words we speak force us to declare inequality?

  Me: Uh. Well I just meant it as a general term and I wasn't offended by it....(It should be noted for the record that at this point my brain actually screamed "SHUT THE HELL UP THAT'S ENOUGH" but my mouth just says things)............. and that's my reality. Are you saying it's wrong?

   Prof NJ: Unfortunately that's all the time we have today! But let's continue this discussion on Thursday okay? *Continues to smile but it's now accompanied by crazy "I will have your liver" eyes*

   So today I got home from work with the intention of relaxing for a few minutes and then heading to class to see if day two was any better, but then I fell asleep for two hours and missed it completely. So I dropped it and signed up for Intro to Dance because what the hell all elective credits look the same on a transcript anyway.

      Also if you're white and live in Colorado wearing a Kimono doesn't make you multi-cultural, even if you lived in Japan for three years. It makes you an idiot. Take that Professor No-Judgement.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Keeping Up Appearances

What I told everyone I was doing for New Years:

What I actually did for New Years:
Here's to a New Year of accepting ourselves for who we really are.