Paper Or Plastic?
The Cashier Chronicles
Lovingly Dedicated To The Lamont's Of This World, Everywhere

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(11/18/12 - 10:31 AM)
Spent yesterday morning running around: haircut (my barber was 20 minutes behind), then to the main branch of the Credit Union to give them my tax return and personal financial statement that I'm required to convey once per year due to my commercial loan on the property in Missouri. It had moved sometime in the past year from Beloit to JANESVILLE. Nevertheless, I was now Hell-bent on getting this done so, instead of the trek to Janesville, I went to a branch around the corner from where I work because that was where I was headed next.

I walked in. I was the only customer. The young lady behind the counter proceeded to say hi without looking up from the text she was sending. Then, she spent another 30 seconds wrapping that up before attending to me, as I stood there. Oh, she's going to go far in this world. I explained why I was there, showed her the letter from the commercial department that I had received, and she gave me a fantastic blank stare. Then she said, "I have to go... >mumble mumble<" and walked into an office.

A minute later she emerges with another 'pistol' of an employee, who proceeds to do things on the computer terminal. I explain to her - again - what I'm after, and show her the letter. She glances at it, and then proceeds to start printing forms. Then she wants to see my ID. Uh - okay. So, I show it to her, she does some more stuff, as Girl #1 melts on the counter like a pot ad. Oh, this is going well.

So, Girl #2 now says (after all this mind you), "You just need your loan numbers, right?"

Wait - what? When the hell did I EVER say that?

"Uh, no," I reply, and then once more explain the whole thing in detail and - once more - show her the letter.

"Oh! Okay. What do we need to make copies of?"

Sweet Lord, is she serious? I explain AGAIN. She seems to get it, so I finally settle my blood pressure back down. When I left - 25 minutes later - here is what had additionally transpired:

They went over to the copier - together. Girl #1 stands by it waiting for something to happen, I guess. Girl #2 is doing something, but I can't tell what, because she's behind a pony wall. Ten minutes elapse, and nothing seems to have changed. Before I can say anything, Girl #2 looks across the lobby at me and says, "These staples are super hard!"

Uh, all right. "Why do you need to take them out? You can make a copy of the return by just flipping the pages."

"Oh, no - we have to make copies of everything."

Wait - everything, everything? In the return are all of my spreadsheets, receipts, W-2's, etc. that made up the data to create the return. They just need the return, but she insists that they need it all. Oooookay.

As I watch Girl #1 finally come back to semi-sentient life, she tries to 'help' remove the staples. I give them the idea to twist, instead of ineffectually pulling for another ten minutes, and voila - progress.

So, they make their copies, and thank me for my patience. And I leave without punching either of them. I'm pretty sure I'm on the road to Sainthood.

(08/24/11 - 8:26 PM)
I went to the bank that holds my mortages, as well as my savings account. I needed a withdrawl and a cashier's check. Now - to preface - due to cost constraints, they had closed the lobby of the branch I typically use this spring, so it's been drive-up only. Which is fine with me - I don't have to get my fat ass out of the car.

So, I drive up to make my transactions. I put the requisite identification in the tray, and tell the woman what I want:

"I need a cashier's check, made out to myself for $XXXX, and I also need to withdraw $XXXX from my savings."

"Okay," she says. "Did you want to pay for the cashier's check from your Savings as well?"

This is something that >I< seem to remember, but they always forget. If you have the check made out to yourself, there is no fee for doing so, so long as you don't do it more than twice in a 30-day period.

"No. Again, it will be made out to me, so there should be no fee, unless something has changed."

"Right. How did you want to pay for it?"

Uh, am I speaking Chinese? "No. Again, it will be made out to me, so there should be no fee, unless something has changed."

"Right. But - how did you want to pay for it?"

Now I'm losing my composure. I explain again.

"Right. But if you want a cashier's check for $XXXX, you have to pay me $XXXX first."

Welcome to planet stupid. Population: You.

I calmly (just barely) explain that I want it drawn from my Savings account - as I cleary stated in the beginning.

This seems to turn on a light bulb in the woman's brain (albeit a dim one). Now we're moving forward again. At least, I thought so, until...

"Well, maybe you'd rather come in for that."

WHAT? I just spent more than a minute going around and around with you... plus...

"The lobby is closed, I thought?"

"What? No! It's not closed!"

Now, bear in mind the, 'Jeez, are you retarded?' coming from the woman's statement at my statement, and you might understand my further annoyance.

I explain, "To my knowledge, it was closed in the spring, and never re-opened."

"Yeah, but that was just for a short while during budget cuts. It's open now."

Apparently, a short while is some four+ months. So I guess I'm stupid. Sure - whatever.

"Fine. But I'm good right here."

"Well, maybe you'd rather come in for that."

Now I'm getting ready to punch her through the protective glass. "NO. I'm fine right here, THANKS."

"Well, maybe you'd rather come in for that much. It's a lot of money."

Is this woman serious? "NO. I'm fine right here, THANKS."

"Well, maybe you'd rather come in for that much. It's a lot of money, and we're not supposed to pass more than $XXXX through the window."

I'm thinking: 'Then why in the holy >expletive< didn't you just >exlpetive< say that in the first place?'

"It would have been nice if you had said that in the first place."

So, I drive around, and come inside. Now, to further frame the picture, there are three employees and one customer both within and without - me.

I walk up to the nearest teller, and the woman from the drive through comes up front. I'm thinking good, she'll explain what's going on to the teller to save me time. Finally she's being helpful.

Nope! Instead, she goes over to the other teller, who looks like she just crawled out of the shower, and starts talking about something non-work related.

Now I'm just lit up, and want to get out. I explain to the new teller what I want.

"You know, there's a $2.50 fee for cachier's checks. How would you like to pay for that?"

Sweet Lord, take me now. "No," I reply, "There's not, if it's written to me, and I haven't had more than two in a month's time."

"Yes there... OH!" he says, "Yeah, you're right!"

So, he goes through the motions, gets me taken care of, and I think I'm out when he realizes that he's somehow forgotten how to count money, and keeps starting over. It probably doesn't help that he's jabbering mindlessly with me at the same time.

After three counts, I exit and thank the Heavens that I'm done. How is it that bank employees have so much responsibility, yet are paid so little and are chosen to aimlessly? I know some good ones personally - I do. And it's a shame that with their competence they aren't paid more. But to the others, I say, "WTH?"

(07/14/11 - 5:41 PM)
It's been quite some time since I've had a decent cashier story to tell you. Today, I break that drought:

I went to pick up my monthly medication at the local Wally-World, and was helped by a short man who would not have looked uncomfortable in plate-mail armor and wielding a battle axe.

"Last name?" the man asked.

"Alberts," I replied.

>Tap tap tap< on the keyboard, and then, "I don't have anything for you today," he says.

"I got a call yesterday saying that it was ready. I'm sure it's here."

The man rolled his eyes, but checked again. A moment later, he says, "Oh! There is something. I must have mis-spelled your name."

Now I can't just keep my mouth shut, because sarcasm is in my nature. So I jokingly respond, "It's a good thing that my last name isn't daiquiri, Albuquerque, or onomatopoeia, then."

I expected something - a laugh, a chuckle, a giggle - something. What I got was a dead cold stare, no smile, and this response, "I can spell all of those. It's the simple ones I seem to have a tough time with."

Now I'm not one to call a man a liar, but I'm fairly certain that most of America can't spell most - if not all three - of those words. Maybe I'm wrong - I don't know.

So, the moral of the story is that people are apparently awesome spellers and I just don't know it, so I should not dare joke about it in the future.

Still, I'm pretty sure had I called him on it, he would have failed all three. I'll never know now, but I really, REALLY wanted to.

(07/30/10 - 06:32 PM)
Went to the grocery store today for the first time in 6...7...8 weeks: I don't even recall, but it's been a long time.

Spent a small fortune re-stocking all the cupboards and pantry, and now we're all set for at least another month.

I had everything in one cart, but apparently the bagger couldn't match me on that front, as I had two upper carts, and one lower full when I was ejected from the lane. Oh well.

The cashier was a matronly white woman who appeared to be about fifty, and had a bad perm and too much make up. I considered what she might sound like in my head, only to be surprised to hear her speaking in full-on wigger to the woman in front of me who was apparently a long-lost acquaintance as they bantered back and forth.

As they were talking in street-speak, the cashier was lazily bagging in paper as though it were merely an aside. On the third bag, her friend reminded her that she wanted plastic, so she began the slow process of unbagging, which was clearly hindered by her inability to talk and do anything else at the same time.

Some five extra minutes later, the line was moving again and, since I didn't know her, things for me went fairly smooth.

Again I say to all cashiers out there: Do your job. It's alright to talk, but don't hold up everyone behind you with reminiscing about days past. Get their phone number if you must, but shut the hell up.


(02/27/10 - 11:46 AM)
I popped out of the house this morning to pick up some soda.

I got to the store, obtained the soda, and brought it to the cashier.

After the inevitable cursory, meaningless greetings, I asked whether she would prefer the soda left in or out of the cart.

"Leave it out, that's fine," she said.

So, I began unloading the soda onto the counter when she said, "You can leave it out, that's okay" and began circumnavigating the counter.

I was puzzled, but I asked, "Do you mean that you would like the sode left IN the cart, then?"

"Yeah, you can just leave it out, that will be fine."

Moments later, as she's scanning the items still in my cart with her cordless wand, she says, "I meant you could just leave them where they were."

Well, DUH.

I'd hate to hear this woman if her life were in danger, and she were on a 9-1-1 call.

"That's right, I'm someone else, and I'm outside the house that has me trapped inside."

(01/29/10 - 5:05 PM)
Got off work fairly late today, so I just ran to the bank, and stopped at the store.

I'm glad that I did, because now I have this story to tell.

I have a tendancy when I shop to make efficient use of space in my cart/basket/other. It's just part of who I am, I suppose.

I call it 'Tetris-ing'. Somehow, that game changed me.

Anyway, The cashier (whom I have had before, but have never spoken with) took one look at my artful pile o' things and commented that she had never seen such a neat stack.

"Yeah," I commented, "I guess all those hours playing Tetris as a kid weren't wasted after all."

What she said next was just... weird.

"Oh!" she said, coming suddenly to life, "I beat my whole family at that game. My whole family, I can beat 'em all!"

Uh... great!, I guess.

"Wow," I said, "Good for you."

Then she made my day.

"They still have it now, only now it's called Bejeweled. I'm really good at that, too."

I knew I should just let it go. My brain actually fought with itself for a moment - it honestly did.

But my mouth won.

"Well, actually, those are two entirely different games," I replied politely.

"No," she retorted, "They're the same thing. One's just got jewels now."

Once more, the sensible part of my brain just said, "let it go."

But my mouth just could not.

"Actually, no. They're two entirely different games, from two entirely different companies with two entirely different concepts and goals."

"No, they're the same." Yet, unsurety crept in now, "If they're not, then what's the difference?"

I patiently explained the concepts of each, as the man behind me politely laughed to himself. I'm not sure who he was laughing at. Either one of us were candidates, albeit for differing reasons.

"Oh!" she now exclaims, "Yes! You're right, you're right."

And that was all.

And all I could think in closing was, "Your family must suck righteously if you can spank them at a game that you don't even understand."

(09/11/09 - 11:06 PM)
I didn't need to go to the grocery store today, so I stopped by my Dad's house to drop some things off, and then went to get some more cologne at the local Walgreens.

I walked in, and ambled on over to the cologne counter. Within a minute, a sixteen-something, corpulent female teen lumbered in my direction. I can't say how I knew that she was inattentive, but it was clear her mind was on other things.

She stopped in front of me, turned around to look at something, and as she did so, she absent-mindedly fixed her panties inside her pants under her shirt. There was alot of finger manipulation involved, and nothing was showing - I just could tell what she was doing.

When she was good and done, she turned around and once more and continued to scarcely acknowledge my presence. But then she said, "Can I help you with something?"

Now, what was most interesting about this was her tone. I was taken a bit aback, because what she was really saying was, 'I've been standing here for almost a minute now, and you still haven't told me what you want'.

Apparently, as soon as she got within earshot, I was to announce to her what I required, even as she turned her back and fixed her undies.


I was in too good a mood to be too pissed, so I very politely said, "Yes. I would like one of the large, Drakkar sprays just there, please."

I reached across the counter, and pointed to the precise box that I desired.

She sighed, squatted, and opened the cabinet. Total elapsed time: eight seconds.

"What did you want, again?" she says, clearly annoyed.

I once again re-iterated my desired purchase, and she pointed to it. "This one?"

Oh, Heaven help me. I acknowledged in the affirmative, but also added, "It is a spray, correct?"

"Yep," she says without so much as a glance toward the box.

So, I check it myself, pay for the thing, and get the hell out of there without so much as another word from her.

She's going to go far, that one.

(03/06/09 - 16:42 PM)
In what has become something of a lone, Friday ritual, I once more went to the local-est groceteria to pick up a few necessities for the upcoming week. Alright, and I might have been killing a little time in a somewhat more meaningful way as well. I just need to FEEL like I'm doing something constructive, so shopping for groceries seems a likely candidate.


So, I see that the lines today are far better than they were the week prior. Not only that, but my co-worker's wife's line is surprisingly short. I elect to get in her line to say a quick hello, and to also be assured of quality checking and bagging.

As I'm waiting in her line, the Queen of the Register Domain (a.k.a. - the Lead Cashier) walks up to me and states that I may use the Express Lane, as there is currently one open.

I'm a bit stunned. With 30 items, and the lines all 2+ people long, how can an Express Lane be open? Nevertheless, I make the lateral move, because she's not leaving (apparently) until I acknowledge her request/demand via personal ambulatory motion.

I hesitantly comply. As I make my way to the open register, I am struck by fear and concern all at once. For there, manning (can you say that if it's a woman?) the register is none other than my good friend from last week.

Oh joy!

I press on. I approach, and begin to un-cart my grocery selections. As I approached, the cashier's eyes were firmly locked across the aisle upon a little girl of no more than three, who was screaming because her mother would not let her have a candy bar immediately.

To be fair, she was adorable. But she was still screaming.

So, without a greeting from the cashier - without even a look to acknowledge my existance, I press on. The counter eventually fills up, so I begin manipulating my purchases to fit more - because the cashier has still not acknowledged me, nor has she taken her eyes off the angst-ridden child. All the while, in fact, the cashier has been muttering under her breath at the child - even though I can barely make out anything audibly identifiable. Things like, "No, no. Don't cry. Don't cry.", etc.

Alright. So I've now unloaded 30+ items on a non-belted, Express Lane, half-counter. I now begin waiting as the child finally gets her way and the candy bar quickly succumbs to the formerly wailing mouth.

This makes my cashier smile and mumble some more.

Alright. I'm done.

"Excuse me?" I reply to her muttering, knowing full-well that she's not even on the same planet as me and - therefore - is most certainly NOT speaking to me.

Without taking her eyes off the child, she says in reply, "I was talking to the little girl." Then, "That's better, isn't it honey?"

I resist the urge to grab her by the scruff of the shirt and bitch-slap her. Instead, I bite my tongue, and once more begin manipulating my groceries on the full counter, electing to move around the tallest, loudest thing in my repertoire of groceries - a pair of large bags of baked corn chips.

Slowly, she turns, and seems to snap out of a cuteness-induced, grandmotherly coma to momentarily acknowledge my presence in earnest. "How are you today?"

I'm friggin' pissed, is how I am. I could have rung up, bagged, and carted out my groceries in the time she spent agog at a wailing toddler. Instead, I simply mutter, "Fine."

But she's not done with the toddler, apparently. As she begins to ring me up with all the impetus of a hibernating bear on quaaludes, her gaze once more glances longingly across the aisle at the momentarily satiated toddler.

Suffice it to say that it's not impossible to check and bag while not really paying attention to what one is doing - it just takes exponentially longer.

But, hey - she's got nowhere else to be. So what does it matter to her?

I am still dumbfounded at the ways people seem to be able to find to be rude. This is so unprofessional, so inexcusable, that I cannot but wonder how in the world she cannot know that what she's doing is actually WRONG.

I just don't get it. Thank God she's not a pizza delivery driver - or a triage nurse.

(02/27/09 - 10:22 PM)
I was feeling pretty good. I had gotten out of work a squidge early, and it had been a rough day. But now I was free for the weekend! I was going to begin by getting things done!

I went and got gas, I did some chores around the house. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

The FIRST thing I did, was I went to pick up a few essentials for the upcoming week at the local Wally World (I know, I'm evil - but it's close, and I'm time conscious.)

I remembered nearly everything, and I was making great time. As I approached the home stretch, I realized that there were very few registers open at the moment. And the few that were all appeared to be staffed by aged individuals who had the speed of a two-person wheelbarrow race at a fat farm picnic.

Now I will say, in their defense, that being a cashier gets tougher the older you get. You're standing for hours on end, moving things that are at the very least cumbersome, and often heavy. So I'm sympathetic with slower speeds under these circumstances, as I hope someday the young Turks who come through my line at the MicrosoftWorld Store will be as well.

So, I waited my turn. And I waited. And I waited.

Here was the problem, as I began to observe the checking method being employed by the woman manning the register (no pun intended.) She was old, yes. She was struggling a bit, yes. But this is where my sympathy ends. Because she was also stopping after every second item to make small talk with whoever would listen about her grandkids, their illnesses, their great ability to make art out of macaroni, etc.

It might have been okay, but apparently she had a hell of a lot to say. And there were three packed carts behind me, and no backup checkers in sight.

But this was not the worst offense. The WORST offense occured when she came across an item she had apparently never seen before. She would study the item, look over the packaging, ask questions about the item, etc.


When it finally came my turn, I prayed that I had nothing interesting. But it was not to be so. She studied my Italian Beef package (oh, that sounded dirty, didn't it?), my jar of mushrooms, and several other items. She then went on to exhibit yet another trait that I had missed from behind the mountain of groceries that had previously been in front of me: she would grab one item, think better of it, and grab another, and then finally a third (or fourth, or fifth) and finally scan one. Then she would attempt to figure out how to bag it, and what with, and after assessing the situation make the poorest decision possible.

It's really not funny, but I almost wanted to climb over the counter and just say, "Watch".

Checking is one of my strong points, apparently. I know this because when I worked at the sign of the big red K when I was sixteen, we would all be cross-trained as checkers. And on the odd occasion when one was needed, I became the requested individual because I was told that I was faster and more accurate than the people who did this all day.

I probably would have been more jaded, if I did it all the time. But all those hours of time and motion study my first - and current - boss Dave had engrained in my head since I was ten were paying off - as well as all of those hours spent playing Tetris.

So, I just held my tongue, and waited until she was finished. Then, as I went to leave, she decided that we had not talked enough.

"Do you work with so-and-so?"

Shit. I was wearing my company jacket, and one of my employee's wives works here.

I corrected the first and last names, and mentioned that I worked with that individual.

Apparently, that clicked, because she went on to tell me how she was just the best of friends with his wife, and did I know that she worked here?

I was as polite as possible, and exchanged nothing more than the bare minumim requisite pleasantries.

Then I got the hell out of there.

(02/13/09 - 11:14 PM)
I stopped at Wal-Mart after work today to pick up a few things, and to pick up both my and my wife's prescriptions.

My wife and I both have HSA plans (Health Savings Accounts) which are high-deductable plans that allow you to tax-defer money to a special account to pay for medical expenses. These types of plans are perfect for individuals like us, who don't have children and aren't too old to have the Doctor on speed-dial.

So, I got our prescriptions. I pulled out my HSA card. I attempted to pay. I slid my card and got... 'encryption error - call tech. support' on the terminal.

I was perplexed, because I had never seen this before.

The cashier sounded flustered, "Ugh," said newly-licensed driver cashier chick, "It's been doing that all day. I'll have to run it directly through the register. Give me your card."

I shrugged, and she did whatever it is sixteen-year-old cashier's do with their registers (hey - I'm not here to judge). Again, the results were the same.

"This card is no good," she announced loudly.

Slowly, oh so slowly, Evil Heath was coming forth.

"No," I said, "I just got the statement. I have credit monitoring. I know there's over 'X' amount of dollars in that account, and the only time I use it is here and at my Doctor's office. It's perfectly fine."

She is now visibly annoyed that I'm arguing with her. "Let me call someone, then."

So, she rolls her eyes, and retreats five feet to her trusty wall phone. In an annoyed tone, she calls for some sort of higher-up, as she stares at my card.

The phone across the pharmacy rings, and she annoyingly demands that the caller be transferred to her.

"This guy is here, and it's telling me his card is no good, but he insists that it is. I tried running it on the register, but it won't work. Can you do something?"

Now, bear in mind there's an annoyed cluster of geriatric ladies and other individuals forming behind me, and this girl is speaking loudly enough to make certain that they all know that it's in no way HER fault that they're having to wait. That, in fact, it's the moron/deadbeat with the probably stolen credit card in front of them who is the asshole.

This entire time, I had been taking note of the strange movements and actions of the second individual in the pharmacy. This was a girl who looked about seven years older, and something in her finally snapped.

She calmly walked over to the cashier that I had been blessed with, and said loudly enough for all to hear, "That terminal has been acting up all day. It doesn't matter where you run it. I will try it down here for him, because I'm sure the terminal is the problem."

She takes me to the other register in a diminutive fashion, we run the transaction, and in less than one minute we are off and running.

I thank her queitly, and I mention that if she has the authority to do so, she might want to let a Manager know that Queen Ya-hoo down there is telling people their cards are no good without checking the facts.

She apologizes, and I let her know there's no need - she didn't do anything.

And, I could be wrong here, but it seemed as though a sudden wave of vitriol was now finding its way to cashier number one from both co-workers and customers.

Serves her right for trying to cover her ass, and embarass me in front of them all. Yep - they heard it all, all right - and they then saw the end bit where she looked like a moron.

(12/01/08 - 11:26 PM)
Today is another monumental day in 'A Twist Of Fate's' history. It seems that I have somehow amassed enough stories on one particular topic to once more spawn a specialty offshoot of the blog itself. So, in the spirit of "The Plinky Page" and "The Mr. Phillips Screwdriver Chronicles", I happily unveil my newest offshoot:

Paper Or Plastic?

I hope you enjoy reading about my angst-ridden encounters with those individuals who man cash registers everywhere. This is in no way a detriment to all cashiers (I have a great deal of respect for a good cahier - they're few and far between.) Rather, this is a journal of my encounters with those individuals who have been tasked with this job - and have failed miserably.


(11/25/08 - 11:12 PM)
Finally got up the nerve to go to the groceteria (It's a Heath-ism - feel free to use it profusely so that it catches on, and then when I'm old I can claim that it was my word, but no one will believe me as they steal my money daily at the home and talk behind my back about all my ear hair.)

My wife and I had been dreading going this late in the Holiday madness, as we were concerned about the crowds. We had intended to go earlier but one or the other of us, for various reasons, simply had not been up to the task.

But today we went! I told my wife to get anything and everything that caught her eye, because I didn't want to go again for at least a month (it sounds rude, but she shares the sentiment, so that makes it not rude. You just have to trust me on this one.)

By the end of the trip, I had Tetris-ed (another Heath-ism that you can feel free to adopt so long as the people at Elorg don't mind) the shopping cart to its limits, and it looked pretty cool.

I asked the checker if he would like me to find him a second cart to pack the groceries in, and he replied, "Do you think I'll need one?"

I looked from him, to the cart, and then to him again. "Uh, I don't think you realize how I've got these groceries precisely Tetris-ed in there - you're going to need it. Trust me."

He seemed skeptical, but as he began checking my haul, it became evident just what a good job I had done. It resembled a game of Jenga that no one in particular would desire to play - and he was very quickly on the losing end. Item after item proved to be the wrong one to remove at the wrong time, and eventually he simply succumbed to the inevitable avalanche of eclectic grocery goodness.

It was fun to watch, sort of, until I realized that the bagger was being forced to bag at random, rather than bagging similar items of size, shape and type (which had been in perfect order in the cart at one time, and should speed up the bagging process by about 20-30% if removed in a similar fashion.) Why does no one ever realize this fact?

Anyway, after spending >GULP< $480.00 on groceries (this is what happens when you wait 4-6 weeks to go, folks) we finally made our weary way home.

(11/01/08 - 10:06 PM)
I changed the switches and outlets in my bathroom today, and did a few other little niggling electrical-ly things. When I got into the box, I realized that I had inadvertantly forgotten that one switch was a three-way, and not a single-pole. No problem, I figured: I had the thing all apart, so I'd just run to the local hardware store.

Now, my local hardware store is one of the last remnants of the small-town hardware store of a bygone era. How it has managed to survive I'll never know, but I have to admit that it's pretty handy at times - even if it does look like the curio shop of the old Chinese guy from "Gremlins".

The Frogurt Is Also Cursed!

So, I finally located a white, three-way switch. Then I figured, while I was there, I would look for some hinged PVC pipe hangers. My house was built with the least possible amount, and as such the pipe spans tend to sag a little in places. This leads to thumping noises when pressure begins flowing through them. Not a big deal, but I figured for ten minutes of my time and five bucks, why not fix it?

I searched high and low for these things, but could not find them. Finally, I broke down and asked the woman working there. I described what I wanted, and when she asked if I could draw it, I complied. She then said that she had no idea what I was talking about. To be fair, maybe these things are newer, but my house if ten years old - so they're not that new.

She asked if I had one with me.


Could I go home and tear one out, and bring it back?

Uh... no.

I explained again how they worked, and she then asked if I meant Cable clips.


H brackets?


J bends?

J bends?! Really?! (A J bend is more commonly called by its misnomer of 'P' trap, and is the thing that you often see under your sink.)

How in the world did we go from a small, one inch square, hinged clip, to a J-bend? How had she even arrived at this, after I sketched the item to scale?

She let me know that she still wasn't sure what I meant, but if I wanted to I could wait twenty minutes for another employee to show up: Maybe he'd know what I required. Or, she could order it for me if I could bring her one.

I appreciated that she was trying to be helpful - I really did. But I still wanted to punch her in the head... a little. In twenty minutes, I could drive to the big box store, buy what I needed, and still be home in a reasonable amount of time.

(07/26/08 - 11:35 PM)
Today was a go-go-go type of day. I woke up, showered, shaved and went to work. Then I went and got my wife's car washed, and went to the bank to move money from one bank to another. I ended up spending fifteen minutes at the bank after my turn had begun, because the panicked teller could not make her printer print a cashiers' check. Nor could she figure out the problem, so she left someone voice mail and told me to have a seat.

I elected to stand right where I was. Fifteen minutes later, the check magically appeared from the printer as the phone was ringing. On the other end of the phone line, it came to light, was the individual that the teller had contacted some fifteen minutes ago - ready to help now!

After that, I came home and we went straight out to lunch with my mother, my brother and his wife. Lunch was - as always - a bizarre affair at the local Indian joint. Nothing there makes sense to me, and it probably never will.

Then it was off to Mom's for a rousing political and ethical debate that personally set my teeth on edge. And, at nine-something, I finally made it home.

Truly, a day that was not my own. But, I did get to see my family.

(07/25/08 - 11:13 PM)
I took my damaged tire to a place down the road from where I work before I went in this morning. They said that they could have it completed by the end of the day, and they would call me when it was done. Great!

By 3:30, I still had heard zilcho, so I decided to call. The woman who answered - Gail - said that it was, in fact, done. Alright, so no one had called me. It was okay. I'm sure they were going to. No harm, no foul and all that.

So, I asked the million dollar question - if I brought the vehicle down, could they mount it for me right away?

Gail responded by saying that, yes, they could, so long as I got it there before 5:00.

I replied that, if they could mount it now, I would come right now.


Great! So, off I went. I went into the showroom, and heard Gail answer another call. This was how I knew who she was. When she was finished, I gave her my name, and mentioned that I had spoken with her only moments ago.

"No, that wasn't me," she says.

I replied that the woman had said that her name was Gail - perhaps there was another Gail, then?

"No, I'm the only one. What was your name again, and what did you need?"

I proceeded to re-iterate, and after she found the paperwork she says, "Oh! I just talked to you!"


"The vehicle is right outside. Here's my keys," I said. She then proceeded to take the keys, paperwork, and job envelope out to the shop, after letting me know that it would be just a few minutes. No problem. I asked if, to save time, I could pay now.

They said that, no, I could not, because they needed to get the mileage for the new tire. All I kept thinking was, "Hey! I can walk ten steps and get it for you, and then we can settle up!" But they were not to be swayed.

Whatever... fine.

So, I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. After thirty-five minutes, I apparently no longer existed, and my vehicle remained where I had parked it. Yay!

So, I broke down and called work to send someone to fetch me. What should have been a ten-minute absence had now stretched into nearly forty- five.

I then explained to Gail & Co. that I had burned up all of my break time and then some, and could they please just call me when it was done?

"It's not done yet?" says Gail.

Let me spell this out for you. There are large, plate-glass windows fronting the showroom. I parked DIRECTLY in front of the one that Gail had been staring through for the last thirty-plus minutes.

"No," I said, "It's still RIGHT THERE. Doughnut and all. It has not moved."

Now chick employee B gets involved, "It should have been done by now. It's not done?"

I re-explain, furious, but retaining my composure, and re-iterate that I wish to be called when it is done, because they're closing in an hour and I want to make certain that I have time to get here and get settled up.

They'll call me, they say.


At 4:50 PM, I now suspect that the worst has happened. I hitch a ride with yet another fellow employee, and as we pull up, there, in the same spot where I left it - doughnut and all - is my vehicle. Now I'm losing it.

I walk in, and I ask if the vehicle will even be done today.

"What do you mean?" asks Gail, "It's not done?"

Jesus, Mary, Joseph and any other saints who will listen.

No, I explain, it's still RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF HER. Now, employee B says that that just isn't possible, so she heads out to see for herself, clearly disbelieving. Once she sees that - Wow! I'm not a moron! - she proceeds to head back into the service area.

Once she returns to the office, she pulls Gail in back and mentions that she had placed my work order in precisely the wrong spot. I'm not supposed to hear this, but Gail just shrugs it off and says something about a coupon, no big deal. Clearly Employee B is now perturbed. As such, I'm now not hating her: Any enemy of Gails...

Employee B takes over, finds a tech, and gets the whole tire change in motion. Elapsed time to change the tire: 2.5 minutes from start to finish.

So, the tech comes back in, and Employee B asks for the mileage. He rattles off a number that's only about 62,000 miles too high, and she asks him if he actually looked. He admits that he did not, and she sends him back out.

After returning with the correct mileage, they get my paperwork in order, and attempt to placate me with a $5.00 coupon. The five bucks isn't too impressive, but I appreciate that they're at least trying. Then, they print their copy of the receipt. But my copy doesn't come out. Nope, the paper has just run out on the machine at 4:58 PM.

They finally get it reloaded, and Gail decides that she's just the woman to step in and get that baby to print, even though Employee B is doing just fine, and has asked for no help. Suddenly Employee B says, "Don't press that one! Or that one!"

Finally, Gail relents, and Employee B continues doing her job - CORRECTLY.

I'm almost thinking employee B might be the only saving grace of the afternoon when she says, "Okay! You're all set! And you've got your keys, right?"

Uh, no. I mention that I haven't actually seen my keys in over an hour, and that they still have them.

She then suggests that, perhaps, the tech just left them in the car.

As we head outside, I see that he not only left them in the car, he also left the drivers-side door open, and the keys are in the ignition as the dinger-majiggie is going off to let anyone within earshot know that someone left the keys in the ignition. Is this a conspiracy?

In an attempt to placate me further, employee B offers a sincere apology and a pizza cutter premium. Again, I appreciate that she's trying, so I accept her apology with some words of wisdom another shop manager once gave me.

"Sometimes," I said, "The Dragon wins."

(06/28/08 - 11:53 PM)
Today was my wife's birthday. I bought her some new earrings, and we went to lunch. After lunch, we stopped by the Home Depot to pick up some paint for our upcoming three-day weekend painting of our bedroom. As I took the swatch from her, and turned to the paint counter to have the individual working there begin the mixing, the power went out. Then the auxilliary power went out. It was pitch black in the store for about three seconds. One could hear, even if one were not listening too closely, the collective gasp of nearly every female in the store. Also, there was a sound not unlike a hundred mace cannisters being readied. Not that I'd know.

At any rate, the paint counter guy looks at the folks in front of me, whom he was already serving, and says, "Good thing I got yours mixed already! Last time that happened, I couldn't mix paint for three hours because the computers all went funny."

Oh, super!, I thought. I then recalled the last time I was standing here. It was late last fall, when we were still working on my mother's home. I needed the sale-priced, two-gallon container of primer. Problem was, they had to pull a fresh skid. The skids were up high in an aisle, which would not normally have been a problem, were it not for the fact that someone had dropped one smack in the middle of said aisle, where it subsequently broke open. Then, no one was available to clean it up, as they were short handed, so they had elected to close the aisle instead. Are you seeing a pattern in my luck in this department of this store?

After a tense six minutes, the man said that we were in luck - that paint mixing could continue unabated. Still, what are the odds?

Also, my wife requested that I save a baby bird that had errantly flown into my mammal-trap this morning (a.k.a. - my window well). What is their fascination with this place of late?

I rescued the bird, much to the chagrin of the angry and confused parents darting around behind me, making their presence known with a series of unfriendly chirps which probably equated to a lot of avian profanity.

We also bought window well covers. Guess why?

(06/04/08 - 11:12 PM)
You'd think that by now, the whole bed saga would be over. That I couldn't possibly have any more egregious screw-ups to report. You'd be dead wrong on that point. For you see...

I received a call on my radio at work today. There was a phone call for me. So, I dropped what I was doing on the work floor, and headed into the office. I stopped to wash my hands. I went in. I picked up the phone. Who was on the other end?

Why, the guy who sold me my bed, of course! He just wanted to follow up to make sure that I was just enjoying the hell out of my new bed! I explained that, yeah, it was super-teriffic. Then I asked if he often called people at work to ask such things. He said that he just called the number that he had, which was a line of crap, because he had left a message on my home answering machine only the evening before.

He then asked how the delivery went, and I then realized that he didn't have a clue about what had happened. So, I explained that the deliveries, plural, had finally happened, at any rate. He mused aloud as to how we could have received only half a bedding set. I believe his exact words were, "You're kidding! What a bunch of idiots!"

I then let him know that that bunch of idiots had stated that all of the ensuing trouble begun when he had neglected to manually add the mattress to the delivery order after it had arrived at the warehouse. He disagreed, by saying, "They blamed me? Man, that's harsh."

Sorry for the buzz-kill, Justin.

"But, hey, there's a bright spot!", he says. "We accidentially overcharged you $10.00 on your delivery fee, so you'll be receiving a $10.00 refund!"

That's just super-teriffic too! There's just one problem, Justin: The rebate forms have already been sent in. And on the forms, it basically says in legalese that if everything isn't flawless and perfectly matching, that I will not only not receive my refund, but I will not be contacted to let me know that it is not forthcoming, nor why it would not be. So, now, the delivery charges would not match when the rebate process was attempted. How would that affect my rebate, I asked.

Guess who didn't know. Okay, I'll tell you: It was the salesman. I knew you'd never guess.

I think that pretty much covers the entire experience pretty thoroughly. At every opportunity, a failure ensued. Not a single portion of the entire transaction was not flawed. From the initial purchase, to the delivery, to the rebate, to the credit application. NOT ONE.

The upside is that they're not selling military weapons or infant pharmaceuticals.

(05/31/08 - 10:16 PM)
I went in to work for a few hours this morning. The bed came in today. No one was harmed.

I ended up having to go to Madison on my own to get our oil changed, because the bed delivery was on their terms - not ours - and we had scheduled the oil change and tire rotation already.

Which is another story in the "Stellar Customer Service!" category.

My wife called Don Miller service on Wednesday to schedule the services on Saturday. Simple, simple, simple. The problem? The guy had to call her back. So she waited. And waited. And waited.

On Friday morning, when she finally called him back, and mentioned that he had not called her back, he was unphased. She once more asked for a Saturday appointment. This was his reply.

"Those fill up fast. You need to call in advance for those."

Yep. Honest to God.

She mentioned again that she had called, and that he was supposed to have called her back. She also mentioned that we lived in Illinois and that next Saturday wasn't an option - it needed to be this one.

What does Captain Logic do? Why, he offers suggestions!

"How long can you leave it here for on Saturday?"

My wife replies that, in order to leave it, we would have to stay in their facility all day or until the work was done, or we would have to drive two cars to Madison. She once more reminds him that - duh - we live in Illinois. Again, she mentions, that that would require two vehicles... Illinois... etc.

"Well, I'll see if I can squeeze you in." At which time, he offers an early morning appointment.

My wife says, no, I asked for a 2:00 PM or later appointment.

Which, he miraculously allows when he realizes that what's convenient for him is probably no longer an option.

It wouldn't be so bad if people made mistakes and said something like, "I'm truly sorry. I made an error."

I do it all the time, and I admit it when I do. But then I make it right, and I attempt to not let my human nature get in the way of a solid days work again.

Instead, this in-duh-vidual chose to myopically insult my wife, while trying to keep his life simple, with a clear disregard for what she required.

The upside, to be fair, is that we typically don't deal with this guy. The folks we have dealt with in the past at Don Miller have all been pretty damn good at what they do. I just hope they curtail this guys' single-minded ability to cheese people off thoughtlessly.

(05/30/08 - 11:07 PM)
In today's installment of "The New Bed Saga": The Case of the Missing Mattress!

I was called away from work at 2:20 PM this afternoon to come and receive my new bed! Which was great, except I had been slotted for a 4:00- 8:00 PM delivery, so as not to interfere with work. Apparently, a timepiece of some sort is not available to delivery drivers or their logistical handlers.

So, I received a call. Or rather, my assistant received the call, and turned it over to me. Here is what the driver said when I picked up the phone:

"Yo, dude. I'm about five minutes out."

Note the glaring lack of identifying who he is, or what he wants. This wouldn't be so bad, but I take ALOT of calls during the day. I figured out who he was, but I made him work for it anyway.

When I met the individuals at my home, I just wanted this whole ordeal to be over. He brought in the pillows, he offloaded the box spring. Then he said, "You didn't order a mattress, huh?"


I explained that, yes, I had. Why in the world would I want a box spring and pillows? Do I look like a Yogi?

"Yeah," came his slack-jawed reply, "I thought it was kind of weird when we were at the warehouse."

He showed me his paperwork, and it's glaring lack of a mattress. I showed him both my sets of paperwork, both with a matress smack in the middle (I had to get two sets, because the first time they ran it, they forgot to put the haul away on.) Whoops!

Reeeeeeally. Then why didn't you ask the logistics guy if maybe there had been an error THEN, rather than questioning tha absurdity of it NOW?

Now, his partner speaks up, "We've seen stranger things get delivered."

Which, I guess, they probably have. BUT, why would someone purchase a high-end box spring and pillows, but skip the mattress? How often had that happened, I asked?

Smart guy just shrugged like I was a raving lunatic. Which I was fast becoming.

So, the next thing I know, they have the box spring in my house and are asking where I want it. I have no clue where to put an errant box spring, so I just tell them to put it in my living room.

Then they start up the stairs. Slack-jaw says to Smart Guy, "We've got a haul away on this one, too."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Are these guys for real?

"Uh, guys? You're not really taking my old mattress and box spring now, are you?"

"There's a haul away on here. You don't want us to take it, then?"

"Well, I don't know where I'll sleep, since you only brought me a box spring today. So, no, I'd prefer that you not."

Slack-jaw just shrugs, and asks me to sign the paperwork, stating that everything was delivered in good order, and that the haul-away occured.

"Do we need to change this?" I inquired.

"Oh," he says, "yeah. Because we didn't haul away. We have to change that now, or they won't do it later."


So, I ask when I WILL actually see my mattress, and he calls dispatch customer service or whatever. He tells me that I need to talk to her, so I get on the phone with a pleasant woman who seems to have a head on her shoulders. She advises me that my service representative had set up only the delivery of the box spring and pillows today, and that most likely he had forgotten to add the mattress once it arrived at the warehouse on Wednesday.

I let her know that he had said that it was coming in on Wednesday, and that he needed until Friday to get the whole package delivered which is how we ended up here.

She said that the mattress was in, but it was in Waukesha. I asked why in the world she would drag me away from work for a box spring, and further why they would waste the time, gas, and manpower to make two deliveres when the first was abject futility?

She once more blamed my service representative, and said that she could probably have my mattress on Monday's truck. I asked if there was a Saturday truck. She said that, yes, there was, but it was full.

I finally convinced her that it would be an awfully good idea to squeeze it in, which she finally did. Then I mentioned that the haul-away would also need to be accomodated for.

"Didn't they take that today?" came her reply.


No, I advised, because I probably might like to sleep somewhere tonight other than on the floor.

"It's a good thing you told me. I'll make sure it's on the paperwork."

Yeah toots - you do that.

Why, WHY are people so stupid? I expect this (unfortunately) from National Cheapo Chain Furniture Store, but not from the likes of them. I now understand why my customers keep coming back: We offer few errors with good communication and quality items at a fair price. That's it folks - that's the secret. If you're business chain contains a moron faction, the whole system is flawed. As such, the only remedy is to idiot-proof the system, or replace the morons. At my company, we've done both. The result? We have a ton of business during the lean times - such as right now - when all my sales representatives are telling me that other machine shops are struggling. Of course they are! I use some of those shops, and I can't tell you how many instructions are ignored or followed incorrectly; how many items are made incorrectly; how many phone calls go unanswered; how surly and unapproachable the client contacts are and on and on and on. THIS is why we are thriving in a lean market: We actually give a damn.

So, to American, I say this: Fix the problem, or you are doomed to mediocrity. If you want repeat business, get your shit together. I know that my business has been lost - but there is still hope for others. Don't continue to make the same mistakes.

To the remainder of businesses I offer this: Pay for quality, and monitor everything. Do quality checks and talk to your customers. You should know what you're doing right - so don't ask your customers that. Ask them what they don't like; ask them what you're doing wrong. This - and only this - will guarantee not only success, but utter success.

(05/26/08 - 11:07 AM)
Welcome back! If you thought that we were just being jerks and tormenting you with a glaring lack of entries then you're correct! Also, we were on vacation or something. I don't know - alot of people were saying stuff.

We decided to go and purchase a bed when we got home, and this opened up a whole new can of worms. Our current mattress set is about 13 years old, and in hindsight is in desperate need of replacement. Lately, Wanda hasn't been sleeping very well - if at all. And once we arrived at the hotel on Saturday night, halfway to our destination, I realized when I laid on the bed that I was probably missing something by not having replaced my own sooner. Because it felt nothing like that one.

When we originally purchased our current set, we were alot more strapped for cash. But after sleeping on a $99.00 futon matress (no frame) and then sleeping on an air mattress for a while (I really don't miss those days) we blew the wad and spent $800.00 and some change on a decent Sealy set. Again, this was thirteen years ago.

So, I figured it was time. We went to American, after making certain they had some sort of holiday sale going on. We got there early on Saturday, and found the higher-end Serta sets. The one we liked was about $1,300.00 (which was about what I figured on spending), but the salesperson mentioned that we may wish to try one more set before making a decision. How much did we know about TempurPedic, he asked?

Aside from the name and generalities brought on by television, nothing, we said. So, we followed him over to a supple, Nerf-like bed and had a lay down (I officially hate laying down on a bed while people in the store marvel at the sight, by the way.) It was... different. But, after a few moments it became clear that this bed was superior to the high-end one we had left behind only moments ago. The one we were perfectly ready to purchase.

"Alright," I asked, "How much is this one?" My guesstimate? $2,300.00. I wasn't even close...

All told, the magnificent work of craftsmanship we were currently prone upon was - sale priced - at $4,173.00. But hey, that was with tax.

Four thousand dollars for a bed? Who PAYS that kind of money? We liked it, but - man.

Of course, after walking around for ten minutes discussing it, and after laying on the two candidates once more, one after the other, we bought it.


To alleviate my having to run to the other bank to make a transfer, I figured we'd simply take advantage of two years free interest by obtaining an American card. For those of you who don't know me, my credit is impeccable. If I ask for a $1,000 line, I get twelve. It's really no ones business, and I'm blessed to have such resources that lead to such good credit. So, if I seem insincere, I apologize. I only mention this fact because of what happened next.

We were declined, pending further processing. WHAT? I have never - never - been denied credit. Anywhere. Not since I was sixteen, and Sears said, "Piss off." My assets outweigh my debts, and my credit score just gets better with age.

So, I figured there had been some mistake. The customer service representative said that they could not tell me why credit had been tentatively denied for legal reasons, but perhaps there was something we had not mentioned? She also mentioned that it did happen once in a while, which made me even more concerned. If it was an everyday event, then fine. Maybe there were some tough credit strictures. But "once in a while" was disturbing to hear.

Now, I know she was doing her job, but I was pissed. What she was saying was, "I don't know you from Adam, but apparently you did something wrong in the past, or forgot to pay something." And I can't fault her for her delicate tact, either. She also mentioned that maybe something had not matched between the form, and the actual credit report. I asked her to call it in again, and the same result came about. This time, though, she asked us how much we made (it's in the report) and where my wife worked. WHAT?

So, I just paid for the thing, and let her know that I was a bit irritated. I then asked for the whole sequence of events to be rescinded. I no longer wanted an American card, thank you. But, she said she couldn't do that. There was no way to stop the process, even though I was not approved.

Now, I was freaking out. I called my Banker and my Broker on my way home, but could only reach my Broker. He knows my credit, and was dumbfounded that a retail store would not extend me $4,000.00 in credit. He suggested that either something fraudulent was occuring, or the report was somehow in error. Nothing else made sense to him.

So, I stopped by the office on the way home, and pulled both my and Wanda's credit reports. They were perfect, with the exception of the fact that Wanda's said she was born in the year zero, and that she had no employer. This was from Experian (the agency American stated they were using), one of the three agencies who handles credit along with Equifax and TransUnion. The latter two had been used on us before, but to my knowledge, no one had ever pulled an Experian report. If they had, they would have realized that my wife was apparently an unemployed, two-thousand and eight year old hottie.

I'm still bitter and embarrassed, but for no good reason I suppose. I'm just used to getting what I want, and not being humiliated in front of several people who I do not know, who are all thinking privately, "Here's another deadbeat who thinks he's got good credit".

Well, I do. Dammit.

But, I digress. The rest of that afternoon went off without flaw, and I look forward to our new bed and some pleasant nights of sleep.

(11/21/07 - 10:04 PM)
Tonight, we had to run to a local store to purchase caramel for a concoction that we were making for Thanksgiving. Normally, I abhor the local stores, as they are:

A. ) Politically evil
B. ) Overpriced *(unless you have the super-special mega-saver bar-code key-tag whiz-bang "savings" card. Then they're overpriced and offensive to my intellect and sensibility)

The prior only had Magic Shell (which Wanda had never heard of, to my surprise) so we headed to the latter.

We arrived. We found one of the last two remaining things of caramel syrup. We went to checkout. We were going to make it! Nothing stupid or untoward had happened! A flawless trip to the store and then...

Then the cashier. The cashier looked as though he had taken a moment to get off of his skateboard to insert himself behind a register for just long enough to be able to purchase the new copy of "Thrash!" magazine, a couple of doobies and some fast food. The kid looks at our lonely little jar of caramel on the belt, looks at us and says, "The self-checkout broke?"

WOW. Okay, I figured I was in the mood, so I said, "No. We just thought that you might like to keep your job."

Undeterred, he parried with, "Oh, they'll never take over our jobs."

Now I was on a roll. "Give them time. With that attitude, they will."

Now he's into it too. And he's got all the answers, "No, see, they don't work with big orders. Plus, alot of people can't figure them out or are scared of them (at this point I get a look that says 'Like you are'). So they'll never take over."

In for a penny, in for a pound (rule, Brittania!), "Technology changes - fast. Give them time. And people will change if their options are limited and forced upon them. So they could - and probably will - take over."

"Nah", he says, "Never happen."

Lamont, eat your heart out; you're accidentially trying to lose your job - this guy was giving his away.

(07/07/07 - 11:23 PM)
My wife went to Farm & Fleet today to get a few things. Someone spoke over the loudspeaker, "So and so to the Ag department please".

The woman in front of her immediately turned to her significant other and said, "They have eggs here? I didn't know that. I need milk and bacon too." *(I'm telling it like I remember it - it might not have been those two specific things she was looking for, but the point is made nonetheless.)

We are soooooo doomed.

(06/30/07 - 10:32 PM)
I went to buy paint at a store yesterday that rhymes with "Rome Repo", only to find that the paint I wanted was available in 2- and 5-gallon containers. The deal was, that the 2-gallon containers were on sale. As I required ten gallons, I would save $34.00 if I bought it in 2-gallon increments.

"Great!", I told the guy. "Sign me up."

There was just one problem, he went on. They had just spilled a 2-gallon container and it would require cleanup that might take a while. Maybe 5-gallons would be better after all. I told him that I had a few minutes, even though his partner had already begun mixing my 5-gallons anyway.

So I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. And then I went to look, and the cleanup had not yet even begun to happen in earnest. There was simply paint everywhere.

Again, I was asked if I was sure that I didn't just want the five gallon containers. What I was not asked was if they could get a Manager for me, to approve the 2-gallon price on the 5-gallons because of their inability to sell me what I required. I'm going back tomorrow to have it out with the Manager. For, you see - the sale is now over.

To me, this doesn't seem hard. Customer satisfaction should be paramount. What ever happened to that?

(05/12/07 - 10:32 PM)
My brother and I took my mother out to a local Indian restaurant (not the "Woo-woo" & tomahawk kind - the other one) for Mother's day, as it is one of her favorites, and one of the few that my brother and his wife can eat at, as they are both level 5 vegans with +2 stamina.

Now, this place has never been known for having the sharpest employees. My experience has been that you attempt to order what it is that you want, and cross your fingers that the staff doesn't contradict you somewhere between your table and the kitchen - which happens often.

As I said, we've had our fair share of issues in the past, but nothing insurmountable. Personally, I would have stopped going there long ago, as I have a very low tolerance for this sort of behavior. But I endure because the rest of my immediate family likes the place, and most of the folks there are genuinely good-hearted people.

This all changed last night. Last night was alternately like Dante's fourth circle and an episode of "Twin Peaks" - I just couldn't believe I was experiencing this surreal nightmare, but it turned out to all be true.

For whatever reason, no matter when we have gone in the past, there have always been plenty of seats. Tonight was different. Party after party after party came in like breakers on a foreign shore - and the parties got larger and larger. Initially, my brother was happy for the restauranteurs - they had been good to him, and he enjoyed seeing them succeed.

We were asked how many in our party by a dreamy-eyed woman, who promptly parroted "five" and then proceeded to just walk away. No problem, we figure - she's getting us a table or something.

Nope; but thanks for playing.

So, several minutes later, a busboy asked the same question, and took us to a table - a table that was already set and ready to go. Suddenly, the woman swoops out of nowhere, and shoos him away. THEN, she proceeds to move everything laterally by one table - the chairs, the place settings - everything. I failed to see the logic in this - it seemed downright stupid, actually - but I figured she knew something that I did not (she didn't, it turned out). So we sat, and read what we thought were menus left for us to order from. In fact, she had left five wine lists, and no menus at all. Which is great if we were a pack of lush's or stereotypical hobos; but if you wanted to eat, it made it hard to order.

Anyway, we got situated, and menus eventually appeared - but not enough for all of us. That was okay, we managed and continued to once again be happy about their good fortune and success. Everything would be fine from here on out.

God, we're suckers.

Our "waitress" (in name only) returned, and took our drink orders, and appetizer orders. Then she disappeared for a good long while. Eventually, we received our drinks, but not before another fellow came over to take our drink and appetizer orders - in conjunction with our dinner order. So, we advised him that we had placed the former already, and then proceeded to place the latter.

Then, an intermission occured, as the restaurant filled to a point that would make any good fire marshall cringe - and the waiters now had nowhere to move around - so they just plowed through wherever they could - including behind my wife's head. As we watched the restaurant fill to capacity, we witnessed a party of six or so get seated - at a table with five chairs. For nearly thirty minutes, the good-natured fellow at the head of the table stood, waiting for a chair. I figured that was his problem - I personally wouldn't have stood for it (no tongue in cheek intended, but take them as you can get them, right?)

Our dinners finally came - FINALLY - only there was yet another new twist. My brother and his wife, as I mentioned are vegans. This means that they think all animals are cute enough to save, so they won't let any be killed, used, or milked for their benefit. On top of their dishes - dishes they had ordered for years and years - was a drizzled puddle of cream. When asked, the waitress replied that, yes, it was indeed cream. They informed her that the dish did not used to include cream, and that they could not eat it. The waitress mumbled something (I should have listened more closely, as I already felt a blog post coming on) about it "always having done so", and took it away with a vengeance in her eyes. Everything that we asked for thereafter, she promptly ignored and we had to accost the remaining wait staff to get whatever it was that we needed. She was not seen again thereafter at our table.

Then, when their dishes were finally rectified, we thought we could begin eating. But - wait - where was the rice that my Mom had ordered? Nope, can't eat quite yet. >SIGH<

We also watched as the wait staff (not ours, the other ones) refilled water time and again at the tables surrounding ours - but our waitress seemed to have disappeared to Lord knew where.

Now, I love my Mom but at this point I was ready to walk out and take her to Taco Bell and call it a night. We finally finished our meal and - forty minutes later - we flagged down a waiter who was not our own to ask for the check and boxes. Instead, we got little bowls - and little else. In the end, we just moseyed up to the counter and looked indignant. This got results, and soon the check was paid.

I managed to hold my tongue through most of it. My brother tried to put a positive spin on things, and my Mom guised her displeasure in sympathy. I was having none of it, and I believe my comment was that, had I been by myself, I would have grabbed the nearest person resembling a waitron and said, "You're going to need to pray to all of your gods - even the evil ones - in about four seconds if you don't get it together, bub." But hey - that's just the manager in me. You know, the one who began to analyze the situation about two minutes in and parsed out ways that the staff - were they my own - could (and should) have done things differently to compensate for the overwhelming crowd.

I have not been so relieved to leave somewhere in so very long.

(04/15/07 - 11:20 AM)
I have a Levelor cellular shade in my basement, that cost $80.00 American. I have had it for 52 months, and it exploded. I am disappointed - I loved this blind, and I had taken great care to make it a perfect fit within my window aperture so that my wall appeared in some ways seamless. Oh well.

So, I went to the local orange box store to purchase a new blind. I measured - twice - and rather than leaving the sizing in the hands of anyone but lil' old me, I asked the lady doing the cutting to cut it EXACTLY at 70 1/4" to fit my window aperture. So, she removes her tape measure, and the niblet flies off. She stares at it on the floor, as though it might somehow mystically return to her, and then gives up, kicking it away. I should have known right then and there that this would not go well.

So, she tries to measure the blind with her now debilitated tape measure. I attempt to help her by showing her a little trick I like to call "moving up to the next inch to get an accurate measurement", and she seems to grok - seems to - she isn't speaking a whole lot, just a lot of nods.

So she does her little measurement, followed by the slot-machine pull on the blind cutter. That done, she places the now shorter blind back in the tube, and off I go.

Now, I know better than to just leave - I know that I should run to the nearest tool aisle and fine me a tape measure that isn't a recent niblet-amputee to make certain that she did as I asked - but for some strange reason, I experienced a momentary faith in humanity.

So, we get the little bugger home, and - lo and behold - it's all of 68 11/16" long. How is this even CLOSE to 70 1/4"?


So, now I have two problems:

  • I'm really lazy
  • I have to convince someone at the store that it was employee error - and not stupid shopper guy

So, I run back to the store, and for some reason they refund without question. So far, so good.

Then, I go to get a new blind from a woman that I can only describe as "a walking white-trash stereotype", and I find myself compelled to tell my tale. I am motivated to make certain that these people know that I am not a retard who can't measure.

To my surprise, the woman looks at me, gives a half smile, and says, "I'm not surprised whatsoever. But I'm keeping my mouth shut."

So, if this is an ongoing problem, who is addressing the fact that an employee is mutilating blinds at $80.00 a crack?


(03/31/07 - 10:04 PM)
We went to Woodman's today. I bought some hamburger. Now, for any of you who have previously purchased hamburger on your own, you know that it comes in different states of lean-ness, based on which part of ol' Bessie was ground up to make it; 3%, 7%, etc. You also know that unless you're purchasing a national brand, it's wrapped in-store on cute little foam trays with plastic wrap. And those that are wrapped like this, are sold by the pound. And a little sticker on the package tells you how much it costs, based on the weight, less the tare. With me so far?

Okay, so for anyone who's bought hamburger more than three times, this is pretty much standard knowledge (even you cheese purchasers out there could probably get this.)

So imagine my surprise when the fifty-something checker lady gets to my bag containing five packages of 10% lean and asks, "Are these all the same?"

"Yep." I replied.

She looks at the bag, rifles through it, and then looks at me with scorn in her eyes. Her tone changes, "These are NOT the same. You said these were the same, but they're all different prices."

Really? REALLY?

I don't know what to think now, so I said, "Yes, they are all the same product - but they're sold by the pound."

"Well, yeah," she says, "But they're not all the same weight. I thought you meant that you had five all the same weight."

Who in the hell even ASKS a question like that, then?

My God, will someone please open a clinic for the clinically stupid? And HURRY.

(03/23/07 - 10:18 PM)
We went to the bank today. Oh, yeah, and the teller shorted us $100.00 on our deposit. Now, this isn't as bad as the time the teller gave me $12,000.00 extra dollars on my deposit (third best three minutes of my life, after being married and cashing the flip check, respectively.)

But, I had to fight to get it back (I guess this is how alimony must feel). I explained to her that I believed there was an error. I watched her do a bunch of flitting things with her fingers, pick up what I assume to be portions of the transaction, talk animatedly to herself and gesture ALOT with her hands while doing so, etc. Two minutes later, she says that she feels the deposit was correct, as all the items all added up to her number, and would I like to confirm this for myself? Oh, did I mention that she did this into the intercom of the next car over, and not mine? I'm pretty sure I did...

Yep, I would like to check it, I said. So, she sends the stuff out. My deposit, its components, and a tape she ran to show that her work was right. There was just one little problem. When you put her tape next to my list o' deposited items, the top item read "$100.00" on hers, and "$200.00" on mine. And there was $200.00. So, I decided that maybe she just hadn't seen this when she re-enetered everything a second time from my deposit slip and subsequently checked it and decided she was right...

What the hell is wrong with people? I'm all about forgiving mistakes. But, c'mon... when you re-add numbers you make up, and then put them side by side and don't see a simple $100.00 error? How the hell can you work in a bank like this?

"Hi! I'm a colorblind artist. I'm also regular-blind too, but that doesn't stop me from creating great art! Er, at least they tell me it's great..."

Lamont *(see below), do you have a white, female, aquiline-nosed cousin working at the bank?


(03/16/07 - 9:17 PM)
We have a new WalMart up here in our neck of the woods (late night, bass-laden traffic, here you come!). So, we decided to check it out last night. Clean, spacious, different color pallette. Yep, everything was in order until... the checkouts.

Lamont... Lamont was his name. This automaton who could not operate his cash-register machine properly. For you see, Lamont forgot to scan in my DVD. And I had to gently remind him that while it was in the bag, it wasn't paid for. And while that was super nice of him, I simply could not accept his unreciprocated gift.

So, Lamont scanned my DVD. And my wife said, "I have that Visa gift card from Christmas, why don't we use that?" Ah, sound reasoning indeed.

So she slid it through the terminal. Lamont responded by hitting the appropriate key on his terminal, and all was bliss. Until...

The screen came up on the customer terminal for a signature, indicating that the card had been initially accepted by the terminal and that the transaction was nearly complete. Halfway through her signing her name, I saw Lamont in the corner of my eye reach forward and press a button. The signature screen disappeared and resumed asking for payment of some sort. Huh?

Then, Lamont speaks up inasmuch as he can. For you see, I can only assume that Lamont was in some horrible accident that robbed him of the use of his tongue and lower jaw - that, or he's a student of the venerable art of ventriliquism. At any rate, he looks at us and says, "It's declined."

What? How can it be declined when you ended the transaction during the signing phase? Okay, keep cool Heath, no problem. He's probably new, walk him through this. "Try it again dear." And then to Lamont, "This time, don't clear it during the signature. It should work fine."

I thought I saw comprehension in his dull eyes. A latent nod of assent, perhaps. So we tried it again. As Wanda was signing, I once again watched his hand creep toward the keyboard. And, once again, the screen dissipated while my wife was signing. Okay, now I was becoming cranky.

"Did you clear it again?", I asked pointedly.

Without blinking, ol' Lamont, he looks at me and says, "Yeah, it was declined."

"No," I said, "It wasn't declined. You pressed the button while she was signing. Why did you do that?"

Without moving his lips, tongue hanging in limbo and in a barely audible manner with a face blanker than a virgin canvas, he responds in what can only be classified as a slow drawl, "Cuz it tol' me to."

All I could think was, if it tol' you to rip off your foot and put it in your mouth, you'd probably do that too (okay, actually I was thinking about a distinctly male appendage and his ear, but it's the same premise.)

What the hell is wrong with people? He can see she's signing - that the transaction is incomplete - so of course no money has changed hands - the transaction isn't done, moron. It's not declined, it's just not done. It WILL work. It ALWAYS does.

I like cake.

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