1

Receipts; or, Don’t Be a Nimrod, Nimrod

fancy-pen-completed

Sign my copy, not your copy.

I’ve noticed a curious trend recently revolving around the credit card machine, and honestly, I don’t know why it keeps happening. Okay, that’s a lie; I know exactly why it keeps happening. (Customers are idiots and are constantly rushing for some reason.)

It’s just weird when it does happen, and I know the explanation for that as well; somehow, deep down inside me, there’s some hope that I’m dealing with an intelligent, observant person. Yeah, I don’t know why that little sliver of hope continues to exist either, and yet, there it is, twinkling like the dim, distant start that it is.

So, here’s how it goes: I write up their purchases, total them, and take payment. When it’s a card, you plug it into the machine, insert the card, and wait for it to spit out the receipt. Pretty basic stuff. Now comes the weirdness. You have the customer sign the receipt, then staple their copy (the second receipt printed) to the itemized receipt, and hand it to them to keep.

That’s how it should go. Today, this was how it went: I handed them the copy to sign, the customer signed it, pocketed the receipt, and turned to leave. I stopped them, explaining to them that they currently had my copy of the receipt crumpled up in their pocket. As the sudden realization of their mistake collided with their embarrassment, the fumbled with, well, everything.

“Oh. Sorry.”

Here’s the simple thing about it all: Turn. On. Your. Brains. Or, rather, stop turning them off when you enter a store. You know why I tend to not want to ask an employee for help finding something? I like doing it myself. Then, after I’ve searched as well as I could and come up empty, I’ll ask for guidance. There’s a tiny bit of self satisfaction when I’m able to successfully navigate a store on my own. For many Shoppers, however, that’s simply not the case.

Many are perfectly content coasting as far as their brute senses can take them, which is, often, not very far at all. By allowing their brains a break while they shop, they become babbling idiots. Harsh? Yes. Incorrect? No. I’ve seen far too many intelligent people stare at a wall of alphabetized charts forget how to figure out if the letter “N” comes before or after “M”, or some similar such nonsense. I give no slack for such a lackadaisical approach to living.

This receipt issue is along the same lines. The receipts are marked clearly as either “MERCHANT COPY” or “CUSTOMER COPY”. Aside from that, when was the last time a store, or any business for that matter, asked you to sign the copy of the receipt that you take with you? (And don’t offer forth any receipt made with carbon paper. The receipt that you sign in that case is still the one that stays with the business. Yours is always one of the copies.)

There’s often an anxiety issue, and I get that. Often, Shoppers want to get in and get out of a store as quickly as they can. I totally get that. But there is a decided difference between haste and carelessness. One does tend to breed the other, but this borders on stupidity. Regardless, there’s no defense for this. This is a process so ingrained into our consumerist society that such lapses, while comical, is absolutely ridiculous.

I’m at the point of rambling, so I’ll end with this: Be better when you shop. Challenge yourself, just a little bit. You’re better than that.

-The Retail Explorer

4

Carpe Diem; or, Where I Was That Day

You hear it asked, every now and then when September rolls around, the simple question: Where were you? If you lived through this day in 2001, the question needs no further explanation. It was my generation’s Kennedy moment. My father still talks about that, remembering tiny details as if it were yesterday. I completely understand. I fully get it. I still remember everything about my day on September 11th, 2001.

Looking back on it, I feel foolish. I wandered around the whole day in blissful denial. I didn’t even see a television or listen to the radio until I got home after school had let out that afternoon. Then reality struck with the force of a freight train. I saw a replay of the towers falling, and nothing was the same after that.

I was sitting in my first period study hall when one of my classmates stuck her head into the room to tell us that “a plane crashed into a column of the World Trade Center.” When I heard “column,” I dismissed the event entirely. “Oh, it’s nothing,” thinking a little Cessna had crashed into one of the exterior columns at the base of one of the buildings.

In the hour that followed, panic began spreading throughout the school. The teachers set up a teacher in the common area, but since all of my classes that day were in the opposite direction of that area, I never saw it. Parents began calling their children and rushing to pick them up. Over head, F-16 fighter jets roared into the skies from the nearby joint reserve base.

At the time, I didn’t think much of it, probably something overblown. Looking back on it now, though, I really wonder why the hell didn’t anyone snap me out of this fog of stupidity sooner? Around noon, my sister poked her head into my math classroom to tell me our mom had come to pick her up and wondered if I’d like to go home as well. I remember thinking, “Why? It’s not like we’re going to be doing anything today anyway.”

I don’t remember everything about that day. I don’t remember which teachers were still actually trying to teach their classes. I just remember the complete stupidity in which I went about my day. I was sixteen years old, drove an old, oversized truck, and was a complete, self-absorbed idiot. I kept myself on the periphery of events that day. By the time I left school, there weren’t many students left around. I drove home and blasted whatever classic rock I was listening to that day.

The television was on CNN in the living room at home. I rounded the corner from the den, looked up, and everything changed for me. I saw the first tower fall, not in the horror of real time, but in a replay, and I could not believe my eyes. I hated myself for my attitude all day. My heart broke for what had happened to those people, to my fellow citizens, to my country. I fell, both inside and out. Maybe I was lucky, having spared myself that pain all day, delaying the inevitable. I feel like it’s all so selfish. For the rest of that night and into the following day, I was as everyone else: numb.

The following summer, I went with my church’s youth group on a mission trip to New York City. We worked in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, cleaning up avenue medians. One morning, we were invited to go up into the offices of an Episcopal bishop down near Battery Park. His windows overlooked Ground Zero. There had been a rumor swirling that this invitation had been extended to us, but no one either knew or would say so for sure. As we went to that part of the city, we were consumed by a nervous energy. We would finally be brought face-to-face with the horrors that had consumed us that day.

And it was…nothing. It was essentially a construction site, by that time, earth movers maneuvering around a massive crater where the towers once stood. If you hadn’t seen the news, it wouldn’t have seemed like anything at all. If you hadn’t known they had ever been there, it wouldn’t have been anything to you at all. But I had seen them standing, and I had seen them fall, and so it was something to me.

In an instant, I recalled my first trip to the City a few years prior. We were there with my sister’s dance company for a cultural trip. During a walking tour through Chinatown and SoHo, we stopped on a corner, waiting to cross the street. My dad looked up and said, “Oh, look, the Twin Towers!” I looked up for a moment as well. There they were in the distance, gleaming in the sun. “Oh, yeah. That’s cool,” I said and then crossed the street.

Isn’t that amazing? How can you take such incredible buildings for granted like that? In my time on this Earth, one lesson seems to keep returning to me: Nothing is guaranteed. Jobs, buildings, lives can all be erased and relegated to memory in an instant and for no discernible reason. Enjoy it all and appreciate and learn what you can while you can. That’s all that I know. One day, perhaps I’ll even take fully to heart. If I could get tattooed, I’d have “carpe diem” written somewhere on me to remind myself to actually seize the damn day.

It’s hard to believe it’s been seventeen years. My view here at the airport is so different. The skies are grey and hazy. A light rain is falling steadily. The air is cool. Perhaps that’s fitting. Nobody wants the sun today anyway.

Anywho, that’s my tale of foolishness and stupidity that will forever mark my memory of this day.

-The Retail Explorer

8

Back to Being My Own Person; or, The Things I Have to Do to Forget About How Big of a Pain in the Ass You Are

This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Working in the service industry is remarkably stressful. From dealing with regular duties to putting up with Shoppers all day, decompression is an absolute must. If you do a search for the hashtag “retailproblems”, you’ll get a good idea of the kind of crap we have to put up with on a daily basis. It’s staggering how terrible people can be without giving a damn about anyone else but themselves.

So, relaxation is of utmost importance. Unwinding is critical. Venting is a necessity. Every now and then, you hear comments complaining about how all we do is bitch on Twitter. There’s a phenomenal reason for this: If we said out loud half the things we tweeted about, we’d be fired in a heartbeat. We can be treated like shit, but we can’t return the favor. Fun double standard, isn’t it.

Anyway, when I clock out and pull into my driveway, the first thing I do is change clothes. You’d be surprised just how much that alone can help. Next step, I get out the booze. Usually, it’s a beer (being summer, my current favorite is Lienenkugel’s Summer Shandy), a scotch and soda (yes, I’m secretly an 80 year-old man), or an Arnold Palmer (yes, of course, with vodka; don’t be stupid). After that, I grab a book, followed immediately by my hammock. I then park myself in said hammock and the rest of the world can fade away.

Now, I don’t do this every night, or as often as I’d like, for that matter, but I at least do one or two of these things every night. Finding activities that you enjoy that boost your well being are as important as eating and breathing, because if you can’t let off that steam, you will explode, and it will not be pretty. You don’t want to be the one who ends up on local news for yelling at and strangling a Shopper.

Regardless of how you do it, just take the advice of Jimmy Buffett: Close the world at five and go away. How do you unwind after a hard day?

-The Retail Explorer