Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Retail Elves

Can we talk for a moment about people who work retail?  Over the years, I've envisioned myself doing retail - the hours, the holidays, the customers, and can say with a good bit of confidence that I could never do that job.  Never.  This may be surprising to some because superficially at least, retail and restaurant work have some strong similarities.  They obviously both involve customer service and money and not necessarily 9-5 hours, but, for me, they are incredibly different jobs.  I mean, seriously, being a librarian is way more like being a server in a restaurant than I imagine working retail would ever be.

I did a little shopping over the weekend and was unbelievably impressed with the level of service I received, both in person and over the telephone.  And I was one of those annoying people - you know, the kind of person you typically get stuck behind in a line.  My first shopping expedition was a telephone order to Best Buy.  I couldn't find my Best Buy account number (because I cut up most credit cards and use my driver's license to access my account), but, wanted to enjoy the 18 months interest free financing they offer.  Have you seen the price of an XBox 360 w/Kinect?!  I had a frustrating time on the phone because apparently Best Buy and the bank they use aren't allowed to share information, so my account number was inaccessible.  I resorted to phoning the Saratoga Springs location (which had the item I needed) and spoke with a woman who was amazingly helpful - she found the items, put them aside for me and then took care of the transaction for me.  And did all this with patience and competency - what more can you ask?

Later in the day, my friend and I took a painting break - we needed to get out of the house to sober up, to be honest.  Painting does mean indulging in substances which may cause mild intoxication, right?  Anyway...we headed to (the good) Macy's and spent a couple of quality hours shopping.  There were some good deals, the crowds were bearable and the service was excellent.  I made a couple of purchases in different departments and was consistently taken care of with pleasant capableness, even with my coupons and rewards tag. 

My final shopping experience of the weekend took place at the Best Buy in Saratoga when I went to pick up my previous day's purchase.  The place was busy and the lines were lengthy, but the cashier was friendly, did her job well and didn't make me feel rushed and that was despite the fact that I wanted to return the 3 items I had purchased the day before only to re-purchase them using a store account.  Yes - I was that person.  And then, when my transaction was completed, I inquired about the extended warranty available for my purchase and there wasn't even an eye roll.  Remarkable.

I don't know if it is a function of the economy making jobs harder to come by thus people are working harder to retain their positions, or if the tightness of the job market has compelled more qualified people to take previously less desirable jobs, but the end result is a retail workforce that has been an unexpected pleasure to deal with as a customer.  The jury may still be out on whether Santa exists, but, I for one, know that there are elves helping to make the holidays brighter.  Thank you, retail workers.  I value your assistance and will try to match your competence by being effusive in my praise and appreciation. 


  1. Never thought to drink while painting. I find beer makes the occasional bowling excursion much better. Maybe I will enjoy painting more the next time...

  2. I can totally see you being that person. I find ppl that are like that make for better servers(etc) bc they go above and beyond. This obv rings true in you. I'm coming over after xmas to play kinect with your children btw.