May 15th, 2009

I have two questions for you. Two… burning… questions. I would much prefer to have three burning questions for you… because two makes me feel off kilter. So let’s hope I can think of another question before this post is over.

Both of my questions relate to my job, which is at a Garden Center, but I am certain that people with all sorts of different jobs will be able to chime in with some possible answers…
This first question is this…
When I am helping a customer… to find a product… or to answer a question… or to serve the customer’s needs in any way… and in the middle of being helped… the customer takes a call on their cell phone… what should I do?
How long should I stand there waiting for the customer to finish the call?
Six seconds?
Six minutes?
I have to tell you that after having been in this very situation several times now, my first impulse is not to wait at all but instead to immediately reach for a garden shovel and hit the customer over the head with it.
But that may not be the right response.
I gotta tell you though – it is irritating. I have lots of things to do. Lots of important things. There are plants… everywhere. Plants that need care… and water… and pruning… and there are floors with dirt that need sweeping and shelves with dust that need dusting and a cash register that needs to be stared at with a gimlet eye… and a phone that needs to be answered… NOT TO MENTION OTHER CUSTOMERS TO WAIT ON…
I truly enjoy helping people and waiting on customers, but there are some limits to what I can take. And the cell phone… the cell phone… ma’am your cell phone.. and it is ALWAYS a woman with the cell phone… I don’t know if I can take your cell phone.
No really it’s okay ma’am… I will wait here for the next fifteen minutes while you finish your call with your sister about the weekend at the lake!
And while you are at it, go ahead and tell her all about how you helped your daughter move on Friday. No Friday… no we moved her on Friday… my daughter. We moved her on Friday.
And please don’t forget to tell the person on the other end of the cell phone where you are currently standing.
I am at the garden center… the garden center… I am in the garden center and I am standing by the geraniums… the red geraniums…. I am standing by the red geraniums… and I am getting ready to go and look at the hydrangeas… the HYDRANGEAS… we are going to go look at the hydrangeas… what?… I can’t hear you… where are you? Are you driving? Are you in the car? I am at the garden center. The garden center. Where am I going next? I will probably go to lunch… Lunch… Lunch at Harry’s. I said I am going to lunch at Harrys. HARRY’S! I can’t hear you very well. Are you driving? Are you still driving? I am still at the garden center. I am still here at the garden center. Are you driving? Where are you driving? No I am not driving… I am at the garden center.
I am not even making up the fascinating content of these paramount calls. Well, I am mostly not making them up, but I have stood and listened to quite a few of these calls now. Standing and waiting for the customer to get back to her question. Trying to keep my hand from reaching out and grabbing the most lethal insecticide in the store, ripping the lid off and pouring it down my throat. Oh the burn… the blessed blessed burn and the peace… the blessed blessed peace that comes after the burn… the burn…
While the customer goes on and on…
And then I am going to go to Target. To Target. I am going to go to Target. I am looking for new storage bins. New storage bins. I can’t hear you very well. Are you driving? I am at the garden center.
So tell me gentle readers – what do you think a humble employee in the retail industry should do when waiting on a customer that decides to take a call in the middle of being served.
Question #2
What do you do when you have gas at work?
Bubbly gas, ripply gas, soft feathery gas, burning gas, decroded dying animal gas, silent but deadly gas, booming gas, rubbery butt flappers, nuclear warfare gas…
What do you do when you accidentally let one rip…
I mean let one fly
like a delicate moth…
ascending a ray of sunlight…
In front of a customer?
What is the best response?
Should I pretend that it didn’t happen?
Should I quickly drop something in an effort to disguise the racket?
Should I rapidly guide the customer to the fragrant hybrid roses?
Should I look askance at someone across the aisle as if he/she were the culprit?
Should I giggle shyly?
Should I say “Whoa?”
Should I say “Excuse me!”
Should I say “Did you hear that?”
Should I say “Holy crap was that me or was that you?”
Should I say”Barking spiders” like my dad always does?
Should I feign paralysis?
I am pretty good at feigning paralysis.
I am just wondering what to do…
Not that it has EVER happened TO ME or anything.
Which brings me to question #3… which I just now thought up…
What do you do if you are simultaneously helping a customer who is on their cell p
hone AND you are farting AT THE SAME TIME???
It is a nightmarish thought isn’t it!
Dear God in Heaven, I hope that never happens to me!
I am here at the garden center… the garden center… the lady that is helping me just farted… I said she just farted… she farted…SHE FARTED! Are you driving?