Wednesday, February 24, 2010

5 Things I Wish Retail Shoppers Knew

I’m a bit tentative about this post because I don’t want it to become a whiny rant about the nonsense that I have to put up with at work. No one wants that. Still, I think that there are some things that the public should know, it might even be helpful, so I’ll walk the fine line between sharing and ranting and hope that you’ll forgive me if I cross over it.

1. You really will get more from being nice. All of my coworkers agree – we are much more willing to help a pleasant person than a demanding one. When I have someone who is treating me with disrespect, or who is pushing for something unreasonable, or who is obviously trying to take advantage of us, then I dig in my heels and am more determined than ever to say no. But if I have a customer who is polite and considerate, I’m ok with giving him/her all the help they need. This applies to everything, returns, special orders, calling other stores for items, etc.

This doesn’t mean that a customer shouldn’t have expectations when it comes to customer service. Any store associate should willingly help. That’s our job. And we should also be polite and considerate. If there are times when you feel like you have to push a bit to get the help you need, then do so with a gentle hand. You’ll get better results from it.

2. Do not leave your children unattended. Two examples: some time ago I was working the register by the front door of our store. A little girl, maybe 5 years old, asked me if I would help her find her dad. I paged her dad’s name and asked him to come to the register, and then told the girl to wait there with me. Maybe five minutes later her dad walked in through the front door. He had dropped his daughter off in our children’s area and left the store. That is not ok! The children’s section of any store is not a daycare. Store employees are not responsible for your kids’ safety. It’s dangerous to leave them, especially in this day and age when children can disappear. Please don’t do it. Even if you’re staying in the same store, don’t leave them where you can’t see them.

Second example – just last night a father left his two boys in the children’s area (I don’t mean to be picking on fathers; mothers do these things too). He didn’t leave the store, just browsed around, but when he came back for them he found that they had ripped up some product beyond anything that we could sell. He saw this, took the ripped stuff up to the register area and left it there. Again, not ok! I honestly don’t see the difference between damaging store product that badly and shoplifting it. Either way, the store just lost money. I’d love to bring back the old “you break it you buy it” rule. Instead, if you have a child who has ruined something, give your apologies to a store worker. 99% of the time you will not be asked to pay for it. But we all feel much better when we see an adult willing to take responsibility for the mess. Just fess up.

3. Know the definition of “too much information”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to control a wince or twitch in the eye when listening to peoples’ stories. And I always in the end think, “You don’t know me! Why would you tell me that?” Some of my coworkers get it more than I do because they’re friendlier. I do that on purpose. I don't want to hear all about a divorce, health problems, money problems, family problems, or any other very personal matter. Be friendly, sure. Some chit-chat and banter, why not? But honestly, know the appropriate boundaries. Otherwise you’re putting someone who can’t help you in a very uncomfortable position.

Oh, and one more thing along that same line. When making a return please realize that an item is either returnable or not. It’s as simple as that. Every store has a returns policy, and a detailed account of everything that happened to you from the moment you bought the item until bringing it back really isn’t necessary. We’re still going to act within the policy, regardless of the story.

4. A store associate cannot change a company. Too often people complain to a store associate about things that he/she cannot do anything about because of store policy, and it causes nothing but frustration on both sides. We can take an occasional gripe, that’s fine, but please stop at minor occasional gripes. I think that some people believe that if they tell someone in the store, then that information will be passed up through management to the top dogs who can do something about it, and really that’s not an unreasonable idea. In fact, it would be nice if the retail world worked that way, but it doesn’t. The truth is that the store employees are the last people that corporate listens to. The very last. You’d do better to call the corporate office yourself, honestly. Your complaints will get further that way. And you'll save a sales clerk from having to listen to complaints. Complaints really bring us down.

5. Please do not bring to the register items that you do not intend to buy. That’s just irritating.

That’s my list. Too whiny? I hope not. Those of you who have worked retail will understand. Thanks for your consideration.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Week in Review

Hello everybody. I feel like writing something today, and since its Friday, so let’s go ahead with a Week in Review.

Kind of Dull
I do want to write something today, but can’t think of anything to say. Really. It’s been dull around here. The Olympics are on….eh. They haven’t done much for me this time around. I’ve wondered why, but I don’t know. Maybe it’s because they’re in Canada, and I’ve made it my cause to hate Canada until the day I die. No reason really. It’s just fun to have an enemy. But I don’t think that even my loathing of the Great White North is causing this lack of interest. I guess I’m just not in the mood. But what else has happened this week? I went to work, I went home, my roommate was watching the Olympics so I joined her, and then I thought, “This is boring. I’m going to bed.” And then I read a book until I fell asleep. Repeat seven times. Not much material there for a blog post. Not much at all.

And now we’re done
Topics of conversation have a shelf life with me. For example, when a treat is put out to share here at work, everyone, EVERYONE, who takes a bit of it has to ask a whole load of questions, “What’s the occasion?” “Who brought this in?” "Did he/make it?" “What is it?” GAAAAAAA! Just take some and go! After seven years of this, I’ve made it a point to make sure that the treats are placed far away from me, and I pretend like I don’t hear people when they start rattling off the questions. Really, in the end, I don’t know that they care if anyone is listening. It’s a compulsive reaction to seeing a treat.

Today Cheryl has a jar of Jelly Bellys at her desk, fun for everyone. There is a coffee flavored bean, and its caused quite an uproar with my Mormon coworkers. Gasps of horror when someone accidentally gets one are followed by jokes, “You’re going to have to see your Bishop now.” And then warnings, “Don’t get one of those coffee ones. They’re horrible!” This has gone on for days. A few minutes ago someone warned someone else about the coffee bean, and I looked at Cheryl and said, “I just hit my limit for coffee jelly bean comments. No more. We’re done now.” She laughed and said that she’d put up a sign asking everyone to keep their comments to themselves. I’d have her do it if I thought it would work.

Just between you and me, I kind of like the coffee ones.

A Memory
A few days ago Tiffany posted three memories from her childhood, and they were good, and made me think of some of my own. I’ll share just one. I remember walking behind my dad while he tilled up the garden with the tiller. I’d go barefoot, and the dirt was so black, and soft and cold. It felt good between my toes, like nothing else I can think of. Worms were worked up from the ground, and I’d stop to pick them up, watch them squirm in my hand, and then drop them again and keep walking, sometimes stepping in Dad’s footprints, and sometimes in the dirt. I’d love to do that again.

Well, I think that’s it. Thanks, as always, for your continued greatness.
You are loved.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine Wishes

Hello All,
I just wanted to wish you a Happy Valentines Day!
Go hug someone you love.

You are loved.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This is why Billy Collins is Great

If you've ever heard kids playing the Marco Polo game (Sierra, I'm talking to you), then you'll understand this poem. It makes me laugh out loud.

If I were crowned emperor this morning,
every child who is playing Marco Polo
in the swimming pool of this motel,
shouting the name Marco Polo back and forth

Marco Polo Marco Polo

Would be required to read a biography
of Marco Polo-a long one with fine print-
as well as a history of China and of Venice,
the birthplace of the venerated explorer

Marco Polo Marco Polo

After which each child would be quizzed
by me then executed by drowning
regardless how much they managed
to retain about the glorious life and times of

Marco Polo Marco Polo

Monday, February 8, 2010


Yesterday was one of those Sundays when it might have been better for me to skip Relief Society all together. The lesson was on motherhood, and as any woman who has ever been to Relief Society knows, that can become a touchy subject for many women for many reasons. A volatile subject.

The teacher was a woman who I know and like very much. In fact she’s my visiting teacher, so we’ve had lots of long conversations, and I think the world of her. She started her lesson by acknowledging that there are women in our ward living in all different circumstances: some married with young children, some married without children, some never married at all, some whose children are grown up and gone… and she wanted to share the idea that all women everywhere still have the divine trait of motherhood and can use it. But because almost all of the women in the room (rather than being a diverse group) were women with children who had given up work to be stay-at-home moms, most of the comments came from that perspective and defended that lifestyle, which, I think, threw the lesson off its course. The comments focused on the worldly view of motherhood, and how it makes those who stay at home rather than having career feel like they don’t measure up, like they’re “just a mom” or “just a housewife”. It was the typical discussion, and of course the underlying agreement was that there’s nothing in the whole world more important for a woman to do than to raise children.

I believe that. I believe very strongly in the role of motherhood, and in the principles of family that the church teaches. I always have, and maybe that’s why I always start to squirm in lessons like this. It’s hard to know that the path your life has taken is off track, that you’re not fulfilling your most divine role, and that nothing else in this world will ever be as good. So, when faced with these situations, I just sit quietly and wait for the lesson to be over so that I can go home, and maybe cry.

But, there was one woman in the crowd who couldn’t sit quietly. She raised her hand and told us all that she had always been a working mom because she had to be in order to support her family, and then she broke into tears. She said a few times over that her children were always her first priority, but she couldn’t say much more because she was really crying. I think that what others had said had hurt her, and made her feel like she hadn’t done things right, and she was trying to speak up for herself but couldn’t.

The teacher, at this point, said that she understood that women in the Church lived in so many different circumstances, and many have to work, and that there’s nothing wrong with that, and then she tried to get back to her original message. And that’s when she picked me out of the crowd and started asking me questions about how I feel about my divine role as a mother.

If she was looking for someone who could be a cheerleader for the single girls who love acting like moms, she chose the wrong single girl.

I said, “These lessons are always painful for me.” And then I stumbled and stammered and searched for words. She said, “You have nieces, right?” People love to mention the nieces and nephews, like they’re a consolation prize.

“Yes, I do, and I love them. I’ve loved spending time with them. They’ve given me a lot of joy. But do they replace having children of my own? No, of course not.”

I think that then another woman raised her hand and mentioned that her children have an unmarried aunt, and that she’s been a huge influence and very important and other nice things. I was so uncomfortable at this point that I wasn’t really listening.

Then the teacher asked me again, “But how does it make you feel to know that you still have this divine role as a mother?”

“It hurts.” What I meant was that it’s hard to hear because it just makes me feel like the most important part of my life is missing, but I couldn’t get that out, so I just said, “I think that people have to accept things, and make the best of it” and then I let it go. She didn’t call on me anymore.

I sat there fighting back the tears, feeling like a spotlight had just been blasted on me at my most vulnerable, and like I had just derailed this poor woman’s lesson. But I just couldn’t give her the answers she was looking for. I couldn’t tell her that even though I’m single I’m still working all the time to mother people and am so fulfilled and happy. I can’t say that with any sincerity because I simply don’t believe it.

After the lesson many of the women gave me hugs and told me that they loved me and said that they appreciated my honesty. The teacher and I hugged each other too. There are no hard feelings. I really appreciated the outpouring of support. At least I could go home without feeling like I had ruined Relief Society.

I’ve thought a lot about the whole scene since and here’s what I’ve come up with. I understand what the teacher was trying to tell us: women are blessed with a natural ability to nurture, to reach out to others, to take care of them, and to love. And any woman, no matter her situation, can develop those qualities.

But I can do that without having to think of myself as a mother. It wouldn’t be healthy for me to think that I had to somehow find a way to fulfill a divine calling that simply doesn’t fit, not now, not like this. Life has enough pressures without having to live up to something like that. I love the children in my life, love them like crazy, and we’ve had a lot of fun together, but that doesn't make me a mother. They have mothers, and I think that it would be a slight to their mothers to think that I am also filling that role. That's not what they need from me. They need me to be Angie, their aunt, their friend, another person in this world who loves them. Their main support system is in their own home with their parents, and that’s how it should be. I’m a little something extra.

No, if I were to base my self-worth on whether or not I was fulfilling my role as a mother, I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Instead I find my self-worth in who I really am – a daughter of God, a sister, an aunt, a daughter, a friend. And if the people in my life need a little extra nurturing from me, then they know I’ll give it. I’ll hug them so tight it hurts. But at the same time I’m a single girl. I am independent, self-supporting, and learning to value myself for myself. And I really believe that if I learn that now then I will be a better person, and a better mother should that day come.

Women everywhere are constantly bombarded with things that can make them feel bad about themselves. Even those who live the ideal, who have a good husband and are able to stay home with their children, can still feel like they’re not enough. It’s at those times when a sincere prayer will fill in the empty spaces. Trust in the Lord’s love. And then call a friend. If you need to, call me. I’m not your mother, but I'm happy to help.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Week in Review

Hello All. How do you feel about reviving A Week in Review? I feel ok about it, so let’s go.

I have a new tv show, and it’s called Community, and man is it funny. It’s on Thursday nights at 7, the lead-in to NBC’s much-loved must-see Thursday (I just used a lot of hyphens), which is pretty much the only thing that network is still doing right (my apologies for jumping on the boooo to NBC bandwagon. I’ve been watching way too many awards shows lately and it’s all they talk about). I don’t know that this show gets much advertising or promotion, but it should because it is good, and if they want it to stay on the air as much as I do, then someone needs to start letting people know about it. I started watching just because it is on before the other Thursday night staples, The Office, 30 Rock. Now I find myself laughing out loud more often at this than at any of the others, and then I’ll rewind and watch parts again. It’s comedy gold. And it’s followed by Parks and Recreation – good too.

Speaking Of
We got the DVR a couple of months ago. I honestly could not have cared less about it before we had it. In fact there was a time when I thought that basic cable was way too much money, more than it’s worth. The money people will pay just to watch television is astonishing! But, Melissa found a good deal on adding the DVR, so I said, “Fine, whatever.” And now I love it. I feel like I’ve compromised my own personal moral values in falling in love with DVR, because it is just television and shouldn’t play such a deeply emotional part in a girl’s life, but man is it nice to know that a show is recording, and to fast forward through commercials, and the re-watch scenes. It’s a beautiful thing.

Technically Challenged
I like to think that I’m up on the workings of this new, high-tech world we live in. The people that I work with think that I’m a computer wizard because I can answer their questions, which are usually something like, “How do I make this print?” or “How do I save this document in my file?” I’m not making that up to be funny. They really ask these questions. It’s because the average age here is 71 years old. When I tell them how to do what they want to do, I get a lot of, “You’re a genius!” and “Oh Angie, you’re so smart.” It’s good for the soul, but it’s also given me a bloated image of my technical savvy. In the real world, I’m not so hot. I was reading a post from Tiffany earlier this week, and she was talking about all of the songs she’s been downloading lately, and I commented on the fact that I have never, not once, downloaded a song. Never. The closest I’ve come is downloading two ringtones for my phone (Coldplay, awesome), and even then I kind of screwed it up and paid way more money for them than I should have. I’ve never handled an iPod. If I’ve touched one, it’s only because I was with a niece or nephew who has one, and even then I can’t recall a specific time when I held an iPod in my hands. And now there’s all of this i-everything else out there. I’ll never get caught up. I’ve played the WII and Rock Band, also with nieces and nephews, and have super sucked at everything except being the lead singer on Rock Band. I can carry the tune, not well, but still carry.

The fact of the matter is…I’m simply not that interested. I guess I don’t see this as a fault, but it can put me in rather awkward situations when it’s obvious that I’m still living in the early 2000s (really, not that long ago). Still, I’m ok with my status. I didn’t play Atari or Pacman when they were new, either. I was never one to buy many cds. I’d still rather make a phone call then send a text, and when I’m reading a book I want to hold a BOOK, not a computer screen. Books just feel so good. Why would anyone replace that? I suppose the day will come when I’m asking much younger people to help me do something that they find ridiculously easy, and let it come. Then I’ll get to be the one who says, “You’re a genius.”

Some Changes Need to be Made
I’m a moody girl. This isn’t news to any one of you. It’s not news to me. I’ve always had streaks where I’m too grumpy, too emotional, too impatient, or just want to be left alone, but over the last year or more I think that it’s gotten to be too much. I think that my moodiness has at become a burden to others, and I’ve never wanted that. What I haven’t realized is how my attitude has made others feel, or the impression it’s left on them. I’ve always vented, and then felt better, and then moved on without seeing that I’ve left a black trail of muck behind. The muck needs to be cleaned up. I need to become the master of my moods. This isn’t to say I’ll never again get mad as ****, I’m just not going to dump it all over everyone. There will still be those trusted few who I will talk to when I need someone, but all of the people I work with, or see in the mall, or ride with in the elevator will no longer get the evil eye from me. And I’m going to be more rational about what’s worth getting worked up over and what isn’t. Most things aren’t. I’m hoping that by the end of this transformation I will be a pleasant person again, like I used to be, when I was young.

Another transition – I’m working on my weight an overall health, and have found that transitioning into better habits has worked better for me than trying to make dramatic changes all at once. First I gave up sugar (with a few slips, but for the most part doing well), and then moved on to overly-processed starches. I’m even thinking (Nicole) of giving up the Diet Coke. Ouch, just writing that made me hurt all over, but I am thinking about it. I’ve been walking more regularly, and have been happy with how much better I feel. I’m a work in progress. Then again, aren’t we all?

Well my friends, I think that’s it for today. Thanks, as always, for your continued support.
You are loved.

Monday, February 1, 2010

An Apology and a Random Theory, Neither Having Anything to do with the Other

I feel like I should apologize for the recent and total lameness of this blog. It's practically on life support. I'm sorry. I just haven't been feeling it. I guess that's normal, for ideas and inspiration to come and go (assuming that I've ever been inspired). Even A Week in Review has lapsed lately. I can only apologize again. It's not that I've been feeling down. In fact, I'm doing well. There has been an intense family drama going on, really more Marla's family than mine, her brother-in-law is ill, and last Friday I wrote about that, but later went back and deleted it. He's been in very, very bad shape, and I went with her to see him, and it was heartbreaking. So I wrote a very long story about the experience, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like it was too sad and too heavy/melo-dramatic, and not really something I wanted here. So it's gone. Are you curious now? Feel free to submit questions in the comments section and I'll try to get back to you.

Other than that....I saw a good movie last Saturday, "When in Rome". I went in with no expectations, so was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. That Josh Duhamel is a charmer. See...

That reminds me of one of my more recent theories. A few weeks ago there was a special election in Massachusetts, where Democrats typically win without contest. But this time Republican Scott Brown won making the political pundits all throw their hands in the air and run around in circles screaming, "What can this mean?!" I think I know what it means. Let's look at the men who have over the years won office in Massachusetts:

John F. Kennedy - Democrat, US Senator and then President

His brother, Ted Kennedy - Democrat, US Senator for a long, long time.

Mitt Romney - Republican, elected Governor in 2002.

And now Scott Brown - Republican, US Senator.

Look closely at these pictures and you'll see that what the people of Massachusetts really want is a handsome white man with a good head of hair. That's their representation. I should send one of my brothers to Boston, and he'd soon be in public office. Probably without running. He'd probably be approached on the street and asked to please take over for a current, less attractive, Representative. If Josh Duhamel ever wants to try politics, after saving the world from the Decepticons and wooing Kristen Bell, then he should move to Massachusetts.

That's my theory.

While at work on Saturday I started forming a list, much like my 10 things I wish missionary mom's knew list, for retail shoppers. I think it will take shape and be posted soon. In the mean time, I'm sorry for the lame blog, and I hope that pictures of handsome men will somehow redeem it, although I don't have much hope.