You Won These Rounds

, , , , , , | Working | January 30, 2020

(My wife just closed a large transaction that took the better part of a year — a year of stress and constantly being on-call evenings and weekends. She wants to celebrate by purchasing the newest video game console, which features portability as well as easy connectivity to your TV. We head to the store near our house and pick out several games; this store has been advertising a “Buy Two, Get One Free” sale on their games that we want to take advantage of. It’s Halloween evening, so the store is rather packed and busy, and every employee looks exhausted. With our console and games in hand, we head up to the electronics register and…)

Wife: “All six games scanned at full price; two of them should be scanning as free.”

(The poor kid behind the register looks like it’s his third day of his first job — a bit lost and unsure of himself — but my wife and I have both worked retail and customer service:)

Wife: *very gently* “Can we suggest that a manager would be able to help?”

(While waiting for the manager, I do some quick searching on my phone and discover that the store’s sale only applies to very select games; this is not in the fine print on the advertising or their website, as only one game is listed excluded there, but on in-store signage. It’s shady marketing to get you into the store, but definitely not the fault of the employees or store; these are the kinds of decisions corporate makes. We make polite conversation about the games to the kid — really, he can’t be older than 18 — who seems to perk up a bit despite apologizing every three seconds. When the manager arrives, she listens to the situation, and after a few minutes of checking their system, she zeroes out two of the games and we are all set! When we arrive home, I begin setting up the console while my wife unboxes the games — a couple of the most popular releases have booklets with a lot of flavor and lore, and she’s looking forward to the one regarding a particular green-tunic-wearing character.)

Wife: “There’s no cartridge.”

(I stop, because there absolutely should be a cartridge. The game was shrink-wrapped, inside a box with two circular plastic seals, inside a locked cabinet. My wife silently holds up two thick pieces of black plastic that resemble a game cartridge.)

Wife: “This was in the cartridge slot.”

(We frantically check the box and paperwork for a code, despite the fact that the game should not be a digital download. Inspecting the box reveals that one of the circular seals has been opened and replaced. Doing more online searching, we come to this conclusion:)

Me: “Someone has bought the game, opened the box, stolen the cartridge, placed plastic in there to show a black profile when looking through the plastic case, re-shrink-wrapped the box, and then returned it. Even ignoring the actual crime of theft, it screws the next customer — pretty awful stuff.”

(There was really no way of proving this to the store, but I headed back, anyway, to see if anything could be done. I explained everything that had just happened to customer service, who called over a manager to investigate further. It was the same manager as before! She spoke with the electronics kid and he vouched for us, saying that we were very polite and understanding with the wait. The manager authorized an exchange for another copy of the game, which I then opened on the counter in front of them… just in case! Thinking back over the entire evening, the manager and employees could have very easily told us “no” twice and would have been completely within the rules, but went out of their way to accommodate us. I often deal with suspicious situations in my work, where it looks obvious that people are trying to scam us. This was a good reminder that bad situations can happen to good people who can’t prove they weren’t at fault, and also to treat your retail workers kindly because they’re human beings like you!)

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Corny But Sweet

, , , , | Right | January 25, 2020

(My father and I are shopping at a well-known supermarket the week of Thanksgiving, and on our way out, Dad is looking for a place to park one of the electric carts he now uses regularly. We end up near one of the crane games with the plushies and the company employee is filling it up. It’s my first time seeing the machine open.)

Me: “Oh, look! I always wondered how they filled those up!”

Employee: “Well, there you have it.”

Me: “That’s very cool! Oh, look, Dad! It’s a candy corn!”

(And indeed it is a plush candy corn, with cat ears and tail, arms and legs, and a smiley face on it. The employee takes it out and hands it to me, so I show my father. I try to hand it back, but she tells me to keep it.)

Employee: “It’s left over from Halloween. We’re getting rid of it anyway.”

Me: “Thank you very much!”

(I’ve never been good at the crane games, so getting that toy, cheap as it may be, was a real treat for me and made my whole day. Many thanks to that kind employee!)

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The Epic Of The Babies Of Beanie

, , , , , , , | Right | January 24, 2020

(This is during the Beanie Baby craze of the mid-90s. The one store in our small town that sells these fuzzy toys is getting a new shipment which is said to contain a few special releases — one of which turns out to be the new Princess Bear released in honor of the late Princess Diana — and the usual group of customers line up before the shop opens that morning to be sure of getting one. The store only allows each customer to get two of a new release, as supplies are limited. I have a dental appointment scheduled for later in the morning, so Mom agrees to just let me skip school and come with her. While we wait, we chat with the other customers and everyone is generally friendly and excited. But there’s one woman who keeps inching her way up the line. She’ll talk to someone for a few minutes and then turn to talk to the person in front of them and step forward. A couple of minutes later, she’ll start talking to the person in front of them and step forward again. Everyone has noticed and is annoyed by it, but no one wants to call her out and risk an altercation.)

Mom: *leans down to whisper to me* “They’re going to open any minute now, and I’m going to deal with her. Go get our Beanies and wait for me by the postcard racks.”

(Mere seconds later, the door is unlocked, and as we’re the first in line, Mom opens the door… and then steps aside to hold it open for the rest of the line, effectively blocking this woman from going inside. She stands there holding the door until the last little old lady has hobbled in, and only then steps aside and gestures the line cutter to enter. By this point, everyone else has gotten their toys and gone to check out. There’s only one of the Princess Bears left, and none of the other new release. The woman is furious, but the staff are polite yet unsympathetic; they saw her cutting the line, too.) 

Mom: *joins me in browsing the antiques while we wait for the line to fade* “And that’s how you handle line cutters. Did you get the bears?”

Me: “Yup. And they let me have yours, too, so we can each buy two of them.” 

Mom: “Good. Pick yourself out a couple of postcards for your collection, and then we’ll check out.”

(While I’m dithering over the postcard selection, the final customer is helped and leaves, and one of the employees comes over with a small box in her hands.) 

Employee: “I saw what you did there, ma’am, and it made my day. I wasn’t sure you’d be able to get your Beanies, though, so I set some aside for you.”

Mom: “Oh! Thank you, but my daughter already picked up my share. I know we’re only allowed two each for new releases, and I don’t want to be greedy.”

Employee: “Ma’am, I’ve seen you come in here time and again, and greedy is the last word I’d ever use. Besides, don’t you have more kids at home?”

Mom: “Yes, actually. I have five in total.”

Employee: “Well, then, I think we can waive that rule just for today. Here you go! That should make six of each design: one for each of the kids, and one for you!”

(We thanked her profusely, purchased our toys and postcards, and went on our way. It was only later that my mom actually looked at her receipt and saw that she was given the employee discount, too. We brought chocolate for that sweet employee the next time we came in and became quite good friends until we moved away the following year.)

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Cooking Up A Sweet Moment

, , , , , , , | Working | January 17, 2020

(At the particular place in the college cafeteria where I like to eat, you tell the person behind the counter what you want, and they circle it on an order pad and hang it up for the cooks to see. The people who write the orders also do the cooking if there aren’t very many coworkers on duty.)

Me: “I’d like a grilled cheese on wheat, please.”

(The cook hesitates and stares at the pad for at least a minute. The longer it goes on, the more panicked he begins to look. After a while, I decide to help him out and point to where “GRILLED CHEESE” is written.)

Cook: *circling my order* “Oh, thank you! One moment, please.”

(He hangs up the order for his coworker and comes back to wait for other kids. Since it’s before the lunch rush, though, I’m the only one there, and I decide to make small talk.)

Me: “Are you new?”

Cook: “Yeah, just started an hour ago.”

Me: “You looked kind of freaked out there.”

Cook: *sheepish* “I’ve heard stories from the others.”

(I can only imagine; just a few weeks ago, a girl threw a tantrum in the middle of the cafeteria because she couldn’t get a vegan grilled cheese sandwich, which this particular cafeteria does not offer.)

Me: “Vegan grilled cheese girl?”

Cook: “Among other things.”

(Now my sandwich is done, and I have to go.)

Me: *waving* “Well, good luck with the job!”

Cook: *waving back* “Thanks! I’m going to need it!”

(About a week later, I run into him during a slow hour; he’s the only one working the kitchen, so that means he both takes my order and makes my food. I order another grilled cheese sandwich before deciding to chat some more.)

Me: “You know what would be really cool? If you guys allowed the option to put vegetables or something on the sandwiches.”

Cook: *grins* “Yeah, that does sound pretty good.”

Me: “Anyway, how’s the job been?”

Cook: *peering at me* “Oh! You’re the girl from last week!”

Me: “Um, I guess so?”

Cook: “Okay, one moment, let me get your food ready.”

(After a few minutes, my sandwich is done.)

Me: “Thanks a lot!”

Cook: “Hey, no problem. It’s always nice to see a friendly face.”

(I took the sandwich and went back to my dorm to eat. When I unwrapped it and bit into it, I discovered that he’d put diced tomatoes and onions in it! Just that little gesture made me tear up a little bit. Thank you, whatever your name is! Your special sandwich was delicious and kept me smiling for the rest of the day!)

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Chocolate Makes The Meeting Go Round  

, , , , , , , , | Working | January 16, 2020

(I work in a bank. We have an annual mandatory training meeting, and this year it is scheduled on my day off, so I have to drive into work for an hour. Two days before the MANDATORY meeting:)

Coworker #1: “Hey, [My Name], you’re coming to the meeting, right?”

Me: “Yes, of course.”

Coworker #2: *twenty minutes later* “Are you going to come to the meeting on Saturday?”

Me: “Yes, I’m coming.”

Coworker #3: “What is your favorite flavor of cake? I’m thinking of making one for our potluck next week.”

Me: “I like chocolate cake, but you should ask our other coworkers because most of them don’t really care for chocolate.”

Coworker #3: “Okay, thanks, I’ll make chocolate. You are coming to the meeting on Saturday, right?”

Me: *super confused about why I keep getting asked about whether I will come to a mandatory meeting* “Yes.”

(Thirty minutes before the mandatory meeting starts:)

Supervisor: *texts me* “Hey, [My Name], are you going to come to the meeting today?”

Me: *wondering if the mandatory meeting suddenly became optional* “Yes, I am on my way.”

(When I got to the bank, I could see everybody in the lobby staring at me as I walked up. I started to panic, thinking I got the time wrong, and walked in. As soon as I got in the door, everybody started singing “Happy Birthday.” There was a chocolate cake on one of the desks. My birthday was a few days away, but I hadn’t really talked to anyone about it, so I was totally shocked. My coworkers said my face went completely purple, and they were so happy they’d surprised me. Then, we started the meeting. I have awesome coworkers.)

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