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Monday, March 26, 2012

Guard House Reflections


Guard House Reflections

Annoying Sales Associates

It’s Sunday night and I’m on duty. The night is quiet except for rain drops tapping against the window panes. In the distance the red lights of railroad crossing arms flicker and from here they are blurred into a fuzzy red line that reminds me of the red correction marks my high school English teacher used in class to show us what needed to be studied.

Moments earlier the train jerked forward almost violently before slowing to start off in the opposite direction. That movement sparked thoughts of life experiences and how quickly things can change. I guess we all have everyday life experiences that annoy us or threaten to drive us mad if we give in to the unexpected.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to my son on the telephone and during the course of the conversation he said, “Mom, sometimes I feel like I don’t do enough for my customers but there are a few customers that make me wish I could strangle them or hang myself.”

My son is a recent college graduate now working at Sears. The job has nothing at all to do with his chosen field but it is an honest job and he is meeting quite a few interesting people. He is also working with a real estate company to film property in a favorable light for potential clients and an insurance company doing goodness only knows what. He is frustrated that he went to college and can’t find one good paying job that would cover his expenses and student loans.

He mentions some of his customers as if they were neighbors living close to him as he grew up. He frets when an elderly person has a heavy package to carry and he is always concerned that people are standing in line too long. He cannot understand why some people expect far more from sales people than others do.  When he voiced his concerns to me I replied, “Son, you’re doing your best.” I meant that sincerely because I know he really is giving his best to his job.

I confess there has been many times over the years when I’ve stood in a store and been a totally frustrated customer because finding a sales associate was next to impossible. In fact, finding a hen with a mouth full of teeth would have been easier most of the time. I won’t even mention the time I considered stripping off to stand naked with a T-bone steak tied around my neck to get someone to help me carry a Christmas tree out of the store.

Then there are the overly dedicated sales people like the one I found in a chain outfit store this past week. I would hide myself away from the public if I ever thought my son had turned into this type of creature.
I walked into the store with the intention of checking the new models of lawn mowers and as well as their pricing. I was barely into the store when a sales person stepped in front of me and blocked my path. I’m telling you, this guy was like a dog in heat. He could barely contain himself. “Is there anything I can help you with today? I’m sure I can be of assistance to you. How about if I just walk along with you and answer any questions you might have today?”  I can only assume the man gets a commission on any sales he makes.

I’m also taking a wild guess that he picked me out of the customers on hand as the one most likely to make a purchase. Maybe geriatric citizens using walkers to get around can’t carry much or maybe he is intimidated by the men with cut off t-shirts, tattoos, and baseball caps. I’m not sure but for whatever reason I guess he thought a woman dressed in blue jeans and worn sneakers who hadn’t had time to put on make-up or style her hair was there to lay down some real money.

To be honest, for a minute there he was so excited about helping me that I looked down to make sure I didn’t have a boob hanging out or a hundred dollar bill pinned to my ample assets.  “No, thank you,” I replied to him without looking him straight in the eye. “I’m just browsing today and I’ll be fine.  I appreciate your offer though.”

I started to walk toward the lawn and garden area of the store and once again the sales person blocked my path. In fact, he jumped in front of me so fast and hard his feet made a thud sound when they hit the floor.  “Now just let me know if you need anything at all.” He nearly sang this proclamation while wearing a full face smile that was as fake as any three dollar bill. About the only thing missing from his act was a bee-gum hat and claw hammer coat.

I stepped to the side and continued to walk toward my destination. He walked behind me and proceeded to stand directly behind me while I looked at lawn mowers and accessories that go with them. If I paused for a short time to read an information pamphlet about one of the machines he seized the opportunity to tell me how great the product is, how long it would be on sale, and how many of that particular item was left in stock. According to him, the store didn’t appear to have more than two of anything and would probably be closed due to lack of inventory by early evening if the pensioners got checks that day and showed up to buy supplies.

I was beginning to feel like a jewel thief attempting to heist diamonds at that point. I looked at the salesman and asked in a quizzical tone, “You do realize that none of these machines would fit in my purse don’t you?”
“You’re a funny one, Miss.” He folded his arms across his chest and continued.”We just want to please our customers and we offer all the support we can to make sure each customer is satisfied.” He winked at me and that’s when I noticed the small finishing hammer hanging from a belt loop on his trousers.

“So you like to do carpentry work? I was just noticing your hammer. If you are supposed to be in another area of the store I understand. I’ll be fine here.”

I am sure I saw dollar signs flash though the pupils of his eyes as he winked and started to move closer to me and whisper, “We can give some discounts on floor displays if they have dings or scratches. I’ll help you all I can if you buy one of these displays.”

He looked up and down the aisle before using his hammer to make a nice sized dent in the deck of the mower he had seen me looking at very closely.  He turned and winked at me again. I’m surprised I didn’t have a hissy-fit right there in the store but I retained my composure and headed for the exit doors so I wouldn’t do the man bodily harm.

I didn’t buy a lawn mower but then I hadn’t planned to make a purchase that day when I went into the store. I definitely wouldn’t have bought one from that sales associate. I found it unnerving that he was stalking me and trying to pressure me into making a purchase.

Sometimes I just want to go into the store and get what I need and leave. At other times I want to walk around and take my time to get new ideas and maybe price materials I plan to purchase in the near future.  I don’t want to have someone breathing down my back the whole time I’m in the store.

Then as I was leaving the store there was another sales person near the door. “I’m glad we could be of service to you today. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“As a matter of fact, there is,” I exclaimed. You can help me get our government back into the hands of the people. Make sure you vote!” I said with the biggest smile I could muster.

That was far more lady-like for me to say than what I was really thinking about what they could do for me!

©Dianna Doles Petry

1 comment:

  1. Such vivid memories. Customer service is truly one of those jobs that teaches you just how patient you can be until we can find a way to prove permissible manslaughter in court. The Richard Cranium that threw that television at me when I was working the service desk at Circuit City is mighty lucky that we haven't figured that one out yet. Fortunately, kiddo's made of pretty tough stock, and think of all the rich ideas he's accumulating for future story telling. The truth really IS stranger than fiction. Just spend a day in retail.

    Excellent write, M'lady. You gotz the goods with the details. ♥


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