Monday, July 30, 2007

Going out with the Tide

Today's episode of "Behind the Counter" will feature a bit player sure to be well-recognized by faithful watchers of BTC's adventures, the infamous "woman of a certain age." Despite calls to make this a recurring character, producers and directors prefer to pay day wages and rely on Central Casting to send over talented and supremely bitchy old-lady actresses to fill out the WOACA roles.

The casting director decided to dress today's fat and frumpy suburban grandmother in a fetching shade of lilac-fading-to-puce (striped blouse, solid pants and knit jumper) and douse her liberally in White Diamonds. Add a straw hat with a purple ribbon and some sensible Keds and the outfit is complete.


ME: "Can I help you ma'am?"
WOACA: "I certainly hope so! I want a manager." She waves a receipt around. See. You can already tell that there's no way this ends well.
ME: "OK. Just tell me what happened and we'll see if I can do something to help."
WOACA: "This girl on register whatever overcharged me a dollar and sixty-some cents for some Tide detergent." And this is a federal case? Lord, I hope you never get into something major.
ME: "Okay. I can take care of that. Can I please see your receipt?" And she won't let me have it. Control freak.

WOACA: "This always happens to me."
ME: "Ma'am. I'm sorry. I need to see your receipt to fix the price of the detergent."
WOACA: "The last three times I've come here something has rung up wrong." And yet, you come back and buy some more. Using that logic, if I slapped you upside the head every day at 3 p.m., you'd come back tomorrow for more?

ME: "Ma'am, you can watch as she scans the items. If you notice anything is the wrong price, the cashier can fix ANY item if you let them know before you cash out. You can also request a printout before you cash out and look over your total. You have to do it before you cash out though."

Because some people don't know they can get a printout and look over it. Look. EVERYONE involved would rather you fix it at the register than stand in another line at Customer Service. But it involves either paying attention as the girl scans or requesting a printout. Wal-Mart is stupid for not having the right prices. Customers are stupid for handing over money and not knowing exactly what the hell they're paying for.

WOACA: "Well the bags come off that little round thing so fast ...." Point of interest - she had five bags and the guilty bottle of Tide detergent in the cart. And if the girl moved slow you'd complain about that.
ME: "Just ask her to stop and give you a printout when she's through. She can correct the price of ANY item right there."
WOACA: "This happens all the time."
ME: "If the cashier won't correct the price, ask for a supervisor. You should not pay for something you don't think is the right price anyway."
WOACA: Crickets.

That finally shut her up. Geez. Take some responsibility. Wal-Mart is a gigantic sucking hole of stupidity and incompetence. The stores are staffed at the minimum possible level to keep product on the shelves and maintain customer throughput. You consistently reward that behaviour by returning to spend money even though they screw up day after day after day.

: "Ma'am, I can give you the detergent for the correct price. You'll also get three dollars back because of our pricing policy."
WOACA: More crickets. Dunno what the hell she was thinking, but it has obviously gotten through to her that she's getting nothing but detergent and a price adjustment.
ME: Finally manages to pry receipt from Miss Havisham's hands. Mash buttons. "Here's your refund."
WOACA: Tumbleweeds.
ME: "Can you sign this for me please."
WOACA: Gives me a death ray glare.
ME: "You have a nice day ma'am."



Erin Bradley said...

One of the things I love most about you is your attention to detail.

The "White Diamonds" thing cracked me up to no end.

peacemongermom said...

Hee! Miss Havisham! OMG. I am going to be snickering about that one all day. And crickets! HA!

Dptt said...

Muhahah. I equally enjoyed the allusion to Ms. Havisham. Great post xD

FARfetched said...

Whooooooaaaa! You managed to leave her speechless??!?!?!!!?? That in itself deserves a Nobel Prize for something or other....

Anonymous said...

I just found this blog thingie.

You sound entirely too intelligent to be working anywhere NEAR a Wal-Mart.


Anonymous said...

Kudos on the Miss Havisham reference!

What else would the lady want besides the returned money and the added bonus of $3? Maybe she wasn't waiting for anything else, she was just keeping mum (if she hadn't you'd complain more). Maybe she was waiting for her faded purple outfit to catch on fire? Is Tide flame retardant? :-D

Anonymous said...

peacemongermom... it's, "sniggering", not "snickering", unless of course, you're refering to a candy bar.

For anyone else that cares, it's also, "for all intents and purposes", not, "for all intensive purposes".

pyramus said...

"Snickering" in this context is entirely valid and correct. To snicker is to laugh in a deliberately ill-suppressed and disrespectful way; "snigger" has exactly the same meaning, and in fact is the newer word, so there's no way "snicker" could be incorrect. Don't correct people unless you're damned sure they're wrong, and don't do it unless it matters, either. Jeez.

I think the reason the old bat in the story keeps coming back despite her complaints of incompetence is that she loves to complain; lives for complaining, in fact. It gives her tedious, horrible life a little jolt of excitement and it gives her something to harp about with her equally appalling friends; they can swap stories about how badly they're treated and how this generation is so much worse than their own.

Anonymous said...


Quite right. Some people, especially those of a certain age, are lonely and complaining is one of their few interactions with people. They may be so wretched that they no longer have any friends to talk to, so in order to have a "social life" they byotch and moan to CS at WalMart. Or to librarians, which is how I became aware of this.


Grumpy Housewife said...

You know, every now and then, I read something that just leaves me rolling my eyes.

I'm sorry, I watch the monitor thingy attached to the cash register to see how much stuff rings up for, and if it's wrong, I say something then. How fucking hard is it to do that? Apparently VERY hard, as proven by that woman.