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.