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Game, set, and lose

What’s more fun than gathering some friends and playing a rousing board game? Not much, at least to me. So when my store expanded our game section, I was excited. Not only could I keep up with the latest board games, I could also buy them at a discount. (We also expanded our toys section to include Legos but don’t get me started on that.)

Since the store had a stockpile of demo games, we set them in our cafe. Patrons took to them right away and our cafe sales reflected the extra time people were spending there. Kids especially enjoyed it, even if they couldn’t fully grasp the concept of some games, like Blokus.  This past Friday, a group of teenagers set up a game of Monopoly and spread out across the floor by the teen section.  Much of the staff didn’t think twice about it, figuring that they probably got the game from the cafe. I thought that they’d purchased it to play it because it looked new, unlike the games in our cafe. Surely, I thought to myself, four teens would know not to open product that wasn’t theirs.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When I came back Monday morning, I saw that the Monopoly game was sitting in receiving, used and unable to be sold again.  I was pissed, as were several other coworkers who realized what’d happened too late.  What made four teens think that it was okay to open something that wasn’t theirs and use it?  Where did they learn such behavior?  I pondered this question to one of the children’s department staff and she answered simply, “Their parents.”  I nodded.  “I see it when they’re young,” she went on, “how the kids will use our product as if it’s theirs and their parents let them.”  She was right.  We’ve seen kids throw books, rip pages, take stickers, and put plush in their mouths, right in front of their parents who don’t tell them to stop and behave.  So, of course ten years down the road those same kids are going to think it’s okay to use something that doesn’t belong to them so can I really blame them for their shortcomings?

Yet I can’t quite grasp why a parent would think that it’s okay to do this, either.  My parents certainly didn’t let me behave that way (and I continue to respect product when shopping in a store).  I want to think it has something to do with the suburb in which our store is located.  It’s a wealthy suburb and sometimes I get the feeling from customers that they feel entitled to certain things.  But only a small percentage of people actually are like this, so it’s not necessarily that.  Also, I’ve been able to spot others who’ve never worked a day of retail in their lives and don’t understand that damaged product means loss to the store.  Sure, the company takes a hit, but the effects are felt most closely at the store.  As a manager, if we don’t make our sales plan, we can kiss our raises goodbye.*  And one thing that cuts into our profit is store damaged items.  That’s right.  Those four teens partook in a fun game called, “Let’s not give the managers any more money” or “Monopoly”.

*Wouldn’t you be pissed, too, if it meant the difference between making the same crap pay or making an extra $1040/year?

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Posted by on March 2, 2011 in Rants

 

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Lost: Etiquette. Reward if found.

Bookstores are a fun place to browse and relax.  You can go in, cruise the aisles for a few books, pick up a warm drink, and then sit down in a large, cushy chair to enjoy said books and drink.  It’s most relaxing.  That is, until some jerk on a cell phone decides he has to talk at the highest decibel to be heard on the other end of the line (and, apparently, the store).  Suddenly, you’re jarred from whatever imaginary world you were visiting in the pages before you.  Your muscles tense and your eyes narrow as the guy just keeps on talking, not realizing he’s disturbing those around him.

As is talking on the phone while in the bathroom (especially a public one), talking loudly on a phone in a retail establishment is a pet peeve of mine.  I find it utterly inconsiderate.  The reason people come to stores like mine and stay for hours is to relax, get away from the office or home, not to hear one side of a stranger’s personal conversation.  A coworker of mine once heard an older gentleman explain to his grown daughter why he left her mother for another man. Apparently, the pet section of a bookstore is a great place to have that phone conversation.

Another time I overheard a man telling his friend on the other line that all his checks were bounced and he was afraid to go back to the hotel because his credit card might get rejected at checkout.  He said he was tempted to steal food at the grocery store so instead he decided to hide out in the bookstore.  This guy had the conversation rather loudly, right in front of me as I worked (wearing a name tag, handling product, etc.).  Not only was he rude in talking so loud but also rather stupid.  I went around, first to each manager and then to each cashier, and told them not to take any checks from this guy.

Let’s not forget those people who stand in line and talk on their cell phones.  We see this a good deal of the time, but I imagine it happens in grocery stores and the like as well.  There is nothing ruder than this, I believe.  First of all, it’s a distraction to everyone around, even for the person on the phone.  A cashier may be calling and calling for the next in line but the jerk on the cell phone is oblivious and continues to hold up the line, pissing off everyone around.  Then, when the cashier is helping him and he continues to talk on the phone, the cashier cannot ask the required questions she is supposed to ask.  Not only that, but the cashier is trying to be of service and the customer is essentially ignoring the one person required to help him.

If the cashier is lucky, this is the end of the incident.  But I’ve on that side of the register before and seen that a complete transaction does not mean a complete interaction.  Once a lady came up on her cell phone and practically threw her book at me.  I rang it up and hit total and she swiped her card.  As the receipt printed, she took the phone away from her mouth (but not her ear) and asked if I got her discount card.  Let’s see.  Threw the book at me, check.  Threw discount card at me, no.  Apparently I was supposed to be psychic and know that she had a discount card and look it up for her by somehow knowing her phone number.  How dare I be so rude!  Of course, I had to completely redo the transaction and it further held up the line because one lady couldn’t put down the phone long enough to buy a book.  How long would it have taken?  Thirty seconds?  A minute?  Not as long as it ended up taking, that’s for sure.

So, next time you’re out in public and your phone starts playing “Baby Got Back,” alerting you to a possible booty call, think twice before answering it.*  Is the potential conversation one you want to be shared with strangers?  Especially strangers who will gladly put said conversation on the internet for others to read?  I thought not.

*Really, the why doesn’t matter.  The point is, the people around you are not your friends and family and should not be privy to your life.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2010 in Rants

 

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A bathroom stall is not a phone booth

Has bathroom etiquette gone down the toilet?  (I know it’s bad but I couldn’t resist.)  I’ve never understood the appeal of talking on the phone while using the crapper.  Who thinks, “I’m going to be in there awhile so I might as well do two things at once and call my good friend John”?  You’re having a private moment so keep it private.

Now, I understand that the urge to use the bathroom can come up while in the midst of a phone conversation.  I’ve been there plenty of times.  But, really, how hard is it to say, “Can I call you right back?  I have to run to the restroom”?  I’d much rather someone stop me mid-sentence than to hear the tell-tale sound of a toilet flushing.  Once I hear that flush, my mind flashes to the person to whom I’m speaking, sitting on the can.  I really don’t want to think about that when I’m trying to have a conversation.

Now with cell phones, talking while doing, er, personal business is no longer restricted to the home.  I spend a good chunk of my week in a retail store and, therefore, a public bathroom.  When I walk into the restroom (or if I’m in there already) and someone else walks in, it doesn’t take long to figure out if that person is on the phone.  For one, only half of the conversation can be overheard.  When this happens, not only am I empathetic to the poor, unsuspecting guy on the other end of the line, I’m also torn with a decision to make.  Should I flush the toilet (one of those loud, I’m-sucking-all-the-water-from-the-earth, flushes) and rudely interrupt their conversation.  Or do I quietly wait until she is either done with the call or done with the restroom?*  But then I tell myself that it was that other lady’s choice to walk in the bathroom before kindly ending her conversation so why should I have to go out of my way for her?  She willingly walked into the restroom where toilets have been known to flush and I have work to do so there’s no way I’m waiting around for her to finish up.  When I flush the toilet, knowing full well that the loud noise will be heard on the other end of the phone, I secretly hope that it will be louder and longer than normal, even though I know it’s not possible.

*Technically, I could just not flush and then go about my day, but several times I’ve been the one to come in after someone who hasn’t flushed and that’s just as disgusting to me as talking on the phone while on the toilet.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2010 in Rants

 

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