| Now |


12 October 2002, 05:14

I’m having chocolate. I’m having chocolate because I’ve had a day of customer service.

I’m not sure when it happened, when good customer service fell into the realm of legend. We huddle near the fire, clutching our claim checks, original receipts, warranty information, and Zoloft and whispered stories of when we spotted the elusive helpful counter agent. We sat in awe listening to the story of our comrade in queue who encountered this rare creature, and was actually assisted by it. We speak of it in yarns akin to the tales we spin about Big Foot or Frank Sanatra. When did good customer service start to surprise us? When did it reach the level of the unexpected – joining such concepts as fathers paying child support, republicans supporting social programs, or finding out that the pudgy kid actually DOES have a glandular problem.

The temperature reaches thousand degrees before noon nowadays, and I had a couple of stops to make, and errands to run. I needed to take in our lawn mower because after mowing an actual lawn with it, it no longer works. I also wanted to buy some bookshelves and get some lunch. And lastly, I needed to ((((UGH)))) renew the car tags. It was shaping up to be a banner day.

First, a stop at Walmart for the shelves – or as I like to refer to it – Satan’s Own Discount Emporium. The products are all right, not super, and the prices are on par with the quality of the merchandise – but you can get some good stuff for a reasonable outlay of cash (housewares, tires, bubblegum). I needed shelves, albeit Walmart shelves aren’t the most sturdy or best quality, they were cheap and were adequate housing for my video tape collection. After 10 minutes searching for a cart that had all the wheels and no visible substances on the handle, I pushed its squeeky frame around the aisles, nearly getting rammed by a blue hair and almost running over some hyperactive rugrats screaming for Digimon and candy. On accident, of course.

I came across the shelves, but not in the color I wanted. I searched the whole section, and found only three shelf kits left – two white and one black – I started to pull the white one out. The box was too heavy for me to move. I thought to myself that I needed some flunky-monkey to help me, and hell, maybe I could even asked if they had the color I wanted in the back. The BACK is a mystical, magical place where I always think they have everything I ever need to make me a happy, fulfilled individual, but I can never get the charmed talisman that transports me to this place. Alas, I do not the possess the power of the BACK so I endeavored to get the attention of somebody who worked there to breach the border between the two worlds. At least the helper monkeys have blue vests on – most of the time when I search for sales people, they are attired to blend into the background. I believe it is so they can more easily sit back and laugh at customers who try to seek them out.

Finally, two young men who were stocking shelves happened upon me. I asked them, if they have these shelves in this color, pointing to the display model. So, sales slacker #1 comes over and peers at the boxes that I just peered, points to the words on the box and reads the colors to me. Then after reading, “this is WHITE, this one is WHITE and this is BLACK,” he comes to the conclusion, “We don’t have them.” Then he starts pushing back the box I had just tried to take out. I started taking the box back out, when he, realizing this says, “Whoops, I’m a woman today…” to which I, bristling like the alert femma-nazi that I am, query “Excuse Me?”. God help me he actually answered, “I got no brain today. I’m a woman…” Any other day, I would have smite him with my official NOW Death Ray, but the searing Kansas heat has dulled my womanly outrage and left me a mumbling, pissed off bitch pushing my little shelves to the checkout counter.

So now my mood is set.

Okay. Let’s take the lawn mower to the service center. Its one of those big, nasty, power mowers that give boners to real men and can puree any small animals hiding in the grass. Only from Sears. I get to the service center which is having a busy, busy day. With receipts and warranty in hand, I get in line behind two old men and a lady with vacuum. We are lined up behind a empty counter, and the phone is ringing. Its one of those new phones with that annoying high tech sounding beepy rings and it is being piped over the intercom. Its ringing. And ringing. And ringing. And ringing. One old man ahead of me turns to me and says in total seriousness, “where is the guy?” He must be picking up on my aura of omnipotency, and the power I have to divine the whereabouts of those who make minimum wage. After waiting for about 20 of them annoying phone ringy beeps, I finally get up to the counter, and the interaction with the customer service chick goes pretty smoothly except when I reach the part of “and can I get a big guy to unload the mower from the car?” She informed me there were no big guys that worked at the Sears Service Center (although I saw one having a smoke outside). Apparently they all had quit, and it was just her and another girly. All the while the phone is still ringing. And ringing. And ringing. She hands me a claim check, and I stand there. We both stand there. I finally break the cold war tension which is just thick as George W. Bush, and ask “So, do I bring in the mower?”

Egads, I never knew mowers were so heavy.

Hey now. Its time for the coda to where my day has been uncontrollably crescendoing. The Department of Motor Vehicles. I would rather been strapped down to a chair, and forced to watch John Travolta’s “Battlefield Earth”, over and over and over again, than to do that Batan Death March through the nylon belted maze. Everyone in line has the beleaguered look that I’ve seen on the faces of those Kosovo refugees trudging to the border. Did I tell you that there seemed like there was no ventilation, much less air conditioning? Oh and I was standing next to a man with enough Brute on to choke a large water buffalo. AN HOUR and fifteen minutes later, I reach one of the DMV ladies. We go through the whole deal of verifying the insurance, and the title and crap. I got to the end, and wrote out a check. MY ONLY CHECK. The DMV lady says, “well, I’ll need another check for fifty cents for the postage fee…” (some postage fee? some fee to cover the cost of mailing the deal to Topeka? whatever…) I said, “Can’t I just include the fifty cents in the check I’m writing to you?”. My heart sank. Nope. So. I’m digging in my pockets. I’m counting out pennies. I’m saying a little prayer to whatever saint covers finding change in secret crevasses of desparate women. I come up with thirty five cents. I look at the lady with puppy dog eyes. “You’ll have to come back tomorrow. I’m sorry.” I never try to do things like ask strangers for money, but I did it. I asked the DMV lady for fifteen cents. She just kept saying, “I’m sorry, no.” As I was about to open my veins with my last check there on the counter in the DMV, the lady behind me gave me fifteen cents.

I came home and ate chocolate.