If They Built It, You Will Put It In My Subaru

PreachyIf there was anything that would make me quit this job,” Sandra said, huffing and puffing. “This is it.” We were working the evening shift, wedging our way through a maze of stacked, boxed furniture in the back room.

A lady had just bought some patio furniture and expected it to be delivered to her car now. The fact that neither Sandra nor I could lift that box of cheap furniture was completely beside the point.

“Here it is,” I said, tugging at the box. “How are we going to get it on the cart?”

Cheap furniture is heavy furniture. Seriously, it’s amazing how heavy pressboard is. It’s like dead weight on steroids.

We finally figured out how to slide that sucker onto the cart without breaking any bones or losing our religion. Heaving a collective sigh of relief, I took the helm and we began to roll the cart out of the back room and to the front of the store.

That’s when I noticed it was raining outside. I don’t mean a drizzle, either. We’re talking sheets of the stuff coming down hard and fast.

“Oh my God!” I blurted without thinking. “It’s pouring!” And that’s how you know I’m an idiot. The customer was standing near the checkout and heard my heartfelt lament. She immediately stiffened. “Well, I deserve to get my furniture even if it is raining,” she said.

Jesus. 

Another cashier, Jenny, spoke up. “Ma’am, we want you to have your furniture. We’re just concerned about getting it wet.” (Thank you, Jenny, for saving my ass.)

The woman relaxed a bit and we continued our march toward the store’s entrance. The automatic door obliged and we stood on the precipice of a brave new world. Three cashiers fully expecting to see Jonah swimming by, three cashiers contemplating the fate of their hair and mascara.

We rolled that boxed cheap ass furniture out onto the roof-covered sidewalk. The box was at least 45” wide. But what vehicle do we see waiting to take this beast home? A Subaru. No joke.

We all thought it but it was the idiot that finally said it. “I don’t know if this will go in that hatch.”

To show us that she wasn’t above the rest of us, the lady deliberately stood in the night rain. “Well, I don’t have any other vehicle,” she said, rain pummeling her much the way I wanted to. “And I deserve to get my furniture. I paid for it.”

Man, what a whiner. 

Quick thinking Jenny spoke up again and said, “Ma’am, we want you to have your furniture. Now if you want, we could take it out of the box but then the furniture would get wet.”

The woman thought about that and said, “Well, just try to get it into my car.” So we did. The three of us stood in the pouring rain and tried to fit a 45” wide piece of furniture into a hatch that was about 40” wide.

“I don’t think we can bend the laws of physics,” I muttered. And we put that sucker back on the cart.

The woman was heartbroken. Jenny suggested she get a truck from a relative. We would keep her furniture here at the store and she could pick it up tomorrow.

She had no choice but to concede and left. But Jenny was fuming. “She was completely unreasonable!” And “What did she expect us to do?”

“Mercury’s in retrograde,” I said.

“Somebody told me about that yesterday,” Jenny said. She got on her phone and googled it, listing off all the problems that this particular alignment of planets caused.

The chief among them? People get a bit testy and unreasonable.

Check.

Customer Service

It’s often been said that effective marketing is all about getting into the head of your customer. At Markdown Mania, the employees don’t give a damn about that.

Ears PluggedWe’re under paid and under appreciated. We stand on linoleum covered concrete floors for 4-7 hours per shift. We’re paid to take the customer’s money, and to take their shit, within reason.

This ain’t no luxury limo service.

No, the employees at MM are there for one thing, the piddly paycheck. Yes, we’ll smile and grovel as much as we can stand. But make no mistake. The company doesn’t care about us. They know we are expendable. In fact, they make sure we stay that way.

Only a very few stick around for the long haul. The rest of us either just get tired or we lose our rose-colored glasses and realize that this is always going to be a shit job.

So I guess Doris’s attitude should really come as no big surprise.

It was 11 a.m. on a weekday. Doris stood at the customer service desk, tapping her perfectly manicured acrylic nails on the glass counter top.

This week her nails are decorated with watermelons. Her mouth, however, is pursed like a lemon, and she’s looking out the store front window at Markdown Mania’s rugged parking lot. (It hasn’t been re-surfaced in years.)

Her nail tapping is dangerously rhythmical. It reminded me of a cat stalking her prey. There wasn’t much action in the store that morning, but there was plenty of turmoil in Doris’s head.

Still boring holes in the store front windows, she says,”Let me tell you something.” Her smoker’s voice is deep and she’s got Baptist fire in her eyes. “At 9 o’clock this morning, there were people waiting in the parking lot to get into this store.”

Doris paused for an effect that I didn’t feel.

It was true. People had been waiting at 9 a.m. to get into the store. Nothing unusual about that. What was so vile about it?

Doris’s mouth pruned up a bit more, her judgment forthcoming. And then there it was, like an A bomb. “What in God’s name could be so important that they had to here at 9 a.m.?”

I didn’t think Doris’s mouth could take much more. But she drives a hard bargain. Doris sucked in her judgment and held it in her deflated cheeks, as her lips looked like a fish bobbing for air.

Doris suddenly shifted her stance, her fish mouth opening and her smoker’s voice made its pronouncement. “Then I checked those same people out,” she growled. “And let me tell you, there wasn’t a goddam thing that they bought that was a matter of life and death.”

She clicked her watermelon nails again on the glass counter top for emphasis. “Now you tell me why it was so important to those people that they HAD to be here when the store opened.”

I didn’t have an answer for Doris. Instead, I shook my head, wondering about the mystery of it all.