Friday, September 30, 2005

Notes from My Field Experience 9

The typical phone call...

CUSTOMER: Hello, I wanted to know If you had a certain book in stock.

ME: Okay.

CUSTOMER: Can you help me with that?

ME: Yes.

CUSTOMER: Okay. I'm looking for a hardcover edition of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith, priced for $24.95, with a green cover... I have the "IDSN number", if you'd like that.

ME: Already, I'll look that up for you, what is the ISBN (looks it up)? All right, we might have a few copies of that in stock, would you like to hold while I check the shelf for you?

CUSTOMER: Oh, sure. And uh, if you find it, could you put it on hold for me? My name is Jane Doe...

ME: Okay. (Puts customer on hold to find the book, locates book, then picks phone up). Thanks for holding, I found it.

CUSTOMER: Do you have it?

ME: Yes, I found the book.

CUSTOMER: So, you have it in stock?

ME: Yes. I have it in my hand.

CUSTOMER: You have the book in the store?

ME: Yes.

CUSTOMER: Did you find it?

ME: Yes, I found it. I have it here in my hand...

CUSTOMER: So, you have it right there? Is it A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in hardcover?

ME: Yes.

CUSTOMER: Is it the one by Betty Smith? With a green cover?

ME: Yes. It's the one that I looked up for you.

CUSTOMER: So... it has a green cover... Are you sure that it's the exact same book? What's the "ISDN number"?

ME: (Reads the ISBN) Yes, it's the one you asked for.

CUSTOMER: What's the price on that? I want to make sure I'm getting the right book...

ME: $24.95. It's the one that you wanted me to look up...

CUSTOMER: It's the one you looked up? Okay, could you put that on hold for me?

ME: Sure, what's your name again?

CUSTOMER: Jane.

ME: Okay, we'll hold it for a few days.

CUSTOMER: So, you'll hold it for me, then? For a few days?

ME: Yes...

CUSTOMER: Oh, great! Now, there were a few other books I was looking for too... could you look those up, and tell me if you have them, and if you do, could you find them and put them on hold for me?

ME: (Wondering why she didn't tell me all this before) Okay...

Notes from My Field Experience 8

CUSTOMER (College age guy): Hi, I was wondering if you could help me find a book. I'm looking for something on relationships, something like one of those "Dummies" books or something, a beginner's guide type of thing.

ME: We should have that in stock. I'll show you the section.

CUSTOMER: I really need something that's an easy read, something that I'll understand quickly, because I have an assignment that's due... I have to give a speech on it, and I haven't started on the assignment yet, and I don't have that much time.

ME: Well, this book here is the simplest one I can think of.

CUSTOMER: Do you have anything smaller than this? This is kinda thick.

ME: I don't think I can find anything simpler than "Relationships for Dummies"...

CUSTOMER (looking at watch): Hm... okay, I guess I'll have to take this, I don't have much time left.

ME: When is your assignment due?

CUSTOMER: This afternoon, I have to be in class in about 20 minutes, but the drive to school is like 10, so I'll have a little time to read.

ME: Uh... are you sure?

CUSTOMER: Yeah, I'll just read on my way to school, as I'm driving. It's not that far, and at least I'll get something in before I have to get up to give my speech...

Notes from My Field Experience 7

CUSTOMER (highschool age girl): Hi. I'm looking for a book that I'm supposed to read for class.

ME: Which book is it?

CUSTOMER: I don't know the name, or who wrote it. My teacher told me to come here to buy it.

ME: Is it a novel? Do you know what the book is about, at least?

CUSTOMER: No. My teacher just told me to come here, and you guys would know which book it is that I need. Do you know the one I'm talking about?

ME: I'm sorry, I don't...

A Few Notes on Bags

  • Choosing whether you want/need a bag should not be a major, life-changing decision. Either you want one, or you don't; it shouldn't take more than a second or two to make the choice.
  • Trees are not made of plastic (not yet, anyway), so don't say, "Save a tree".
  • Don't say "Save a plastic tree", either. This is very annoying.
  • Don't say "Save a tree" when you are drinking out of a disposable cup.
  • Don't say "Save a tree" when you are buying $50 worth of magazines that you will promptly toss into the garbage after you finish looking at all the ads (probably never bothering to actually read the articles). You would be reading that crap online, anyway, if you were really that environmentally conscious. (Using electricity, yes, but saving gas and paper).
  • Don't give 20 reasons on why you don't want a bag. "Yes" or "No" will suffice.
  • You don't need a bag for a gift card. Put it in your purse or your pocket.
  • Don't ask for a bag for your gift card, and then ask, "Don't you have something smaller than that?" If something smaller was available, it would have been given to you.
  • Don't ask for a bag unless you're buying something. If you need a tote bag for your personal things, go buy a canvas bag. They're sturdier, washable, and environmentally friendly.

A Note on Periodicals and Newspapers

"If you want your magazine/newspaper completely intact and on time every day/week/month, get a subscription."

This is the (almost) foolproof way to get your materials exactly when and how you want them (I say "almost", because nothing is ever perfect). If you know that you like to read the New York Times everyday, get a subscription. It will be cheaper that way; not only will you save on the price of the paper, but you'll also save time and gas money. It amazes me how many people will come out to buy the paper every single day, rain or shine, and then complain because the paper is wet/missing sections or otherwise not in pristine condition/sold out, etc.
  • Don't head out to the store at 2pm on a Sunday and expect to find any copies of the local paper left. Most people like to get out early to get things like that (the early bird gets the worm, you know).
  • Don't get mad about having to stand in line to purchase the paper/magazine; if you had a subscription, you wouldn't even have to leave your front porch/driveway.
  • Don't complain if the store charges tax on the paper. The store is obligated to charge sales tax (if required by law). If you had a subscription, it would be cheaper. It only makes you look like a cheapskate to be squabbling over a few cents, when you probably spent $2 or $3 worth of gas to get to the store to buy the paper.
  • Don't throw your money on the counter and stalk out of the store; it's rude, and half the time, people who do this never leave the correct amount.
  • Magazines come when they come. No, the store cannot guarantee that a magazine will be there by a certain day, and no, most stores do not carry back issues of magazines. If you want it on a certain day, get a subscription.

A Note about Dictionaries

Publishers don't tend to release new dictionaries each year; what they do is update the same one, with a new "edition". So, this year's dictionary will say it's "new", but if you look at the copyright date, it might be 7-10 years old.

Also, the number of new words that are added to a dictionary is so small that you could count them on one hand. It usually makes the news when a major dictionary decides to add new words, and journalists will spend a week or two musing over the new words, and debating over popular terms that were left out.

So, if you walk into a bookstore demanding the most up-to-date dictionary with the "newest" words in it, you are only showing your ignorance. Most of the words that people don't know are almost as old as the language itself. Why bother with 5 or 6 "new" words, when they are all most likely slang terms that teenagers use, or leftovers from some fad that quickly faded?

People need dictionaries to look up definitions of established words that are used in everyday life, business, and education, most of which are old words. If you want to know what all the "new" words are, go hang out on a high school campus (and hope that people will only think you're an idiot, and not a pervert).

Also, if you really want to help your kid, don't go cheap on the dictionaries. You don't have to go whole hog and shell out $150 on one of those big tomes that can prop up a car without receiving any damage, but don't make the kid pick a book so small that he needs a magnifying glass to read it.

Tips for picking out a dictionary:
  • Flip through it and look at the entry words. Do you find yourself lingering on certain pages to read definitions, or do you just skip around, because you know all most of the words? If you're buying it for your kid, have them flip through it, or quiz them on some of the words to see how many they are familiar with. The purpose of a dictionary is to find the meanings of words that you don't know, so if you already know most of the words, you should look for a different book.
  • "College" dictionaries are made for quick look ups and easy reference. College students are usually only looking for a definition, so most college dictionaries omit certain info (like word origins, history, and additional pronunciations, etc.). If you want more information about the words you need to look up, then a college dictionary is not for you.
  • If you are shopping for your kid, buy a dictionary that is a level or two above where they are in school. You want them to learn more complex words, right?
  • If you want to save money, it's perfectly okay to purchase a discount volume or a secondhand dictionary. Remember, most of the words that you'll need to find are older words, so an older dictionary is not necessarily a bad one.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Customer Etiquette Lesson 4

"If you are thinking about returning some merchandise to the store, make sure you familiarize yourself with the store's return policy. This will save countless headaches (for the staff), and gas and time (for you)."

For some odd reason, people will walk into a store and ask for the moon when they are trying to return items that they have either purchased themselves, received as gifts from other people, or stolen off the shelf. Reading the return policy (which is usually posted in several places in the store, as well as being printed someplace on the receipt in most stores) is a big help to the process, and will save both you and the store personnel time and pain in the long run.

Some tips on returning merchandise:

  • If it's noticeably damaged, the store most likely won't take it back.
  • If an item is damaged at the time of purchase, ask the manager to make a notation on the receipt.
  • Most stores have a disclaimer that says that they are not obligated to take merchandise back; this service is provided as a courtesy to the customers.
  • Most stores ask for you to fill out some form with your personal information in order for you to return merchandise. Some stores require you to submit more info than others. Electronics stores, for example, request everything short of a DNA sample before they will allow you to return any merchandise. So don't bother pretending like you've never had to do it before.
  • Don't blame the cashiers for the shitty return policy; they are not the ones who created it; it's their job to obey it.
  • If you don't like the return policy, stop buying merchandise from that store. It gets to be tiresome to hear the same customers complain about it every week.
  • Be nice to the employees. Sometimes the store will bend the rules for you if you are nice.
  • You have to actually bring the merchandise back to the store in order to get a refund; you won't get anything for some item that you left at home.
  • Having a valid receipt makes things 100% easier.
  • Don't try to use the store to pay your personal bills; crying about needing to return a $35 book to pay your phone bill is not going to get you far. You shouldn't have bought the book in the first place.
  • If you paid with a credit card, most likely, you're going to get a credit back to your account. If you want cash back for your purchase, you should have paid in cash to begin with.
  • A receipt with an endless trail of exchanges will probably get you nothing more than store credit. The receipt has to show that you actually paid money for something for you to get money back as a refund.

Really, if you have the receipt, you can usually get what you want. Think about it. If someone asked you to pay them for something they said you'd taken from them, but they had no proof that you took it, would you even think about reaching into your wallet to give them any money?

Most stores deal with hundreds of customers a day; don't feel slighted just because the cashier (who was probably not even the person who helped you to begin with) doesn't know or remember you from 3 weeks ago.

Notes from My Field Experience 6

"People may think that irate customers are the most difficult to deal with, but this is not the case. The irate customer is either just looking for some outlet for their frustrations, or some resolution to their issue. The crazy customer never knows when to stop, and they don't know when it is appropriate to leave. Crazy people are definitely hard to get rid of..."

CUSTOMER (Confused old lady): Hello, I was calling to notify you of a problem. I want to let someone know that I keep having this same issue, and that you people need to fix it.

ME: (Bristling at the term "you people") What is it?

CUSTOMER: Well, I live closer to your other branch, so I usually order my books there. But whenever I do that, they always send them to your store.

ME: Ma'am, there's no way that could possibly happen...

CUSTOMER: But it did! It does all the time. In fact, my friends have been complaining about this very problem. I called your other store a few days ago, and ordered this book (she reads the title), and then I got a call from you guys saying that the book was ready for me. Now, I don't mind driving the extra distance sometimes, but this has gotten to be a habit, and I'd much rather pick the book up at the place where I ordered it.

ME: Are you sure you called the right store? Because there is no way that that could have happened, Ma'am... if they ordered a book for you there, then it would be shipped to that store. We don't ship books between stores. In fact, your order wouldn't even show up in my system if you ordered it at the other store.

CUSTOMER: No, no-- I'm telling you, that I walked into your other branch, and I talked to a customer service person, and stood there at the counter and ordered this book. I know for a fact that I was there to order it, my husband was there with me.

ME (scratching my head, wondering why she's now saying that she walked in, when at first, she said that she'd called): Well, Ma'am...

CUSTOMER: It was a young girl who helped me-- I can't remember her name, but she was very helpful... more helpful than you're being... you can call the store and ask her.

ME: I'm not disputing whether you were there or not, I'm just trying to tell you that when you order a book at one store, there is no way that it would be shipped to another...

CUSTOMER: You're telling me that I'm wrong?! The customer is always right!

ME: No, Ma'am... the customer is not always right-- and in this case, you're wrong.

CUSTOMER: What? You're telling me that I'm wrong?

ME: Yes. Now, in order for us to have this book for you, you must have either come in here to order it, or called us on the phone. Is it possible that you might have called both stores?

CUSTOMER: No! I TOLD you! I went to your other store, and I WALKED IN, and I TALKED TO THE GIRL, and my husband was right there next to me... hold on-- if you won't believe me, maybe you'll believe him. If he was here right now, I'd put him on the phone so that he could prove it to you, but I'll just tell him to call back when he gets home. What is your name?

ME: Ima... Look, do you want the book?

CUSTOMER: Of course, I want the book! What has the whole thing been about? I want you to send it to the right store, and tell your people to stop sending it to the wrong place!

ME: Let me try this again... if the book you ordered came to this store, that means that you either called us on the phone to order it, or you walked in to order it. There is no way that the people at the other store could have it sent here, and the computer system is not set up to send books to different stores...

CUSTOMER: This is ridiculous! I can't believe that you keep telling me that I'm wrong! I'll just have my husband call back to deal with you! (hangs up).

-- I called the other store, to see if this woman had actually ordered a book from them at all, and found out that she had. They had the same book on hold for her there. I investigated further, and found that she had ordered this same book in at least 2 other stores-- maybe she'd gotten confused and forgotten if she'd ordered it at all, or maybe she was afraid that she would forget which one she'd ordered it from, so she decided to order it in multiple places.

Or maybe her "friends" that she'd been commiserating with were actually her other personalities...

Customer Etiquette Lesson 3

"Giftwrapping is a complimentary service. If you want the Martha Stewart look, you'll need to buy one of her magazines and a roll of your own gift wrapping paper, and wrap it yourself."

People constantly look at our ample selection of giftwrap and turn their noses up. Honestly, I fail to see why people expect the world, just because they paid $10 for a book. And once I've wrapped the book and given the customer the accessories (gift insert card, decorative label, etc.), it never fails-- they always ask for one more thing.

There are several points here that would be helpful in reducing the amount of headaches that develop over a simple thing like giftwrapping:

  • Since it's a "free service" of course the choices will be limited.
  • You must actually pay for the item before you get it wrapped. Most cash register scanners won't scan through wrapping paper.
  • It is very helpful if you don't breathe down the wrapper's neck as he is wrapping; this only works to make the person either nervous, or annoyed, and it doesn't help them to do a better wrapping job on the item.
  • Just because it is free, this does not mean that you should feel inclined to take enough paper to wrap your personal gifts for 2 Christmases.
  • Don't ask for extra paper to wrap something you bought from some other place. If you bought something from Nordstrom's, you should have had the people wrap it there.
  • If it's a book, please don't ask to have the price cut out/covered up; most books list the price in several different places, and besides, who wants to receive a gift that is damaged? Depending on the format, most books fall within the same price range, so any idiot can figure out how much you paid for it. It's no big mystery that the average hardcover book is $25.
  • Don't keep the gift receipts yourself; the purpose of the gift receipt is so that the recipient can return/exchange the item. You have your own receipt.
  • Please, don't try to help; if you asked for someone to wrap for you, let them do it.
  • If you don't like the wrapping job, kindly take the item home and rewrap it yourself. (I've actually had someone watch while I completed a wrapping job, then she proceeded to unwrap the item, ask me for another section of paper, and stand in front of me and rewrap it herself).
  • If you are given a little blank card, it is intended for you to write your "heartfelt" message on, and attach it to the gift, just like on a bouquet of flowers. (I can't count the number of people who have given me blank stares, and were all confused over the matter of the little gift insert card).
  • Don't be impatient with the wrapper just because you waited until 20 minutes before you were supposed to be at the wedding/party/shower/dinner before you bothered to pick out a gift. It's not our fault if you failed to plan ahead.
  • Wrapping a small item or a gift card in a huge box is just tacky. No one likes to open a big box to find a miniscule gift-- unless it's a piece of jewelry.
  • A book is going to look like a book, no matter how it's wrapped. What is so wrong with that? Most people need to read more, anyway. If you don't want it to look like a book, buy something else. Just don't buy a gift card and ask to have it wrapped in a huge box.

Some annoying/odd questions people have asked about giftwrapping:

  • Is this all you have? Don't you have any wedding/birthday/baby shower/bar mitzvah/graduation/retirement/engagement, etc. paper?
  • Do you have ribbon?
  • Can you wrap it so that it won't look like a book?
  • Can you turn the paper inside out? It's a wedding gift.
  • Can you cut out/cover up/scratch out the price?
  • Can I have some extra paper, just in case?
  • Can I have some extra paper? I have something I bought from Nordstrom's that I want to add to it.
  • Can you put it in a box, and then wrap it?
  • Do you have a prettier box than that one?

So Many Books, So Many Mistakes

"If you really want to find a particular book, it helps if you have the correct identifying information."
  • "Henry Porter" = Harry Potter
  • "The 4 Elements" = "The Four Agreements"
  • "The Sunny Beach" = "House of Sand and Fog"
  • "The 5 People that Morrie Met in Heaven on Tuesday" = "Tuesdays with Morrie" + "The Five People You Meet in Heaven"
  • "The History of the World" = "A Short History of Nearly Everything"
  • "The Mystery of the Night Watchdog" = "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night"
  • "Midnight in the Garden of Eden" = "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"
  • John Edward = John Edwards
  • "The Miami Beach Diet", "The Orlando Diet", and "The Malibu Diet" = "The South Beach Diet"

and

All the "alternative" names for "The Da Vinci Code"

  • The Da Vinci Conspiracy
  • The Da Vinci Mystery
  • The Da Vinci Plot
  • The Da Vinci Express
  • The Galileo Code
  • The Da Vinci Nightmare
  • That Novel about The Last Supper

Notes from My Field Experience 5

CUSTOMER: Hello, I'm looking for a book-- actually, I don't really know if it is a book or not, but I was hoping that you could help me.

ME: I'll try.

CUSTOMER: Okay, it's from a movie that came out in the mid 80s... it was about this guy who was a scientist, and he lived with his family on this remote, jungle-ridden island, and the guy went crazy...

ME: Oh, that sounds like "Mosquito Coast".

CUSTOMER: Oh, no. That's not it, this was a different story.

ME: Are you sure?

CUSTOMER: Yeah. This movie had this really famous actor in it...

ME: Harrison Ford?

CUSTOMER: No... it was another famous actor, but not him. And the guy in the movie was married, with a few kids...

ME: To Helen Mirren? And River Phoenix was the oldest kid, right?

CUSTOMER: No... Hm... see, that sounds a lot like the book I'm talking about, but it's not quite the same...

ME: When did you say the movie came out? What year?

CUSTOMER: Somewhere back in the 80s... I can't really remember the exact date.

ME: And you're sure it's not "Mosquito Coast"?

CUSTOMER: Yeah, I'm positive.

ME: Well, I don't think I can figure this one out... maybe you can try a video place or something.

CUSTOMER: I guess that's an idea... well, thanks for trying...

Random Notes from My Field Experience

Some questions that people have asked:
  • Do you sell books here, or do you just rent them out?
  • I'm looking for a book, but I don't know the title or the author-- I only know that it has a blue cover... Do you know the book that I'm talking about?
  • Do you have a copy machine I can use? No? Would you mind if I borrowed this book for a while so that I can make some copies? I'll bring it right back...
  • How do you get the money to go from my credit card to the gift card?
  • When are you going to get more books on cults? There are enough people in this area who would be interested in buying such books... you need to have a larger selection.
  • Do you have this book on DVD?
  • Do you have the English version of Macbeth?
  • What kind of dictionary is this? It doesn't have any new words in it!
  • Where is your Fiction section? I'm looking to read a true story-- for a class assignment.
  • My 8yr-old son has to read "Pollyanna" for school, and I want to read along with him so that I can help him with his assignment. Do you have a Cliffs Notes for that book?
  • Which one of these nursing books do you think would be the best? The teacher told me to get a book for extra study, but I have no clue about what I should pick. I figured you'd know better than me.
  • Our nephew just graduated from school with a degree in marketing and advertising. We wanted to know if getting "Advertising for Dummies" would be a good book for his collection?
  • I want to get one of those maps that you put the special edition quarters in. Are the coins included?
  • Do you have the book called "Sextrology"? I want to get it for my daughter-in-law.
  • Do you know what types of chemicals are used in the manufacturing of the books? I think this book is toxic, because it just smells funny.
  • Do you have "Chicken Soup for the Vegetarian Soul"?
  • Can you tell me where I could find "G.E.D for Dummies"?
  • Do you have any books that teach you how to use a computer? Okay, I also need a book that teaches you how to type...
  • Can you help me find a book of dirty limericks? I think it would be a perfect gift for my daughter.
  • Aren't the books supposed to be shelved alphabetically by author's first name?
  • Aren't the books shelved alphabetically by subject? I need to find the A's for "Antiques"-- would that be at the front of the store?
  • My granddaughter wanted the British version of Harry Potter. Now, my question is: would she be able to read it, or do you think I should just get her one that's in English?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Notes from My Field Experience 4

"If you don't shop at a particular store, please notify your friends and family of this fact. This will help to prevent them from giving you gift cards to said store."

CUSTOMER (Loud mouthed older man, who throws $300 worth of gift cards at me): Hey! You owe me some money. My daughter gave me these things, and I don't read, so I want my money back.

ME: Sir, you'll have to take that up with your daughter.

CUSTOMER: What do you mean? I want you to give me cash for these cards, I can't use them.

ME: We don't do that, Sir. Maybe you can give them back to your daughter, and she can get you something else.

CUSTOMER: What? That's bullshit!

ME: You may be right, but that's our policy...

CUSTOMER: So, you're telling me that there's no way that I can get cash for these?

ME: Maybe you can get the money from your daughter.

CUSTOMER: That's not gonna work... 'cause I'm not speaking to her just now...

Customer Etiquette Lesson 2

"Don't bother to tell employees how much you disdain the particular store that you are shopping in; if you really had such an aversion to the company, you would never have set foot in it in the first place. Besides, nobody cares anyway."

Working in a big box retailer, I have received many complaints about the evils of corporate entities and so forth, yet people still stand in line to get in to these places as soon as the doors open. If so many people were so against big corporate retail stores, the places would have gone bankrupt long ago.

People who don't want to line corporate pockets with their money don't shop in chain stores. Period. So the next time you walk into a Wal-mart or whatever megastore, save the anti-corporate lecture. It only makes you look foolish to be spouting all that meaningless rhetoric in the middle of the very place you say you'd never set foot in.

Notes from My Field Experience 3

Again: "Don't act like an asshole unless you want to be treated like one."

ME: Thank you for calling BBB, this is Ima, how can I help you?

CUSTOMER (Grouchy old man): Hello?!!

ME: Hello?

CUSTOMER: HELLO?!! Who am I speaking with?

ME: Ima.

CUSTOMER: I'm looking for one of those map books-- what are they called?

ME: A road atlas?

CUSTOMER: Yeah, that's what I just said. Do you have it?

ME: Which location were you looking for?

CUSTOMER: You people never listen-- I want to know if you have any of those books with the maps in them!

ME: (Taking a deep breath) Yes, we have them.

CUSTOMER: (Getting irritated) Well, do you have the one I'm looking for?

ME: I don't know which one you're looking for, you never told me--

CUSTOMER: (Yelling) What are you, one of those military people or something? I'm asking you if you have the book I'm looking for!

ME: You know, there's no reason for you to be belligerent to me. If you're going to insist on yelling at me, then I'm not going to help you.

CUSTOMER: Well, I wouldn't be yelling if you were listening. Are you deaf or something?

ME: (hangs up the phone).

Notes from My Field Experience 2

"If you are looking to find a specific book, it really helps if you have some specific information."

CUSTOMER: Hi, uh, do you work here?

ME: Yes. Can I help you find something?

CUSTOMER: Yes. I was looking for a book. Can you help me with that?

ME: Yes.

CUSTOMER: Oh, good. Well, I was looking for this book-- amazing, really... I read this scintillating review of it in the paper yesterday... I was wondering if you had it in stock?

ME: What's the name of the book?

CUSTOMER: Oh. Um... let me see-- wouldn't you know, I can't remember it now! Hm... well, uh...

ME: Do you know who the author is?

CUSTOMER: Actually, I can't really recall...

ME: Well, do you remember what it was supposed to be about?

CUSTOMER: Not really.

ME: Can you remember what the reviewer's name was?

CUSTOMER: No.

ME: Oh... well, which paper was the review published in?

CUSTOMER: Darn it-- I don't remember... I have the clipping at home somewhere... so-- you think you have the book in stock or not?

Notes from My Field Experience 1

Okay, another category: a "transcript", if you trust my memory, and I have a pretty good one, for useless details-- it's the important things that I tend to forget. Anyway, an actual experience that I've had (names and locations have been changed to protect the innocent and the ignorant from too much embarrassment):

ME: Thank you for calling BBB (insert "Big Box Bookstore" if you like), this is Ima, how can I help you?

WOMAN ON THE PHONE: Hello? Is this BBB?

ME: Yes.

WOMAN: Oh, okay... what are your hours?

ME: 9am to 10pm everyday.

WOMAN: And where are you located?

ME: In the Suburban Heaven Shopping Center, on the corner of Commerce Blvd and Retail Rd.

WOMAN: And what is your address?

ME: 1234 Retail Rd.

WOMAN: Okay... what's your phone number?

ME : (Thinking: WTF??? Didn't she just call me on the phone?) Uh... it's 234-5678.

WOMAN: Is Macy's open?

ME: Uh, I suppose so... it's not a holiday, so I assume that they'd be open-- but there's no Macy's in this shopping center.

WOMAN: And what are their hours?

ME: I'm sorry, I wouldn't know... you'd probably have to call them.

WOMAN: And what is their phone number?

ME: I really couldn't tell you...

WOMAN: Oh... I guess I could just call Information for that...

ME: Yes, I think that would be a good idea...

WOMAN: Thanks so much for your help... I'll call back if I need anything else...

ME: (Cringing) Have a good day...

Customer Etiquette Lesson 1

How I manage to amaze myself sometimes... I've already come up with a "witty" category, and it will probably take me 6 months to figure out how to archive it once I get a collection of them.

Anyway, working retail isn't all that bad, if you have no problems with getting paid pittance, working holidays, being physically active, and dealing with a countless number of strangers from day to day, most of whom don't have much home training, or have forgotten the little bit they received while growing up. Working retail is character-building; it also makes you think twice before you decide to be rude to other customer service workers.

Okay, back to the Customer etiquette Lesson (and to think that a teacher once told me that I needed to go to the library to check out a book on etiquette... if he could only see some of the people that I deal with on a daily basis!).

Customer Etiquette Lesson 1

"If you really want someone to actually help you, act like you want to be helped."

Honestly, some people just don't think. If someone walked up to you and started barking at you in a rude and condescending manner, and you just so happened to stand still long enough to figure out that they were asking you for directions to some place, would you really want to help them? Or would you either: a) walk away, b) laugh at them, or c) give them the wrong information?

Almost every day, I have at least one person who comes up to me to ask me for some bit of info, but they are so snarky and condescending, that I have to bite my tongue in order not to snap back at them. A little common courtesy never hurt anyone, and actually, the Golden Rule is quite a sensible concept! You get better service if you're nice to the employees... not only is that common sense, but it's a proven fact. If you walk in being an asshole, most likely, you will be treated like an asshole, even if it's in some small way that will take you a while to figure out.

Always remember, most stores reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In retail, money is the bottom line, so you need to keep in mind the very sobering fact that your money is more important than you, and if you think you're too important, well, there is always someone out there who's willing to spend more money...

The Premiere Post

This is just something I'm doing for a bit of self-managed therapy. I've just spent the last 6 years of my life working retail, at a bookstore of all places, and I suppose I should have decided to unload all of this crap a long time ago. Actually, I'd started a blog for this very purpose months ago, but ditsy person that I am, I forgot my log in name and password, so, there went that idea...

But, now I'm back, and I'm going to try to stick with it, whether it happens to be entertaining or not. Everybody and their mother's cousin's dog has a blog now, and 3/4 of them are all more boring than being forced to watch a marathon of Charlie Rose...

I guess I'll come up with some witty recurring themes in a bit, but for now, I'll just go with what I can remember (forget what they say about drugs and alcohol-- working with idiots from day to day can really deplete the brain cells)...

*Special Note: normally, I'm very anal about grammar and syntax, but seeing that this is supposed to be a therapeutic outlet (i.e., a rant space), I won't be too bothered about it.