I’ve complained before that being a functioning adult is tough sometimes. See previous post about the slog. But recently I had one of those days where it reminded me that part of my difficulty, genuinely, is that crazy shit happens to me on a regular basis.
On a recent Saturday I went to a large box store to pick up a grill I ordered for Dan’s birthday. The only reason I didn’t have this sent directly to my front porch is, Dan was home all week, and he’d have seen the huge box and probably opened it or figured out what it was. I wanted it to be a surprise. So I had it sent to the store. I just had that one place to go and one thing to do. I needed to pick up the grill (and its accessories) and buy a few other things at the same store. Easy, right? ONE store.
I got there and got my few things, then picked up the pick-up things. All was OK. The baby wanted to walk around on his own, and he even did that a bit and didn’t wreck too much stuff (I cleaned up what he did knock over in the toy aisle).
Then I went to check out. When I was checking out I said “I was just picking up these two things, so they’re already paid for. Let me know if you need to see the receipt.”
The kid behind the counter said “Oh, that’s OK. I can scan the bar code.” There were several bar codes on each item to choose from. He tried them all, and none seemed to work. Finally he got one to work on the charcoal bag but he could not get the one on the box to scan.
He paged someone for help. Another kid came over. She said “Oh, those are pick-up items. You don’t need to scan them.”
I said, feeling like someones sixty-year-old Aunt Barbara, “I think the charcoal got scanned. Can you make sure I don’t get charged for that since I already paid for it?”
The kid said “Oh, sure. No problem I’ll take it off.”
Then the kid picked up my six-pack of Oberon I was also getting for Dan’s birthday. “Oh. I can’t sell this…I’m not eighteen.” He turned to the other kid who had come to help. “Can you…”
She smiled and shrugged. “I’m not eighteen either.” She paged someone.
The guy who had originally given me my pick-up items came to the front. He went to scan my beer but he was logged in on another register so he had to page someone and get a code to log in again on that register or to log someone else in, I don’t know. I was just trying to keep my son entertained since we’d been there a while.
Everything finally got paid for and loaded. I got stopped at the door because I had the giant box and had to prove I’d picked up things and bought them too all in the same trip. Then I was free to go.
I rolled the caravan to the vehicle and unloaded. I got both kids strapped in. I was about to pull out when I thought “Huh, I should check that receipt…I forgot in all the chaos.” Oh look, nine bucks for charcoal.
I unstrapped the kids. I was really tempted to say the hell with it but…nine bucks. So we trooped back in and went to customer service. The same guy who had done the pick-up order and sold me the beer was at the customer service desk now. I said “Hey, it’s me again!” and told him I got charged for the charcoal I’d picked up.
He laughed and said “Oh, sorry about that! He can get you a refund,” and pointed to the guy next to him. That guy looked at my receipt and said “Oh, there’s only one on here,” so I showed him the pick-up email and told him there should be none on there. I finally got my nine bucks back. I think. I haven’t checked my credit card statement yet and I guess I’d better.
By then I was exhausted. Herding kids in stores is exhausting enough but I felt like I’d personally met every employee at that particular location and stood in every line they had to offer while I was herding the kids too.
I don’t know if it’s a typical part of adulthood but it happens to me a lot. I think I’m going to get one little thing done that day. It ends up feeling like I ran a marathon. I feel my patience draining out of me like sand through an hourglass. I do a good job at just keeping on going most of the time. I did feel like complaining to at least one of the twelve people I encountered at the one store, but it wouldn’t have done any good anyway.
You know how some people complain about kids these days, always wanting participation trophies? I think sometimes we should have them for adults too. Or maybe like the opposite of customer loyalty rewards, where instead of “thanks for being a frequent customer” the message is “Sorry you had a crappy experience” and you get a consolation prize.
The funny thing is, sometimes they do give those out to people who complain loudly, even when there’s nothing wrong! I’ve seen it happen at restaurants. “Here’s your free drink/appetizer/meal for not knowing how to order and being a difficult customer.” And as a parent I always hear “Reward good behavior instead of punish bad.”
We need an initiative to start handing out cookies or prizes when someone does a good job or someone else isn’t a jerk when they get bad service. Like adult parenting. Or an anti-asshole campaign. Maybe we could even collect “I wasn’t an asshole today” stamps and cash them in for prizes later.
Every citizen could get so many “not an asshole” stamps to share or dole out on a daily basis. When someone lets you go in traffic…beep and hand them one out the window. When you hear someone tell their kid not to kick your seat on the plane…give both the parent and the kid one. Store and restaurant managers could have a deck of these and they pass them out to customers when they know something crappy went down and the customer didn’t act like a fool.
The possibilities are endless! This could be a society-transforming idea.
If anyone wants to send cookies or prizes to me for sharing it I’d be glad to send you my addy. 😉