Is it really Bliss?  

Posted by Jonathan E Johns

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The election process is over, now back to work.

Well, I thought that anyway. After the election mania last evening, I had finished reading in detail the results from my county, Our ballot was pretty thin, National election for President, then there was Governor, Lt. Gov, attorney general, I think, a state rep seat for my area, and some county positions, plus a few ballot measures.

Personally, I was only really interested in a couple things on the Ballot, the National Presidential Election, the State Governor, and a ballot measure which would give schools more money for stuff.

I was disheartened by the fact that the county offices here were Republicans running unopposed. I could have written in someone, but no one else wanted the jobs, I guess. Anyway, I went to the County results page before I went to sleep, and also found out that although 100% of the precincts had reported in, that only 17.25% of eligible voters had voted. Also, I found something in the election results that I had not seen on my ballot which was basically a property Tax increase which would give money to the public library, which confused me. Why had I not seen this on my ballot, but there were results on the elections page? Did it not pass because not everyone had the chance to vote for or against it? In addition, there are no results on the county clerks page saying what the results in the county for the National Election. Of course, when I looked to see who I could shoot off an e-mail to to inquire about this, I found that the county officers do not have e-mail available to the public.

So with all that in mind, I went off to work, and found my regular customers drinking heavily, early in the morning, and some were very confrontational. An older woman in the drive through asked me how I felt about the election last night, and I calmly told her that I don't really discuss that kind of thing while at work, that it is inappropriate for a sales clerk to discuss politics. She seemed to think that was some kind of code, because she exclaimed that that is the problem with America, that no one will discuss what they feel, and they must be hiding something if they won't express their outrage.

This comment led me to an internal discussion with myself, in an attempt to try to understand 'people' that I have been having a very hard time understanding. First off, the rhetoric I heard regularly from the republican party in my area of the world was that we are in a fight, to do this, and do that. Whereas, I heard from Democratic party people, and independents, Constitution Party members, green party members, and others, that we had a lot of work to do. They all were striving to win votes, but some see it as a battle, and others see it as work. This lays an interesting foundation that helps me grasp what these people see in their 'opponents.'

The other thing that cropped up in my head was that some people honestly think that people must be hiding something. This must come directly from the idea that if you are not with me, you are against me, another Republican ideal that has surfaced in the last 6-7 years.

While all this was rolling around in my head, I was continually dealing with customers, now more often than not, the customers who come in know exactly what they want, and know where it is, but there are a few that come in, and who have never been in my store before. My reaction to a customer I have never seen in the store before is to welcome them, and ask if there is anything I can help them find. The standard reaction to this is a flat 'No.'

I respect peoples choice to wander around and browse, and not be hassled by a sales person, so I usually just let it roll off my back, and forget about them until they come to me, and ask for help. But honestly, 90% of these 'No.' customers really do need help finding what they want, are in a hurry, and just default to the negative response, because that is what they have always done. I am not sure if people in my little town have ever had regular excellent customer service, so I don't think they know what it is supposed to be. This, of course, is not their fault, but the fault of all the retail merchants in town who do not make customer service a priority, most often for the reason that almost each and every business in town is a monopoly. If there were, say a Target AND an Wal-Mart, in town, customers could say, “Hey, you provide terrible customer service, and I can get the same item over at your competitor, so either be nice to me to earn my money, or you will lose my business.” Of course this never happens, because each business knows that each customer really doesn't have a choice, and has to shop there, and deal with shitty service, or go without the product they want. I believe competition breeds better service, and prices, but then, I am a capitalist at heart.

But the real issue I have with it all is that the customer needs my help (Eventually, they all come back and ask for my help) but refuses it at first. Why? I think it is because they either think that if they were the clerk, they would probably try to sell the customer something they didn't want or need just to make a profit, or that in their personal experience, all clerks are corrupt used car salesmen, willing to sell some crap to a customer just to make a buck.

I think my experience in retail has definitely made me a better customer. I think those who look down upon retail clerks either have some strange superiority complex, or are just ignorant, or uneducated about how things actually work.

A constant that I have to deal with is that almost every single thing sold in my store can also be purchased at Wal-Mart. And 99% of the time, for less. And 25% of my customers complain about my prices, using Wal-Mart as an example of where they could get it $.05 cheaper. My heart tells me to tell them, “Go ahead, then, go get it from Wal-Mart!” But I cannot say that. I actually had a discussion with one of these customers, explaining that the reason wal-mart sells it cheaper, is because they buy it cheaper. I might buy 100 Cases of a particular brand of beer, where as Wal-Mart buys 100 TRUCKLOADS of the same beer. The person I was explaining this to said that that was 'bullshit', that everything costs the same for retailers, and we just charge more because we want more profit. I had no idea how to approach this level of uneducated ignorance, so I let it go.

Finally I let it all go for a couple of hours and when I thought of it all again, I discovered that the reason people in this area are so hard for me to understand, is because most of them are just plain ignorant, and there is nothing I can do about it.

Except for one thing I can do,

Get out of retail, away from customers.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 5:04 PM . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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