Bereft of ideas, devoid of inspiration, completely barren of wit...and my energy level's somewhere beneath the sub-basement.
Luckily, as of right now, I am on HOLIDAYS!
I went through hell to get here. The last month or so has seen a succession of absolutely brutal ads at work. I screwed up my orders a few times, leaving us hung with too much stock. And I'm still working through the rejection by Children's Aid: probably will be for a while yet.
Today was a perfect microcosm of the last eight weeks.
Barely had I gotten in the door at work when a din arose from the express lane. A woman. Yelling. I tuned her out and hustled to my dairy department, roughly eighty-three things on my mind already and more suggesting themselves everywhere I looked. Stock this, fill that, order more of the other, and who's this? A cashier. From till one. Shit.
'Ken, can you go talk to this woman? She's tearing a strip off me about some expired milk.'
Hooray, here we go.
I was extensively trained by Southland Corporation (that sounds so much more important that "7-Eleven", doesn't it?) on how to deal with what they called IRAACs: Irate, Rude, and Angry Customers. God knows I've faced down a few of them in my time. But I haven't seen too many of them since I moved up the ladder to the grocery store. It's a sad fact that unless you're a cashier, to the average customer, you're well-nigh invisible. You're a walking store directory, to be ignored as soon as you've dispensed your information. The cashiers, however, well, they catch hell from all directions. I'm very glad I'm no longer in the habit of manning a register.
I dusted off my IRAAC skills as I approached this one. She thrust a two-liter carton of milk at me and I did a bit of a double-take. It really was a wonder this milk carton hadn't exploded. It was bloated beyond all reason. A fast check of the date, done with half an eye while listening to the rant, confirmed why this carton had swelled to about twice its normal size: it expired almost two weeks ago.
She claimed to have bought it off my counter...last night. She had a receipt to prove it.
You're not supposed to wind up an IRAAC any further than they already are. You're supposed to listen to them, asking only as many questions as you need to verify their complaint, and then work together to find a solution. Looking rather critically at this distended milk carton, I asked the customer if it had looked like this when she bought it.
Now, the dairy manager in me wanted to call bullshit at this point, for a whole bunch of reasons, only a few of which I'll detail here:
- This milk carton wouldn't stand up on its own. There's simply no way anybody with the brains God gave a gnat would stock it.
- This milk--Natrel Calcium supplement milk--comes into the store with a code date six, sometimes seven weeks away. A carton with a best-before date of April 15th would have come in sometime in late February...maybe early March. It's not the fastest seller in the store...which is why I only order five at a time.
- Except for last week, when it was on sale. I ordered a whopping nine of them. And sold all of them. The sole remaining carton on my shelf is dated June 26. I've got another five coming in Monday...
But here's this woman threatening to take us to inspection, and reducing a cashier to tears over it. As if the cashier had stocked it! (On those few occasions when something expired does somehow fall through the cracks--and none of those cracks have ever been two weeks deep--the cashiers invariably notice it and get it fixed. Without fail. With regard to a carton of milk swollen to the size of a gallon jug of juice, well, there's simply no way it would have escaped attention.)
My skills deserted me as all of that flashed through my mind in about half a second. And Mental Sarcastic Bastard just had to make his entrance, flashily as always. I understand your anger, my brain said, then listened, horrified as my mouth uttered
"...and you didn't notice this? How could you not have noticed this?"
She shifted into high gear then, telling me I couldn't understand what it was like to be a mother with two small children in strollers, always in a rush, and she was going to take this milk carton to "inspection" no matter what. It didn't matter what I did now. I could have "poisoned" her babies.
I asked to examine the carton of milk. On the pretext of checking the rest of my stock, I found our store owner and asked him to intercede. I happened to overhear him asking the customer if the milk had looked like this when she'd bought it...
Eighty three things--no, ninety one--to do with my day...
She was paid off: a refund, plus a free carton, plus twenty bucks in gift certificates. Larry told me he was certain she was lying--that she may have bought a carton of milk from our store last night, but it wasn't that particular carton. But the matter couldn't be proven either way. She left satisfied, I was told. No doubt: she'd scammed her way into almost thirty bucks.
You get things like this sometimes. Every once in a while, somebody comes in with the outer plastic bag from a three-bagger of milk and says her milk went bad and she wants a refund. (It's always 'she'...sorry, ladies.) Two years ago, somebody came in with one cup out of a twelve-pack of yogurt and pointed out a wood sliver I was all but certain she'd planted in there herself. That one went national--I started a chain that ended with all of that lot of yogurt being destroyed.
Now, to settle into my day, the last one before a week's holidays. Time's supposed to drag. It didn't. It flew. There was simply too much to do. I've picked a hell of a week to be away: a very hot ad in our department, followed by one next week that will require a ton of set-up. I have to plan all this out: where's this special going to be displayed, how much should the initial order be for that one, and holy crap but where are all these skids going to go, anyway?
But now I'm off. And this day's draining away. Not a minute too soon. My brain should be back with me by, oh, Tuesday or so.