Ask Next Time

You know that these days, someone has to step on my toes pretty heavily for them to be included in my blog. If I were to write about every single person that ever annoyed me, I would rival Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in terms of sheer volume. This blog would very likely be the most extensive and well documented catalog of the people who have really touched my final nerve.

So I bring your attention back to this CVS on Essex Street. This time, it is a different clerk who has grabbed my ire. And I want to remind readers that I have at least two other stores within walking distance that I could go to for my Arizona Soda, or I could just forswear that thing all together since they only ever carry the one flavor now, but the fact is that I keep patronizing this one location because it is the closest to me. That and I’m genuinely fond of the people who have been working there since I moved to Salem.

But there is one kid who started working there recently. I say kid, because ever since I turned 21, everyone who is so much as a day younger than me is a “kid” as far as I’m concerned. Also, I say kid because the implication is that he has time to improve. You can’t improve on a problem if you don’t know one exists, and to my credit, I actually did try to bring this problem to the attention of the manager well before this second offense before I decided to give it the Confessions treatment.

Let’s go back to that first incident, to shed light on this one.

I’m nothing if not a bargain hunter. And it’s actually pretty rare to find anything on clearance at CVS. So when I was looking for shampoo and I happened to find a decent sized bottle of shampoo and conditioner at clearance price, naturally I grabbed it.

It’s important to note that clearance prices have nothing to do with the discount card.

The kid rang it up. The clearance price did not come up and I pointed it out to him.

“That’s only with the card,” he said, in the well rehearsed tone of someone who is still in the training phase of employment.

“No,” I said. “It’s a clearance price. You get that with or without the card.”

“Well, do you want to use your rewards card?”

“There’s a clearance sticker,” I said, pointing to the aisle where I found the shampoo. “I even checked the bar code.”

The kid stared at me blankly. There was no line behind me, but there were still two other employees, including the manager, he could have turned to for help.

“Uh… do you want to use your rewards card?” he asked.

Finally I took the shampoo and asked the manager to come with me. When the manager saw the clearance price and confirmed what I had (owing to my own experience in retail) we walked back to the register and I said, “You know, he could have called you at anytime. It seems kind of ridiculous that I had to do his job for him.”

The manager agreed. But I’m sure he was patient when he gave the kid the off screen conversation about trying to solve the problem, rather than sticking with the script in your head. Unfortunately, Detective Hindsight, if that conversation ever took place, I did not see evidence of it on my most recent visit.

You may assign some of the blame of this on me. Being a regular, most of the cashiers know my habits and this kid really hasn’t been here all that long, or at least not with enough frequency that he knows that when I buy one item, especially a soda, that I intend to carry it with me and I do not need a bag for it. But is it really so unreasonable?

When I was working as a cashier, no matter what store I was in, if the item was a snack or a drink I always asked if they wanted a bag. This was a learned behavior, because the Rite Aid where I worked was almost as busy as this CVS. And if I didn’t ask people before presuming to bag their items, I wound up with a lot of unused bags piling up either in the trash or on the floor beside me in a very short amount of time.

This CVS is located in the heart of Salem’s tourist district. It doesn’t take a PHD in marketing to guess that people who are stopping in here are usually there to get drinks and snacks on their way to the Haunted Happenings tour, or their scheduled tarot readings, or whatever. And he has been here long enough that whether or not he’s familiar with my shopping habits, he should probably know enough to ask whether I want a bag for the one soda item I have purchased. What’s glaring is that there is a young lady who has also started there not more than a week or so ago, far more recently than this kid. She knows enough to ask people if they would like a bag. So inexperience is not an excuse for someone who has been there for at least a couple of months.

The thing is, I was already reaching for the soda once the transaction was complete. He then proceeded to grab it out of my hands to put in the bag. Acting on the core nature of my instincts which scientists refer to as the reptile mind I grabbed it back, probably more forcefully than necessary from his hand. And I was equally aggressive when I told him to, “Ask next time.”

I know well enough by now that even if I were to apologize within the text of this blog, that someone is going to try to play Backyard Quarterback and tell me what I should have done. You already know which of my fingers you may hope to see in that case. But to the rest of you, I offer this story as a cautionary tale, especially if you are working in retail and regular interaction with customers is a part of your duties.

Use your brain. It’s not against company policy, yet.

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One thought on “Ask Next Time

  1. Pingback: Natural Selection at CVS | Confessions of a Cart Jockey

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