Currently, it is holiday time in much of the world – with Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza all being celebrated this month. Many of the holidays, whether secular or spiritual, involve gift giving. I am all for giving home-made gifts – scarves, sweaters, photographs, cookies, candy, jewelry, and even wine or a specially made cocktail like the limoncello I made last year. But, very often time moves forward too quickly, squeezing out every last opportunity for making a specially handcrafted gift. And, when that happens, one goes shopping! Right?!
With jewelry made, cherry cordial brewing, supplies for candies in my cupboard, cookies yet to be made, and an absence of lemons from my lemon tree, I headed out Tuesday morning to see what I could find for a couple of special friends. I ended up being the first one through the doors at Pier I Imports, a store I used to frequent quite often, especially in the early years of our marriage when one was within walking distance from our third floor walk-up apartment in Buffalo, New York. At some point during the span of the last 30 years, I got out of the habit of going to see what Pier I was stocking on their glittery shelves. But, having gone in about a month ago and also having received a lovely birthday present from a friend this fall which was purchased at Pier I, I have started to visit the store once again.
Not looking for anything in particular, I came across something I thought a friend would like – more so, the object reminded me of her, so I headed to the register to check out. It is here where the trouble started! It should have been a simple purchase. One item. Cash paid. But, the clerk entered the amount tendered wrong and had to void the transaction. Then, she rang it in again, and again made a similar mistake. She apologized profusely – grumbling something about it being a year since she had rung up any sales, which gave me the impression she was probably a college student home on break. I was not in a hurry or upset in any way at her mistake with the register. But, after the second mis-entered amount, the cash drawer locked and she needed the manager to come open it with a special key. Here is where I started to be irritated. The manager had taken a phone call from a POTENTIAL customer, who seemed to need many items in the store DESCRIBED to her (I am assuming it was a woman. I might be wrong). For ten minutes or more (maybe twelve) the clerk and I stood and waited patiently for the manager to get off the phone and take care of the problem with my transaction. Another customer asked where the monogramed wine goblets were located. Apparently, she was waiting direction from the manager on the phone, so she asked us instead. My clerk couldn’t tell her, but I had noted where they were in the store and pointed to the general direction. She thanked me and made a comment about the manager taking a “very long time” on the phone. In the meantime, another woman was ready to check out. My clerk left the register she was on with me to check this woman out on the other register. Meanwhile, the manager was still describing various snowmen in the store to the POTENTIAL customer on the phone. Finally, she hung up and attended to the register that was locked. In thirty seconds, (well, more like 15 minutes and 30 seconds) I was on my way out of the store, gift in hand.
You know, this whole scenario left me irritated! I was IN the store with money in my hand and the person on the phone – who did not buy (order) anything but got the manager’s attention and 15 minutes of my time was waited on with priority. WHY is that? I just do not understand it. When I was a teenager, I used to work retail. When there was a line or one of the other employees needed the manager, the phone was the LAST thing to be attended. Yes, it was important to answer the phone, but the POTENTIAL customer on the phone – was the one who was asked to wait, not the other way around.
Unfortunately, although I know this could have happened anywhere, it happened to me in a store I just started to frequent again. And, you know what? It will take some time and a day I am feeling filled with patience to visit it again, no matter how much I like it there.