February 25, 2003
Retail Hell

Yesterday was not a good day. If you’ve ever worked retail sales, you’ll understand, vaguely. If you’ve ever worked retail at Berkeley you’ll feel me on this completely. For those that don’t know, I’ve just taken up a job at Papyrus, a stationery and custom printing shop near my apartment. It’s not bad. I like it. It’s small and easy to manage, the hours are great (it typically closes at 6 p.m.), and the customers are usually friendly…unless, heaven forbid, we offer them one of our plastic bags. In case you haven’t seen them, they’re quite nice and quite expensive to make. They’re much thicker than the usual plastic bags you’d get at a grocery store, they’re more durable, and, oh, did I mention they’re non-recyclable? Considering that Berkeley houses a sizeable population of hippie, environmental activist types, you can imagine the barrage of protests I’ve endured as of late. One lady responded to my offer with an eyeing of such contempt you’d think I’d spawned devil babies. Another lady subjected me to a litany of her complaints for nearly fifteen minutes, saying things like, “they’re extremely excessive. I don’t approve. Your company is careless, thinking it can come to a town like Berkeley and get away with doing this.” Hey, I understand her grievance, I really do, but isn’t there a more effective way to protest than yelling at a sales rep.? Make a call or write to the corporate office, don’t preach and moralize if you don’t intend to solve the problem at its source. I think a lot of people forget that last part.

Apart from these colorful characters I’ve also had recent run-ins with another equally unpleasant type of customer: the one who just won’t go home. They walk in late, near closing time, and proceed to browse around in feigned ignorance of the time, for as long as they please. The one I met last night was a classic though. Not only did she keep us in nearly an hour later, she also kept crying out how “sooooo cute!” everything was. She’d say it in the most annoying fashion too. Her voice would rise to a crescendo during every exclamation. Come on, shout it out loud with me: “that’s soooo cuUUTE!!!” See what I mean? If only the shop had less benign and more threatening products that I could’ve used to make her desist. The best and most immediate method I could think of was inflicting her with paper cuts, seeing as I was checking in a shipment of greeting cards at the time. Maybe I could’ve used a hand to distract her with one of the ridiculously fuzzy pens that we sell, as I used the other to slap her silly with a pad of monkey stationery. Yesterday had me beat, but looking back on it now and in this way, I guess it could’ve been a lot worse. I apologize for all this venting, something more positive next time, I promise.

Posted by irene at February 25, 2003 07:57 PM

Hey, maybe you could suffocate those late browsers with one of the nice plastic bags you offer. Anyway, I think it's ridiculous to complain about the bag. If a company finds customers who like 'em, they're gonna offer 'em. As a customer you can politely refuse (as I usually do when I buy stuff... casually walking out with my arms full and fumbling for the keys). I do it out of selfish reasons though... plastic bags inevitably fill the limited floor space in my room.

Posted by: teddy on February 26, 2003 1:54 AM

Hey, I like the bags at your store, they are very nice. And though it's not your fault at all, I think if I'm gonna pay a lot for some stationary, then I might as well get a nice bag to bring it home in. To hell with all those Berkeley folk who don't like the bags you have, they don't have to take them if they don't want them and they don't have to give you grief about offering it to them.

Posted by: lisa on February 26, 2003 6:56 AM

Well for me, I think un-earthconscious people like yourselves should think twice next time you're walking down the street and you see a panda and that said panda has a plastic bag stuck around its head, and he (it could be a she, but lets just pretend it's a he for right now)can't get it off, and he's pleading for you to take it off and you don't know what to do, it's a panda for Christ's sake, and so you walk on by, ignoring the panda's plea.

**swish** (blood and guts everywhere)

The panda took off your head because you wouldn't help it! And you're dead! Oh my God, you're dead!

And all of this because you used a plastic bag from your store. Maybe you should think twice, those plastic bags can be dangerous.

Posted by: marc on February 26, 2003 10:13 AM

hahaha- the funniest entry u've had in a long time. if anyone was gonna spawn devil babies it would be you- and the name madison claire, that you like so much, perfectly suits the devil baby image. i'd like to see u slap someone silly with a monkey pad- lol. oh, and about the 'how cute' thing- u say it too! don't lie! vrytime chris martin comes onscreen thats the first thing out of your mouth.

Posted by: gipa on February 26, 2003 7:30 PM

I know what you mean about those bags. Say, do you know where those bags are manufactured? What company they come from?

Posted by: rachel on June 9, 2003 12:44 PM
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