Sunday, October 30, 2011

Retail Therapy

Is it just me or has the fun been sucked out of retail shopping?
I don’t know what it’s like elsewhere, but trying to communicate in English with staff in retail shopping venues in Northern Virginia is an exercise in futility.
Don’t get me wrong. I support and indeed, encourage, English and non-English speakers alike to get legitimate jobs. What’s more, I admire the immigrant population, because, to support their families here and abroad, many of them will work in seemingly “menial” jobs (use your imagination) that we native born Americans wouldn't deign to take. Shame on us, eh?
However, as a consumer, I have a much better experience – and probably spend more money – when I can understand what’s being said and know that my comments are understood.
Today, at the grocery store I failed miserably at getting my question (“Are these chicken thighs boneless?”) answered. Maybe it was my fault though. I guess my expectation that the staff at the Salvadoran market would speak the King’s English was a bit high….
Muslos de pollo deshuesados!
Actually what I asked several times was, “Como se dice en español, ‘boneless’?” in an effort to get to my second question. In other words, in Spanish I asked, “How do you say ‘boneless’ in Spanish?” It was a lost cause. I asked three times and got three different answers complete with hand gestures that I can only hope weren't insulting…
Defaulting to Italian didn't help, because I don’t know the Italian word for “boneless.”
So I didn't buy chicken thighs. But I bought other items and for the second time in three days, was overcharged. 
It seems today’s check out clerk is incapable of simultaneously answering questions and ringing up merchandise. I’m at a loss for why. After all, they’re just passing a bar code over a computer scanner.
That said, I've learned to check my receipt, since some places give you an item for free if it rings up incorrectly. At minimum, I’d think, they’ll make some concession if you’re overcharged.
Not. So. Much.
This smiling lady? NOT me. 
On Friday, I went to World Market where I bought two jars of hummus marked “Two for $5.” When I looked at the receipt and saw that I’d been charged $3.29 for each, I asked why and what the store policy was with respect to the overcharge. 
The checkout clerk – who spoke fluent English – looked at me blankly as if I’d asked her to explain quantum physics. When I asked if I got the product for free, she gave me a look that intimated, “Are you nuts, Lady?” and said something akin to “No way.”
That was all it took to unleash my inner witchy woman.
I opened a can of bi*** on her, demanding a manager “pronto” and she actually fled the register. Lemme tell you, it was no picnic having to deal with the manager to get things straightened out either.
Some people go shopping for therapy. My version of retail therapy was the meditation I did afterwards.
Maybe next time I should try some deep breathing before going into the store….

Written for BFF Inspiration #135. Theme: Witchy Woman


  1. Oh dear!! I hope they at least refunded what they owed you?

    We were shopping the other day--and let's just say that the cashier and the bagger were not in sync. The cashier was ringing up our food and the bagger was still bagging the previous customers food. I was getting charged and the bagger was sending my food out with the previous customer. I kinda had to get snippy...because the bagger and cashier didn't believe me. So I demanded the find the items the rang up in the beginning of the order. They had to unbag everything only to figure out their mistake. Then they had to go get those items since they charged me for them. What a headache.

    I hate shopping anymore too!

    Cheers, Jenn.

  2. I'm with ya! My inner 'withcy woman' comes out with incompetence also!
    Good write.

  3. My pet hate is someone who is *supposed* to be serving you but who is carrying on a conversation with someone else at the same time - grrr!

  4. I hate this as well. If people choose to live in the US they should learn English so they can communicate, especially if they are going to be working with the public. If we chose to live in France we would be expected to speak French. I don't deal with incompetence at all. I never have been able to. One time I went to a local store because I was looking for a street map of Chicago. Didn't seem like that big of a deal. We live approximately 2 hours away from Chicago. I asked the clerk and she brightly says to me that they had Indiana state maps. I came unglued and asked her how it was possible she could live this close to Chicago and not know that the city was Illinois??? Great blog!