Monday, January 11, 2010

A petty gripe and a lesson learned

I've never been good with confrontations. I'm the kind of guy who always tries to be nice, no matter what, who has no street smarts and always thinks of the right thing to do or say about ten minutes after I should have done or said it. Lee Marvin I am not. Case in point:

Wifey and I took the kids shopping the other day to a local discount store. You know, the kind with factory closeouts, store buyouts, crap from China, 5,000 two-cent pencils with "Revere Police Department" printed on them, last year's editions of the Rand-McNally road atlas for $1.00, and other such stuff. This particular retail cornucopia announces its presence with a 50-foot fiberglass cowboy in the parking lot holding an American flag. Let's just say that everyone around here has shopped there at least once and will refer to it while smirking or rolling their eyes. Or both.

Well, we needed some small household stuff and some homeschooling supplies, so we loaded up into the family bus and headed on down the road. Our time through the store was pretty normal: we found more stuff to put in the cart than was on our list. The boys were really helpful, if only because I gave them jobs to do to keep them occupied. I'd be at one end of the aisle and wifey was at the other with the baby and the cart. I'd pick a few items and hand them to the boys who dutifully marched them to Mom and came back for more. They stayed out of trouble, didn't scream or break anything and didn't knock anybody else over. So far, a success. They even got to pick out one small toy each.

When we decided we'd had enough, we gave the order. "OK, kids, go to the register." Wifey and I trailed about ten feet behind as Fric, Frac and Fred raced to the counter. I was pushing the cart, paying attention to what I was doing, so I didn't see what happened next, it all happened so fast. Fred, who is 3, found an entire cardboard rack of emergency whistles hanging there. Of course, he put one to his lips and blew. (You might be thinking that this story is about a busted eardrum or us getting kicked out of the store, but you'd be wrong. In fact, there was no audible noise at all from the whistle.) The cashier immediately left her perch, walked over to the whistles and announced to my wife that we had to buy that whistle. She pointed to the sign. "It says right there if you blow the whistle, you have to buy it." She proceeded to untangle the whistle in question. My wife, immediately replied "Fine, I'll pay for it, but you can throw it away. Why would I want that in my van?" Unfazed, the cashier continued to untangle the whistle. We explained to Fred that because he had to buy the whistle, we had to put his toy back. Fine, I think he forgot about it within five minutes. Wifey and I exchanged some looks and some hushed conversation, then she took the boys outside while I paid.

Here's what I did: I asked the lady if she thought 3 year olds could read. She didn't answer. I then explained to her that if that was their store policy, then the whistles should not be there at the register, unpackaged, unprotected, and at the eye level of a 3 year old. I took the whistle display and moved it to a more, um, appropriate spot. Then I paid and left. (I know, the word wuss comes to mind.)

Here's what I realized after I left the store I should have done: I should have handed the cashier the dollar, plus six cents for the tax, and told her to keep the whistle as well as all the $80.00 worth of items in my carriage.

Here's what I will do: send a note to the manager of the store bemoaning not the dollar lost, but the policy they have to set their customers up. According to sources close to me, they've been pulling that crap for years. Well, gripe done and lesson learned. But that's the last dollar they'll get from me. Next time, I'll go to Job Lot. I think I can pick up a copy of the Dirty Dozen there. I need to do some studying.

1 comment:

Dawn said...

don't feel too bad about it. Hey, at least you moved the display, that's more than I would have thought to do. for a minute there I thought you were going to say "after blowing the whistle, a large pack of dogs swarmed the store and we were trapped for hours!". :)