This isn’t the post I planned for today but it’s the post I encountered. I ran to the local grocery to pick up a few things for the next few dinners (burritos tonight – gazpacho & pasta salad tomorrow). My list took me all over the store getting an item here and there. While waiting at the deli for their tortellini (for the pasta salad) I encounter a woman grilling a deli work on the contents of some pre-made salad. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s bad for a customer to ask questions. However, it’s who you ask and how you ask that can go from customer seeking service to obnoxious person. This deli worker had the lamented recipe card and was attempting to answer the queries. Honestly I was impressed they made the stuff there on site and the person dishing was involved in the making. Cudos store! However, said woman wouldn’t wait for the answer but instead barked another question and looked as if she thought the worker was trying to lie to her. I moved on having been served by another worker and gave a sympathetic smile to the man in the white hat holding the lamenated card doing his best at being drilled over salad.
Later I was in the meat department. I made my selections I hear a scathing voice say “So are these the ones you normally gouge us $6.00 a pound for?” I glance over my shoulder and yes, you guessed it! It’s her. Oh had she has 3 pounds of potato salad in her cart so I guess deli guy passed inspection. The butcher stands at attention with hands folded behind his back, I kid you not. As the woman leans over packaged custom made gourmet burgers from the meat department on sale. “M’am we usually charge $6.50 per pound for those as they have bacon and cheese in them. The $6.00 per pound are the seasoned beef ones. However both are on sale today for $5.00 per pound.” She squints at him. “Why? Are they going bad from the holiday weekend?” I make my selection and start moving on but as I push my cart I hear… “No m’am we make them fresh this morning. This stamp tells you the date…” I catch a woman’s eye as I move on she rolls her eyes at the poor butcher standing at attention, I smile and shrug. Whatcha gonna do when in the retail industry but deal with customers.
I enjoyed my time in the dry goods and dairy without any grating voices or being spectator to any interrogations of staff. However I did have to get some crusty bread at the bakery for dinner tomorrow. As I go ponder just what kind of bread I want and how much (I’m still getting used to shopping for two not two with a teenage boy)… I hear “BUT the ad shows chocolate ones! Get the head baker I want to speak to him NOW!” Yep there she is! The stocker dutifully runs off to fetch the baker and is thrilled to leave the snarling customer I am sure. The baker,who is a woman not a him, arrives just as I head to the checkout lane.
As I am finishing up my transaction there’s a cart banging on the conveyer belt before the register. I look up and it’s her. She’s banging her cart against the frame “BOY, oh bag boy come unload my cart. I can’t because I can’t bend over.” I wanted to say “You seemed to bend just fine looking for a chocolate one in the bakery.” (one what I’ve not a clue but oh well). The young man at the register turns to her. “He’s finishing up with this lady’s order then he’ll be right with you.” He turns to me and smiles as he waits on the receipt to finish printing out coupons generated.
“Tell him I want plastic bags in paper ones and pack lightly!” She says despite the bagger is just 10 feet away. He looks up at me and I say it’d fine don’t bag the soda’s they are easier to carry in the six packs. He smiles gratefully.
As I claim my cart I hear the woman ask. “I forgot my coupons for these can I get the coupon price and bring them to you later.” The cashier turns to look at me with a ‘please kill me now’ look on his face, I chuckle sympathetically and smile. “Good luck!”
On the drive home I thought about it. Really it’s fine she wanted to know what’s in her potato salad, if the burgers were ground chuck or sirloin, if the product was available in chocolate… all legit questions if you have them. However there’s a right way and wrong way to ask a question and get an answer. First off, remember people working retail aren’t your servants just because it is their job to serve you. Second kindness to those who help you costs nothing but yields so much. Third you can ask people available and not demand their supervisor, if they don’t know the ask them to please find out. I was taken aback that she expected to get a special price on something without her coupons. Gods forbid the deli worker, butcher or baker make an error and ask her to make accommodations. However if she makes one the store should take extra special actions for her.
Bottom line in this for me is two fold – treat those you encounter in service industry as humans like you because they are. Treat them as you would want to be treated should you be in that job. Second – the customer isn’t always right and sometimes every other customer in the store knows which one is in the wrong.