Can I Help You?

Remember when customer service people took pride in their jobs and wanted to help you because you could actually make or break their existence? Where the hell did that mentality go? Now we’re surrounded by large warehouses filled with vest wearing employees who couldn’t give a rat’s ass whether you buy something or not.

Oh, they try to pretend they care, trying to be all “customer servicey” by putting one employee at the front doors to “greet” people. One person. Ya, I’m looking at you Wal-Mart. Its one person’s job in the entire rank of employees (two if you’re at a superstore) to make people happy. But once you pass the greeter you’re on your own, released into a sea of shoppers to dodge the aisle hog, the slow walker and that one person that you swear to God seems to be following you around the store purposely cutting you off at every turn.

Now let’s just say you’re in one of these places and have a question regarding a product. Well, then you’re really screwed. First you have to find a representative to help you, and then you have to actually make eye contact. Because that’s the trick, isn’t it? If they sense you in their peripheral they’ll haul ass around a corner and disappear. So basically you have to hunt down someone to help you. And if by chance you manage to tackle one, don’t be fooled by the array of buttons on their vest. They are not, in fact, a “specialist” in anything but avoidance and they’re not there to help you, they’re just putting in their time to get the hell home. In fact, the buttons are aiding their laziness; they aren’t even required to say the words “Can I help you?” anymore; they just have to wear a button declaring that they are.

Why can’t they wear realistic buttons so you know what you’re dealing with like, “I hate everyone.” Or, “Talk softly, I’m out of Oxycotin.” Or how about, “I’m here because no one else will hire me with these big o-ring looking things stretching my earlobes like silly putty.”

And don’t even get me started on trying to get a video game out of the locked glass. Remember when you used to stand and look interested at something behind glass and a salesperson would actually appear out of the blue ready to assist? Now there needs to be a training class for shoppers on how to approach this daunting task.

There’s usually (again) only one employee with a key and everybody wants him. One person. This time of the year when everybody, (except those two parents left who still don’t allow their kids to play video games) and there’s only one asshole with a key? Now here’s where training would come in handy. You must be the first out of all the other holiday shoppers hovering around the game aisle to identify the holder of the keys (hint: he’s the one with his pants riding low) and stalk him until he has a free moment between belches. Then you spring into action because if you don’t, well, you snooze, you lose and you’re waiting for another 20 minutes. He has many people waiting for him, many tired, grumpy Christmas shoppers and he could not care less. He saunters around with his pants at his ankles, jiggling his keys like a jail warden like he has all the time in the world, and he does, at least until his shift ends.

When he finally opens the glass is when he gains some interest in you because he wants you to hurry up. You could be cutting into his break time, so he stares at you like you’re a moron because you have no idea what a Yoshi is and why the hell your kid wants one. Well, fuck you vest boy, I did my time waiting for you. You can just stand there and text your girlfriend while I figure out if I’m going to let my 8 year old play a teen rated game. The answer is yes, by the way. Don’t judge me. I’m not good under pressure.

But it’s not just the blue vests, what about the orange smocks?  It doesn’t matter how many times I enter a Home Depot, if I need to find a salesperson for whatever I’m looking for, you can bet the section I’m in isn’t their “department.” Why? Because they would never actually be in their own department, what kind of bloody sense would that make?

They usually say they’ll get someone for you, but here’s the trick, if they’re really intent on finding someone for you, they will take out their little walkie-talkie thingy and actually call someone to come. If he or she doesn’t do that and walks away, you’re screwed; no one is coming, do you hear me? The joke’s on you.

But let’s just say that they do call someone, you still wait because that “specialist” is in someone else’s department hiding. So, as they emerge from their slumber making their way to the spot they are actually supposed to be in, they will be approached by ten other customers looking for anyone in orange.

“Look an orange smock, get him!!!” And now he’s walkie-talking people for those customers. Here’s some advice Home Depot staff, stay the frick in your “department” and there won’t be this much confusion and everyone can get on with their day.

Now, say your person finally gets there and just when they enter your aisle the old woman who has been waiting in the aisle with you, (aka, the one who has a hearing aid but still overheard you’re request for a representative), steals your person! Because all your orange smock knows is someone in aisle three needs assistance. And now you have to decide what kind of person you are. Are you aggressive and claim your “specialist”? Or do you shut up and wait. Again. My answer varies because I have a hard time reaming out an old person. I’m not saying that you can’t be old and an asshole, I just personally figure they’ve done their time and earned the right to go first. Always.

Now I know all this ranting makes me seem like I’m cynical and negative but I only wrote this because recently I had an extraordinary customer service experience that shone a big fat bright light on those places where it’s lacking. It was a pleasure working with these people (Holla, Carpet Warehouse). It was a class act from beginning to end, even the man with five teeth in his entire mouth who took a bus from another city just to work on the stairs was professional, funny as hell and actually proud of his work and it showed.

I don’t mean to get all down on all big franchised stores. I’m sure there are plenty of hard working people at these places. And I don’t blame the young people; I mean if they aren’t made to follow certain procedure then they’re going to take advantage. I blame management. I mean, quite frankly Chapters does a good job inspiring their employees to be kind, courteous and helpful. For starters, you can always find one, but usually they find you first, like they’re supposed to. Even the cashiers are well put together, clean and neat, this is not to say that they don’t have nose rings or tattoos but they appear generally happy to help you, even if they aren’t.

And that’s what I like when I’m in a place of business, a facade. I want to walk and shop in oblivion. Is that too much to ask? Work with me people. Please.

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