Archive | October, 2010

“Do I Have To Sign for This?”

28 Oct


So easy that a baby could do it....? Nahhh.



In the super busy, technological world that we live in, where food is “fast” and cell phones are “smart”, there is a certain tradition–namely paying for a transaction–which seems to have not yet been mastered by the majority of the human race. To put it plainly: some stupid sonsofbitches don’t know how to use the debit machines at all.

I mean, even the styli (that’s plural for stylus, right? Oh well, you know what I mean) that is used to sign the screen is confusing for people. I have had customers try to use the stylus to write something down on paper, and I’ve also had customers use their own pen to sign the screen, which is totally fulfilling to do if you are self-absorbed and like to leave your mark everywhere. I may not have been tested into the gifted program in middle school, and I might have totally bombed my SAT’s (when I sat down to take the test and heard it would take three hours, I kind of checked out mentally), but I feel like an absolute genius while at work just because even the most important-looking people fail to use a piece of technology that has been around since the late 60’s when IBM implemented their idea for credit cards with magnetic strips. Yes, I do my research!

My favorite thing is when I say “Okay, just select debit or credit on the screen” quite enthusiastically, I might add, and the customer goes “Well…what’s the difference?” Keep in mind that the customers who ask me this are usually older than I am (twenty-one) and have had more financial experiences in their lives than I certainly have. So, at that point, it’s basically up to me to play the role of Suze Orman and explain in layman’s terms how a debit card works: “Okay, so with debit, you enter your pin, and by entering the pin you are able to get cash back. When you use debit, the transaction usually goes through immediately with your bank. With credit, the transaction usually doesn’t go through right away, but most banks won’t charge you fees if you use credit while some stores charge you a fee for paying with debit. And no, I do not know if your bank charges you or not, so proceed with caution.” Usually by the time I’m done explaining this to them their facial expressions are akin to those of a person being explained quantum physics in Klingon. Then they usually say, “So I should use credit, right?” Sure. Use credit, use a friggin’ Mall Madness card, just use something and get the heck out of my store.

Lastly, I am quite concerned with Americans and their ability to think for themselves. Every debit card reader, for example, has a slot where you insert your card. Now, sometimes debit reader companies enjoy throwing stupid people for a loop and they, gasp, change the location of the slot. This usually causes customers to try sliding the card in slots which do not exist, or they put it in completely wrong. Little do many of them know that the companies have graciously put a little picture of the way the card is supposed to be inserted on the machine! No one ever seems to notice this picture, and I’m too nice to tell people about it either. But it would be totally awesome if customers could learn to notice such pictures.

I look forward to the day that robots take over the world–I really do. At least they’ll know where to do with their damn credit cards.

Here’s an awesome video I found about how to use a debit card. Please study this, people!

Some Customers Should be Actors

16 Oct
Finger couple

A happy finger couple

I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again: this blog just writes itself. Every single time I start worrying about what my next entry is going to be, something absolutely crazy and story-worthy happens at my store. Today, of course, was one of those days.

An hour before I had to leave work, I had a woman come up to my register to ring some items up. She was probably in her fifties and looked like she was going out somewhere. A man came through the door as I was ringing her up, and he started walking past her, and this is the conversation that I witnessed (thankfully they were the only two people in the store at the time):

Woman, grabbing the man’s arm as he walks past: Hey, do I know you?

Man: Wait, yeah! Ten years ago on–

Woman: West 9th?

Man: West 9th, yes!

Woman: Haha yes! I think we slept together! That was…a good night. I’m Mary.

Man: Oh yeah, that was a good night. Patrick. Never got your name that night…

Woman: So what are you in here for?

Man: Ice cream. Hey, do you want to come over?

Woman: Well…yeah of course I do!


You know the look that cartoon characters get when something shocking happens and their jaw drops by like five feet? Yep, that was me.

I was standing there pretty much mid-scan just staring at both of them and wondering how two people could be so, well, open in public about having a one-night stand and possibly planning another one right in front of me. The man walked off, and the woman, seeing the complete look of shock on my face, laughed and said, “That’s my husband!” I just turned bright red and started laughing like a loon because I had no other way of covering up the complete relief that I was experiencing. I told them that they both needed to take up acting because they completely had me fooled!

This incident certainly reminded me that 1)  Marriage really does make you insane, and 2)I have learned so much through retail. When I was younger, I used to be a hopeless romantic and I lost a good majority of that when I got older and realized that being the clumsy, offbeat person that I am would not guarantee me my very own Bridget Jones moment. But, and I know this sounds completely mushy, working in retail actually helped to make me more hopeful and positive about finding a soul mate simply because I have witnessed so many couples who you can tell are still completely crazy about each other. It especially melts my heart when I ring up elderly customers who still hold hands, make each other laugh, or poke fun at one another. As I’ve said to others, I realized through watching some very happy couples that having a good sense of humor is the main ingredient in a happy and long-lasting relationship. And usually, when I find myself thinking of these cute couples and how they have taught me so much and given me so much hope, I get a customer out of nowhere who is screaming and crying to their significant other via the world’s largest and most obnoxious Bluetooth headset. But that is just another life lesson that retail has taught me: life really is just a random jumble of emotionally-charged strangers. Except, of course, when the strangers actually know each other and partake in evil plots to completely bamboozle certain retail employees.




Love is Blind, and So is Retail

4 Oct

Has it been a long month or what? Despite my best efforts, I have been so busy going to school, studying and reading for all my classes, going to group project meetings, and working that I haven’t been able to do much at all. After having a conversation with my boss, my hours have dropped significantly, which means that I have more free time to write on here, get more sleep, and possibly not go insane.

So, my manager hired a new guy at work whom I was finally able to meet yesterday. He seems to have a good sense of humor and likes to joke around, so I think he will fit in with our team of complete crazies perfectly! While he was ringing up my stuff, (I saved around $10 thanks to coupons and employee discounts. Working in retail has made me an awesome shopper!) he complained and told me that he was sick of working already. I said, “Well you only work until ten, so it shouldn’t be that bad.” And he rolled his eyes and replied, “Yeah but if you’ve been working five…consensual….err…days in  a row, it’s different.” And I said, “Consecutive?” and I heard the two customers behind me in line cracking up. Being a smart-ass has always earned me brownie points! Welcome to the jungle, new kid!

In retail land, it is already Halloween and Thanksgiving. Right after Halloween is done, it will be Christmas. In retail, special holiday items (such as candy, decorations, toys) are sent to stores at least a month or two in advance, and these shipments are immediately put out on the sales floor. Why, you may ask? Because even if Halloween candy is put out a month and a half before the actual event, people will buy it. Working in retail and experiencing so many holidays early can sometimes make me feel like I’m in a constant time warp.

The thing I hate most about experiencing holidays in retail is having to decorate the store. Since I have recently moved to a new store and am amongst a very large group of veteran employees, I think that this may be the first year where I am not asked to decorate the store and, let me tell you, it feels great! Apparently I give off an artsy (as well as hippie…I don’t know where people come up with these things) vibe, and at my old store I’d always have one of my managers come up to me and say “You seem artistic…you are going to decorate the store!” I would then explain to them that I struggle to even cut a straight line with scissors. They always seemed to think I was just having fun putting myself down until they saw the actual results of my “decorating”: uneven streamers, gift-wrapped boxes that a blind amputee could probably do a better job on, and various mishaps which involved me standing on the counter to hang something up and almost falling off or hitting someone else. Due to several bad incidents with box cutters, I am officially banned from even using them anymore. Yes, I am that clumsy. With that being said, if you ever walk into a store that looks as if it was decorated by a toddler, it was probably done by me.

Speaking of clumsiness, I had to do something that I have never done in my entire life before yesterday: I had to assist our loyal blind customer around the store. And let me tell you, the experience was most unpleasant.

You see, I am not really a touchy-feely sort of person. If I don’t know someone well and they even pat me on the back, I feel uncomfortable. Occasionally I have had certain senile elderly lady customers go all lezzy on me by touching/holding my hand while I am trying to help them or patting my cheeks and telling me how I am lucky to have such “young skin”. On the outside I try to just laugh it off, but on the inside I’m simultaneously screaming, crying, and running in circles.

When our loyal blind customer–we’ll call him Eddy–comes in, one of us usually stops, walks out from behind the register, and he holds on to the person’s arm and shops around the store with them. Eddy actually lives right next to our store, so he usually walks (with his cane) all alone. Yes, sometimes he falls outside. It’s okay, though, because he’s usually drunk twenty-four seven (I don’t blame him), so he doesn’t feel much.

Yesterday, Eddy came in and I was working with a shift supervisor and Mr. Consensual (the new guy). My shift turned to me and said that I would have to help him shop. I started shaking my head and mouthing “NOOO!” at her, but since she needed to supervise the new kid, I had no choice. Since I am not comfortable with strangers touching me, I had always managed to avoid helping Eddy shop in the past, but for once in my life I was left with no other choice.

I walked out from behind the register and tried to pretend like I had helped a blind man shop a million times before. “Eddy!” I said as I tapped his shoulder, “How ya doin’?” He told me he was doing fine and dandy, and he told me to take him to the “adult section”, which, of course, is the booze aisle. So he held onto my arm and I started walking in my usual fast pace until I realize that, duh, blind people kind of need to take it slow. So I slowed it down and, about ten minutes later, we finally made it to the alcohol aisle. He had me pick up a large jug of that nasty vodka that comes in the plastic containers, and we set off to the front of the store to have him get rung out.

I was actually pretty proud of myself for handling the whole “assisting a blind man” ordeal. Well look at me! I thought, I’m being like the most awesome employee ever because I am helping a handicapped person to shop. Where’s the local news photographers? This is totally a Kodak moment! So there I was with a grin on my face, ignoring the tight grip of Eddy’s hand on my arm, and as we were traipsing to the front of the store, I must have turned at an odd angle, because I heard a crashing noise. Guess what? I had walked Eddy right into a watch display because I wasn’t paying attention.

The watch display, luckily, did not come crashing down, but it did violently swing from side to side. Eddy, being the jolly drunkard that he is, laughed it off and said, “Oh haha! I must have taken a wrong turn!” I looked up to see my shift and Mr. Consensual hysterically laughing at me. Feeling completely mortified, I was tempted to ask Eddy if he could let me have a shot of his cheap vodka.

And that is why, my friends, clumsy people should not be allowed to do anything out of the ordinary when it comes to retail. Whether it is wrapping boxes or assisting blind men, there are just some things some things that I will never, ever, be able to do.

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