Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Yeah, but can the caper do any tricks?

I was behind a lovely couple at my local WalMart Grocery store the other day, as I tried to quickly pick up some items I would need for lunches/dinners this week at home. It’s not a favorite store for me because the self-checkout counters all seem to be evil, and so I decided that this would be the first time I would go through the checkout counter that had a WalMart employee doing all the work.

Ok, that was my first mistaken assumption. After some initial monitoring, I noted that this chick definitely wasn’t all about the "work" part of her job. Nor was she all that interested in the whole "customer service" or "interaction with people" part of the job.

But the main thing was the people in front of me looked ready to finish up, and just have the last of their groceries loaded into bags so they could head out the door. That was my second mistaken assumption. (The two assumptions might have been reversed, when I think about it…whatev.) What I didn’t know was that they had some sort of exotic fruits (we call them "oranges" here in the Midwest) that were registering under the wrong price. Of course, by Law o’ Murphy, I had unloaded my last item from my cart when the maylay ensued. The woman refused to pay $.40/orange, as the sign above them had stated they were $.40 per pound. I understood her plight…I’ve been through that same issue at another WalMart Grocery store, but with potatoes instead of oranges. These were small oranges, and actually looked to be of the mandarin type, or something, so I can understand that many of you (who shop and buy oranges frequently) might be going, "Um, $.40 per orange is a pretty fucking good deal, though." And I’d agree with you. I go through orange kicks now and then, and I swear the last time I bought some, they were about $.70 each, but I could be wrong about that. Plus, I buy the normal size of orange, so I really can’t speak for what is being charged on the average for a smaller variety of weird orange. Anyway, apparently a manager had to get involved in this situation, and they brought the sign from the produce department to show to the checkout clerk (who apparently was the all-powerful final decision in what price these people were going to be paying for their little oranges…), and she could see that it said the little oranges were, indeed, $.40 per pound and not each, and she worked it all out, and had to get the change approved, and then the woman in front of me said what I’d been thinking all along: "I can’t believe all the trouble over 40 cents!" Apparently, the change in price on the 2 little oranges they were buying was about $.40. So they would have paid $.80 for the little things under Nazi Checkout Woman’s regime, but after the manager got involved, they were paying for the weight of the fruit, which was something like $.35 or $.40.

IN THE MEANTIME, I’m standing there, wishing I had chosen a different checkout, and when I hear this woman say the whole, "I can’t believe there’s so much trouble over 40 cents," I have to laugh. I had to laugh because if it’s "just" 40 cents to WalMart, then why isn’t it "just" 40 cents to her and her husband? You’re either interested in not getting shafted by the store, or you’re not and you move on. The time that I had the potato issue? I finished my checkout (I was doing a self-checkout at the time), and then went to the customer service counter to show the manager on duty that there was a discrepancy between what the sign said and what the checkout was ringing up. He insisted on giving me my money back (it was about $1.25, as I recall), even though I was really just wanting to let him know about the problem so they could fix it. But I didn’t hold anyone up from being able to continue with their day behind me. I also didn’t freak out about the whole $1.25 that I was being overcharged for my fucking potatoes (mostly because I had a good job at the time and I didn’t need to worry about such a small amount of cash, and I figured that karmically it’d come back to me somehow eventually…), because who the hell cares? I just wanted to make sure it didn’t happen to other people, if possible.

But this woman and the mini-oranges? I wanted to kick her in the ass. Yes, the checkout clerk was being an asshat who seemed to believe she was above us all and therefore felt communication, politeness, and decent human behavior towards us was completely unnecessary. But really, to get all worked up, wander all over the store and hold up other people from being able to continue with their day, all over $.40? Are you kidding me? And the reason why I deemed the checkout clerk’s attitude to be as I have defined it was because, in all the time I stood there waiting to move on with things, I didn’t get a single, "I’m sorry about this…it shouldn’t be much longer," or a smile, or even any eye contact at all. So not only did she not care that she was fighting these people over a fucking 40 goddammed cents, but she didn’t care that I had to wait for the whole thing to be over and done with.

Then the woman with the mini-oranges realized that her weird purse was unzipped, and was flopping all over the place. It was one of those kinds of bags that have a whole side panel that zips and it’s where all the credit cards go, and she had some other shit stuffed in there as well. Unfortunately, she had unzipped it to its furthest zipping point, and so it was completely open. I had noticed this issue, and was about to tell her about it, but she discovered it before I had to speak to her. So THEN she started moaning about how she hoped she hadn’t dropped anything. "I hope I didn’t lose any cards. I was walking around with it like that! I wonder if I lost any cards while we were here. Do you think I lost any cards? I hope I didn’t lose any cards…" LADY, JUST GO THE FUCK BACK AROUND THE STORE AND CHECK, ALREADY!!! Then again, I would hope that most people might know what they have in their purse at all times, and would be able to take a quick inventory should something like this occur, and be able to tell whether anything had fallen out or not. I could be weird, though. I know what’s in MY purse. Is that weird? Maybe it’s weird…

I should know better when it comes to that store, though. Something happens every time I go there. The first time I went there, I bought one of those roasted chickens. I didn’t have much of anything else, and I was going through the self-checkout to get it, and the person assisting in the self-checkout area was kind of a strange lady. She came over to me, and started talking about how much she looooovvves those chickens. She takes one home just about every night. In fact, sometimes, they have some left over at the store at closing, and they give them to them for free! Can you believe it? Sometimes, when that happens, she takes TWO of them home, just because she can. Because they’re soooo good. Have I tried them before? Oh, they’re sooo good.

I’m so distracted by this, um, friendliness, and I kind of want to get the hell away from it, so I bust a move out the door as quick as possible...forgetting that I had asked for $20 back from the machine on my purchase. So I left $20 there. I recognized my mistake rather quickly after I’d gotten home, so I called the store and spoke to a manager, and he was really sweet about it. The $20 was gone, of course, but he told me he was sorry about what caused me to forget to pick it up (I told him about the unusual chicken soliloquy that had taken place upon checkout time), and he told me to swing by and he’d leave a $20 gift card to the store at the customer service desk for me. Now THAT is customer service, my friends.

At that same location on a different day, I was approached, yet again, by one of the people assisting in the self-checkout area…she just wanted to ask me a quick question. "I’ve seen those before, and I’ve been wondering, what do you use them for?" She was asking about the capers I was purchasing. To me, it’s kind of funny that someone wouldn’t know how to use a caper, but I understand that not everyone loves Italian food as much as I do. Plus, she was so sweet about it, so I told her that I use them in all kinds of Italian cooking, as well as just as an accompaniment for baked chicken or salmon, and that sort of thing. She didn’t know what they taste like, so I told her they’re salty, and tend to go really well in a marinara sauce, or with any kind of fish with lemon, and I even put them into my tuna salad sometimes. She thanked me, and I was on my way again. But to those of you who don’t know how to use a caper/haven’t ever had one before, go ahead and pick up a jar the next time you’re at the supermarket. They’re not expensive, and they’re yummy. Expand your world. Eat a caper.

So I wonder what adventure will befall me on my next visit to the WalMart Grocery on Metcalf and 91st. Hopefully, it will involve more of the caper-type people, and less of the orange-type people. I haven’t ever seen the chicken-obsessed lady in there since that one time, but I really hope I don’t run into another one of those in there again. I can say for sure that they have a pharmacist there that really seems to know his shit. So getting meds there is a safe bet. But as for any of the other people you might run into? Good luck.


Ty said...

I just love the way you write! You had me laughing all the way through.

Although, what on earth is a self-checkout counter? Can't imagine people being honest enough to pay for every item they bring to the counter.

FaithsTwin said...

Ohhh, Ty. Don't you worry. They have about, ohhhh, every camera they can have pointed at those self-checkouts and if you so much as try to innocently scan an item, think it's been scanned and take it over to the bag area before it actually has ben scanned, the machine will NOT allow you to go on with any thing else. It stops cold. I'm sure there are the occasional lovelies who maybe leave something in the cart that they don't intend to pay for, but as Twin has noted in her story- there are employees watching just so this sort of thing doesn't happen. The self-checkouts in my area (SoCal) are quite handy. :)

RockStar said...

I hate the self-checkouts. I pay an extra five or ten cent markup in order for the store to hire people to scan and bag my groceries not for some stupid machine. If they are so great why don't they eliminate the checker's altogether? Because they suck, that's why. It's rarely any faster anyway as there is always some sort of malfunction. Unfortunately, the Hubby is enamored with them so I am forced to spend an extra 10 minutes at the store trying to check out and waiting for the employee who is in charge of watching the machines to fix the problem. What is exactly the difference at that point?!

Duncan said...

While we're on the checkout line subject, maybe you can explain another phenomenon that I always experience. It always seems like the person in front of me in the checkout line waits until the cashier is through ringing up all their stuff before they start digging through their purse/pockets to get their checkbook and start filling out the check. Why, why, why, don't they get their checkbook out and start filling out the check WHILE their shit is getting rung up!!! Its like they are worried they will get hexed by some evil voodoo or something if they break out the check book before they get their total.

Don't people know that getting through a checkout line is a team sport and that everybody HAS to do their job to keep the line flowing.

Kansouri said...

My wife and I like to use the self-checkout but what we really like to do is to watch people like RockStar who freak out when using the self-checkout and yell at the machine and their spouse and their kids and the store employees. They are usually old or techno-challenged (or both). If you use them properly they save you lots of time - mostly because the people like Faith described who argue over $.40 don't get in your way.