Saturday, September 29, 2007

If I Only Had a Brain

And my head I’d be scratchin’
While my thoughts were busy hatchin’
If I only had a brain
The Wizard of Oz

I had to make a quick run to the store tonight for supplemental supplies. I found what I needed without problem. Where the problem arose was when I tried to check out.

Following Wally World’s lead in lowering costs at the cost of customer service, The Butt has drastically reduced the number of checkers it hires. This is understandable in an industry with a low profit ratio. They have also shifted some of their work to their customers by installing self-check registers. Personally, I think this is a great idea. It lowers costs and speeds up check-out by increasing the number of available registers. Or so it goes in theory.

Somebody got the bright idea to close to of the self-check registers two and a half hours before the store closed. Note that there are only four self-check registers in this store. That sent customers queuing back into the frozen foods because of a dearth of attended registers. and these two registers closed.

I was not happy about this situation, so I asked the attendant. You know, the high-school kid who stands at a computer screen waiting for customers to scew up the self-check process. He looked puzzled that I would even care. “I don’t know,” he opined. “They just tell me to close them at 9:30.” It was 9:25.

My “How does this make sense?” reflex twitching, I asked to speak to a manager. There were two but neither was available. Finally, someone realized that S. was on break. The other one, M., was no where to be found. There had been some skateboarders frolicking outside earlier, but she was neither outside dealing with this threat to public safety nor in the office writing a report. After about ten minutes, M. showed up, followed shortly by S. returning from break. She explained to my forehead, “We just close them at 10 every night.” Remember, it wasn’t ten by the time I left the store.

But why? “It doesn’t cost you anything to leave them open, not one cent. All it does is irritate your customers to have to wait in line while unused resources are in sight and turned off.”

“Well,” she said to my forehead. At least S., who did not speak during this encounter would meet my eyes. M. was apparently too superior for making manager by her mid-to-late twenties to meet my eyes. “I’m sorry you’re upset.”

Translation: “I don’t care. I just need to make polite noises, and you’ll go away.” To this point, I really wasn’t upset. I simply wanted to understand something that appeared to run contrary to reason. But now that she told me I was, I felt the adrenaline pouring into my bloodstream. I told her this behavior was unacceptable and I would be writing to their district manager. I left to a confused refrain of “I'm sorry you’re upset.” She was apparently unable to figure out why her magic charm failed. I would say she was challenged by the position, but that might not be accurate. Challenged by human interaction is most definitely the case, however.

Will this experience cause me to stop shopping at the local The Butt? No.

Will it cause me to move some of my purchases elsewhere and treat The Butt like a convenience store? You betcha.

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