This job is perfect for adrenaline junkies. Actors. Achievers and Over-Achievers, COME ON DOWN!
By the middle of the day, all 6 of my arms, Kali-like, have emerged from my sides, and I am whacking balls back at multiple people at incredible speed: cranky people, nice people, people ordering, and people just damn-out wasting my fucking time. "Hello, thank you for calling. My name is Lori. How can I help you?
"Hello, thank you for calling. My name is Lori. How can I help you?"
"No, ma'am, I'm not in the store, I'm with a part of the store that can see all of the malls throughout the U.S."
"NoMa'AmI'mNotInTheStore", and so forth.
By the end of each day I'm wired.
I come home and drink a few sips of wine, I eat something, and I hit either the couch, or my bed. I bemoan the lack of entertainment inherent in not having a partner to share my life with - but I'm used to this bemoaning; I've been doing it off and on for a very long time - and I go back to working on my business, and writing blogs.
Last year, exactly this time, I moved in to this apartment, barely avoiding living in my car. So, do I really have something to complain about?
Of course I do.
So, today's winner for Insanity-Driven-Holiday-Shopper of the day was - well, we'll call her Bernadette. Her mission in life, today, was to kidnap a human being (that would be me) to shop with her for an hour, in virtual fashion. But I didn't know that when I answered the phone.
What I knew was that this was an entitled woman. She was pissed that she couldn't seem to get her order to go through online. So, clearly this was All My Fault, and I deserved a lot of shade.
She was unhappy that she couldn't find a 50% off turtleneck for her hubby. She was SHOCKED that ALL of the black ones would be SOLD OUT! How could this possibly be??? A week before Christmas, and the store is OUT OF STOCK???? This is An Impossibility! Not right! Can't possibly BE!
I'm getting jaded, after just five weeks working at the store call center, so thus far I'm not particularly shocked.
I think that's probably a commentary on something horrific, but I can't figure it out, so I just listen to this woman.
She wants a Medium and a Large in this sweater for her husband.
And she's talking to me about his build, musing about whether Medium or Large would be better, as though I am her sister and know the man. "Which should I get?" she asks me, and Jesus God it's not a rhetorical question. She wants me to tell her which one to buy. Seriously.
So, in full saleswoman mode I say, "I would get them both. Then you can return one and get a refund on whichever one doesn't work." ["Plus I'll get a bigger commission..." - but I don't say that out loud. It's only a few pennies' difference, literally, but I'm all about the money. Homelessness will do that to you. And I want her to get the hell off my phone so I'm also thinking, "WHAT DO I CARE? GET TWELVE! THEY'RE 50% OFF, BITCH! THIS IS NOT A BIG HONKING DECISION! I don't say that either, DAMMIT.]
We spend a good 10 minutes trying to find the shirt online, and when I finally locate it, she tells me which mall she wants to pick them up from. Well, they don't have more than 2, and I'm honorable as well as snarky so I tell her that it's a risk for her to wait. She should go get the shirts tonight. Or she should let me order from another store which is closer to her home, because it has 9 in the Medium and 11 in the Large, so ordering tonight is going to be safer, and she'll be able to pick them up anytime in the next few days without any worry that they will be sold out from under her before they're put away. "Are you sure?" she asks me. I'm sure. "But are you POSITIVE?" We have the most up-to-date system.
No, that's not good enough. She wants to know what to do. Again. She is, she informs me, "Three blocks from the store, in holiday traffic." She says this as though it's an affront to her reality; as though Christmas and holiday and traffic should not be slowing her down - how DARE they???
I say, quite reasonably, "Well, if you're three blocks from the store, I'd go in and see if I could find the shirts." (Translation: Get Off Of My Phone, Crazy Ass!)
She wants a guarantee. I mean, a GUAR-AN-TEE. "Are you SURE? Are you CERTAIN? Are you POSITIVE that they're there???"
I am now aware - sure, certain, AND positive - that Bernadette is already the best client both for a blog post like this, and a nervous breakdown like the one I'll eventually have. I stop myself from saying, "Hey, no guarantees in life, babe. You want guarantees? Who the fuck doesn't?! But I ain't given 'em to ya! We're a STORE, not a fucking carburetor dealer!"
I instead inform her in calm, kind, dulcet tones her that our system is the one that really is most up-to-date.
Nope. Someone in the store told her this or that, and she'd rather believe someone face to face.
After 20 minutes of talking to this woman - or, to be more accurate, being talked AT by this woman - I'm counting the minutes until I can leave. 7PM tonight. Only 8 more minutes - WOO HOO! ... but wait...wait a sec...I'm never going home, apparently.
No. She is now one block from one of the malls, and she wants me to tell her what to do.
In the most wonderfully New Yorkish of accents, she says, "What should I do? Should I go in?" Gee, I don't know honey; did you mistake me for your mama?
Momentarily silenced, I consider what I can say to her. Things like: "Be an adult and make a decision!" come to mind, but cannot be shared. Regrettable. Truly regrettable.
I tell her I'd recommend she go home and let me order some from the other mall that has a decent number of the black shirts in stock. She can pick them up tomorrow.
Fooolish me! Oh, NO! No, no, that simply won't do.
"Are you telling me..." she says in gladiatorial tones, "that you can guarantee that I will get the shirts tomorrow when I go there? Because you know how this goes: stores promise you things, and then you get there, and the things aren't available! So, can you promise that I'll get them?"
I am sorely tempted to say yes. But I'm always aware - as one in this position always is - that every single call is recorded, and any call may in fact be reviewed. Big brother is, indeed, listening. And watching. Our screens are recorded as are our voices.
So instead I say, "We have the mostuptodatesystem, and I see 9 in the Medium and 11 in the Large. Would you like me to order those for you?"
She challenges me - emphasis on challenging with tone and attitude - to convince her that she is better off NOT going into the store she is now near and waiting and going to the other one (nearer her house) tomorrow.
I am forced to explain reality to someone who just doesn't have any depth. I EXPLAIN that when the order goes through, there is no one in the store that rushes maniacally out to the floor to put aside her precious two sweaters and protect them from others who would actually buy without driving some poor Ohioan Customer Service Agent batshit crazy. She is fascinated. "Really?" Yeah, really. No one gives a shit about your sweaters, lady. REALLY. You wanna buy some, buy some. Otherwise, who gives a fuck? Not us. I tell her it actually takes up to 2 hours for those sweaters to be put aside. What I DON'T tell her is that since it's Christmas shopping, God only knows when they'll get put aside. I just want her not to order them from the store she's near, because there are too few there, and she'll be unhappy when she goes to get them and they have sold out from under her and will have to be ordered, and delivered - GASP! CHOKE! AAAACK! - After Christmas! OH NOOOOOOOO!
Holy JEEzus but this is all so unimportant.
We are now into the 35 minute range on this useless phone call, and she has parked her car in the parking lot of the store with only 2 sweaters available. I've convinced her to order from the other store and she is looking for her charge card, which of course she cannot easily find. Time-wasting silence ensues - not the kind where a sane person is actually making a decision, but one where a crazy person is completely unaware that they are being thoughtless and spending someone else's precious life time on their mishegas! But at least she's looking for her card! I think, "Oh sweet Lord, I think I'm about to get her off of the phone!"
Before I know it, she announces, breathlessly panting as though she has been chased by banshees, "I have gone into the store! I couldn't stay there - some horrible woman was honking at me and waiting for me to get out of my parking spot, so I just couldn't stay there! She almost HIT me! Ohmygod, people are so rude!"
Yes, ma'am. Yes, they are.
So, now she's got me on virtual walkabout with her, and she is stopping employees in the store to ask them where to find the men's sweaters. "Are YOU an employee?" she says to one or two people, and then huffing frustratedly, indicating her displeasure with the way that her world is not conforming to her needs.
I have my head in my hands. This ... outing? ... is going to net me about five cents when all is said and done. It is SO not worth it.
"I might as well look, since I'm here," she says, as though she somehow magically, or on a lark, and without any intention of her own, found herself in the store and it would be insulting to the store itself not to check things out.
I am still trying to convince her to let me order from the other store, where she can pick up tomorrow.
But, no. First, it seems, she must take me through each of the sweater tables as she finds them, remarking about the sizes and whether her husband's physique will work, and bemoaning the incredible mess the tables are in - ohmygod, how RUDE of Christmas to interfere with your sense of neatness, you crazy woman - and then finding every color but the one she wants.
She has no idea whatsoever that meandering around a Macy's with a Macy's employee from Virtual Support on the phone is, at best, inappropriate, and at worst incredibly fucking self-indulgent!
It is absolutely 100% clear to me that this woman has never in her life worked retail. She has no idea that someone like her could drive a tee-totaler to drink. She has no idea that the politeness and kindness meted out to everyone takes effort, and is not some kind of servant-like necessity. Then again...it is a corporation, so in a way I guess it IS a servant-like necessity that keeps all of us from cursing people out. Okay...maybe she has a point. Not that I'll ever grant her that right.
But I digress.
She's picking through sweaters - she's talking about the Large maybe not being large enough, or maybe she should get Medium and Large, or maybe just forget the Medium and take the Large, "But hey, can I give you the item number again and you check to be SURE that this is the same sweater?" Oh, Jesus, no you cannot. I draw the line there. "It's the same sweater," I assure her. "Would you like me to order those from the other store?"
Ridiculously long story short, she finally allows me to put a Medium and Large into her shopping cart. I have been explaining Life As Real People Know It with such patience and calm that the woman actually takes the time to get noticeably calmer and to say to me, "You are so nice! You really are. Thank goodness! Thank you!" and I think she may have regained her sanity.
She wants to ditch the Medium now. "Oh, no. No no, this will not do. The Medium would NEVER fit my husband. No. I think I may want instead to do a Large only. Do I want to do an Extra Large too? No. I should do a Large. That should work, right? He usually buys Larges. So that should be good. Right? What do you think I should do?"
I think you should go home, pour yourself a martini and leave me the hell alone.
I say, "So, remove the Medium?"
She says yes, and I feel that I am about to reach nirvana.
Here we are, at the moment I have been waiting for. Oh thank you, dear Jesus. Thank you, Amma. Thank you, saints, sages, angels, and fortune tellers everywhere! This madness is about to end, and I can go home!...
The sweater in her cart is not the color she wanted. It is not Black. It is...NAVY BLUE!
Oh, fuck me! Oh please God GIVEMEABREAK! I think this is a computer error, but oh no. No, not this time, friends and family. This time it is user error. I have made A Big Mistake. I have put a Navy Blue in there instead of a Black one.
And then it hits me. That's not the only problem. The search I did - waaaaaay back about 45 years - I mean minutes - ago, from which the info came that I should order at another store and she could pick it up there...was faulty.
There were NOT in fact 9 in Medium and 11 in Large in the black color. That had been results for the Navy Blue. I...could...not...believe...it.
I apologize. My mistake. I'm so sorry. That wasn't 9 in Medium for the Black. It was 9 in Medium for the BLUE!
I think it's time for me to just crawl under the desk. I'm feverishly looking up the Black, now that I see how I made that error, and there really aren't any Blacks in the store. I can only ship them.
Sweet Bernadette is ready with her annoyance and her blame. Nooo awareness that she has contributed so beautifully to this stupid waste of life time. It's let's-try-to-beat-up-Lori time, apparently, and she goes, "Oh my gawd, you're telling me that you put the WRONG COLOR in there all that time ago??? We've been talking for like an HOUR!"
And I can't be gracious anymore.
I say, "Yeah. Tell me about it!" She says, "Oh for God's...ohmygod, so we've spent like 45 minutes on the wrong information and it's been this difficult?" and I say, "I agree!"
I mean, I'm done.
She totally does NOT get the undertone. But if this call gets audited...well, that would be interesting.
Stupid story short, I get the damn Large size into the cart and I offer to give her two-day express delivery for free (because I want her off of my damn phone!!!), and I take her information - I can't believe she's finally giving me her information - and I tell her we're all finished...
There's a moment of silence. I wait for her to say, "Well, thank you."
She says, "...y'know...I wonder if this comes in a White..."
Do you like the idea of breaking those social "should's" that have held you back for too long? Do you like the idea of successfully changing your modes of communication, your business goals, your self-image, and to your quality of life?
Lori Kirstein, CEO
The Goodbye Good Girl™ Project LLC
Kicking the Good Girl Rules to the Curb!
Cincinnati, OH 45205