Behind the Counter Stupidity

I went to Macy’s department store yesterday to exchange a shirt for the same in a different size, receipt in hand. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Not when you’re being assisted by a stuper (short yet again, for an unblushingly stupid person).

There were three store clerks behind the counter in the men’s department to choose from:

  1. a petite, young man in his early twenties named Angel, who resembled a lost puppy that only just escaped the yard and longed to find his way back again;
  2. a tall, young man in his early thirties named Mike, who looked like he’d be most comfortable flat on his back, on a skateboard, working beneath a car; or
  3. a neatly dressed woman in her late fifties named Shelley, who looked like she could be running the department.

I picked Shelley not just because she appeared the most mature and capable, but also I liked the fact that she used a light, airy nickname for Michelle. I conjured up a friendly sort, slightly fun and vivacious. Her too neat and proper appearance plus her severe hair cut should have tipped me off.

I found the shirt I wanted in the correct size and paid Shelley a visit. I explained to her that I’d made the original purchase four days ago. Shelley scanned the item.

“Well, the price has gone up. It’s no longer on sale,” she informed me sternly. “You need to pay…(she paused to lean closer to and squint purposefully at the register)…$6.89.”

“Shouldn’t it be an even exchange?” I asked. “Did you look at the receipt?”

She gave me a look that could have lit a cigarette had one been dangling from my mouth.

“Just. Wait. One. Minute!” She snarled and turned her back to me. “Angel! This shirt is no longer on sale. And she expects to get the sale price anyway!”

Why do stupers speak so loudly? Never mind that Angel was touching distance away from her. I do not like to garner attention unless I’m the recipient of a major award accompanied by a large paycheck. And even then, I’d rather accept quietly and without fanfare. Ah, if only I’d chosen Angel.

He spoke softly to her (but my sharp ears caught his every word), “We want to keep the customers happy, so go ahead and make the exchange. Besides, she has the receipt.”

“Oh!” replied Shelley, as if these novel concepts never occurred to her. She grudgingly made the switch.

“I’d also like a price adjustment on three items. Dina, the manager, told me to come back this week with the receipt,” I said, knowing I had some nerve. Truly, Dina had told me that if I came back in a few days, there’d be an even better sale on three of the items I’d purchased. But Shelley was a veritable time bomb. She may not have had anything strapped on her back with remote in hand ready to detonate, but she was ticking all right.

Shelley turned her back to me and spoke to Angel in a voice clearly heard by patrons not only on all three floors (I was on the first), but at the Nordstrom’s a block away. “Can you believe it? Now she wants a price adjustment!!”

Before Angel could answer her, Shelley turned to me and said,

“Come back some time when Dina is here.”

Angel, the one who actually had a functioning head on his shoulders, told Shelley, “Just punch in the prices and use the sale code. That’ll make the adjustment.”

“Punch each one?” Shelley shouted. As she spoke to him, it appeared as though a fan had materialized in front of the helpful Angel and blew his carefully combed hair back, full force.

“Yes,” replied Angel, as he struggled to maintain his balance.

There were many things I wanted to say, but didn’t, as I realized they’d not be constructive. I also knew instinctively that if I didn’t stay quiet, I’d be delayed in getting what I wanted.

When Shelley completed her arduous task of punching in the code numbersĀ of the items, talking out loud all the while, she fixed her gaze on me. I thought I saw the faintest trace of a grin.

“There! That wasn’t so bad! I even learned something new!”

Overcoming stupidity takes persistence as well as patience. And it’s important to know when to speak and when to keep your expletive filled thoughts to yourself. This episode of stupidity provided a needed reminder for me that stupidity comes in all ages and appearances.



6 Responses to “Behind the Counter Stupidity”

  1. I had a similar problem at Sears last holiday season. I received a shirt from my sister that was not my style or size. But, instead of simply allowing a return (with the receipt I had, and the shirt still had its original tags) the manager refused to accept the return. (This was after the clerk started the return process. They said they couldn’t take it because it was an older item, even though they had the shirt on the floor. The clerk brought one back to the counter to show me it was at a sale price and couldn’t be returned for the original, which was fine by me, and that’s probably what garnered the manager’s attention.) After a call to the store, it took an angry email to the Web site to get them to return the shirt, which I got about $5 for. I bought two pairs of socks, paid the overage, and cut up my Sears card and have never been back inside a Sears since. I’m not a big fan of corporations, and if they can’t give me adequate customer service, I don’t give them the benefit of the doubt.

  2. M.C. says:

    There’s nothing worse than encountering a stuper behind the counter while trying to get some shopping done. God forbid you have a return!

  3. Suzie says:

    Today, most people do not like what they are doing.
    Unhappy about themselves, so they take it out on others.
    I am sure many, many people have had similar experiences, including

  4. Oh, you have just made me so much more excited to embark on my Christmas shopping. šŸ˜‰

  5. Starlily says:

    Common sense is such a desirable characteristic for anyone in customer service to have… that should definitely be a requisite for employment! And politeness and courtesy (which it sounds like Shelly was also lacking…) Kudos to you once again for your stuper patience!

  6. Agnes Mildew says:

    Michelle is a daft name, anyway…A bloke went to a fancy dress party with a girl carried piggy-back. He was asked what he had come as. He replied, A Snail…So, why’s the girl on your back? Oh, that’s Me Shell…(michelle)..Get it?!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.