Most of the time folks who are out on the front line of customer service do a wonderful job. Their work is mostly thankless, and they really are the unsung heros out there, dealing with crabby customers, screaming kids, rude people, the winkers and grabbers, you name it, it’s probably happened. But every once in a while I just run across one that makes me see red.
We had stopped in the CVS near our house to pick up a prescription, and on the way out after paying for that, I saw something I decided to get as an impulse item. I brought it to the counter, and decided I didn’t feel like paying for this item with my credit card so I was going to pay with Apple Pay, as I could see the symbol on their card reader that indicates they have payment through Near Field Communications. I pull out my iPhone, put my finger on the home button and it registered the transaction with a check mark and a buzz on my phone. Just then I hear the teenager behind the counter. “Ahem. That doesn’t work. Those aren’t set up to work”. I look up and this kid is indicating that I can’t use my iPhone and Apply Pay. When I said quizzically, “but it buzzed like it registered the tranaction” he said “yes, but it won’t send it to our register, so it won’t count as a sale.” I asked if they were going to get that updated so it worked, and he said “well, I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think so.” he paused briefly, then said “but it works with the Samsung phone”.
I kid you not.
Say what? It was all I could do not to fly over the counter to choke the snot out of him right then and there. Have you ever seen the movie True Lies? There is a scene where Arnold Schwarzenegger as Harry is test driving a Corvette with a car salesman/con man named Simon played by Bill Paxton. As Harry is driving, Simon is going on and on about a supposed con job he is pulling off with a woman, who is Harry’s wife. Harry has this mental movie of punching him in the face while he’s driving, hitting him so hard his nose bleeds and Simon is knocked out cold. I had a mental movie too, coming over the counter and grabbing the kid by the shirt, screaming “Does this look like a Samsung phone? Did I even ask about a Samsung phone? Arrggghhhh!”, all of which happened in my mind in a millisecond. What really happened was me choking out “Well that doesn’t do me a whole lot of good now, does it?” all the while doing my level best to inject the appropriate amount of sarcasm for the occasion, knowing full well that my razor sharp wit was no match for his lack thereof. Futility, thy name is wasted zingers.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had this happen to me either. A couple of years ago, I was at Best Buy, a big box retailer for stereo and other home goods. I’d gone there to get an amplified FM antenna for our stereo. I asked the first person I could find – who seemed to be working in the stereo department, incidentally – he had no clue what this was. So I explained it to him, thinking perhaps it might be known by another name, and a description would help. (“Well, you know the blue things that squeak and serve no valuable purpose except to make a dog nuts?” “Oh of course, we sell doohickeys.”) So I explained it and said “it allows you to get better FM reception when you have trouble, say with a stereo in the basement.” After a second he shook his head and then said this: “No, but we have an open box reciever I can sell you.” Huh? WTH. Did I ask for a receiver? Did I, in any way, suggest I was here to buy one because mine was broken? That one I literally said to the guy, “I don’t need a reciever. That’s not why I came in here. Is there someone else that can help me?” He found a young woman, and I repeated my question to her. She also didn’t know what it was, but at least helpfully led me to where it might be. Together we looked around the items hanging on the display wall, and then I spotted it. When I showed it to her, she said “Oh that’s what that is? I always wondered.” I started instantly chewing on my tongue to keep myself from saying my first thought out loud, which was, “Really? Then why didn’t you look it up?” But since I was already skeeved at the first guy, I figured silence would keep them from throwing me out of the store.
I sometimes feel like I’m the only curious person left in the world. I like learning, knowledge and information. Not so much that I want to go back to school again, been there, done that and have my advanced degree, thank you very much! No, I’m talking about random stuff that you never know when you’ll need it, like knowing about presidential line of succession, or did a small private plane really crash in a Minneapolis suburb in 1973, or why am I getting an error message on my camera with a particular lens, or what’s the history of Bikini Atoll? And how about knowing how to fix things? There is very little in my house that I won’t try to repair, just ask my husband. I’ll install lights and new outlets, fix plumbing (although I don’t like it much), can handle an impact wrench with confidence, and wield a mean caulking gun. Most of what I know how to do, I’ve learned from my home repair books (for you kids, that’s what we used before the internet!) or by looking it up on Google and YouTube. I hate paying someone to do what I can figure out myself. I mean, why the devil should I pay an electrician $150 to install a new light fixture, when I can do that in 20 min? Full on disclaimer inserted here: don’t take this as instructions, but it’s really not much more than “Turn off the breaker, then white to white, black to black, ground to ground. ” (If you did take what I just said as instructions, and anything bad happened, I hereby declare I told you not to take it as instructions, and it’s your problem, not mine. If I checked with my lawyer, I’m pretty sure she’d make me say that.) But I have to say I continue to be amazed at the people in my life who aren’t the least bit curious about anything. It’s not that they don’t have the ability to find the information, every single one of them owns a smart phone and can look anything up at any time. They just don’t, but instead sail blissfully through life, uncurious and unquestioning. I’m not even talking about the ones who are so buy with 2.6 children, they get a small amount of Papal dispensation. I’m talking about the rest of them that have the time and still aren’t curious. That’s so far outside of my level of comprehension.
Perhaps I’m the anomaly. I can accept that, if that’s the case, but I’ll warn you, I’m not likely to change. Oh it’s not because I’m too old to do so, but it’s because I like me like this. It’s fun! My husband and I find out the coolest stuff. Yes, there really was a private plane crash in Richfield in 1973, along with a B-52 that crashed in Inver Grove Heights in 1958, among others. I did figure out what was wrong with the camera and fixed it. Bikini Atoll? Well, there is a ton of information on the internet, and you can get a soul jarring documentary from Netflix called Radio Bikini and if it does it’s job correctly it will both break your heart and scare you to death.
And I still don’t much like plumbing.