Friday, June 16, 2006


Are there any other retail workers out there? Specifically, are there any other sufferers of retail labor? Sad but true the blogosphere probably has a host of whiners, rant-and-ravers, etc. but I have to say my whimsical piece about the absurdity of being a cog in the machine.

Such absurdity emerges in its most banal when for the hundredth time I've recommended the M&M two for a dollar special to a diabetic; as I'm unfazed by a monolithic wall of cigarettes peering back at me with cancerous fatality; when I can't end a conversation without saying, "Thank you! Have a nice day!" and so on.

Customer service wouldn't irk me if I could while away more than a few minutes conversing with the talky spinsters, the charming college-goers, the winsome moms and spit-fire fathers instead of scuttling them the moment they have their receipt. Lines in retail/grocery shouldn't be divided based on the number of items but more on the mood of the individuals. Doubtless the conversationalist line would have fewer patrons, but that's as it should be since we'll have to talk longer anyway. You'd have a robotic high-speed register clerk at your "I left the iron on, water boiling, my teenage daughter and a mangy, tattooed guitarist together on the couch" line, so they could hear "Hello. Receipt. Thanks for coming!" and rocket to put out whatever fires were plaguing them in due time. There's also the line for cigarette buyers, which would boil down to little more than a dispenser that would require them to show their I.D.--here the receipt, a bag, and perhaps even "Hello" would be moot considerations--more intrusion than adequate customer service.

I suppose retail in general is aggravating because it, like the DMV, the post office, the airport, etc. is little more than a people processor: managers tend to think more in numbers than faces (customer service anymore boils down to "Ka-ching!" instead of courtesy and community--call me a cynic) and the store's geography itself is meant to induce superfluous purchases rather than to provoke warmth or to foster happiness.

Granted, this may be more of my malcontented bile issuing like a deluge onto the already encrusted sickness of cyberspace, but I've reached my ceiling of empty courtesy. I'm taking back humanity, one Walgreens at a time. LOL.

Seriously, it seems to me that like our politicians--thank you, George Carlin--Walgreens, if indeed it is a grey hulking machine sucking people in and spewing them out minus a prescription and a few 4x6s worth of money, is only symptomatic of us as a whole, both collectively and individually. I can't blame the corporate machine; whether acting as a component or penniless opponent I still have to take action. No one robs us of our agency, our fresh air, our love, or our enduring happiness but us. Doubtless I have yet to fully embrace that lesson, simple though it is.

Now, lest I lose the inertia momentarily granted by thoughts not entirely my own, I'll tear myself away from parasitic technology and try doing something truly productive. Adieu.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:05 PM

    I used to get called Chatty Cathy when I worked at a hulking regional Walmart type store that went out of business. This is so because I would talk to people about what they bought, etc etc etc. Retail employment like the retail purchases we make are relaly only meant to fill the voids left by things we avoid talking about, doing, loving, etc etc etc...Nice to hear you opinionate again though.