Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gas Crunch

The worst is over "they" say with the gas crisis in Asheville. We have been short for over two weeks now and it got really messy last Wednesday. The lines of cars waiting for gas were ridiculous - 3 and 4 hours long.
We were supposed to leave for Atlanta on Friday afternoon for the DH's class reunion. I wasn't about to sit in line for hours to go a leisure trip. The thought of it nauseated me. In fact, anytime I was out in the last two weeks, which wasn't often, I become anxious and sick just passing the gas stations with lines. Then there were the tales of people behaving badly - cutting in line, taking advantage of the gap in cars created by a driver, already out of gas, pushing his car to the pump. It really brings out the worst in some people. I know it is a small minority and I am thankful for that, but I guess I'd just rather not witness people behaving like the world was ending.
I avoided the lines and panic until Friday when I struck out to fill up so we could make the Atlanta trip. I ended up at Sam's, a place I don't shop anymore since watching the movie, The High Cost of Low Prices, a not-so-flattering documentary about Wal-Mart. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. But once I became informed, even though I didn't really shop at Wal-Mart, I had to break it off with my man Sam. He had provided me savings on wine, tires, a six pack of sports bras, and large quantities of chips but sometimes that's just not enough for a girl, so we parted. He didn't even seem to notice.
But I came crawling back on Friday. Sam had an orderly line inside his parking lot with three attendants directing traffic. I waited 5 minutes. No nausea. No anxiety. Just a twinge of guilt.
The compromise was worth it. Atlanta, the reunion and the break from the soccer mom routine was just the call for me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hurry Up and Wait

The geeks at the local computer repair shop have held my hard drive captive for OVER a month now, tyring to pry it's contents from it's bones. It melted down in August and I surrender it to their expertise just after Labor Day. I have the old machine back with a new hard drive, but all my files for work, charitable work, pictures, finances, etc are locked down on that old dying drive. YIKES!(Of course, backing up now seems like a REALLY good idea). I keep calling to check on it because, well, they don't call me and the always polite young man on the other end promises to call back, but never does. I don't want to complain, lest I piss someone off and I never get my files back. Yesterday, I did receive a call back. They have the part they need to hopefully retrieve the information. I had to approve the charges before he could try.

He'll work on it and call me back. (Sigh)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Customer Service at Ingles?

What is up with the folks over at my neighborhood Ingles? I shopped there on Sunday afternoon, a time I don't normally shop, and the surly teenagers who seem to run the place, despite the visible adult managers roaming round pretending to be in charge, were actually polite and courteous. Two different young male employees asked if they could help me find something. When the second one asked, I thought my head might spin off. Up until now, I have never encountered a teenager there who was anything more than disinterested. Typically, when I find myself in the teenager's line I am subjected to their conversation about someones date last night. Once, I came upon an empty line where the attendant couldn't be bothered to pause her conversation to ask for my advantage card. She just kept blabbing on to the bag "boy" while she scanned my groceries. I had to interrupt her to get my 78 cent discount on my fakin' bacon.

Now I will say that there are some fine, friendly and efficient older folks working there. If I shop during the weekdays, I will seek them out. Mike is one of them. He dresses as a woman every Halloween. Not that I have ever seen that, but I have somehow gleaned it from having a conversation with him -Hmmm, there's a novel idea: a conversation with your customer. There is another older gentleman, Floyd, that often bags for Mike. He will use my cloth bags without question(or an audible sigh). Last week, just after I arrived, I did a 180 to hop back home to get my advantage card; there was more than 78 cents at stake. On my way out I mentioned it to the night manager who was out having a smoke. He said that any of the cashiers can find my number by my address - something they had never volunteered to do before- and he snuffed out his ciggy and ran in to retrieve my number for me.

I have to give props to one affable young man I have had the pleasure of interacting with lately. He works in the deli, where ordinarily I feel like I've interrupted a druggie from getting his fix. "Can I help you?" is what comes out of their mouths but their body language screams, What do you want?

When I was in high school, I worked at a Chick-fil-a for two years. The expectation was to be kind and courteous to the customer. If I had behaved any differently, I would have been canned.

This is big. Customer serviced at Ingles. I wonder what happened? Did the expectations from management change? Or was it anomaly for Sunday afternoon shopping? Perhaps now that the economy is sour, management has some leverage to get people to expend a little energy to keep their jobs.

Whatever the reason, I like it!