Monday, November 27, 2006

Retail Woes

I don't go to stores on Black Friday since it's a rather stupid thing to do. First of, people do get injured and killed there. But suppose you do get a parking spot and make it into a store alive and in one piece. There are still suffocating crowds, maddening lines to changing rooms, restrooms, registers, exhausted sales people, and irritating Christmas jingles every which way you turn. The sales are not that good either. 10% off here or $20 off there - same as with any other holiday and even some non-holiday weekends. And the so-called "door busters" are mostly crap that otherwise noone would buy anyway. So I stay home on Friday after the Thanksgiving. Whatever I loose in terms of money, I save in terms of sanity and emotional well-being.

We did get to the stores this weekend though, simply had to. As I mentioned many times, our house is mostly empty. And we are remodeling. So we do need to go to stores to buy basic stuff. And then of course we find out that we don't need about half of it because it's the wrong color or just "doesn't go with anything else" and we go back to the stores to return it. Most of the times, it is not a problem. And then there's a case of Cost Plus World Market:

We had to return a seat cushion for a chair, but we lost the receipt. Not a problem, we figured, we'd just get a store credit. Right... They refused to take it back, even though the thing had all the tags attached and all. The reason - we don't have a receipt and since it's a PILLOW, they can't take it back without a receipt because it's a sanitary issue (or something like that). Ok, I can sort of understand how a seat cushion can be mistaken for a pillow by some dim sales person. What I fail to understand is how can presenting a receipt alleviate sanitary concerns that apparently arise without such a piece of paper. After some protracted arguments we did return it for a store credit. McManamans score 1-0 and take the lead!

Then on Sunday we decided to finally get some furniture for either a living room or an office. We aimed for a sleeper sofa. But first we decided to have breakfast at some greasy spoon. We drove to one such place, the Waffle House, and since all the tables were taken, got seats at the counter with a full view of the kitchen area. A Waffle House eatery is a place that we only go to once every few years. And every time we say to ourselves - never again! But the horrors wear off eventually and we return, attracted by irresistable smell of grease and the yellow shine of American Singles cheese. The strange thing is, it seems like there's a certain standard for employee selection for Waffle House franchise. I mean, every one of the places has the same crew - a mean middle-age manager with greasy hair; a fat and pimply white chick with glasses and piping voice; a disgruntled white guy in an exceptionally dirty, even by Waffle House standards, uniform...

The best seat in the house is not in a booth, but right at a counter. Your order will be taken much faster which by no means guarantees fast delivery. But more importantly, you get a chance to see your food being made. And believe me, this opportunity is absolutely priceless. Our server first searched for a stubby pencil while holding the order book in her mouth. Upon locating a pencil somewhere in the fathomless depths of her dirt-covered apron, she wrote our order down on a saliva-moistened page of this book. We then saw the same girl flipping someone's buttermilk waffle with her bare fingers - no gloves and yes, she did have what looked like an open sore on her thumb. Someone's order of hashbrowns got mixed up and the manager peeled already-melting slice of cheese off the top of hashbrowns, again, with her bare hands, and threw it violently right back into the alluminum prep basin, for the next order. We quietly paid for our orange juice and left without waiting to see how our order would turn out. Score: 2-0.