Saturday, December 29, 2007

Temporary Insanity

How do I know I was temporarily insane yesterday? I went shopping in the real world.

I appreciate the plight of retail clerks. I was one. Though my career in that field was relatively short (I did a 2 year stint at Sears as a shoe salesman and then a couple years managing a women’s shoe store), I understand the pressure they are under. It’s no fun dealing with rude customers, long hours, weekend work, low pay, and much more.

Once in a while, though, I run into folks that work retail that really should be in the stock room packing and unpacking boxes instead of interfacing with customers.

Yesterday I ran into 5 of them in two different stores…within 20 minutes.

Last week I bought the new version of the Blackberry Curve. It was a pleasant experience as I actually had the full attention of the salesman, I knew my user name and password for my existing account (speeding up the transfer process), and the phone is awesome.

Yesterday I decided to pick up some gel cases for the phone and a memory card to hold all the music, video and photos I want to carry around with me (the ones that wont fit into my 16gig iTouch). A bit gadgeterialy excessive, but then again…I am compelled by some inner force I can’t control.

I stopped by an AT&T (formerly Cingular) store and was greeted with the offensive stink of some sort of combination of pizza, Shane’s Rib Shack ribs and, I think, curry. Two AT&T sales reps sat at their desks with customers finalizing deals with each of them for new phones. One of them acknowledged my arrival and said “We’ll be right with you.”

Ok. No problem. I went right over to the accessories, picked up a case of gels, grabbed a 2gig card and stood patiently near the sales desks. After 15 minutes of listening to both reps SLOWLY go through the sales process and each chit-chat about what they got for Christmas, what movies were they going to see this weekend, and that Chad was gong to have a big New Years party at his house and that Alisa was not invited, and so much, much more…I realized that there was probably another 10-15 minutes of waiting in my immediate future. I set the cheap case of gels on the counter, laid next to it the memory card, and walked out of the store.

I decided to go to the “big’ AT&T (formerly Cingular) store in Cool Springs, knowing they both had more staff to help, AND, didn’t allow that staff to eat stinky rotten lunch food on the sales floor. As soon as I walked in I was approached and greeted by a lovely lady who asked if she could help me.

“Absolutely” I said, and proceeded to tell her what I needed. She walked me over to the phone case section, pulled out exactly what I needed, headed over to memory cards and pulled the 2gig card for me as well. I noticed there was a 4gig card next to it and pointed and smiled like a little kid and said “mmm…I want that one!”

“I’m sorry sir, your particular model of Blackberry is only designed at this time to manage a maximum 2gig memory card.” So, I have a reason to get the newer phone in a few months it seems.

She handed the two items to me, walked me to the sales counter and said “they can check you out here- have a happy new year!” Wow, so kind and helpful. It ended there.

I stood in front of the counter with 4 people behind it. Person #1 on my far left was talking on his cell phone. Person #2 in front of me was on her stool sideways talking to person #3 who was engaged on his computer. Person #4 was intently working on his computer as well. I waited patiently. No one acknowledged I was standing there. A minute went by. Then 2, and finally 3. I was checking my Blackberry that was eagerly awaiting to try on it’s new gel case.

A bit after the 3 minute mark, when none of the 4 even looked up at me, I kinda lost it. I put my Blackberry down, along side the gel cases and memory card, and did something a bit wacky. I jumped 3 big jumping jacks, waving my hands wildly, and said, too loudly, “Hello! I’m here!”

The store went quiet (there were probably 7 or 8 customers in the store, and about as many staff). The 4 sales people snapped to attention to see what crazy person was making all the noise and they all locked eyes on me for the first time. “Thank you! I said- I was beginning to think you guys couldn’t see me.” I said this with a pleasant smile on my face and in a joking manner so as to let them know I wasn’t as crazy as they must think. Kind of like, wow, isn’t it funny I just did that? Person #2 said, as she then turned to get busy on her computer, “we’ll be right with you sir.” The other 3 went back to whatever they were doing.

The friendly greeter came over with a smile and said “I’m sorry- hey guys, could someone check this customer out, he’s just buying accessories.” Person # 2 said “we’ll be right with him.” My kind protector, the greeter lady, walked away.

I stood there for another minute with no end in sight and then addressed the four once more in a much more quiet and gentle voice, saying “I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to walk out of here right now with this stuff without paying. If you would like me to pay, just let me know before I leave.”

Just then greeter lady returned with the manager and he asked person #4 to please take care of me right now. He did. As I left greeter girl apologized and explained they were really busy.

Reconfirmed for me that I need to do and buy EVERYTHING online that I can.