Archive for February, 2010

customer service

For all the crap I talk about being in retail and dealing with awful customers, let’s take a minute to talk about the brighter side of retail.  (Also let’s keep in mind that I may or may not have had a couple glasses of wine before writing this post.)

I’d say that at least 75% of people who are employed have a desire to put forth a decent effort at their job. This makes us feel like what we do has some worth, and it gives us some of that much talked about “job satisfaction.” I am no different. While my job might not matter in the grand scheme of things, people come to me inquiring about something they need for a recipe or that they read about in the New York Times or that doesn’t interfere with some allergy.  When I can help them achieve this, I am happy.  When I can’t, not only are they upset, but I do feel like I have let them down, even when I know it wasn’t my fault.  

Yesterday at work I had a woman asking me for raw cacao powder.  We searched high and low and the best we could find was raw cacao nibs, which theoretically could be turned to powder in a spice mill or coffee grinder.  However, while her quest wasn’t exactly met, we did have a lovely chat about raw food diets and other things, and she was impressed that although I am not a vegetarian or raw foodist, that I knew about her lifestyle.  After our interaction in the baking aisle, I went back to my department.  

A few minutes later, she finds me at the charcuterie counter and holds up the item she was looking for, which the whole time had been about twenty feet from where I was.  I immediately knew where she had found it, and felt kind of stupid that I hadn’t the sense to look where she did.  But on the other hand, although I get paid to help people find the things they need/want/don’t know they ever wanted, sometimes it’s the customers themselves who end up showing me the way.

I also recently had a lady who was so thrilled when I was able to identify the mysterious “American version of Manchego” cheese she was looking for (Gran Queso).  We then had a totally unrelated conversation about Hawaii.  She left the department, and as I went to clock out for the day, she found me even though I already had on my coat and led me by the arm to the produce department where they were sampling white pineapple (from Ghana of all places) and made me eat a bite.  She went on and on about how she’s from Hawaii and she’s still never tasted a pineapple like that.  And wouldn’t you know it, it really was the best damn pineapple I’ve ever had.  So good I had to buy one.  

So: Dear Customers: Although you often drive me bonkers and I firmly believe you leave your brains in the parking lot before you enter the store, some of you are pretty cool and gracious.  Even though interacting with customers day in and day out can be pretty mentally draining for me, there are a few who continue to restore my hope that humanity is not a lost cause.  These people have either, 1: worked in retail at some point in their lives, or 2: had decent parents who taught them how to treat people with respect.  

Okay, this spur-of-the-moment-right-before-bedtime post has come to an end.  Goodnight!


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space invaders

I care a lot about personal space.  A lot.  Too much.  I obsess about it.  I give people dirty looks at the grocery store.  If you are too close to me for no reason, I will usually make it very obvious while I remove myself from the area that yes, you are too close to me and that is why I am moving.

But. I will not actually speak up.  I won’t say anything.  I am unable to open my mouth and say something simple like, “excuse me, but would you mind backing up just a bit?”

The questions are: If I actually start to speak up and clue people in that they are a space invader, will they get mad at me?  Will they move?  Won’t I feel worse after the confrontation than before it?  If I start to make a habit of it, will it get easier?  Am I content with the fact that I will probably never be able to visit India??? (fine by me: don’t like Indian food. Blasphemy!)

I know there are some people who either have no “bubble” or people who are simply rude and want to either get in front of you, or crowd you so that you will move.  Heck, I am certainly guilty of being tailgater.  But that’s in a car.  I’m talking about the people who could have stood anywhere in the not-crowded bar last night but still chose to stand directly in front of me and my husband while were talking. (I caught the eye of one of them, and gave him an exasperated look.)  I’m talking about the person who stands so close behind me at the grocery store.  In fact, let’s just put it out there: I don’t like lines.  It usually has nothing to do with how long they are.  In fact, most cashiers know how to move a line quickly: if a line is moving slowly it’s usually the fault of the customer, 95% of the time.  (And if not, it’s because you’re at T.J. Maxx where they only put a UPC tag on 43.9% of their items.)  I don’t like lines because no matter what line you’re in, everybody thinks that moving closer to the person in front of them will move the line faster.  It won’t.  Stop doing it.  (Again, these rules do not apply to driving.)

Moving on.  Please reply and tell me whether or not it is in my best interest to start speaking up and letting people know they are invading my space.  Otherwise, don’t be surprised if you are told by the brunette in front of you, “dude, give me some room, will ya?”

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