Did You Find What You Were Looking For?

Did You Find Everything You Were Looking For?

“No. I thought I’d be in a different place at this point in my life”, I said, as my canned tomatoes were being dragged across the barcode reader. Beep. Next, the cat litter goes by. Beep. The cashier doesn’t even hear what I say. “I mean, I feel kind of empty inside, as if something is missing, and I just don’t know what to do.” The customer behind me doesn’t know whether to pack it up and find another register or see what happens next.

This nicety of asking about my shopping experience has become so commonplace and insincere, that I feel stupid giving a straight answer anymore. The only good thing is this annoying question seems to have replaced the “paper or plastic” question. I don’t even let them ask me that one anymore. I don’t give them time. Before the register is even done regurgitating that mile-long ribbon of useless coupons for the customer finishing up in front of me, I am holding my shopping bags up over my head, waving them frantically, so they can be taken from me before I hurt someone.

As my bags are traveling through the air at the speed of light, all sense of balance and rhythm is interrupted, and no question of bag preference can be asked of me at this point. Defeated, the bagger takes my assorted shopping bags in silence, looking around for support, feeling great shame at not having been able to ask me that question.  The 47 pins on his apron, undoubtedly earned for various good deeds of grocery store heroism, seem almost meaningless now. I have won again.

These customer service tag-lines have become rather silly.  And someone is going to get hurt. Don’t thank me for my patience through the screen of my iPad.  You have a cartoon face and a bubble over your head that says “Live Chat.”  How do you know if I am being patient or not? In fact, I’m not.  I’m downright cranky. Just ask my family what I have been doing while you looked up my order and pretended to check with your manager about offering me free shipping.  They’ll tell you that I was screaming bloody murder and vowing never to shop with you again.  It’s called fictus humanitatem syndrome or Fake Courtesy Syndrome.  It’s inescapable. You get it in person, on the phone, on a live chat and by email.  And now on the new iPhone 50th generation.

“This call is being recorded for quality assurance.”   How does the recording of this call assure quality, I am wondering.  Well, it doesn’t. You can’t fool me with that one. Yes you got me for a while when I thought you really cared about whether or not I found the macaroni. But not this.  I call and complain about a transaction (after being thanked for my patience while on hold of course, yet simultaneously punished with an odd rendition of Delta Dawn) and I’m asked “Who did you speak with about that?”  Companies know we won’t remember who we spoke with 3 weeks ago.  They’re counting on that. This allows them to say, “Well m’am I really can’t help you if I don’t know who you spoke to. My hands are tied.”

And just when I think I’ve got them, as I joyously exclaim that it was Rene, yes I’m quite sure of it, a lovely woman named Rene, who promised me a refund, I am then asked for a last name. I’m told that a last name would be the only way to find Rene, since there are 1200 people in the call center.  (Because I’m sure if I had a last name this whole thing could surely just go away, right?)  “I don’t know her last name,” I say, “but didn’t you record the call? For my assurance of quality?  Where is this recording? Let’s listen to it together.”

At this point I’ve been on the phone so long that I’ve cleaned the litter box, paid my bills, used the bathroom, bought something on eBay, and already had time to hate it enough to return it. I am starting to grow on this person at the other end of the phone, or wear her down, I’m not sure which. It’s almost over now, I can feel it….even without Rene’s help, and this woman now promises me the world.  My victory, of course, comes with the appropriate amount of scolding, being told that they are doing me a very big favor by honoring their promise and standing behind their product. Most people don’t get this kind of star treatment. And next time I won’t be so fortunate. They’re extending to me a courtesy and I should be incredibly grateful.  I agree with her and vow never to be so stupid again.  I take the verbal beating because I’ve run out of things to talk to my therapist about, and this has passive-aggressive all over it. “Why do you think you let this stranger talk to you in this manner?” He will relate it to having been breast-fed for too long, or being a middle child or something.  But I digress……..

I want to make sure this customer service representative follows through with her promise, yet somehow I don’t trust that good things will happen after we disconnect.  But I am prepared for the next battle. This time I am one step ahead of the game. So as we kiss goodbye on the phone, with an agreement that I will never be such an idiot ever again, and with wishes to one another to have a magnificent weekend, I ask for her last name, you know, just in case.  “Oh, we’re not allowed to give out our last names.”

To all of you shoppers out there, I hope you find what you are looking for.









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