Monday, July 30, 2012

How Can I Not Help You Today?

At the supermarket:

We are walking along, looking for my allergy medication. An overly cheerful woman approaches and asks, "What are you looking for today?"

Sometimes, the employees are trying to be helpful. Most of the time, I get asked this in West Omaha because I'm a little too dark for the neighbourhood, and they think I'm going to steal. This happens a lot. I can tell the difference between the employee that is forced to ask this of everyone, or the question being posed with the, "I've got my eye on you dark person" vibe. Today, I'm pretty sure she was trying to be helpful.

So great, I was in a hurry and in an unfamiliar store, and for once there was something I needed help with-a "win-win" as the kids say.

"Where's the Benadryl?" I asked.
"Oh, let's see..." she wandered down a few aisles with us following. I wasn't sure if she knew what Benadryl was, but she didn't know where it was. That's OK, I really do feel bad for workers being forced into the role of helper when they clearly can't do much save for walk the same aisles you were walking at the outset.
"That's OK" I told her," We can find it."
"Oh. Wait, there was a recall-they came and took it all, that's why we can't find it on the shelf."

I was surprised by this, as I am signed up for FDA recall notices, and get a slew of them in my email each day. Benadryl would be a pretty major one to have missed.

"Well that's a drag. I guess we'll use something else."
"Yeah" she agreed, "They do these recalls and they have to take everything, generic, name brand, all of it."

Now I thought that sounded odd, because they are all different manufacturers. That would be like saying all aspirin was recalled, across the board. I turned to leave the aisle when I spotted the Benadryl, generic and regular, liquid and pill, and capsule etc. all lined up for sale.

"Here it is." I pointed to the medication display.

"Oh, I guess they didn't recall it." She mumbled and wandered away to find someone else in need of unsolicited help.

This is the new customer service technique where they waste your time being cheerful and helpful. Mr. ETB had someone tell him they didn't carry a product we'd been purchasing at a certain store for quite some time (he doesn't usually shop and needed help finding it) and the department manager gave him her card, and said she would order the item...that was one aisle over from where they were looking-in a department she manages. In USALand the appearance of helpfulness is good enough.

Stop asking me if I "found everything I'm looking for" when the expectation is I will respond, "Yes", and you can return to whatever it is you do. I promise not to approach you and ask for help if you will stop pouncing on me in the aisles with forced cheerfulness and offers of help you cannot possibly provide.

Now get off of my lawn.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the checker at Kroger who asked me if I found everything. Usually I answer yes because I know they have to ask and I don't want to hold up the line.

Since I was the only person at the register, I truthfully answered that I couldn't find the Dr. Bronner's products.

Her reply: "Then I guess we don't have them."

I want you to know that your site is thought-provoking, inspirational and a pleasure to read.