I don’t know what happened to customer service (besides the financial climate, I mean), but it’s gotten just plain weird.
photo courtesy of Flickr and yummiec00kies
I am bad at handling social interactions to begin with, but when I’m supposed to have some kind of barter relationship with someone, I expect it to go pretty smoothly since all the steps are already laid out. In fact, I usually just shimmy in and backwards shuffle step appreciatively out, and try and cause as little significant impact on other people’s days as possible.
I call it “leave-no-trace consuming.” I (Louisiana) purchase lots of stuff but nobody remembers I bought any of it because I either buy it online or I try to make little to no impression on anybody in stores across America, or heck, the world even!
So on Saturday, I go to explore this bakery cafe that has been in my neighborhood for many years, but once I had a dry brownie there so I imposed a random hiatus period which I generously decided to lift out of mild curiosity. Brownies can only stay dry for so many years until things need to change.
Here’s what happened. The place had a whole new look. Instead of just selling dry brownies, they now sell everything you could fancy (minus plungers, though I know that’s the go-to for most economically-impaired imaginations) including grain-infused Swiss yogurts, fresh-tossed and packed penne, passion fruit rugelach, and a coffee bar!
So of course I lost my senses for awhile including my sixth one because I was in no way prepared for the (cinnamon) twist ending. As I made a few rounds of the store and the cashier, a harmless-enough-looking young ‘un (maybe college student, maybe not), began giving me the hairy/evil/lazy (triple threat) eye. That should have been my first and last clue.
So I finally make all my selections and I’m feelin’ real jazzed because I didn’t know the store was going to succeed my expectations in such a grandiose, yup-yup-yuppieish manner as opposed to the rah-rah-recession bread line/coffee grinds puddle water I anticipated.
As we being our exchange, this guy gives me the coldest customer service I’ve ever experienced. No smile, no gratitude, no acknowledgement of being a human being. I mean, there’s angry cashiers, but this man was just empty. A corn husk doll making change happen in only the most material sense of the word.
I thanked him profusely and every time I thanked him, something strange happened. He would just stare right into my eyes as if to say, “Just stop. Stop acting like we’re interacting with each other, you fellow droid. There is nothing. Only the void.” I’m positive he was a robot set to stun with silence.
photo courtesy of Flickr and noahg
Contrast him with the cashier guy at the movie rental store (where I also paid a visit) who was quite possibly a current or ex-gang member. He had a neck tattoo, he looked like he could use a DVD case as a throwing star, and his name has been a gang member’s name in nearly every film I’ve seen about gangs.
Anyway, he was definitely both professional and polite, but he also looked completely robot-like. I was a bit scared when he finalized our transaction because he took out this random piece of paper and put a tally mark next to his name, like I was being added to some kind of a pure numbers list.
I guess gang members like keeping track of their “sales.” But I’ll be honest, I was slightly apprehensive—especially because I was renting a Harry Potter movie, which probably wasn’t winning me any toughness points (“I know some paid-time-off spells?!”).
photo courtesy of Flickr and aliwest44
I don’t know where I was going with all of this except that never judge a brownie or a DVD by its cover because it turns out to be completely pointless anyway. And always be nice to customer service people even if they are mean to you because they could very well add you to some kind of list, and then you could get coupons in the mail and stuff. Also if they stare at you a lot, act like you are checking your watch. It works especially if you also need to know what time it is!
P.S. Later, in my effort to be a civil servant, I tried to donate a musical instrument to a store and they said “No, thanks! But you should try a school instead.” Yeah, like walking into schools and dropping off gifts for no one in particular is something we do in this day and age. But I’ll try. I just had to complain about it first by staring at the sky, shaking my fists yelling “Why?! Why?! Why?!”, and blogging, naturally.