Tuesday, March 08, 2005


No one knows what "service" is anymore. I'm not talking about the '50s gas station attendant who washes your windshield while pumping your gas.

I' m just talking about paying for stuff in a store, getting directions to the bread section, or returning an item at a "service center."

I would just like to be recognized when I walk up to a register instead of ignored while the cashier talks to her friend in the next isle over. I don't know why businesses don't get this. I want to give them money, you know, cash, cash that the business can use to pay their CEO who can buy big houses and fancy cars. But no one is paying attention to me.

Back to the "Service Center" in the store...

Service Center: You know those areas in the stores that have no one behind the counter. It's supposed to be a place where you bring stuff back, but there's really no one assigned to the area at all. It's empty and you wait. But I digress.

One day I returned a video camera to an electronics store. A young beautiful African American girl said to me when I told her why I was there: "I need to get approval because we usually don't accept returns past 10 days. We have a 10 day policy here you know." Well, no I didn't but yeah, fine, okay, get the approval. "Manager to Service Center" she announced over the store intercom.

The manager gave the approval because I guess I wasn't holding a Lugar and I wasn't wearing a trench coat. On the other hand, maybe if I were, she wouldn't have to get approval, she'd just fork over the money immediatly. He came, authorized, and left.

She scanned the item but the gun didn't pick up the numbers on the tag so she had to type the 10 digit number in by hand, well by finger nail tip. She made several errors that might have been avoided had her nails been more norma rather than resemble eagle talons. Have you seen these things? They are starting to curl over. How does she brush her hair, put on libstick, or, well, oh never mind.

She took my card ran it through the machine using her knuckles and proceeded to generate a copy of the return. I don't know why they do this. I really only want the money. What do I care that the returned item has increased their inventory by one?

Anyway, she yanked at the paper which was jammed, but then ripped. She tried to re-feed the continuous forms but had problems because of the nails again. She was really finger-challenged. (She might be able to get a handicap plate.) She was really unable to do any manual job requiring dexterity. She was cute, did I mention that? Maybe that's what got her hired because it sure wasn't any other skills that I witnessed.

Another girl helped thread the machine while the one "helping" me kept hitting the print key. Nothing happened. I had to leave. I knew what the problem was, and tried to help, but her communication skills were as short as her finger nail were long. (Hey maybe there's a connection here.) I was afraid I was going to lose it and start laughing hysterically. Then they'd think I was crazy for laughing at such an everyday occurrence. Surly it must have been a regular event because no one else was laughing. If I lost it, they'd kick me out and never return my money.

Five minutes later I returned to see her smile with a form in her hand. Boy, was I glad to leave.

"Experience of others is the best teacher."