I hate to sound like Ben Stein here especially grown-up Aaron awful, retrogressive, Ann Coulter-buddy Ben Stein but what is going on in this country. Every single time I try to spend my money, in an economy that is ostensibly struggling, I find myself face to face with the worst customer service one could imagine. I’ll give you a few examples here, feel free to remember your own last “JESUS CHRIST I AM GIVING YOU MONEY WILL YOU PLEASE JUST MAKE IT LESS UNPLEASANT TO DO SO” moment instead of reliving one of mine, because they’re all quite boring.
I am at the grocery store. We are at the grocery store. I’m going to go with we because I’m taking you, society, on a cruise with me. It’s not the royal we (it is so the royal we). Again, we are at the grocery store, waiting to check out. Because we cannot allow part time workers to live or something I forget why we’re doing it probably… recession? Anyway, we have fired all the checkers at the grocery store. We fired all the bag boys first and Lord knows that was a great idea because there were too many after school opportunities for good but less well off kids to socialize themselves and make some money. So we’re waiting for the self checks, which we have to admit are a pretty good idea when they work right and there’s not some open-gawped dick-wringer eternally waving the wrong side of their membership chit at the scanner. It also helps when there’s an attendant nearby who isn’t just facebooking on their cell phone. So we’re waiting and there’s this turdlump who is clearly not buying anything anymore just staring at their phone still and all the other registers are waiting for the attendant to clear bag-weight-jams or alcohol purchases, so we just go ahead and shove over to where this asswart is standing and push in toward the checkout.
“Excuse me, I need to get some groceries.”, we say, with a real shitty tone.
And that is when we realize… this is the attendant. This is the employee. The representative of the business whose wares I am waiting to custom…. The employee in charge of, amongst many things, both directing people to open self checks, clearing the weird errors and shit that seem to constantly happen on these machines, and or not just standing in front of one screen, with a second screen uncomfortably close to his face. He steps to the side enough for us to use the station, but does not go back to any of the other registers. He has not looked up from the phone. We are now… ultraviolet rage livid.
“Hello, customer of the store, I’m EmployeeName! Oh here’s an empty register. If you need anything I’ll be right back, there’s three people waiting for me to help them with their checkouts.”
The employee seems to dimly register that we are talking to him.
“Oh thank you that’s exactly what a great employee who was doing their job would say, you must really be on top of it.”
The employee puts their phone in their pocket and walks directly away, without comment. Without helping the other customers. Just walks away. We are now done checking out. We follow.
“Hey, where are you going. Where is your supervisor, right now.”
The employee keeps walking.
The employee stops.
“Where is the person you report to. Take us to them.”
“I can’t I am on the clock.” and then the employee bolts toward the back while pointing toward the customer service counter.
Already we are dismayed. There are three differently vested employees at the counter, “Front End Manager” over “Customer Service Specialist” in plasti-gold pin badges. A dozen people wait in line. Two of the vested employees are talking to each other in angry tones. The third is filling out a Western Union form as though it were the SAT, puzzling over the answers to each line, while a woman who has probably filled out that form fifty times stares at her phone on the other side of the desk. A child’s shriek peals our eardrums and nobody else in line even reacts. We find a manager. We explain what has happened. But we know we are beaten. The manager can’t stop listening to the radio on his waist long enough to get to the end of a sentence. “The service here sucks.” we finally blurt. And the manager finally focuses.
“I said, the service here sucks. Your cashiers don’t care, your front end managers don’t care, and apparently you don’t care. There’s nobody running the front end of your store.”
“Can you repeat that please.”
We realize he is replying to the radio. We walk away.
The manager says something about how rude it is to walk away when you’re talking to someone. We dig our car keys into the palm of our hand, and clench our jaw so hard our eardrums start to ring. We leave.
Later we are at a hardware store. This isn’t a hardware store where you’d go to build a house, once upon a time maybe. These days you buy screws in bags of 8 in between aisles of popcorn tins and plasma TVs, but we managed to shut down all the other hardware stores by only going here so, here we are. We are trying to buy unglazed quarry tile. We tried to call on the phone to see if they had it but we kept waiting to be transferred to tile and hung up on. We needed a tin of popcorn and some beanie babies anyways so we came down to see if we could find them ourselves. We cannot. We walk to the front of the store, there’s a customer service desk.
“Hello”, we say.
The elderly clerk neither acknowledges us verbally or glances our direction.
“Excuse us,” a bit louder, “We need some help in the tile area, is anybody working there now.”
The elderly clerk turns away from us, and picks up the phone, calling on the intercom for assistance to the tile area.
“Thank you, we appreciate it,” we say.
Time passes. Several employees push past us in the aisle, none of them even pause to ask if they can help.
We walk to the back and find a different employee, this one with a radio.
“Hi do you know anything about tile.”
“No, but I know who does, let me get someone over for you.”
More time passes. We are just about to leave, and an employee walks around the corner.
“Hey yeah so sorry. I had STUFF to do like IMPORTANT THINGS but if you NEED HELP I guess I am supposed to RUN OVER HERE even though I’m in the middle of a CRISIS halfway across the…”
“UNGLAZED QUARRY TILE.”
“What? I said I was halfway across the store and so I’m sorry if it took me a MINUTE to get over here”
“UN. GLAZED. QUARRY. TILE.”
“Is that what you want or something.”
“Well it’s been I don’t know what year is it hah I’m losing my mind or something 2014 right so yeah it’s been like five years, or maybe like seven? At least five. Maybe it was just six. Six sounds about right, no, 2009, so five. Five years ago was the last time we stocked those. You could have called ahead.”
“I did, four times this morning. Hung up on every time.”
“The phones here are constantly disconnecting people and for years I have been telling them they need to get a good phone system and it’s not my fault that it hung up on you, I’ve been busy all morning with…”
We walk away.
“Is that ALL.”
“Yes, that’s the thing I need.”
“What you just needed help with something we don’t even HAVE and you couldn’t WAIT.”
We are walking away but the sentence bothers us, our right eye twitches involuntarily, and we turn to counter, but there’s a seam in the floor we catch with the toe of our shoe. We trip, and then we fall toward the floor, forever, through time, and space. We pass through the floor, we pass through every floor that has ever been and ever will be. We drift through gaseous clouds and past protostars, swirling toward the center, where finally the gas clears, and we breathe for a microsecond before we are blasted, each layer of flesh ionized off our bodies two cells deep. The massive pulsar in the center spins and chars and spins and chars, two layers a second, then three, then ten, the pulsar spinning faster and the whole universe burning and shrinking and pulling and tearing. First the dollars burn, then the buildings, then the companies, then the idea of companies. The idea of men, the idea of women. The idea of legs. All burn. All fall. All crumple.
And that’s my plan for how to fix the economy.
Please make checks payable to “Cash” and send them to me by facsimile or telex under my new Corporate Personhood name “Chipotle FedEx Solid State Logistics, A Non Profit Co-Op”, Cunnilingus Mills, MD.