Saturday, December 18, 2010

On the other side of the aisle

Can someone else take over from me on front of store? I've had enough! FOREVER! - Manager of the local supermarket after arguing with a customer about a can of Pepsi for 40 minutes

A good compromise is when both parties are dissatisfied, and I think that's what we have here. - Larry David

Holiday Shopping, Keyfood, Manhattan
I was approaching the fast lane at the local supermarket's checkout. The manager was there arguing with two customers who stood there zombie-like. One of them was repeating over and over, "Where's my free soda?"

The manager saw me approaching and called out. "Take the next line, Miss. I'm going to be two hours here."

I did. And he was. Well, I think he was, because I hung around fascinated and he was still dealing with the two women when I decided to leave.

Saturday afternoon entertainment. New York style.

It all happened after having had all her items processed through the checkout, one of the women wanted a free can of Pepsi. There'd been a buy-a-can-get-one-free special on cans of Coke. She'd bought only Pepsi. It had apparently been explained to her several times that she needed to buy Coke to get a free can of Coke, but she wasn't having any of it, so the manager had been called over to explain.

Sad Christmas Decoration Second Avenue, New York
I stood there transfixed as the manager did his best to explain what "get one free" meant and that Pepsi and Coke were two different brands. He had to repeat every sentence several times. The woman looked at him with dead eyes. Eventually he reversed the Pepsi charge and took the can from her basket. Here you are, he explained. Here's your money back. Now if you want to get a free can of Coke you need to buy a can of Coke. "Can I buy two?" she asked. "Buy as many as you want," he said.

She went off and came back with two cans of Coke. He told her he'd only charge for one, as the other was free. But she wasn't satisfied. She claimed she was entitled to two cans, one of Pepsi and one of Coke and where were they?

All this time the checkout girl was leaning languidly against the counter, focussed on something in a different land, visions of sugar-plums perhaps, or of bowls of noodles at a restaurant at a South East Asian beach. "Nobody cares," the woman behind me was muttering. Homeless people with big bags of cans were shuffling around waiting for the cash for cans-recycler machine near the doorway. Several newly-arrived Nubian-looking men were talking in French, waiting for 'delivery orders', oblivious to the fracas. "I want a can of Coke and a can of Pepsi," the complaining-woman was repeating for the hundredth time to the manager.

Eventually he left, waving his arms in the air and calling for someone to take over from him. Enough was enough.

By now I had finished with my purchases but lingered, wondering how the next person would handle it all. But no sooner than I'd swiped my card, than the manager was back. A glutton for punishment. Though I understood his position. He was determined to have her understand.

I stood around for a while. The woman had become even more confused. She appeared to have forgotten about her refund and was wanting even more Pepsis. She wanted free ones for the free ones she hadn't received from the purchase of the Pepsi that had been refunded. It was going to go on forever.

I couldn't stand it.

I think I'll mosey along to Fifth Avenue and stand amongst the tourists.

New Yorkers are getting me down.

P.S. My best ten books of 2010 are HERE.


Vanessa said...

Well, come on now... Did you REALLY expect intelligent life in a land full of idiots? Supermarkets and malls are the main gathering places for these zombies with "dead eyes" as you so aptly stated.

What the manager SHOULD have done with this dead eyed zombie was CHARGED her for COKE and given her PEPSI. Problem solved.

Kate said...

Given her TWO Pepsies for the price of one Coke was what shse wanted!

Anonymous said...

Customers like these make my day. Who wants a job where everyone is easy to deal with? Much better to be paid for hours to deal with incredibly amusing people. So long as you're not a sole trader, and it's not your business, who cares?

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