Sunday, January 20, 2008

Life Lessons Learned at Target

Over the weekend I made a trip to Target to exchange some items. Most of the time I don't like going out to those big box stores, even Target, which I think employs the nicest people and demonstrates their compassion for the human race by providing reasonably wide aisles. But necessity called, and so I begrudgingly went. It's funny, though, how sometimes, in doing the very thing you don't want to do, you are gifted with a perfect moment that changes your life. This was my experience at Target that day. There I was, just standing in line at customer service, when BAM! Life handed me lemonade. Or something like that.

It all came about with a woman talking to a customer representative. Initially I couldn't hear her, but her arms were gesticulating so wildly that she looked like one of those old propeller planes, ready for takeoff. I really didn't need to hear what she was saying; those swinging arms alone said, "Hey, look at me, I'm pissed. I'm really pissed, and I'm going to tell you about it. And I'm not going to let you get in a word edgewise or use good grammar or even a polite tone, because I...AM...PISSED! This gives me license to curse and swing my arms and yell at someone who had nothing at all to do with my problem! And yes, I am wearing bedroom slippers to the store, but I can because I am ALL THAT and next time I'm going to come in my pajamas! Ha!"

Not only was she delightful, but she had the attention of the crowd. Let's face it, we all love a good show, especially when otherwise facing the boredom of standing in a long line. Finally, I got close enough to the front to hear her:

Bedroom Slipper Woman: "...and that was rude and I have never been treated like that and he just looked at me, he didn't say nothing! I saaaaaaaiiiiiid hello to him!"

Clerk: (Silence, passive face)

Bedroom Slipper Woman: "I said hello and that security guard, he just looked at me like this (takes break from spewing to offer an I'm too good for you and You are so slutty look) and so I said hello again and he just acted like he did not even SEE me!"

Clerk: (Silence)

Bedroom Slipper Woman: "And I have never been treated like that!"

Clerk: (Keeps quiet, passive look while choking back skeptical laugh)

This whole time, the bedroom slipper lady's head was just bobbing from side to side while she carried on. You know what I mean; it's the sort of action that is usually accompanied by an upper lip sneer and bulging eyes. I have to admit to some appreciation for the way she just let it all loose. You know that had to feel good and cathartic.

Finally, though, when she realized that she was not going to get any satisfaction from her silent clerk, she stomped off in her slippers to some unknown department where, I am sure, something else was awaiting to confront and offend her sensibilities. The clerk, now free to laugh, got that out of her system and then called the manager over. Since I was by now up at the counter myself, I got to overhear their conversation. The clerk explained how the security guard had offended this customer by not returning her glamorous, sensuous, exceedingly friendly smile and greeting--not just once, mind you, but twice. After a few back and forths about which guard, when it happened, etc., etc., etc., the manager asked a question that will forever change the way I deal with complaints of any kind:

"You know I value customer feedback," he said, "but just how much should I value this customer's feedback?"

Oh, doors opened, bells rang out, and I was forever freed from the onerous belief that all feedback is equal! Because, my friends, we all know that it is not.

There are those who, when they complain, do it in a way that garners respect and a desire to help. But then there are the others. You know who I mean. Bedroom Slipper Woman. Complaining boss/parent/editor/whoever wanting to pass the buck or just vent for a while. Pissed off person in the lane next to you, flipping you off because he refused to merge two miles back where the sign said to, but instead flew to the front of the line and now he can't get in. These people used to upset me, but you know what? Now I'm just going to sit back and ask myself, Just what kind of value should I place on this feedback? I can feel the stress sliding off of me right now just thinking about it.

Thank you, Target manager, where ever you are, for the gift you unwittingly bestowed. May the gods of commerce bless you and keep you until the end of your days. Amen.


moi said...

See! That proves Moi's ever-loving point: it's a small, slippery slope from wearing bedroom slippers just this once out in public and full on, for sure, you betcha C-R-A-Z-Y.

sparringK9 said...

yeeeeeeeeees. and all opinions are not equal either. i was freed long long ago. i recently delighted in my ability to be judgemental. it was almost as good as your trip to tarjeh.

*scuff scuff scuff* walking away in slippers....../not!

Wicked Thistle said...

Moi: Amen, sister! Amen!

she: There really is something so freeing about flicking away an unworthy opinion like the annoying fly that it is. I call it separating the wheat from the chaff, and it feels goooooood.

Anonymous said...

here in okrahoma, one gets a lot of practice at the game of flicking away the unworthy opinion.

and speaking of our chosen foodstuffs/armament:

Gold Star Question from dr science dot com:
Given the logically sound advice "If Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade", I must ask, what is the corollary in the event that life has given one okra?

moi said...

Perhaps this particular answer is a wee bit simplistic for the Wicked Famblee's very, very large brains, but perhaps when life hands you okra, you don't ask questions, you just batter dip it, fry it, dunk it in Ranch dressing, and gain a few pounds.

Anonymous said...

Correct: asking questions will only get you into more trouble...batter-frying something, not so much.

big brains...heh.

Doris Rose said...

Fry it!
..and let's ALL register at Target-Temple of Wisdom and Commerce.

Wicked Thistle said...

Moi: Yes, the answer the every question is, "Fry it!" Deep fried *anything* always trumps intellect, and my famblee is living proof of that. Girl, we got our priorities.

aj: I say we add a new component to our Porchwhine Togetherness Time: Deep Fried Stuff. Mmm, battery stuff and hot oil...

DR: I still love this idea. How much would Target change our lives if we would only let them??

Anonymous said...

> aj: I say we add a new component
> to our Porchwhine Togetherness
> Time: Deep Fried Stuff.
> Mmm, battery stuff and hot oil...

remember that robert andy and zak march (for good or ill) under my banner yet. what all do you suppose might end up being Deep Fried? well, moot point. we'll probably still try it, whatever it is.