Sunday, March 18, 2012

"You think the honey badger cares? It doesn’t..."
I am from the Badger State
And yesterday I went all "honey badger".  Allow me to preface this by stating that I have never left a store with out paying for merchandise.  But I now can add leaving a store without checking out to my resume of odd accomplishments.

Bridget and I were out on a 'quick' shopping trip for a few necessary items, which we topped off with a quick stop at the Salvation Army to look for an inexpensive pleated tartan skirt to be worn to a St. Patrick's party.  (I was also under the impression that she needed this to wear to Chinatown for Nathaniel Patrick's red egg dinner so I felt a certain urgency to our mission.)  We braced ourselves for the usual nerve shattering experience of horrible music/bad odors/beastly temperatures balanced by incredible finds but this quick run through the store was more shattering than any other.  Yes there was the music (Pump Up the Jam being the least offensive of the classic uptempo irritating musical selections; Coulda been worse - we once spent an hour there while that Barbie Girl song played on an endless loop) and an unusually over-warm March day made the store hotter than usual.  There were bad odors - and after a certain point we may have been responsible for a bit of the BO ourselves.  But Bee found the skirt and we came up with a couple other super finds and we dashed to the checkout.

Ahead of us were a father and daughter with one item.  And ahead of them was a woman with two carts overloaded with clothes.  Still on their hangers, which should have had her bounced from the line right there - you haven't been given the stink eye until you've made contact with a Salvation Army checkout girl who sees that you haven't removed clothes from their hangers.  The checker laboriously entered each item into the register  (no scanners exacerbated by the fact that no prices make sense, e.g $3.47, $2.06, $5.93)  One register open and we were looking at a good hour's wait - while a massive line formed behind us.  I'll give the checker high compliments for being able to tune out distractions; she paid no attention to the turmoil building up; likewise she offered no apologies or alternatives.  The third time someone asked if another register could be opened all she said was "lunch break."  (I am guilty here of holding others to the level of service we offer at my job; we are supposedly closed from 12 to 1 for lunch but we always answer the phone; we always open the door; the 'customer' is always top priority)

The worst part of this whole debacle was the customer herself*, who instead of, say, helping with the hangers, kept up a running pidgin English tirade at the line of customers.  When one woman in line interrupted to inquire about a toy with no price tag (they refuse - built on a certain reasonable rationale - to sell anything that has lost its tag) and pleaded with the checker to find a price and she would return after dropping her daughter at a nearby birthday party.  Then we got "you people poor, who have money for party?"  Then to the line in general "You need big clothes? You need go Jenny Craig."  And on. And on.

The father and daughter set down their purchase and left.  Everyone grumbled. More calls for her to find back up went ignored.  (Really?  There was no one in the back room?)  Somewhere inside me was a honey badger ready to emerge.  I didn't care.  I didn't give...well, you know.  I tallied the prices; prices that don't lend themselves to mental math under stress and heat.  I tore off the price tags (fearing that another checker would appear at this moment and refuse to sell us anything) and tore through my wallet and found $12 which should have been more than enough to cover the amount.  I grabbed the merchandise and Bee placed the money and tags on the register and we walked out.

I'm no anarchist.  But enough was enough.  I'm not sure if any of the crowd behind us followed suit.  I didn't hear any round of applause, but as long as we got home without any police chase through Mundelein,  I'll consider it a victory.  Seriously, I'm pretty much an anal-retentive rule follower.  But if a store is going to subject its customers to sensory torture, inadequate staffing, employees with no people skills, price tags stapled to merchandise ("Hey, this shirt probably retails for $100.  How can I place a couple of staples to maximize damage?"), amateur insult comedy and a variety of other tests of shopper loyalty, they should expect the occasional honey badger.

*Someone fouled up the exit gate at the parking lot in Chinatown last night and the girls were stuck for almost half an hour.  We can only guess who the culprit was...

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