Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Our children today face tougher issues than ever before....

Another eventful day involved a highly controversial alcohol sale I made. A lady came to my line with her kid and a basketful of groceries in tow. I rang up the beer, checked her license and continued to scan her items. She tells me that she tried to go to 2 other cashiers and they wouldn't sell it to her. I asked her why and she said "Cause my kid had her hand on it." "Your 2-year-old." "Yeah." Pause. "So?" "One lady said she wouldn't sell it to me, so I went to a different line and that cashier said she wouldn't 'cause the other lady had already refused me." "Seriously?" "No! Why would they do that?" "There's a law in Texas prohibiting third-party sales or someone else handling the beer that is supposed to be yours, but this HARDLY qualifies." (I'm completely unbendable as far as the rules go. I'm not gonna stretch anything for anybody; I simply don't give a flying crap if people get the alcohol or cigarettes they so vehemently desire. I'm actually a little happier when they don't; that's fewer idiots swerving erratically on the road and fewer idiots hacking their lungs up IN MY FACE and then saying 'I must be catching a cold.') But this, was just ridiculous. I told her "Yeah, we've been having a lot of problems with people buying alcohol for their babies. I think I read about it in the news the other night. You know how it is... a little Telletubies on TV... some Dora the Explorer cereal... and a sippy cup full of beer. Well, no more! Walmart is takin' a stand against parents hooking their toddlers up with booze."

After she was gone, one of the ladies came up to me and was like "Why did you sell beer to that lady?" I'm very even tempered at work - I don't get rude or impatient - but I was really irritated by the off-the-charts stupidity I was dealing with. I think my response was probably a bit combative (I know, that's a color ya'll RARELY see on me) :

"Because she was old enough, she had her ID, and because *that* wasn't a THIRD PARTY SALE! Third party sales are pretty much for teenagers and up, NOT for a 2-year-old!!! C'mon are ya kiddin' me?!!! Do you ACTUALLY think the beer for her BABY?!?? You believe her little girl orchestrated a whole underhanded plot to acquire illegal alcohol??!?? The kid isn't even capable of saying 'dog'; I don't really see her soliciting her mother to get her liquor at the grocery store!" "Well-"

Well nothing. Our little conversation was over. I turned my back to her and started checking out the waiting customer, making it clear to her that we were done wasting time discussing such a ludicrous topic.

The reason you get treated like a moron when you're a cashier - is because some of them ARE.

Well how wrong I was.
Two days later the front page of The Chronicle read
" 'Booze Babies' Account For Over 15% of Liquor Industry's Total Revenue "
I'm glad that someone is shedding light on this troubling issue that is plaguing American society. I'm sure all 60 of their readers are more aware than ever of the rise in toddler delinquency.

The good news is that, in a follow-up article, the paper reported that recently many preschools in Texas have elected to provide AA meetings for all their classes. Directly following their afternoon nap and diaper change, they are urged and supported in a positive group environment to "kick the bottle". Figuratively speaking. (Bottle use, in the case of milk, water and most fruit-based juices, is still strongly encouraged.)

Monday, May 21, 2007

The weird wild world of Walmart

A guy brought up two packs of light bulbs, exchanging one for the other. I asked him if there was anything wrong with the ones he was returning (which were open and now unsellable). He says no. I say "So they were just the wrong size" and pause for him to confirm my statement. He says "Look at 'em. What's the difference between them?" I look down at them, annoyed with the little game he's come up with to waste my time, and say slowly "These are smaller than those." He hollers "BINGO!" in a rather loud, combative way. I felt like backhanding him. What a tool.

A lady and her son walked up and returned something. Before she left she said "Can I ask you something? Are there really bed bugs?" I told her I really didn't know; I thought they were made up. She starts telling me all about how her son got lice a while ago and she had to comb and wash everything of his. Well, her head had started itching recently, and she had felt little bites on her scalp, but she hadn't found anything even though she combed it really well and checked. Could lice lay eggs in your hair? She didn't know if they did that, so she was more inclined to think it was bed bugs, if they did in fact exist. Never having dealt with any type of scalp infestation myself, I was little help to her. I summoned all the self-control I had trying not to look totally disgusted, and simply told her she should probably go see a doctor sometime in the near future. A little bit later I started to feel a little itchy; I was gonna be so pissed if she passed her nasty bug problem onto me - like working in retail isn't bad enough, now there's the added bonus of having to worry about your health and hygiene every time you deal with the one of the unwashed miscreants that wander into the store.

There's always some sort of dramatic offering available outside. It's the perfect setting; something about the concrete, loud birds that scavenge, empty beer bottles, trash, loose carts, and crappy cars held together by duct tape.... I like to call it Porter Parking Lot Theatre.

Sometimes it's a car fire, sometimes fisticuffs, sometimes a hit-and-run, and sometimes a getaway car's unique brand of flight. A few days ago my manager saw a thief hop into his friend's waiting car and then promptly whip all the way across the parking lot to over by Home Depot. . . in reverse. No joke. I had no idea that such ridiculous, odd behavior existed - much less in such a regular daily fashion. Every day I get new stories. If this place were boring I would literally have quit a long time ago; there'd be no reason to stay there. What makes a good day for me is if someone behaves in a bizarre manner and I'm around to see it.

Simply put, it's fun to witness the weirdness.
Whenever I end up quitting I'm definitely gonna miss it.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Of marriage and moisturization...

Today has been something of a human study. People just come up to me and start pouring out their life stories - it's like I'm a bartender or something.

A girl came up to the counter to return some stuff, but she didn't have a driver's license, yada yada yada... she mentions that she has four kids. I'm like "FOUR! Girl, how old are you?!??" She tells me she's 19. I think my mouth was probably hanging open like one of those snakes that unhinges its jaw to eat. I manage to spit out "holy crap!" She says she's been married for five years. "What?!? WHAT? . . . . . You got married when you were FOURTEEN?!!??! Is that even legal?!" Apparently it was --- both her parents signed the consent form. What kind of stupid, *SICK* guardians agree to let you enter into a legally-binding, lifetime contract when you are still small enough to shop at Libby Lu?!???! Your bachelorette party should not consist of painting each other's nails neon pink, eating all the chips and cookies your mom could get at the store, reading Tiger Beat (squealing when you get to the Aaron Carter poster) and watching your favorite Hilary Duff movie before piling into your sleeping bags on the floor, and talking & giggling so late that the parents have to SSSSSSSHHH! you. Your 'something new' should not be your permanent molars! Again, I say AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

A man asked me what my necklace was, if it was actually a ring that goes on your finger. He pulls this chain out from inside his shirt, that has what is clearly a wedding ring strung on it. I ask him why he's not wearing it. He goes into how his wife said he worked too much and ended up sleeping with another man. They were going to marriage counseling, and she finally admitted to having an affair (which he, of course, made sure to capture on a voice recorder he had taken with him). They were entrenched in a battle over the kids when she suddenly decided she couldn't handle anymore, so she randomly up and left them and didn't come back until later the next day (she went to visit her friend again). Now she's saying she'd be OK with him having the kids. I'm just standing there, looking at him, looking at my manager, looking back at him, a little surprised at people's openness with a complete stranger. We just sorta shook our heads after he left.

Two guys and a girl walk up to me and one of 'em asks "Do ya'll sell kegs?" I'm like "Kegs? Ummmmm, no. All we have are funnels over in housewares." "So you don't have any at all?" "I guess, I dunno, go to a liquor store or a frat house or....."

I had a customer come up to me with an old used bottle of lotion; she said that those were sold in two-packs and she wanted to know if anybody had returned a single one of those anytime in the recent past. She thinks somebody stole the other one from her house and returned it. Her request was, to be clear, not at all about remuneration, but about pulling a Columbo and tracking down the suspected klepto in her life (she "just needed to be sure".) I told her we had no way of looking through old transactions for a returned bottle of $3 lotion, but that I'd ask, to be sure. I just wanted to walk over to the other employee at the end of the desk and tell her about this ridiculous exchange. Without laughing.
. . . yeah, that didn't happen.

So here is my point:
Keep a vigilant eye on your bathroom cabinets. Pay close attention to the bottles on your counter. Is something missing? Did you used to have a bottle of freesia lotion where there is now only dust? Have tubes of Lubriderm steadily been disappearing from your bathroom? Beware the Moisturizer Mole in your own home that is secretly slipping away with your health and beauty products. Today it may be the lotion, tomorrow the Visine.

You have been warned.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

money, money, money, MUUUUH-NY!!!

One of the joy's of being a peon in a large corporation is forwarding their agendas; in THIS case, attempting to get customers their very own Walmart credit card. It isn't enough that we undercut every business within a 30 mile radius to lure you in, now we want ALL of your high dollar purchases to be on a card we own, accruing an ungodly amount of interest. Better yet - let's just do away with the whole charade and fast forward to the part where we suck your soul (and your bank account) dry. Just sign here, aaand here, initial here.... now you get to enjoy all the perks of being the Evil One's bitch.

Anyhooo, being that I am in the belly of the beast - and that if you DON'T ask everyone you WILL get major disciplinary action taken against you - I had no choice but to comply. My hard sell went like this: I'd hold up one of the brochures right next to my face, tip my head to the side a little, gaze off into space with a dead expression & and joylessly monotone "Would you like to apply for a Walmart credit card today?"

When they responded with a NO I usually nodded in approval and threw in a "Good choice!" or "Atta girl!" Seriously. When one poor fool actually started asking some questions, I handed the brochure to him saying he could read more about it in there, especially THIS part, opening it to the 2nd or 3rd page and pointing to the APR. He looked down and immediately said "no thank you", closing it and handing it back to me. Later, a man commented that the APR was probably a bit high; I told him it wasn't 'high', it's only about the same number as the year in which you were BORN.

We were also supposed to ask people if they wanted to donate a dollar to some children's health miracle whatever. By the time I covered all of the requirements, I told them I only had one more question I had to ask (something along the lines of): "Do you have any desire to return to this Walmart after the onslaught of annoying questions you have have been caught in today?"

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Little wheels keep on turnin'...

I had a lady come up to the desk because of a price issue - her receipt said one amount, but the sign said something different. Here is how obnoxious people are: the sign said $1.87, but she was charged $1.93. I go check to be sure ('cause if she's gonna be that petty then I think I will be too.) I return, apologize, get her to sign the slip, and then refund her the difference... 6 cents. She literally wasted 4 minutes and a half-foot of receipt tape just to get her nickel and penny back. I thought haggling with me over 20 cents was bad, but this, I believe, will be the record. (Stay tuned though - there's probably an even BIGGER tool just waiting in the wings...)

About two weeks ago, a man walks up to me and asks if he can return a defective bike he won at an elementary school fund-raising event. Here's how it went:

(me) "Not your color?"


"Not your style?"


"So what's wrong with it?"

"I'm having problems with the back wheel...."

"Well you gotta take the training wheels off."

I'm processing a guy's MoneyGram order, when I hear him say "Uh-oh." Looking up, I say "What?", thinking either I did something wrong or he found out there was a problem with the MoneyGram slip. He's standing there, cell phone to his ear and says "Uh-oh" again. Slower and a bit more tentatively, I repeat "What?" He says "This girl I'm seeing just left me a message and she said she loved me or somethin." "OK." "She's gotta go." Pause. "Ok... so you're dead inside and you hate hearing that someone loves you." "I just got divorced... It's just not working out - she's really not my type." "Well, *generally* with women, if you know it's not working out, it's a good idea to end it sometime BEFORE they start leaving love messages on your voicemail."

Monday, May 14, 2007

All in a day's work

An old couple returned an opened DVD set, saying the movie had foul language and was not at all what they expected. She pulled it right out and promptly brought it back to us. Well, federal copyright laws being what they are, there was nothing I could do since it had been opened. One of my managers decides to overrule me and the United States government, saying it was a matter of customer satisfaction. Their complaint was HOW were they to know?? Well, I told them that you can get reviews for almost any movie made on the internet, yada yada yada, it was busy and I got them outta there. When I had a second, I flipped the box over and there it was right there:

Movie 1 - Rated R (Adult situations, nudity, violence, profanity)
Movie 2 - Rated R
Movie 3 - Rated R
Movie 4 - Not Rated (Violence)

I just wish someone would come up with a way for people to know what kind of movie they're buying. . . something to help so that they wouldn't be surprised or even *horrified* when they get to the actual content. . . something that would let them know what was in it BEFORE they bought it. . . .

Well, I'M stumped.

(It's just a shame grandma didn't leave it in long enough to witness any of the sexual shenanigans that bumped it up to an R. She might have had an aneurysm - and they would've tried to stick Wal-mart with the funeral costs.)

A lady comes in wanting to get her organization's tax exempt number. We looked through ONE of the 6 massive binders (M-O) for New Sunshine somethin'... anyway we couldn't find it. Someone else comes up to help her and I move on to a different customer. The other employee asks what her name is, if her named is in the title of the company. She looks a little irritated and asks "Are churches usually named after a person?" The employee pauses, I look up and say "Well, it does happen. Kinda like Jonestown. . ." The lady I'm helping laughs and says "I hope it's a little different." I'm like "I know, right." After they leave, I turn around to one of my managers and indignantly shake my head "NO! You can't have a tax exempt card to buy your Kool-aid!"

There's a display of carpet cleaners you can rent set up by the front desk. One guy was poking around and asked me "Do you have any of these bottles [of the cleaning solution] that are open so I could smell it?" I told him "Noooo, we generally frown upon any type of huffing taking place in the store, especially right next to the customer service desk."

FUN FACT: I was on a register the other day and counted 23 DIFFERENT kinds of beef jerky available in just that one check out line. Amazing.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Today's Tidbits

I was at the customer service desk, helping a lady return some stuff. I tell her how much her total is and continue on doin' my thing. Then I randomly hear her say "I'm loaded!" so I look up and say "You mean money wise or alcohol wise?" The other associate at the desk looks over at me, her mouth hanging open. The lady answers "Both!" She laughs, I laugh. Then she says "No, actually I haven't had a drink in 12 years." I'm being serious and I'm like "GOOD for you!" Then she's done and she leaves, and the other associate starts laughing incredulously. She tells the story to at least 4 employees who walk by ("You're not gonna BELIEVE what she just said..."), and every time she finishes, she just laughs and says "girl's got issues."
- Shady shady people doin' a whole dog and pony show, tryin' to jack stuff on the self checks. *yawn* must be a Thursday...
-Someone tried to steal a basketful of groceries. They were caught but nothing happened to 'em. Meanwhile we have to claims a TON of stuff (hot and cold) just because it's been out of the deli for a few minutes. We have this whole "If we recover it then no harm no foul" policy that's just wacko. If I ran that store I'd have every frickin' thief who took anything $10.00 and up, cuffed, stuffed, publicly shamed and banned from the store permanently. And I'd hire at least 3 undercover employees (Sting Associates) whose sole job would be to circulate throughout the store, watching for people who were in any way suspicious. It's not the money - Walmart ain't hurtin'. My store would probably lose money paying the associates compared to the small amount of product recovered, BUT it would make me feel like the little microcosm I worked in was a just world.

Also, under my rule you would not be able to return ANYTHING that can't be resold. No idiots bringing in a pair of shoes they have worn for several months (with the sudden realization that 'they hurt') and getting a brand new pair. No idiots bringing in a half-used tube of muscle cream that is covered with dried smeared fingerprints (the evidence of it's purposeful use and liberal application), saying 'it has a strong smell'. Today some guy returned an empty bag of ant killer saying it didn't work. I returned it. That's what we do. Another employee gave me a hard time about it, acting like that was kinda silly on my part. My response: "We've returned stupider things for stupider reasons." Her response: "Don't say it so loud."

Right before I left, I get a call from someone in the garden center telling me some guy is trying to return a jug of Round-up so old that it's not even in our computer anymore. A little while later, there he is. I hear later that he's a regular; he gets stuff free from homeless shelters and food donation places and then returns them for money.

Here's my question: Did he actually get a bottle of Round-up from a homeless shelter? What kinda crappy charitable organization gives weed killer out to people who, not only don't have a home, but also don't have a YARD? Does The Mission get a lot of vagabonds hobblin' in off the streets asking for something to help with the unsightly weed problem currently plaguing their local under-pass of choice? Is there some 'Adopt a Block in the 5th Ward Program' I'm not aware of?

"I really want to help beautify that section of concrete where I regularly push my shopping cart!"

"My corner where I hold my very sad sign and beg for money with my very sad face has been lookin' pretty raggedy lately. What can I do?"
- I was watchin' the self check and I spotted a guy in line. It took me a while to figure out what was on his head; it it was a scarf (kinda like my do-rags) but it tied on the side and since it was long the ends flowed freely, draped about half-way down his chest. It looked like a parrot should have been sitting on his shoulder right next to it. OK, SO HE'S WANTS TO BE A PIRATE. The next question was "Is he wearing *women's* pants?!"The pockets on the back had very detailed designs on them and they sure were skinny. I pass him off as one of the many moody, disenfranchised youths who rage against the machine & fight the establishment by. . . . wearing. . . ridiculous crap. OK, SO HE WANTS TO BE EMO.

But then he turned and I am suddenly confronted by a very large embroidered decoration that runs down the entire side of one of the legs. There were flowers, people. and possibly a butterfly. Those were women's jeans. OK, SO HE WANTS TO BE FEMALE. He had a full goatee and a fairly manly face so it's not like he was really trying to look like a woman. It was a *very* odd sight. Each element on its own - a bit of an eyebrow raiser; but all together - you know you're looking at a very different type of human being, the kind of which you have never before encountered. And all you're left with is questions. Who is this person? What goes on their mind? How do they wake up in the morning and decide to put these articles of clothing on and then sojourn out of their home? Is THIS the final product of a few minutes of careful adjustment and evaluation in front of the mirror?

And then 'he' was gone, like a puff of smoke. And that was the last I saw of the denim-decorated, scarf-sporting, gender-hurdling enigma. . . .